Upgrading a Wired Security System - Looking for Options

My house came with an ADT SafeWatchPro 3000 installed. The system has multiple door switches and PIR motion sensors. I’d like to upgrade the system, and bring it into this HA age. Ultimately I’d like all of this to be run from OpenHAB.

I’ve done a bit of reading and there are few options out there, including this hardware: ESP32, Konnected.io, RPI and a multitude of sensors.

I’d like to get a bit more pointers and experience from fellow Home Automation/Security enthusiasts on how to upgrade my home/system.

Here is some information about the current system:

  1. There are 4 mechanical door sensors (see pic below).
  2. There are also 4 PIR Motion Detectors
  3. No sensors for the windows.

The system is about 18 years old and due for a face-lift. So, moving forward, here is what I’d like to do:

  1. Re-purpose/re-use the door switches (or at least their wires), might even replace the switches with something more modern if needed.
  2. Install wireless switches for the windows (22×)
  3. Replace the main board, downstairs in the basement.
  4. Replace the main control keypad (near the entrance door), used to arm/disarm the system.
  5. Also replace the PIR sensors, most likely there is newer/better technology today.

Thus, the system must be able to manage:
22× Windows sensors (wireless)
4× Door Sensors (wired)
4× PIR Sensors (wired)
Cameras, and other IoT gadgets.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

PS. I realize this is not entirely an OpenHAB question, but ultimately I want to build a system that works with OpenHAB.


Would this work on your Adt? GitHub - taligentx/dscKeybusInterface: An Arduino/esp8266 library to directly interface with DSC security systems.

Thank you, that’s an interesting option. Such option would require interfacing with the current ADT hardware (main board + keypad). I’m also contemplating the option where the ADT system can be removed (except the sensors) and replaced with an ESP32 and few other boards.

At this stage both options are going to be a steep learning curve for me, and not sure which option is the more feasible/robust/… and many other attributes. It appears though, building the whole thing up from scratch might be the ‘cleanest’ approach, while reusing the existing sensors, of course.

I would strongly recommend using a purpose designed intruder alarm. They’ll have thought of functions, safeguards, and practices that you haven’t.

Obviously you’ll want to choose one that you can interface to openHAB, and get details of zones even when alarm disabled. Getting door open,PIR events etc. is really useful.

This stuff is generally reliable (e.g. your current 18yr ld) so I wouldn’t have many qualms about buying a capable brand name central unit + keypad used off ebay.

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I replaced my alarm system which was a bosch, to 4 konnected control boards.
Im running 18 zones right now. with 2 sirens, outdoor led strobe and buzzers inside.

I reverse engineered the konnected board and had my own made. Using node MCU and konnected firmware.

Works great and has gone for 2 years now with no issues.

The only thing i then suggest is a battery backup system for your openhab pi, and the alarm panels.

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Thank You @rossko57. So you’re saying: Rather than throwing away the current one and replacing it, it is better to keep it and find a way to interface to OpenHab, Correct?

In such case, there is a 3rd party solution, and per their website description, it only interfaces with existing systems, no need to remove anything. WOuld such solution be preferred ?


Not really, it’s nearly twenty years old. While interfacing to openHAB and and to the wireless zones that you want may be possible, it’s not easy. Plus, will it support the number of zones you have in mind?

I was just saying newer (but not necessarily new) branded central system will have interface options and wireless options. And of course available as 40-zone or whatever instead of 8-zone, I think that factor may force you to replace.

Great, do you have any systems you can recommend? What I find ‘daunting’ in my current installation is the many ‘additional’ connections (see picture above) to the board. Some of them are to the PIR and door sensors, but many other cables are to the phone line and other things I do not understand (yet). I want to start clean, but do not want to spend 3 months studying what I need to do :slight_smile:

It turns out the Envisalink unit (link above) will not work with my existing system.

I’m not going to recommend anything, so much depends on your individual situation, like your unknown location. It’s going to take some research on your part.
For example, one of your mystery existing wires is likely an external bell box. Getting to understand your existing system would be a good springboard to considering the technical aspects of a replacement.

If you can’t afford the time to learn security systems, that is understandable , and you maybe ought to engage some practical help. But you’re not going to have the time to throw together ESP32 custom solutions either.
I will repeat that commercial systems will think of things you haven’t - “what happens if the keypad is smashed?”

For sure, I did not imply I was after a plug-n-play solution with zero effort on my side. I am looking for a starting point i.e., info on what is out there and people’s experiences with them. For example, the current system taps into the second phone line and I plan on connecting that to my VoIP. As to the other wires, I have my suspicions but I’d need to trace them and see where they lead (i.e. fire/smoke alarms?).

Again, I’m not after a 100% definite recommendation … just a starting point, and together with pros/cons of each available approach. I’m not a total novice here to electronics/wiring/etc … while that could be true for security systems architecture.

