Using Xfinity Home


How does Xfinity Home work?
Xfinity Home provides multiple devices to arm and disarm the system, and manage other rules and functions: the touch-screen controller, keypad, Xfinity Home app, desktop subscriber portal, voice remote control and keychain remote. You’ll use the wired, easy-to-navigate, touch-screen controller or Xfinity Home app as the main ways to monitor cameras, set up rules and arm/disarm the system.

The keypad is usually mounted to the wall and is used to arm and disarm your system when entering and leaving your home. It provides LED indicators to show if the system is armed, disarmed or ready to arm. For Xfinity TV subscribers with an X1 digital video recorder, you can view and control your setup through your TV using voice commands. X1 is Xfinity’s entertainment operating system.

The subscriber portal is a personalized, secure web page where you control the full suite of home security features in your Xfinity Home system, see the status of your devices, view video and control various devices.

The system has three modes: Arm Away, Arm Stay and Arm Night. Arm Away gives you time to leave the house and then activates your system, including the motion sensors. Arm Stay is for when you are at home and awake. Security features are activated but not the motion sensors. Arm Night is for users who want to enable some of the motion sensors when they are home but not moving around the house. Users can set up a custom “Good Night” scene that automatically arms the system, turns off the lights and adjusts the thermostat.

How are video recordings generated and stored?
One of Xfinity Home’s strengths is its video monitoring service, which can be purchased and used separately from the core home security system. If you buy a camera from Xfinity, or a compatible third-party camera, you can watch live video streaming and view brief clips on your television and mobile app without paying a monthly fee.

If you want to record continuous video, this option is available for $9.95 per month per camera. You can view a continuous feed from the previous 10 days to a CVR provided by Xfinity. The company uses artificial intelligence that allows you to filter the continuous recordings for specific people and vehicles. The service also lets you download and share clips.

You can customize the rules governing when the continuous recording starts and stops. For example, it’s possible to automatically turn on recording only when the alarm is in the Away mode – but otherwise leave it off while you’re at home.

Does the Xfinity Home system use a loud alarm to scare away intruders?
The Xfinity Home touch-screen controller has a built-in 85 decibel siren. Systems commonly range from about 80 to 110 decibels. Xfinity sells an add-on wireless siren that is also rated at 85 decibels.

What text and email notifications can I get – either in response to a home security alarm or for self-monitoring?
The Xfinity Home system provides a full-featured notification system that can be customized for a wide range of actions, such as a window or door being opened. You can get alerts via text, email or the mobile app and they can also be seen on your television.

Is the Xfinity Home system pet-friendly so my pet’s movements don’t create an alarm?
Xfinity Home motion sensors are designed to understand the difference between a human and an animal weighing up to 85 pounds.

Does Xfinity Home support an emergency duress or distress code?
Xfinity Home allows you to use a duress code, instead of your standard user code, to alert emergency personnel without letting an intruder know that you are calling for help.

Does Xfinity Home offer a panic function?
Yes. Press the emergency button to begin activation. Then, on the subsequent screen, press and hold the emergency button on the touch-screen panel for two seconds to send a panic alert to the monitoring center. The alarm will sound, and the monitoring center will immediately call your established numbers and subsequently the police if necessary. The mobile app does not have a way to initiate a panic.

Home Automation

What home automation technology is integrated with Xfinity Home?
Xfinity Home’s security service is part of a suite of home automation solutions. Xfinity Home sells its own branded camera, thermostat, smoke detector and outlet controller. The company’s “Works with Xfinity” program offers an extensive list of door locks, thermostats, lighting and garage door openers that can be integrated into the system and mobile app. Xfinity Home’s list of automation partners includes Caseta Wireless lighting by Lutron, August door locks, the Chamberlain garage door opener, Nest thermostats, Sengled lighting, Philips Hue lighting, Kwikset door locks, GE lighting, Ecobee thermostats, Cor thermostats, Lifx lighting, Yale door locks and Tile devices that can be attached to objects and then located by the X1 voice remote. Xfinity does not currently offer controls via Amazon Echo or Google Home.

