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The Best Ademco Home Alarm Systems for Large Custom Houses

Ademco home alarm systems for larger houses must handle many more zones and functions than the ‘usual suspects’ will provide.

While an Ademco Lynx will easily cover an apartment, and an Ademco Vista 20 works well for average-sized houses, large custom homes require a bit more horsepower. Once the size of a home exceeds about 3000 square feet, the number of doors, windows, and interior sensors builds up quickly. This calls for the use of the more powerful Ademco home alarm systems, like the Vista 128BPE or the Vista 250BP.

As the model numbers imply, these Ademco security systems can handle 128 and 250 zones, respectively. They also have other features that make them good choices for use in the biggest of houses. I’ll cover those in a minute, but first let’s look at what makes a large house such a challenge.

Special Considerations for Alarms in Larger Homes

Large custom homes often have four or more keypads, located as follows:

  • Front Door
  • Garage Door
  • Master Bedroom
  • Detached Guesthouse or Workshop
  • Mother-in-law Room
  • Service entrance

There may also be many motion detectors and/or glassbreak detectors. Larger floor plans mean more bedrooms, hallways, and traffic paths. An alarm system must cover most of these to be effective, along with the doors and windows. That can add up to a lot of devices!

All of this equipment needs power to operate. Ademco home alarm systems like the Vista 128 and 250 provide no more than 1 amp of auxiliary power. This must be shared by all the keypads, zone expanders, and detection devices tied to the panel. In a very large house, the panel will not have enough on-board power for all of the equipment.

The answer? An additional power supply can be installed to make up the difference. This auxiliary power supply should have a separate battery of its own, to back it up during a power failure.

Another possible issue for Ademco home alarm systems in larger houses has to do with wireless coverage. If a wireless receiver is located at one end of a big house, wireless transmitters at the far end may not have enough signal strength to reach it.

There are two ways to deal with this problem. The best choice is, of course, to hardwire everything in the system, avoiding the need for wireless devices entirely. All zone expansion is then done using either 8-zone expander modules or a polling loop.

Where hardwiring is not an option, a wireless repeater like the Ademco 5800RP can be added. This should be located at the opposite end of the house from the main receiver, where it will pick up and re-transmit signals from previously out-of-range wireless sensors.

Ademco Home Alarm Systems Benefits in Large Houses


Both of the Ademco home alarm systems mentioned above have 8 partitions available. This allows the panel to behave like eight independent alarm systems. Common applications for this feature are detached guesthouses and garages, gun storage closets, and safe rooms.

Each partition can be armed and disarmed independently, saving the cost of installing a separate, smaller system to control an area.

Keypad Macros

The 128 and 250BP models both offer a feature called Keypad Macros. This allows a sequence of pre-programmed keystrokes to be executed by pressing a single button. This function can be used for several purposes:

  • Arming the system in various modes, like Stay, Away, Instant, or Night-Stay
  • Arming the system with certain zones bypassed. For instance, you could arm the system from the upstairs bedroom, and at the same time bypass the upstairs motion detectors. You can then move around freely upstairs, while the motion sensors downstairs are still active
  • Triggering relays to turn lights on or off, open or close a driveway gate or garage door, or arming a partition for a detached guest house

Each macro can activate a string of up to 32 keystrokes, and the 128 and 250BP panels can each have up to 32 macros programmed.

Custom Zone Descriptors

Many Ademco systems will support the use of keypads with alphanumeric displays. The available words and numbers that can be displayed are listed in a descriptor library. They include obvious terms you would likely use to describe any area of a house. Up to 3 descriptors can be combined to define each zone in the system, for example “Living Room Door” or “East Bedroom Window”.

While this is fine for most situations, a large home might have 2 or 3 “East Bedrooms”. Trying to figure out which area a descriptor refers to can get confusing.

So, what’s the solution?

Say hello to the Custom Words feature! Both the Vista 128BP and the 250BP offer up to 60 custom words, so you can spell out your own description for every opening in the house. You’re still limited to using just 3 per zone, but by mixing and matching custom words with the standard ones found in the descriptor library, you have almost unlimited flexibility.

So, you could have zone names like “Suzies Window Left” or “Toms Windows Right 2”. This feature isn’t found on all panels. This may not seem like a big deal, but consider this scenario:

You’re about to leave the house, but your alarm system won’t arm. The display indicates that a zone is faulted, which prevents arming in the usual way. The text on the screen says “Family Room Window”. Great, except for the fact that your house has a set of 5 bay windows in the family room. Which one is the problem window? Tough to know, especially on panels that don’t offer any custom text at all.

Suppose, though, that you have an Ademco home alarm system with custom words. Your zone text then might read something like “Family Room Window Center”. Much more specific and helpful.

If you haven't done so already, get a few Free Home Security Systems Quotes from companies in your area. This will give you a good idea of what a system would cost to have installed, as well as how much you could save by doing it yourself.

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