LiveWatch uses two types of alarm control panels: the GE Simon XT series and the Qolsys IQ. GE manufactures most of the component sensors and detectors that LiveWatch uses for their home security systems. There are a few Qolsys sensors and extraneous devices available also.
The key differences between the two panels are Z-Wave connectivity and smartphone management.
The Simon XT provides standard, dependable, no-frills sensor and detector control.
The Simon XT evolved from the Simon 3 alarm panel (discontinued). The XT has an LCD and includes more wireless zones and calling features. There is a voice-dialer built in that will send voice mail messages regarding system events, such as an alarm or failing sensor, to a maximum of four different phone numbers. The Simone XT also has an event history log, unlike previous models.
GE currently manufactures three versions of the Simon XT: the XT, Tabletop, and XTi. The XT comes with the LiveWatch package. You can purchase the Simon XT Tabletop or the Simon XTi separately. The XT and the Tabletop have virtually the same features other than the XT can be hung on the wall. The XTi has a color LCD touchscreen as well as a built-in “image capture” camera that will take and send a photograph if anyone attempts to remove or destroy the panel.
None of the XT models supports Z-Wave. You can, however, add a separate X10® module that allows smart appliance management.
XT Zones and Standards
The XT lets you wirelessly connect up to forty zones or components. This translates into thirty-eight wireless and two wired zones. The display will indicate system status. There is a built-in speaker that gives you audio voice indications of the status also.
The panel complies with the Security Industry Association (SIA) false alarm standards. These standards outline certain design features that systems must have to minimize the number of possible false alarms. The panel has built-in radio receiver that can connect with Crystal or SAW (surface acoustical wave) sensors.
You can add wireless touchpads to control the system from anywhere in the house. Two types of keyfobs work with the XT. The SAW keyfobs or the ELM (encrypted learn mode) keychains. The ELM encodes the signal to the alarm panel.
The panel has a speaker that will chime whenever a door or window is open, or motion is detected in the “home” mode. You can program up to eight user codes in addition to the Master Code. Codes can be three, four, five or six digits long. The software updates can be downloaded remotely online.
The panel lets you do basic functions necessary to manage a home security system. You use the arrow keys and scroll to the feature you want to access. There are three emergency buttons: general, police and fire. By pressing and holding the button for two seconds, or pressing it twice, the central monitoring station will receive the alarm.
The panel microphone button functions like a remote intercom system using cellular waves. It lets you contact and then speak directly with the monitoring personnel.
The XT has a latchkey feature that notifies you by phone if a child or another family member does not arrive at home at a predetermined time. For example, if a child comes home from school at four p.m. every day, you can program the latchkey function to notify you if the child does not arrive home and disarm the system at that time.
You can also access the XT panels from a landline or cell phone. You must program the panel to answer after a certain number of rings and pauses. When the XT answers, the system tells the user to enter the access code. Once you have access, you can perform certain management features by pressing the phone keys. For example, pressing 1 disarms the system, pressing two will arm the door and window sensors and pressing 0 will give you a status check.
The system automatically tests for certain things, called the “trouble beep” function. Once the panel detects a problem, the speaker emits six rapid beeps every minute until it is corrected. The panel LCD screen will specify the problem. You can temporarily stop the beeps by pressing Status or by arming, then disarming the system. The beeps will resume in four hours unless you correct the condition.
There are ten system conditions that the panel examines and reports:
- AC Power Failure – When the power goes out, or the system is unplugged and runs on battery power unless power is restored the trouble beeps start. You can program a certain period into the panel before the system transmits a signal to the monitoring station. Battery backup, if fully charged, will power the panel for a maximum of 24 hours.
- System Battery Failure – If the emergency battery starts to fail or is drained, the trouble beeps will sound, and the LCS screen will indicate “Low System Battery.”
- Restoration of Power – If the system loses both AC and battery power, once power is restored the trouble beeps will sound to indicate that a problem had occurred. The sensors will return to whatever condition they were in, armed or disarmed, prior to power failure.
- Sensor Failure – When a sensor starts to fail or loses contact with the XT panel for some reason, the trouble beeps sound and the status button will light. The LCD screen will display which sensor failed.
- Low Sensor Battery – Anytime a sensor battery needs replacing; the panel will automatically detect it and start the trouble beeps.
- Communication Failure – If the panel cannot communicate with the central monitoring station, after eight attempts to report the condition directly to the station, the trouble beeps will sound. The LCD panel will show “Comm Test Fail” or “Comm Failure.”
- Sensor open – Failure to reset a sensor by improperly closing the window or door will cause the trouble beeps to sound. The panel will direct you to the exact sensor that has not reset.
- Sensor tampered – Taking the cover off of a sensor or moving it without deactivating it through the panel will cause the sensor tamper indication to sound. By pressing the status button, the display will tell you which sensor has been disturbed.
- RF Jamming – If another radio signal interferes with the sensor transmissions, the system detects it automatically and sounds the trouble beeps.
- Clearing status – If some system conditions, such as alarm history, reach the maximum allowed, the trouble beeps and LED screen will alarm. Alarm history and similar conditions must be cleared manually.
The Simon XT panels, backed by the GE brand name, offer an affordable, reliable and dependable means of managing a basic home security system.
Remote operation outside of the residence, however, is extremely limited. You cannot use a smartphone or receive texts or access the panel remotely. The phone connection does let you call and perform very limited operations.
If you are looking for the latest tech and remote control or want to manage smart home appliances, you will have to upgrade to the Qolsys IQ panel. To learn more about the LiveWatch system in general, read our LiveWatch review.