In 2017, Comcast acquired Stringify, a company that created a DIY software-based scripting service to set up an automatic sequence of events. For example, at a prescribed hour, the system can turn off the lights, lower the thermostat and arm the home security system.

Does Xfinity Home work well with smart door locks?
Xfinity has a partnership with Kwikset to integrate four of its smart locks, and an additional four locks made by the August brand.

Does Xfinity Home integrate with my thermostat?
Xfinity offers a thermostat that can be included with your home security installation. If you already have a smart thermostat, like the Nest Learning Thermostat, it can be linked to the system by adding login information to your Xfinity account.

Alarm Detection Systems reaches 50th anniversary

 -  Aug 29, 2018

AURORA, Ill.—50 years ago, Bob Bonifas got started in the security industry with a Dictograph Security Systems franchise here, with the name Alarm Detection Systems.

Prior to joining the security industry, Bonifas managed a grocery business and got his first taste of security when putting in a security system at a tavern across the street from the store.

“We started out in Aurora. Having been in the grocery business, I was a businessman and new a lot of the business people. So, I focused on a some of the business people that I knew,” Bonifas told Security Systems News.

Alarm Detection Systems currently protects more than 35,000 locations across Northern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin, Colorado and Indiana. The company now has more than 300 employees.

“I was the only salesman for a long time—probably six [or] seven years. Then we hired one residential salesman, and he did well. Then, we started to grow. We started adding managers; a service manager, installation manager and people that could help manage and grow our business,” Bonifas said.

The company has grown substantially across the past several decades, Bonifas noted. 1978 was the first year that the company made $1 million in gross revenue. “By ’88, we did $7 million. In ’98, we did $17 million. In 2008, we did $33 million, and now we’re pushing $50 million,” said Bonifas.

The company has grown both organically and through more than 60 acquisitions. Its latest and largest purchase was in 2015 when Alarm Detection Systems acquired Louisville, Colo.-based Safe Systems, adding on 10,000 customers and more than $500,000 in RMR.

The company has operated its own monitoring center since 1974. The Safe Systems deal also brought Alarm Detection Systems its second monitoring facility.

The Safe Systems purchase was a main focus for Alarm Detection Systems, Bonifas said, and now the company is interested in more acquisitions.

A notable point in Alarm Detection Systems’ history was the founding of Security Network of America, now known as NetOne, with two industry colleagues. “At the time … many big alarm companies were being gobbled up by the big guys,” Bonifas said. “But, we thought we needed to compete with … whoever the giants were.”

NetOne has allowed a consortium of businesses to consult with each other and gain group pricing from manufacturers. “Within a year, we had 15 members,” Bonifas said. “Now it’s about 37.”

The company really started to grow around 1975, according to Bonifas. “That’s when I hired Terry Olah, my CFO who is still here,” he said. “My children were starting to mature and, so, one at a time four [out of five] of them came to work for me.”

Ed Bonifas, Dale Bonifas, Connie (Bonifas) Busby and Kim Bonifas each hold executive positions in the company. Bonifas noted that some of the next generation—his grandchildren—have started with the company.

Bonifas pushes his younger family members to have a job outside the family business for three years, before looking to join Alarm Detection Systems, he said.

Asked about the pace of technology developments over the company’s history, Bonifas said, “If we’ve been in business for 50 years—for the first 30 years, things were static. … Technology didn't change, and then it caught fire.”

ADS’ services have also changed “dramatically” because of the wide usage of apps and connected technology among technicians and other teams in the company, Bonifas said.

- Jun 08, 2018

Some home security systems are complex and should be installed by a professional. However, there are many good home security systems sold in kit forms that can be installed by any do-it-yourselfer. Most simple systems use a bell, loud buzzer, or other sound source to note intrusion.

Installation involves mounting the sound source or sounder in a location where it can be easily heard. Then attach a circuit of switches to the sounder and connect a battery to the system. Since the sounder operates from the battery, it remains an effective alarm system even in the event of a power failure. Alternately, battery-operated remote wireless sensors and controls can be installed. However, make sure that batteries are replaced regularly.

