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The InGrid (or LifeShield) Home Security System – Is It Awesome? (Part 2 of 2 – The Install)

by on Mar.09, 2010, under Group News, Presentations, Reviews, Tutorials, Whining

NOTE: InGrid recently changed their name to LifeShield, but the equipment and service is still the same as is reviewed here

If you are interested in how I got to this point, check out the first post.

UPDATE 10-18-2010: LifeShield has added a few items/features you should know about:
They now sell the cellular backup unit. Add it to your system and your alarms will go through even if your phone lines and internet connection are cut.
They also now offer a smartphone app for the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. I’ve used the Android and BlackBerry versions and I’ll review them here ASAP.
One last thing, I’ve reviewed their Wireless Homeview Camera which integrates with the security system.

UPDATE (05-10-2012): I’ve been less-than-thrilled with the business practices of LifeShield lately. I still am a big fan of their products and services, so these reviews stand true, but if you’d like to know what they are up to, read this blog post.

UPDATE 10-18-2010: LifeShield has added a few items/features you should know about:

They now sell the cellular backup unit. Add it to your system and your alarms will go through even if your phone lines and internet connection are cut.

They also now offer a smartphone app for the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry.

One last thing, I’ve reviewed their Wireless Homeview Camera which integrates with the security system.

UPDATE 11-11-2010: The battery in my Siren Detector died already, which is odd, but the good news is that it uses the same batteries as the door/window sensor: a CR2450 coin-cell battery. These can be purchased from amazon.com for pretty cheap…I bought a 5-pack for under $7 shipped.

UPDATE 12-08-2011 – THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ONE: In the past year LifeShield has changed their business plan a lot. As you read the review below, bear in mind that the following things are now the case for new customers:

  • They no longer sell the base systems outright, they are free-ish and subsidized by a…
  • Minimum 3 year contract. Sign up for a 5 year contract and your monthly rate will be cheaper (of course). Minimum $35/month for a 3 year contract, minimum $30/month for 5 year. One nice thing about being on contract is that the hardware is completely supported by LS, even including the batteries in your sensors.
  • There is a (minimum) $99 activation fee. It can be higher if you select certain options, such as the Cellular Backup unit

All this being said, it is still a decent deal. If I were security-system shopping today (instead of 2 years ago), I’d probably still go with LifeShield. I recommend you call the competition and get a quote, then check out LifeShield and see how it compares. If you are handy enough to install the system yourself (and you are… it isn’t hard), I think you’ll end up being happier with the LifeShield system.

Original Review:

As I discussed in the last post, I decided to go with the InGrid (LifeShield) security system. I ordered up all the parts I wanted and waited for them to arrive. Before you even receive your hardware, you can set up your account with the web portal (http://myingrid.com/). You create a password for accessing the account as well as other security questions. All of this can be edited later but you might as well get it out of the way now. Once you finish, you can poke around the site and see what kind of settings are available to you. Interesting, but I just couldn’t wait for the hardware to arrive so that I could get started with…

The Install

InGrid hardware

The packaging and documentation were all very impressive. There’s a great attention to detail they show here and it does not go unappreciated. The photo above shows all the stuff I got to start with, although I might add more later. It includes some very nice signs which I think I’ll be leaving in the box. Letting people know you have an alarm system is one thing, letting them know exactly what kind you have is another. Maybe I’ll put up some Brinks signs or something. When you open up the big box, you get this:

InGrid big box 1

A paper telling you, among other things, that “specialty sensors” can’t be added until 24 hours after system activation. No problem, plenty of other sensors to install first. It ended up being less than 24 hours for me anyway. Also included is a CD with PDFs of all the manuals. Then you get to the meat of the system:

InGrid big box 2

The numbered boxes make it even easier than I thought it would be. These 4 units make up the backbone of your security system. They are already associated with each other so there is no “syncing” to be done with these items. Just follow the simple instructions for each box (basically, connect the internal backup battery and plug it in) and you are good to go. Here is a shot of the book showing how simple the instructions are:

InGrid Instructions

As I mentioned, all of the items have internal backup batteries. Supposedly, the batteries will last around 24 hours if your power goes out. They are all simple rechargeable-phone-type batteries that you can buy at WalMart. First up is the base unit:

Base unit still in the box

Base unit still in the box

Base unit front

Base unit front

Base unit back

Base unit back

This guy is the real brain of the operation. You plug it into your internets and into your phone system (VOIP, in my case). It has a cradle for charging the phone unit, but the phone also comes with a charging base, so you don’t NEED to use this to charge the phone. I prefer hiding this somewhere out of sight so that nobody knows where to look to disable your system. If you are using your phone system as a backup, two of the other parts have phone jacks (the Console and the Grid Extender)…which means that this unit could be destroyed but either of those units could still phone home to the monitoring service. That’s part of what is so cool about this system…it is so decentralized.

