While Alula is a new name on the professional security market it results from the merger of two major brands, ipDataTel and Resolution Products at the end of 2017. Their latest wireless security offering for 2018, Alula Connect+ is an upgraded version of Resolution’s Helix security system released in 2016. Connect+ however is UL approved for both home and commercial security applications which makes it very attractive for security dealers. While it is marketed for professional installation, it is available from select dealers for DIY use as well. The focus of this review will be for DIY homeowners who demand pro-grade equipment but want to save money by installing themselves.
First let me say that Connect+ is different from other wireless systems on the market because it was designed from the start to be controlled by smartphones and tablets. That doesnt mean you can’t also use traditional keypads on the wall, they have multiple styles, its just that you don’t need to invest in one (or more) if not needed. Because the panel does not have a keypad built-in it becomes easy to install the Connect+ panel anywhere in the home where you have access to the Internet (Ethernet or optional WIFI) as well as 120VAC for power. Many people locate the controller by their entertainment center or by their office desk since network and power is generally there. No longer is there a search for a spot on the wall that is near an AC outlet to fish a power line!
The controller comes with a backup battery, siren, and has an onboard Ethernet connector for access to the Internet if using alarm monitoring and remote access to your system. You can add a snap-in WIFI board too if you’re not near your router.
All of the intrusion sensors for this bad-boy are totally wireless – and encrypted for secure, reliable communication between the sensor and the controller. Alula offers a wide range of wireless sensor types:
Door and Window Sensors (RE622)
Motion Detectors (RE610P)
Glassbreak Detectors (RE609)
Carbon Monoxide Detector (RE613)
Smoke/Heat Detector (RE612)
Remote Siren (RE616)
Panic Button Pendant (RE603)
Bluetooth Wall Keypad (RE656)
WIFI Touchscreen Keypad (RP-RE657W)
Tilt Sensor (RE606)
Temperature/Flood Detector (RE619)
OK, let’s discuss installation. What is generally the hardest part maybe the simpliest with Connect+. Just find a location with power and access to your router or within range of your WIFI network. Snap-in any optional modue cards such as WIFI or cellular. Plugin the backup battery and connect the transformer to your AC outlet. The system will bootup (takes about a minute) and you are ready to add your wireless sensors. Dealers (and DIYers!) can program the panel locally using the bluetooth Alula Connect+ Installer App which is a free download for both iOS and Android smartphones/tablets. Alternatatively dealers such as SmartHomeCentral can program your system remote (and for free) using Alula’s Dealer Portal. Just hang the motion detectors where they make sense, add your door/window sensors, etc. and you have a fully functional home security system in under an hour. It’s really is a one-person operation. You will need some assistance from a dealer if going with alarm monitoring which is highly recommended. They will configure the cellular card (if used) and add your zone information and account information with the central station.
Some other great add-on modules for Connect+ is their Z-Wave card (another simple snap-in device) which allows control of Z-Wave compatibe lights, locks, and thermostats. Most of these home automation devices can also be found at your big-box stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy. For homeowners who are upgrading from an existing hardwired or wireless security system, Alula has a snap-in wireless to wireless translator that can convert the signals from 2GIG, GE, NAPCO, DSC, or Honeywell (5200) wireless devices. This is a money saver if you already have lots of older, but working wireless sensors. Alula also makes a hardwire to wireless converter as well so you can reuse those existing hardwired zones too. You just connect the hardwire zones to the converter which would be mounted by your existing control panel allowing Connect+ to see each zone as an encrypted wireless zone.
Besides Internet connectivity there are snap-in cellular modules as well You can go with AT&T (3G) or Verizon LTE currently. We recommend going with Verizon because they have the broadest US coverage as well having the most current 4G (LTE) format. We expect to see a 4G AT&T card soon but until then stay with 4G.
We have used basically alll of Alula’s wireless devices and all are good quality and have pretty good range via a 433MHz frequency. All are easy to install and have been reliable in our pro installs here in Philadelphia.
Interactive Services is a popular service that is part of alarm monitoring. This is what allows remote arming and disarming of your Connect+ system, as wel as status, bypassing, alarm notification, etc. from anywhere your smartphone has service. You can add home automation and be able to control your Z-Wave devices from the same Alula app. Video services are also available which Alula has been beefing up recently. We started with the Helix panel and Securenet for Interactive Services back in 2016 but today we use Alula’s own Interactive Services (previously part of ipDataTel) for an end-end security solution. The end-user experience with the Alula app is great (just as good if not better than Honeywell’s Total Connect 2) and very responsive.
We have been happy with our Alula Connect+ installtions and feedback from our DIY customers have also been excellent. It’s a pro-grade security system backed by two previously well known brands, now Alula. Give it a look!