In electrical terminology, this alarm system is called a closed-circuit system. When the doors and windows are shut, the attached switches are closed. Because all the switches are in a wiring loop, opening any one of them breaks the loop and triggers the sounder circuit. Simply closing the door or window, moreover, does not restore the switch loop circuit continuity and does not stop the sound until either the battery becomes exhausted or someone switches off the circuit from battery to sounder.

There is an electronic switch built into the sounder. This switch is turned on by breaking the magnetic-switch loop. A key-operated switch in the sounder circuit allows you to turn the alarm system completely off when it is not needed. Also, once the alarm goes on, operating the key switch is the only way to silence the sounder. Only someone who has a key to the switch can reset the system.

The switch device consists of two parts that look much alike: one small plastic box that contains a strong magnet, and another that contains the actual switch. When magnet and switch are not near each other, the switch contacts are separated and the switch is open. On the other hand, when the magnet and switch are near each other, the switch contacts move together and the switch closes. The magnet part of the device is screwed to a door or window, and the switch part is screwed to the door or window frame. Thus, opening a door or window separates magnet from switch, causing the switch to open and trigger the alarm.

The three electronic parts that comprise the solid-state switch of the alarm sounder are mounted on a circuit board. Under the circuit board are a solenoid coil and a plunger that strikes the bell or activates the electronic sounder. Below the coil is a set of breaker points that causes the plunger to vibrate up and down, activating the sound source.

Installing the Components

Install the sounder first. Decide where you want it located -- either to attract the most attention for help or to scare away an intruder. If you decide to mount the sounder outdoors, you must drill a hole through the wall for the wires. To shield the sounder from the weather, you should install it in a protective metal box of the type made especially for alarm sounders. Inside the box is a bracket for mounting a tamper switch that sets off the alarm system if someone tries to open the alarm sounder box. Located in the side of the box is the key switch that allows a person with a key (but no one else) to activate, service, reset, or deactivate the alarm system.

If you want the sounder to be located indoors, you need not install it in a protective metal box. Mount the sounder on the wall in a place where it can be heard easily. Placing an indoor sounder in a closet or other confined space is not recommended.

The kit should include a mounting backplate attached to the sounder by a mounting screw. Remove the nut and separate the backplate from the sounder. You will see a pattern of holes in the backplate. Using wood screws, toggle bolts, or other suitable fasteners, attach the plate to the wall at the place you have chosen to position the sounder. Mount the backplate with enough fasteners to hold the sounder solidly in place. Make sure that the plate is mounted right side up, and that the correct side is forward. There is usually a tongue on the backplate that should be at the top when it is mounted properly. Do not connect the sounder to the backplate until later. You will find that the protective box for an outdoor installation already contains a built-in backplate. Mount the box in the desired location.

Next, install the door and window switches. The magnet part goes on the door or window, while the switch part goes on the window frame or doorjamb. Use the mounting screws in the kit to attach the parts. Try to position the two parts of the switch so that they are close together -- almost touching -- when the window or door is closed, and widely separated when the door or window starts to open.

If you wish, you can include fire sensor switches in the loop of entry-detection switches. Use the kind of fire sensor switch that breaks the loop when the air temperature in its vicinity reaches 135 degrees Farenheit.

Since that is more than the air temperature is ever likely to reach normally -- except in attics, furnace rooms, or over wood or coal stoves or other high-heat producers -- you will never experience false alarms during hot weather. Install 190 degrees Farenheit sensors in normally hot locations. You should mount the fire sensor switches in the spots where you feel they will be most effective. There is no reason why you cannot put one or more sensor in every room that is being wired for the security system.

Consider using current-conducting window foil tape for additional security. Silver foil with a self-adhesive backing is probably available where you purchase your alarm system. It is designed to trigger the alarm if an intruder breaks the glass in a door or a window. During installation, make sure there are no breaks in the foil that you stick on the glass; the tape must be continuous. Self-adhesive foil terminals or connectors at the ends of the foil tapes let you connect the loop circuit wiring, and a flexible door cord allows you to open a foil-taped door or window without setting off the alarm system.