Next up is the Handset and charger. Here is a pic next to a soda can for size reference:

InGrid handset

This handset has all the functionality of the Console, which is up next:

InGrid console

Either the handset or the console can be used to arm the system, disarm the system, view the status of sensors, and act as a phone (the console acts as a speakerphone). You can set the console on a countertop or mount it on the wall. It needs to be connected to AC power at all times (the battery is really just for backup purposes) so you are somewhat limited in mounting options. These units are also used for adding sensors and other goodies to the system. We’ll get into that shortly. I should also mention that you can view your current weather on either of these units as well as any “weather alerts.” Neato.

IMG00165-20100309-0734

I didn’t take a photo of the grid extender… it isn’t very exciting. Basically a brick that you plug into the wall. As I mentioned before, it has a phone jack which will be used to call the monitoring center if other systems fail. The grid extender also does what the name implies… it physically extends the network for sensors and other devices to be recognized by your system, so you should take that into account when deciding where to place all this stuff. You can even put a grid extender in your neighbor’s house (with permission, of course) and plug it into their phone line. That way, a thief would have to cut your internets, your phone, AND your neighbor’s phone to stop the system from calling in an alarm. If power, phone, and cable are knocked out for your entire neighborhood…well… I guess you are SOL… but InGrid says they have a GSM backup module coming soon, so you’ll be able to breathe easy (UPDATE: the GSM backup module is now available from lifeshield.com)

Once you have these 4 items powered up, you can activate your system online with myingrid.com. Very simple process that involves getting a code from the website and then entering it into your handset. Done. Now you can start adding open/closed sensors to your windows and doors. Here’s a little video introduction to the open/closed sensors, followed by a video I made explaining the very simple process of adding a sensor to your security system:

Easy, right?

You can add a bunch of these sensors and then sit down at your computer and name them appropriately from there (if you don’t want to do it from the handset or console).

Once the 24 hours have passed, you’ll get an email to tell you that your system has been activated and you are now in “Practice Mode” for 7 days… which means that any alarm you set off won’t call the monitoring system. So you have 7 days fool around and see how things work without being afraid that the cops will show up and yell at you. This activation email also means you can install your other sensors and dealies. In my case, that meant keyfobs, a siren detector, and a motion detector.

Here are a few videos showing my experience with those 3 addons:

All of that was pretty painless, right? I was a bit annoyed at how the motion sensor integrates with the system, so it gave me an excuse to call their tech support. The problem is that it logs motion events whether the system is armed or not. I understand that concept with door/window sensors, but not with motion sensors… The idea is to keep them in living spaces, so that means you’ll be tripping it all day long. Every time it senses motion, the console and the handset both display “Open: Motion Sensor” as if it is a window you keep opening and closing. My event log on myingrid.com very quickly just gets spammed with these “events.” Sure, I can filter the event log, but I shouldn’t have to. I asked tech support about it and they basically told me that it “isn’t a big deal” and that’s just how it works. They are right, it isn’t a “big deal,” but it IS annoying. There should at least be an OPTION to set it so that motion detector events only get logged (or noticed at all) when the system is armed. Working the way it does, I’m going to put a cover over my motion detector and only take it off when I leave the house or go to bed at night.

Now that the system is up and running, the only thing left to do is give you a quick tour of the myInGrid web UI. The following slideshow takes you through a bunch of the important screens. Many of the features shown here are also available via their mobile-friendly version of the myInGrid site, including being able to look at content grabbed by the cameras attached to your system (I really need to get one of their cameras). If you move your mouse over the slideshow, the controls pop up at the bottom which will allow you to pause it or move forward or backwards in the slideshow. The caption on each screenshot explains what you are looking at.


View the screenshots here if you want to look more closely.

I already mentioned the cameras they offer to integrate with the system. They have a few other items that I don’t (yet) own, but you should know about:

  • Glass break sensors – these recognize the sound of glass breaking and trigger the alarm
  • Water/temperature sensors – these are convenience sensors that alert you to a change in temperature and/or water where it shouldn’t be. I need one of these for our upstairs laundry room.
  • Smoke/heat detectors – you can use these rather than the siren detector I’m using.

