DIY Danger: How Konnected Has Concocted False Claims About Its Alarm Panel Solution

Konnected says its alarm panel can turn any wired alarm system into a smart alarm. However, an independent forensic analysis shows it disregards security and life-safety standards and represents extreme danger to consumers.

DIY Danger: How Konnected Has Concocted False Claims About Its Alarm Panel Solution

NOTE FROM EDITOR: The opinions expressed within this article are those of the author alone.

Konnected of Orlando, Fla., bills its alarm panel as “an open source solution for connecting wired sensors and switches to home automation platforms.” In a nutshell, the company claims that its diminutive circuit board adds features to legacy alarm panels and works with nearly all wired sensors, including those protecting doors and windows, as well as for motion, glass-break and smoke detection.

Consumers can order the panel direct from the company or through online vendors. It can be installed DIY or professionally via the company’s network of affiliated installers and dealers. Instead of installing a new listed circuit board in replacement to the existing panel, assuming it is non-functional, the Konnected alarm panel is said to replace the old motherboard, entirely. Professional monitoring is optional.

After scrutinizing Konnected’s Internet marketing efforts — including videos produced by company Founder Nate Clark — I became interested in forensically analyzing the panel to determine if it indeed lives up to being a “modern replacement” for common wired security systems.

What follows are my investigative results, which include my findings and opinions and then compares them to equipment manufactured and utilized by the professional and technical community of the alarm industry, UL and NFPA Standards, and nationally recognized industry standards and best practices.

Forensic Analysis Reveals Dangers

The first iteration of the Konnected alarm panel was launched on Kickstarter in 2017. The company’s assertion that its panel serves as a viable replacement for “Honeywell/Ademco, DSC, Brinks, Interlogix, Napco, and all other hardwired security systems” is, in my opinion, a false claim. “Now in its 2nd generation,” Konnected states that it has more ways than ever to upgrade “any” wired alarm system.

This includes connecting an interface module to any wired alarm panel, allowing consumers to “tap into wired zones without giving up your traditional keypads.”

In most cases, according to the company, users can even arm/disarm the traditional panel remotely and receive notifications if it is triggered.

Realistically, the sale and use of Konnected products either independently or in-parallel with the interface module to any listed control unit is both dangerous and unreliable. In my opinion, Clark’s decision to disregard all aspects of the core fundamentals of what security and life-safety systems are required to be equipped with is what equates to a conscious indifference to the safety and security of unsuspecting consumers.

I attempted to communicate with Clark on multiple occasions to express my expert opinion that his products are extremely dangerous and unreliable. Following is a portion of an email correspondence I received in reply from him:

Let me just clarify that our products are not complete security “systems” because they do not handle the logic of arming, disarming, alerting, monitoring, fault detection, etc. If you’re referring to UL Standard 681, then by definition Konnected products could not meet that standard because they do not perform these functions, nor are they designed to.

Our products enable traditional wired sensors and signaling devices (i.e. siren) to be bridged to a 3rd-party home automation platform (such as SmartThings, Home Assistant, etc.), which in many ways can emulate the functions of a security system in software.

UL 681, which Clark mentions on assumption, is the UL Standard for Safety Installation and Classification of Burglar and Holdup Alarm Systems relating to UL-certificated systems, and has absolutely nothing to do with household burglar and fire alarm combination listed control units to UL 1023 and UL 985.

One only has to look at the Konnected website to see how this statement by Clark is incongruent to what the company represents publicly. Glaringly, Clark’s response speaks volumes in that he created a concept and product that universally disregarded and/or never took into consideration the myriad dangers and risks associated with security and life-safety systems when control panel equipment is not conforming and when inherent safeguards of a control panel are not being employed.

Consider: None of the company’s alarm panels are listed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), and none of the control panel equipment manufacturers listed on Konnected’s website adopt what Konnected represents that their products provide when connected to any of these listed control units.

Notwithstanding, Konnected assertively touts its products are a “modern replacement” to common alarm systems. In my opinion, this is a false claim. With regard to the Konnected products not performing functions of an alarm system — coupled with, “nor are they designed to” — is yet another attempt by Konnected to disregard the industry standard of care and in my opinion try to distance themselves from what they claim their products provide for consumers.

Among these false claims: “Konnected is the solution you’ve been looking for to upgrade or upcycle any brand of wired security system.” Konnected conceals material information from consumers by not disclosing the criticality of the fact that its alarm panels are not listed. Nor are consumers made aware that none of the professional equipment manufacturers referenced on Konnected’s website have authorized Konnected products to be utilized with the listed control units made by each of these respective manufacturers.

Certainly, this would be an important disclosure for any consumer to know about before considering the purchase of Konnected products.

The loop side of the circuit in this smoke detector is connected to the normally closed and common instead of the normally open and common, which is reserved for 24-hour zones.

Hazardous Technical Advice

Clark had the audacity to send me an email in what I believe was an attempt by him to convince me that everything was good. I did not find it convincing at all. In my opinion, it just demonstrates his egregious behavior and attempts to use false claims as a remedy to what can never be cured on the Konnected products, which his company sells and markets to the public.

His email states: “You’re correct that our products are not listed by a NRTL and do not meet NFPA standards.”

I find it incredulous that Clark admits what he knows about NRTL and NFPA Standards, yet still designed his products in material deviation to these core mandates.

His email continues: “Konnected is not intended to be used for fire or life safety.”

I agree, but Konnected markets and represents its products much differently.

Clark adds: “Our products are designed and marketed for home automation and ‘smart home’ integration for convenience/lifestyle purposes only.”

