The Bench Test

Cost or benefit: The Pyronix SMS kit
18 Jun 08

Pyronix SMS kit featuring Intamac Home Manager: Astonishing value, but no chance of police response

What our experts say …
The sms kit is an established idea with a twist. It contains, in one box, all the intruder alarm components necessary to install a small professional system. The kit comprises a Pyronix Matrix control panel with MX Icon keypad; two Pyronix Enforcer DX passive infrared movement detectors; one Pyronix Belle SAB; together with an unswitched fused spur, surface magnetic reed contact and standby rechargeable battery. Pyronix has also thrown in a roll of six-core cable for good measure. There is nothing new in that you might say – every DIY superstore has been selling all-in-one burglar alarm kits for many years now.
However, the interesting addition to this kit is the inclusion of a one-year renewable monitoring contract with the Intamac Home Management service, which makes use of the automated SMS (Short Message Service) available to mobile telephone owners, all for a very keen price.
The SMS Kit certainly fills a niche that becomes more obvious as each year goes by – that of achieving a remotely signalled response to an intruder alarm activation without the need to comply with a set of standards. Set against the backdrop of confusing Euro regulations, ACPO compliance, DD243 complications, ABI requirements and NSI approval, many customers (and it has to be said, numerous installers) are probably wondering at this very moment just how realistic it would be to dispense altogether with this ever-increasing level of technical, operational and financial demands.

Kit hardware
The Matrix six-zone panel is an economy control with separate end station and keypad. The end station cabinet is a moulded white polycarbonate construction of a medium size, housing the single mother-board, the mains transformer and enough space for the supplied 7.0Ahr rechargeable battery.
The control circuit board contains the integral digi-modem for communication and downloading to and from the Intamac Home Management ARC. Although this kit provides three detection devices to get the ball rolling, there are an additional three zones available to expand the system to a maximum of six circuits. The supplied remote setting keypad is surface mounted, small and unobtrusive.
In common with most latter day keypads the keys can be hidden from sight, with the folding cover making a discreet unit. It also contains dedicated keys to trigger Fire, Medical and Personal Attack signals to the Intamac ARC.
Included in the kit are two passive infrared movement detectors, type Enforcer DX. This is a simple PIR, with a single pyro sensor and a high/low sensitivity adjustment. Although very much a budget device (with looks to match), it does feature a remote walk test LED inhibit input terminal, and a vertical creep zone.
The supplied SAB unit, the Pyronix Belle, is a modern type with high volume output in a low profile curvy, compact package. The sounder PC contains an onboard 7.2v NiCad battery and is programmable using pin jumpers, allowing either positive or negative trigger inputs, and positive or negative tamper return outputs. This flexibility, to-gether with the blue panoramic strobe light, means the Belle SAB is useful and pleasing on the eye.