I’m hoping that they’ll release some new products soon, such as:

  • A thermostat – would be killer to be able to see the current temperature and change the desired settings remotely
  • Light/appliance controls – or just add a module that supports X10 stuff
  • An outdoor camera - preferably wireless. If it is wired, make it support PoE and include a power injector. Seriously. I will pay for this.
  • A doorbell. This would be interesting to log events on, and it could just ring through all the same units that chirp when a door opens.
  • How about a module with a dry contact interface so we can start to have some REAL fun with this thing…

The Conclusion

So that’s pretty much it… If you have any questions that I have not answered, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best. Aside from the motion detector silliness, I think this is the perfect home security system…well, it is perfect when used in conjunction with the .44 Desert Eagle I keep in my bedroom. Maybe I should put a picture of THAT in my yard rather than the InGrid signs…

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107 Comments for this entry

  • Vivienne

    Jeremy,

    2 questions for you. Thanks for your time!

    1) How easy is it to enable/disable a specific motion sensor in stay mode from the keypad or web app? The reason for this is because if I’m at home during the day, I want all motion sensors off. But when I go to bed, I want to enable the downstairs motion sensors. Since this is an everyday occurrence, I want to know how easy the web interface is for bypassing a sensor temporarily. Ideally, there would be 2 different stay modes but I know that’s not the case. I don’t want to alter the away mode which has every sensor enabled.

    If possible, I would really appreciate if you could post a video demo or the web app in action

    2) Can the base station work with more than 1 keypad? For example, I want to have 1 keypad at the front entrance and another one in my upstairs master bedroom.

    • jeremy

      Vivienne,
      1. Not terribly difficult, but I don’t think you’d want to do it every day. For that kind of situation, I use “stay” to have the motion sensors turned off and “away” to have them turned on….even if I’m actually home. Wouldn’t “away” mode work for your ‘go to bed’ scenario?
      2. yes, you can use more than one keypad. the phone unit does everything the keypad does, however, and that’s what I keep in my master bedroom upstairs…so that might do the trick for you.

      I would do a video demo of the web UI, but it would be difficult to blur out all the private stuff.

  • Ginger Davis

    I was thinking of getting the Lifeshield system. Wanted to check with you and see is you are still happy with it. Also is there a warranty on the equipment and what name brand is it?….thanks

    • jeremy

      Still happy with it and I’m not sure what length the warranty is… might be listed on their web site. The equipment, for the most part, is their own brand. There are some add-on modules that are made by Honeywell.

  • CJ

    Life Shield (LifeShield) is NOT very good, actually it SUCKS. I got it installed and it’s only been 2 days and I’ve already been woken up 3 times because one sensor had a low battery alert (fixed it by call them resetting etc). The other two were because the grid “lost” the senors. I had to call and was told I need to delete and re-add the sensors. I deleted but its not finding the sensor when I try to re-add so need to call them again.

    • jeremy

      Sounds like you got some bad equipment. I’ve never had any of these problems, nor have any of the people I know who have the system. I hope they take care of it for you.

  • Brian

    Hi,

    I’m thinking of getting the Lifeshield system for my mom’s house… it’s a 3 level home…the vulnerable area that we want to secure is basement sliding glass doors and windows. My question is …Will the system allow you to just arm the basement area so you can be on the top two floors of the home? And were the best place to put the console…I was thinking of the middle floor. The router fot the system to connect to is currently near the computer system setup located in the basement. Your reply is appreciated. Thanks.

    • jeremy

      I’d set the basement sensors for “stay” arming and ALL sensors for “away” arming. Then you could arm it “stay” at any time. I’d agree that the middle floor would be best for the console, but there are a lot of variables involved, such as wall thickness. Luckily, you don’t have to mount it permanently… you can try it in different areas and see where it works best, then mount it when you are sure.

      • brian

        With the recent break-ins and stabbings in the town in which I live……I am anxious now to get a home security system installed. The Lifeshield website doesn’t mention the setup of registering the security system with the local police department. Does the lifeshield support take care of making the arrangements? I like to know the process… i know that Lifeshield only requires a 1 year contract for monitoring service (which uses the Guardian monitoring center)…which is very attractive to and not having so sigh up for multi-year contract ..unlike other companies e.g., ADT, Guardian which require a 3 year contract. Please elaborate on your experience with Lifeshield.

        Please advise…Thanks.

      • jeremy

        Yeah, it walks you through the process of picking the appropriate call centers for your physical location when you register the system on their website. I don’t know much about what is *actually* happening in this process, tho, so you might want to call lifeshield and ask if you are looking for a more specific answer.

  • O

    I was able to order the lifeshield homekit (not the free 30 day trial) with the upfront cost for $299 for only $124 using the below codes. They let you combine codes. Posting this on blogs I came across while researching lifeshield. Just saying thanks and I hope this helps someone.
    FSHIP,couponcabin,momdeal50,LSCSS125

  • Josh

    I was wondering, has anyone sold their system to someone else? I lived off campus for the past year and used a lifeshield system and once I move out I dont need it anymore so I am cancelling the service and hopefully going to sell the system to someone else so they can use it! Thanks!

