Hands On With The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus

Another step closer to the convergence of security and home automation.
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The good folks at Qolsys sent me their newest security panel, the IQ Panel 2 Plus, to evaluate. We’ve been watching this company over the last few years and it’s been impressive to watch their rapid growth. Builders like D.R. Horton recently began standardizing their new homes with Qolsys systems. Is this the future of production home technology? I decided to see for myself.

Unboxing
The IQ Panel 2 Plus comes in an integrator-friendly box with very straightforward compartments and contents. They provide the basic panel, power supply, and optional table stand. The included quick start guide spells out the setup in ten easy steps. On top of that, the first screen on power up launches a wizard ensuring installers don’t miss a step.

Installation
Thanks to Livewire’s top technical mind, Jonathan Frye, our demo installation went without a hitch. We upgraded an existing 2GIG installation installed a few years back. Qolsys offers a product called the IQ Hardwire 8-S to upgrade security systems with existing hardwired zones (a fairly common scenario). The IQ Hardwire 8-S is similar to many “takeover” modules available across our industry. On top of that, the IQ Panel 2 Plus boasts compatibility with legacy wireless sensors, including Honeywell, 2GIG, DSC, and Interlogix (314 MHz, 319 MHz, and 433 MHz).

Qolsys also touts compatibility with a new technology called PowerG by Johnson Controls, which boasts longer ranges, better battery life, and greater wireless security. This is a huge leap forward for Qolsys. One of the stumbling blocks we had as a company centered around the need for wireless translators, which increased complexity and project cost. Many of our projects (especially upgrades) have legacy sensors we’d rather leave in place. It’s great to see Qolsys solving for these pain points.

Configuration & Final Set Up
Jonathan managed to find all of the devices with no trouble at all. He identified in three thermostats, two door locks, and one Z-wave receptacle in short succession. Since moving from an older to newer panel results in re-building the Z-wave network, that appears the only drawback of upgrading legacy customer systems. Alarm.com managed to save all the rest, including a Lutron lighting control system, garage doors, and an irrigation system connection.

Also by Henry Clifford: Hands On With Alarm.com's 8-Channel Stream Video Recorder with HDMI Output

He spent a little under three hours in total setting the system up and training the client. I wanted to understand how much time we should budget on future installations, and Jonathan remarked that three hours would be a worst-case scenario, while being able to potentially speed things up down the road to hit times closer to the two-hour mark with customer training taking up the bulk of the time.

Once everything was configured, I got a chance to work with the touchscreen a bit. It’s very easy and intuitive to swipe back and forth (just like an iPad). The coolest feature by far has to be the ability to talk to the front door and unlock it from the keypad (with an installed Skybell). I’ve never seen that from a security system, and Qolsys appears to be leading the pack here. The user experience even includes training videos and the opportunity to add your own photos (though only through an SD card). Qolsys seems aware of the SD card issues and is working on a cloud download solution (no announced date). I can see potential for dealers loading their own training content, photos, etc., and this currently hobbled capability has great promise down the road.

Updates are easily applied after connecting to WiFi. This is a big change from previous panels where cellular updates are billed by Alarm.com. I definitely see the benefit of a cellular-only option, and I’m sure we’ll be troubleshooting IP network connectivity soon enough, but the speed gains from a true WiFi connection are not be understated. 5G will change all of this in a few years, but in the meantime it’s nice to have the diverse connectivity options offered by the IQ Panel 2 Plus.

It’s fascinating to watch the security industry hitting its stride with some great new products that, at times, rival the likes of Control4, Savant, and others. Clearly these solutions all have their place and their installation should be driven by understanding client needs, but it’s nice to have a solution in the toolbox that could allow a fully installed home automation platform (including cellular connectivity) in the home for less than $500 all in. Don’t even get me started on the recurring monthly revenue (RMR) upside….

What types of security systems do you install in your company? What are you doing to address the true convergence of security and home automation?

Stay frosty and see you in the field.

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