Tips and Tricks of a Successful DIY Install of a Bosch Solution 6000 Alarm System
While it is tempting to advise that the best way to do a successful DIY alarm installation is not to, that would be an overly simplistic piece of advice. The reality is that you can successfully install it yourself, with some suitable provisos.
There can be many reasons to install your alarm yourself, from those who don’t trust installers to those who just prefer the DIY approach. For me it was because I knew I wanted to do a gradual install, adding sensors over time and adding things like proximity door unlocking to improve convenience. The gradual install to add capability would make having an installer do it too expensive over time. Plus, I was expanding my security camera system at the same time, and so had to run cables anyway.
There are three key factors in making a success of this:
· Your skills
· Having plenty of time
· The nature of the building the alarm is going into.
Obviously in a DIY project you are going to need some skills. In this case, there are three sets of skills you need:
· General ability to use ladders, walk on your roof (possibly), use drills and such
· Plan ahead skills and ability to analyse
· Basic wiring skills, like how to strip insulation off of wires, ability to follow a simple wiring diagram.
Assuming you have all the basic skills then the biggest factor is going to be the nature of your building. But before we look at that, let’s have a look at why this particular system.
There are lots of great alarm systems out there. With an alarm, which you need to be reliable and last a good length of time, it pays to investigate. You need something that is well supported by local installers (in case you need assistance), has a great reputation and is made by a company that you know is going to be around in 10 years.
I’m in Australia, and so a great local resource are the forums on Whirlpool (https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/), which I have found provide excellent advice for all sorts of purchases and DIY activities over many years. So, I consulted them. A bit of googling and reading of forum threads later and I had some pretty consistent advice — two brands kept being mentioned as the best. One was Bosch.
Bosch in Australia currently sell two main alarm systems, the Solution 2000/3000, aimed at domestic users, and the 6000 aimed at domestic but also commercial users. I started focusing on the 3000 and got quotes for installation as well. But as I started refining the features I needed (more on this soon), The 6000 looked more attractive. Not only does it seem to be considered more reliable locally, but it also ticked some boxes of features that worked for me.
Clarifying What You Need
Now this is really important, and my first tip is — take your time on this. You want to identify what you need now and what you want to be able to add later.
While our immediate need was for some security around the house, I also saw an opportunity for greater convenience. By itself an alarm system adds one more thing you have to remember to do when leaving home and when returning. And I knew this would be an issue for my wife. But if phase 2 included adding easy access control to the house and garage, then I might be on a winner. And this is what pushed me from the Bosch 3000 to the 6000, since there is great support for a range of secure proximity card readers and such. Plus, the actual difference in price of the two systems was pretty similar, given that so much of your alarm system cost is going to be in the sensors and installation anyway.
Working out the sensors you need will also take time. Here it helps if you have been living in your home some time and have thought about the possible points of entry and any particular vulnerabilities. Every home is different and so the combination you need will be unique. My advice is a layered approach and if you can, attempt to detect and sound the alarm before they have actually broken in. Amateur thieves may be scared away by the alarm, and you have more warning even with professional thieves. If your location lends itself to them, there great outdoor movement detectors that may work for you.
For convenience I would definitely consider remotes you can have on your house key ring. They make life much easier and let you arm and disarm the alarm from outside the house so there is no panic about entering your code into a keypad in a limited time.
The nature of your home will determine just how easy the installation is going to be, and whether your sensors and other controls need to be wired or wireless. Wired is definitely better as there are no batteries to replace every few years and they should be more reliable in the long term. But wireless works well and is a great solution if getting a wire to where you really need a sensor is really tough.
You can mix wired and wireless, and in my home, which is two story and has roof access issues in parts of it, that is precisely what I have done. The Bosch wireless system works and works well.
A Good Supplier
Just because you are installing yourself doesn’t mean you should skimp on where you buy the alarm from. I looked around and talked to many suppliers. The one I picked, CTC Communications in Sydney, Australia (https://www.ctccommunications.com.au/), not only have a great range of equipment, but will install and stand completely behind their products. They were great in helping me work out what gear was right for my situation and were then when I needed to clarify a few installation issues after purchase.
To be honest, the biggest issue with doing a DIY alarm install is that the instruction manuals, whilst detailed, make the assumption that installation is by an installer who has done this hundreds of times. Or at least the Bosch ones are like that.
So, what do you do:
· Firstly, buy from a supplier that supports you, as discussed above
· Then read the documentation, including doing searches only for additional resources
· Find the more detailed manuals online for things like the sensors which may only come (as the Bosch ones do) with visual only instructions that don’t provide the whole story. The Bosch ones have written the code number of the detailed manuals on the visual info sheets provided. Search on that code and you’ll find the proper manuals.
