I purchased a custom Simon XT system for my mom & dad – so I had it shipped to me, programmed it and then gave it to them as a gift. I have a GE Concord 4 system with a combination of wired and wireless sensors, and this XT is nearly functionally identical, especially mow that they have added cellular and X-10 options.
I’m not going to go into detail about this system, because there is already plenty of info out there. Instead, I’m going to focus on what I think are some common criticisms of this type of system, and why I don’t think they are entirely valid.
To address the two most common complaints – ease/difficulty of programming and “defeatability”: the included instructions are not difficult, but they are incomplete for some installations; you need to search and download the installers “installation manual” in addition to the included installation “guide”. Several on-line retailers have the manual on their websites. Nonetheless, programming is lengthy and cumbersome, but not difficult unless you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed (an increasing common condition in our society).
Concerning “defeatability” – by destroying or damaging the control panel – this isn’t an issue if you do a smart system design with an external siren (indoor, but separate from the panel – a $15 item) – after all, that’s why the system specifically includes an external siren output. The siren can be mounted a very long way away (hardwired) and the panel siren disabled – so any burglar wouldn’t even know where the panel is. Piezo alarms bounce off the walls and are actually hard to pinpoint quickly – especially for panicked burglars who usually scram the second an alarm sounds. And if they find the exterior siren and disable it, it doesn’t affect the panel, which is now dialing you or the cops. Plus, you can add a 2nd wireless keypad panel (like near the main entrance), with this panel siren enabled, and with the main panel in, say, your bedroom – so you can easily see what’s going on if it goes off in the middle of the night, while being able to easily disarm the system with the 2nd keypad when you enter your home/apt. Plus, the mythical courageous burglar could smash the 2nd keypad, realize it didn’t affect the system (exterior siren and main panel are still fully active) and then go in search of the exterior siren while the main panel in your bedroom/closet/hidden place calls the cops. Duh. Meanwhile, up to 40 other wireless sensor are watching for smoke, fire, water leaks, glass breaks, carbon monoxide, freezing temps, etc.
If you don’t want to pay for a monitoring service, you can just enable the panel to call your cell phone or neighbor or whatever. But all this is meaningless, because with millions of houses and apartments to choose from, burglars don’t mess with those that display security system signs, then start making noise when they are dumb enough to break in. It just doesn’t happen.
But all this does raise the point that you’re going to end up spend a lot of cash for a full system – more than just a basic system cost. You can pretty much triple the cost of the basic system, plus a lot more if you add cellular capability. But it’s still a great deal. Our central panel system costs thousands. After working with the Simon XT, I would recommend it for anyone doesn’t have a basement for a main panel, doesn’t want to run a lot of wires, needs a minimal system, or just doesn’t want to drop a load of cash.