  • Chris

    Hi Jeremy…

    Thank you for your review. I am looking for a security system, but, cannot afford one of the expensive done by an installer, etc.

    I have a few questions for you…

    The “kit” offered when I phoned LifeShield includes three door sensors. It hardly seems enough. However, the salesperson I talked to at LifeShield said that they consider monitoring the doors sufficient. I have three doors and eight windows that you cannot see clearly from the road. Additional sensors were around $27.00 each. Seems to me that that is where they are making their money…any thoughts?

    Is a camera still available by ordering from your link?

    I presume that if I contact them from your link it tells them you referred me as I see nothing about when I open it up…or maybe I am not looking close enough.

    Any other up to date opinions or thoughts on LifeShield?

    Thank you,

    Chris

    • jeremy

      Yeah, they def make $$ on the window/door sensors, but they are still cheaper than the window/door sensors some *other* alarm company wanted to sell me. I think they feel they’d rather let you buy more than try to sell people with smaller homes/apartments MORE than they need.
      You could always just cover your doors + put in a motion sensor or 2… or glass break sensors. Both of those are around $100 but they can cover a fairly large area.
      Maybe you don’t need to cover those actual windows with a motion sensor, but instead cover a hallway that they would definitely need to enter in order to get to the rest of the house? I don’t know how your house is laid out, but ask yourself if you were a thief: would you bust that window, enter the room, steal stuff from that room, and then leave without exploring the rest of the house? Perhaps the answer is yes, and you need a bunch of window sensors…but if not, you might save a few $$ with a motion sensor.
      I’ve set up quite a few people with systems (and I’m working on another right now) and we’re all still happy with our systems. The smartphone app has progressed nicely and I use it quite a bit.
      Also, to answer your question about the free camera: yes, I believe you will still get a free camera if you use the referral link. By using that link, it should pass on the information they need to know where the referral came from.

  • Joe Cohen

    Jeremy,

    How’s the system holding up? Just wanted to finally get on here and personally thank you for publishing these great reviews and helpful videos. Love the Q&A built in to the Comments section here.

    Joe Cohen
    LifeShield, Inc
    (267) 907-9777 / jcohen@lifeshield.com

  • JC

    My girlfriend and I have had a terrible experience with Life Shield. My girlfriend was actually the one who ordered it and she has told me that she went online and had actually searched for ADT, she entered her phone number in a site which was suppose to be ADT and they would call back. Well ADT didnt call back Life Shield did. They then went on to sell her a system which was completely wrong type for what we really needed. She was promised a 100% money back refund if she didnt like the system. Well needless to say that was not true, but we will get to that. I was obviously the one who opened the package and about to install it when i realized the equipment was not the right type, it was also going to need an ethernet cable run basically across the house for it to work. I decided that we would return it. I called the number and after a few minutes of being on hold i got to talk to some one who transfered me. This happened 3 more times and I was on hold for over 30 minutes (it honestly felt like a tactic being used to try to get me to give up and not return it). Upon reaching the right person, they repeatedly tried to get me to back out from returning it with ever thing they could think up. I was repeatedly told that they were just technicians who had nothing to do with sales but thats not what it felt like. I also had to get my girlfriend to call so that they could speak to me, which was fine but when she called they told her “since I have you let me talk to you on why you shouldnt return it”. I had made it quite clear to them that we were going to return it and they were just trying to prey on her. Finally I was told there would be a $50 restocking fee and shipping would not be covered. I had expected this but not thats not what they told her when she originally purchased it. Once they got it in their heads I was not going to back down, it was a very quick process, in about 30 seconds total I was told you will get instructions by email and to follow those, then they hung up. I never write reviews or anything but this service and company is just sketchy. Please take my advice and stay away! I don’t think I have ever had such a bad customer service experience. They also clearly go online and write good reviews for themselves. Say no to Life Shield…

  • Jonathan

    I can’t get ‘lifeshield’ to give me a quote for having an existing system. I bought an Ingrid system around 2008 or so and love it worked great. I moved to NYC and didn’t have a need. Now I do again and want to activate it but can’t. They will not give me any idea of how much it will be via email. They close at 4pm PST.

    Even if though, I can’t seeing it being less than $30 a month and with a contract. You can buy a Honeywell LYNX Touch 5100 for about the same and actually own the equipment and choose who to monitor it. You can get monitoring over broadband for $5-10 a month! no contracts and yes that includes their app for smart phones. And works with cameras and everything LifeShield’s system does and more. I’m going to sell my system and get a Honeywell!

    Fu*k Lifeshield!

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