Full disclosure ; I do have openHAB hooked to a 20+ yr old alarm. It’s a bit “special” though, a high feature (for its day) system, modular expansion to 128 zones (we actually have 40 odd) but the most unusual feature is many programmable binary outputs. I set these to mimic door and PIR zones, and report alarm status, importantly this does not interfere with primary alarm circuits. There isn’t any “home automation” scale gear to read 40 odd binary inputs, so the openHAB side is also using more “industrial” equipment in the shape of Modbus digi i/o modules.
openHAB exploits PIR, door and break-beam zone activity for daytime occupation/lighting use, and exploits alarm state in deciding what to do about outdoor detections.
None of that is likely to help you! It’s for a warehouse, not a home. But points up how individual solutions are based on circumstance.

I reckon you need a shopping list.

How secure do you need to be? Some folk build a system around openHAB using e.g. zwave stuff. Cheap, but only as good as the effort that you put in.
I’ve already said my bit here - use a commercial system, they have already thought of tamperproofing, standby power, fault detection, etc.
Your insurers may have an input here.

How many zones to handle? (in alarm usage, a zone is single door/window/PIR)

You’re thinking adding wireless - can this be done from central box, or you need an wireless expander remotely to reach? (in alarm usage, wireless sensors use proprietary comms to central)

You’re wanting to ‘hack’ this system for openHAB access. If you’re going commercial, some brands are easier to find tech details out about than others, or offer a more ‘open’ interface, or a 3rd party offers an interface.

What do you want to happen when it goes off? If you want voice dial out, many offer inbuilt. Or addon boxes can work with any alarm,.for landline or GSM. You might be satisfied with getting openHAB to send SMS, depends.

There are quite a few threads about intruder alarms on this forum, worth the background read. I understand the binding for the DSC alarm models is used fairly extensively.

I second the recommendation for DSC. For your system I would use a DSC Power 832 (PC1832) panel paired with a DSC RFK5500 keypad. Then use an Envisalink EVL-4 to interface with openHAB using the DSC binding.

This configuration supports 8 wired zones (which matches what you have) and the keypad specified acts as the receiver for DSC wireless window contacts.

The setup programming is all done on the system keypad. And while it is tricky for a security system newbie, it is still do-able for a DIYer. The documentation for these products available is readily available but DSC does not support DIYers directly.

Thank you gentlemen, truly appreciate the feedback/pointers. Based on other threads I’ve read, I was under the impression that I could re-purpose the hardware I have now (at least partially) and add few boards (e.g. ESP32) to get the whole thing talking to OpenHab. Yes, Envisalink has a new board that can do what I’m after but upon further reading (and questions on Amazon), that board is not compatible with my ADT SafeWatchPro. Also, buying $4-500 worth of boards now to redo the whole thing might not be the smartest thing for me to do as I’m still learning about this ‘hobby’.

My goal/wish is to start small, then bit-by-bit learn more and buy more suitable systems/boards. For example, I have 8 zones now (only 7 are used) and have identified all the cables connected to the board (7 zones + keypad + alarm + phone). Based on all I’ve read so far, here is the ‘plan’

Option 1 - Keep existing hardware and add new interface board

  1. Envisalink is out as it is not compatible
  2. Buy multiple other boards as @mlobstein recommended - too big an investment this early in the project
  3. Explore the Konnect board - Still reading/exploring to find out if it is compatible - ‘Ok’ investment

Option 2 - Throw away all hardware, and start ‘almost’ fresh

  1. What is feasible with ESP32 ?
  2. Use only hard-wired sensors/zones for now
  3. Make provision for future addition of wireless sensor (windows)
  4. Focus on interfacing with OpenHab, and have msgs/alerts sent where applicable

Long Term - Build some robustness into the system
5. Backup UPS
6. What happens if keypad gets damaged/tampered with
7. Dial-out options - What’s available beyond LAN/ethernet ?

Lastly, Yes, there are commercial systems available from ADT/Comcast/ATT/Wyze … etc, but those typically want to sell you everything they have, their own sensors/cameras/tablet/… and no guarantee integration with OpenHab is possible/easy.

Any others have some input on how to proceed?

Where I am now is: The retrofit solutions like Envisalink and Konnected are a bit pricey. For now I’m interested in doing this with ESP32/Arduino/RPI to learn a bit more, then invest in the pricier solutions if needed.

Let me offer my 0.02USD on this point…

Depending on the number of ESP32s you’re willing to put into the system and the architecture, this can be a lot. You could, if you can afford to “go wild”, have an ESP in each room to coordinate and maintain the sensors there, reporting back to a central ESP/RasPi acting as the “nerve center” of your system with the ESPs as its “satellites”/'ganglia". This would make it near-infinitely customizable and expandable.
Is this cool? Yes. Is it powerful? Yes. Is it a good idea? No.

As others have said before, your best bet is really to go with a prefab center, like a DSC. Now, I’m not about to put you down or anything, especially because I have no idea about your background, but here it goes: security companies have infinitely more experience, resources, manpower, and scale to do this than you do. Their research teams will have already answered questions you don’t even know you need to ask yet, their design teams will have already considered and discarded options you don’t even know are on the table, and their manufacturing departments have already built and assembled the system for less than you could ever hope to pay for the components and time required.
While making such a system is incredibly enticing (I know, this is the third time I’m talking myself out of the same task you’re considering), because it deals with security, my best advice is to avoid rolling your own solution and use what other, much bigger and more advanced, actors have already put together for you. When the excrement impacts the rotor blades (and it will, sooner or later), you’ll be thanking yourself.