Some Key Tips
To help with the documentation issues, here are some clear steps to follow, specifically for the Bosch 6000, but they will also apply to most alarms:
1. Install the main panel in a convenient but out of the way location where power is readily available, access to phone and Internet lines is close and it is either somewhat central to the home (helps with wireless sensor connections) or is close to easy locations to run cables. The instructions in the manual are pretty clear on this part
2. Add in any additional modules to the main panel that you are using. The 6000 has a phone dialler built in but I added an Ethernet module and the wireless module
3. The Wireless module for the 6000 is a separate unit that you run a three cable connect to the main panel from. You want this in a good location to cover the home. You can use repeaters in a large installation. But mine, located upstairs, covers my two-story home and lets the remotes work outside the property
4. Connect the first (or only) keypad to the unit. I recommend putting a cabled keypad close to the main panel. Connection is via a four-wire cable and is easy. You can add others later, including wireless ones, but having one next to the main panel really helps
5. Power up the board for the first time before you’ve hooked up anything else
6. Enter the default installer code (which is in the manual)
7. Very first choice on the command list is a set of common commands that save you diving into the navigation system
8. Use this to put the alarm into Service Mode. This makes it impossible for an alarm to accidentally go off as you are adjusting settings (as happened to me because the manual was not clear on this). You can still test sirens and such from the menu, but it disables an actual alarm
9. Depending on the modules you have added to the basic panel, you may need to enable them before they function. The Bosch wireless input is one of these. You enable it with Menu 3–5–0 on the keypad and set it to 04 (Bosch Serial Receiver). It won’t work until you do this
10. The dialler has an easy set country code that preconfigures a lot of the settings for the comms for you. You use Menu 5–2–3 to find this
11. Now add your siren, howler and flashing lights. In Australia we commonly have an external siren and flasher, and an internal siren. Other countries have different normal practices with alarms. Since there are no instructions on installing these, apart from a wiring diagram, clarify this with your supplier. The Piezo sirens have a polarity that you have to get the right way around for them to work but they are often not marked on the device. The red lead is + and the black is -, or at least they were on mine. Use the quick access commands to test these
12. Add the sensors and test them one by one. Make sure you are still in Service Mode so a full alarm will not trigger. Read the manuals to find any tricks with your particular sensors. The pet proof Bosch wireless sensors, for example, have indicator lights that help you determine placement and coverage, but these only work for a set time after you install the unit into its wall mount. After that they stay off to save batteries. You can reactivate this by removing from the mount and reinstalling. Likewise, these same modules will not retrigger for 3 minutes after a previous trigger. You only find this info in the detailed written manual, and it drove me nuts checking that the sensors were all working till I found this out
13. On the Bosch, sensors are added to zones and zones are added to Areas. You can only have one wireless sensor per zone. Set all this up in a way that makes sense for your installation. You can always reconfigure it if you want it some other way
14. Wired sensors are connected in a daisy-chain fashion (assuming they are normally closed sensors) and at the end of the wire a resistor is connected across the end of the two wires. This is actually well covered in the manual
15. Even zones you are not using need the resistors across the wires on the main panel so that, when you test your zones, they all display normal values. Just screw them into the posts there for the connections you are not using at present. It will make your life easier
16. Then setup your users. The first one becomes the Master user. In the manual this is under the Access section. It is covered pretty well. Basically, you setup users and their individual pin numbers, setup keyfob remotes if using them, connect keyfobs with users and assign users to Access Areas (you’ll probably assign them all to the same Area 1, the whole alarm, but you can do more complicated arrangements if necessary. This is useful in commercial buildings but probably not necessary at home)
17. Test the user pins and test the keyfobs
18. You will need to change the Installer pin at some point. Write this down somewhere safe
19. You will need to turn off Service Mode at this point. Before you do so make sure the cover is back on the main panel so the tamper switch doesn’t trigger an alarm
20. For testing the whole system out I recommend setting Audible Burglary off and Silent Burglary on for the Area you are testing using Menu 2–1–5. This will cause the keypad to beep and the strobe to flash but no sirens going off. You if are using an Ethernet connection to get notifications to your phone, or the dialler, you will still get these. This makes it easy and less annoying to well test the system to make sure it is working properly
21. Once you are comfortable that it is all working you can turn on audible alarms if you are using them
Installing an alarm need not be difficult and I am happy with the result. I now really understand the alarm and so adding to the capability over time will now be very easy. Remember the online forums if you get stuck and if you picked a good supplier in the first place then a quick phone call should clarify anything. My supplier said they were happy to walk me through the full programming over the phone if I wanted. In the end I didn’t need that, but it was nice to know they would.