The Intamac Home Manager software is entirely automated, allowing customers 24-hour access to a secure and personalised website, where they can input and change the details of their nominated contacts, and how they wish to be contacted.
The website is well designed and gives the customer a fully-featured ARC service including a real time event log view. The system is best used by setting up a programmable text message to be sent in response to any given digicom p.27 channel – these include 'technical' alarms, fire, PA, and open/close as well as an intruder signal.
The Matrix panel includes its own integrated digi-modem to send information to the Intamac receivers, though it should be noted that any DD243 compliant control panel and digital communicator using Point ID format would be capable of communicating the necessary data.
This communication format is capable of transmitting a great deal of detail, including individual code holders, zone number activated, abort/restores and open/close signals. By allocating a zone type to each zone number, the system is able to send a precise text message tailored to the customer's requirements.
The system uses existing ARC protocols that installers will be familiar with, including the usual 90 second delay window in which to receive an 'abort' signal, and a telephone check back to site before initiating any SMS message or email.
The keypad user display is an illuminated LCD icon-based type, using symbols and single characters for information rather than English text. While this keeps the manufacturing cost down and may be useful for the Pyronix European market, it is disappointing to constantly need reference to an engineering manual to decode the display information.
The keys worked accurately and well from a user's perspective, and though user annunciation is provided through the keypad's on-board piezo sounder, installers will certainly feel the need to boost the internal noise-maker (not least for entry/exit periods) above the existing thin tone.
Pyronix has pre-programmed the Matrix panel with all the most likely settings required for a quick installation, including zone types, entry/exit times, external sounder timer and so forth. This set-up will suit most installers most of the time.
The Belle SAB unit was found to be a very loud sounder, employing twin piezo heads, operating at a volume of around 118db. The current consumption was on the high side at around 490mA, but that is not surprising given the high volume output. The Enforcer PIR had an impressive range of 15m and relatively good trap coverage due to a well-designed fresnel lens providing 34 segments over three horizontal planes. Each of the Pyronix components came with its own installation manual.
The 'Belle' sounder, like most SAB units, is relatively simple to wire and connect, and the manual reflects this with brief descriptions and diagrams. The Enforcer technical description is all contained within a single A4-sized sheet using mostly diagrammatic explanations, which again is quite adequate for a professional installer to sift out the required information.
The keypad/control instructions are necessarily more comprehensive. Even though the control is deliberately factory-programmed to suit most installations straight from the box, installers will still need to make sense of the 26-page booklet to make sure everything is covered, not least because the keypad display only gives limited information by using two digit fault or event codes.
The Intamac instructions and user guides are supplied separately in the 'Home Manager' Welcome Pack that is supplied with the Pyronix kit, consisting of a user manual, window sticker, panel stickers and general promotional literature.
In fact the Intamac website is intuitive and sufficiently well designed not to need a set-up manual. Separate telephone numbers are provided to contact either Pyronix or Intamac, depending on whether the query is a local hardware or a website/monitoring problem.
We called both companies to ask questions about set-up issues. Pyronix dealt with our control panel enquiries quickly and efficiently. Intamac was not able to deal with the initial set-up procedure at the first call, but followed up subsequently with a return call.

What the manufacturer says ...
The sms intruder alarm kit from Pyronix includes 12 months connection to the award-winning Intamac Home Manager monitoring and messaging service. The equipment in this kit includes a Matrix 6 control panel with user-friendly Icon keypad, two Enforcer DX PIRs, Belle external sounder and accessories such as contacts and cable.
Ease of installation has been paramount in the development of this kit and the six-zone control panel is pre-programmed, ensuring that time on-site is kept to a minimum. The Matrix 6 SMS kit is ideal where a bells only and/or speech dialler system would have been installed and is perfect for end users who want more control over their system or those who have lost police response.
With this innovative kit the installation company has the option of earning on-going revenue for each system after the first 12-month period by purchasing the service agreement direct from Intamac.
With connection to the Intamac Home Manager service, end users manage their account in a similar way as they would other on-line services such as banking. Via their on-line account, end users are able to self-manage keyholder response and in the event of an activation they can instruct their system whom to contact and by what means: SMS text messages, voice messaging alerts, and/or e-mail.
The SMS Kit offers the high quality and reliability of products that you would expect from Pyronix, one of the world's leading manufacturers of intruder alarm systems, coupled with the expertise of Intamac, the UK's leading supplier of internet accessed monitoring and control services, resulting in an extremely cost-effective monitored solution for the end user.

Overall assessment

The Pyronix kit is very much pitched at the lower end of the market, and as such is less than perfect. However the cost of the whole kit is much less than it would be if the components were sourced individually, and for that reason the whole package is astonishingly good value.
The obvious selling point for the SMS kit is the Intamac monitoring package. Most people these days are sufficiently web-smart to find their way around and understand the Home Manager site, and even more of us possess a mobile telephone to receive text messages.

This makes the monitoring package an attractive proposition for customers who perhaps may have lost a police response in the past, or are prepared to investigate their own alarm activations, or those that just cannot afford a conventional approved monitored alarm system.

The one thing that the well-written promotional literature does simply gloss over, is the fact that this system can never achieve a police response. But given the much lower financial outlay, that is a cost versus benefit judgment that plenty of customers may choose to ignore.

The Home Manager system will not make any impact on the insurance driven end of the market, but it is an ideal product for customers who want to inexpensively upgrade their alarm system for greater peace of mind.

September 24, 2020
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