In my opinion, this is yet another false claim. Regardless of how you want to frame it, consumers do not buy security systems and life-safety systems for convenience/lifestyle purposes only. Any suggestions to the contrary are erroneous. The reality of the situation is that consumers purchase alarm systems for peace of mind and warning of an intrusion emergency, a fire and/or carbon monoxide (CO) and/or gas emergency in their home, in order to protect themselves and their families from serious personal injury and/or death.

Clark also states: “That being said, we do have advisors on the team that come from the security/fire industry and are working on evaluating our product line for future NRTL recognition. We’re not there yet, though.”

No kidding. Product evaluation and compliance should have happened long before this product was engineered and put in the stream of commerce.

As elaborated above, Clark references in his email that Konnected has advisors on the team that come from the security/fire industry. Who are the “team members” involved which support this product as is?

Konnected claims that “most traditional alarm systems are limited” to 8 or 12 zones, forcing installers to group multiple sensors together into a zone. In my opinion, this is a false claim.

Konnected claims that its control panel works with all wired security system devices and references smoke and co detectors. In my opinion, this is a false claim in that connecting the “Konnected Alarm Panel” to any smoke detector(s) and/or CO detector(s) violates adopted fire codes across the country, including but not limited to NFPA 72.

The consequences of relying on an unreliable and non-conforming fire alarm system is significant property loss and/or serious personal injury and/or death to occupants within the home.

To further amplify the egregiousness of Konnected Alarm Panels is that the company unilaterally disregards mission-critical minimum supervision regulations.

Konnected is so disconnected from alarm science that they add in a disclaimer that states “THIS PRODUCT IS NOT A LIFE SAFETY DEVICE,” referring to their “Alarm Panel.”  What alarm panel is a life-safety device?

Thereafter, the disclaimer states, “Use with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on Konnected alone to notify you in a life-threatening emergency.”

Despite this misdirection, Konnected provides “technical advice” to consumers on how to connect all types of smoke detectors and CO detectors to their unlisted “Alarm Panels” and other associated products. They even go so far as to request that consumers send Konnected photos of the final wiring terminations on the inside of control units for help.

Accordingly, the contention that anything Konnected is providing is for informational purposes only to consumers is nonsense.

Konnected’s attempts to circumvent adopted fire codes and NFPA 72 is both dangerous and does not eliminate any of these statutory duties no matter how Konnected wants to spin it.

Konnected knowingly admits that it is not certified to any national standards for smoke and fire-safety monitoring equipment, attempting to make it feel like this is perfectly acceptable. In other words, Konnected knowingly created, designed, markets and sells products which do not even meet minimum fire code standards even though they concede awareness and knowledge of certified (listed) and national standards relating to these mission-critical products.

Konnected knew, should have known, and/or most certainly had to recognize that families around the country, and the world, rely on life-safety smoke detectors and CO detectors and gas alarms, to help save their lives in the event of a fire and/or CO and/or gas emergency. Yet this never appears to have concerned Konnected in that they continue to sell unlisted products, which can never be used under adopted fire codes and NFPA 72 in a household or any type of occupancy.

Konnected also states: “Use is intended for informational purposes only for use with home automation software.”

Let me be clear: there is no place for life-safety smoke detectors and CO detectors on home automation software as part of Konnected’s offering, and the marketing of these products is inconsistent with what Clark wants me to believe.

The company’s website states: “Check local code requirements. Local fire and electrical code may require certain type of wiring or connection with external monitoring services. Konnected is not a certified fire protection monitoring device and cannot be used to comply with such requirements.”

There is no reason for a consumer to check “local code requirements” because Konnected products are not listed and do not and would never comply with building and fire codes. Also significant, the Konnected product line does not provide Temporal III or IV, nor do they appear to understand this minimum fire code requirement or any part of NFPA 72.

Admissions by the company that its products are not certified to any national standards for smoke and fire-safety monitoring amplifies that — even though Konnected is aware of national standards — it still chose to completely disregard them in the products which they have designed and marketed.

Konnected’s technical advice to consumers for wiring a four-wire smoke detector to its alarm panel is demonstrated here as an example. Adhering to Konnected’s technical advice is nothing short of creating danger, unreliability and violates NFPA 72.

No end-of-line resistor (EOLR) supervision and no power supervision relay is indicated in the photograph, which is totally consistent with Konnected’s universal disregard and lack of understanding of adopted fire codes across the United States by AHJs.

Furthermore, the loop side of the circuit in the smoke detector photograph above is connected to the normally closed and common instead of the normally open and common, which the pro side of the alarm industry knows is reserved for 24-hour zones.

On its website, here is what Konnected directs consumers to do with end-of-line resistors:

If you’re removing sensors from an old existing alarm panel, they may be wired with end-of-line resistors. Remove the resistors and discard or save for a different project.

Disregard end-of-line resistors or save them for a different project? Clearly, Konnected does not have the foggiest idea of what they are talking about.

Konnected states the use of smoke and CO detectors with its products is for informational purposes only. However, the company provides technical advice on how to wire a smoke detector onto its alarm panel via the photograph above, which seriously violates every known code and standard that applies to UL-268 Smoke Detectors, and UL1023/UL-985 Household Combination Listed Burglar and Fire Alarm Control Units.

Furthermore, the company’s technical advice encompasses multiple smoke detectors but remains universally silent on mission-critical and code required supervision: “If you have multiple interconnected smoke detectors, ensure that they all alarm when one alarms.”

The professional and technical community of the alarm industry knows that Konnected’s criteria does not even come close to meeting the minimum requirements of fire alarm life-safety code compliance.  In other words, without the required supervision, the fact that a smoke detector “works” at the time it is tested is meaningless.

The Alarm Panel 2 is more compact than its predecessor while adding integrated and improved WiFi and other features, according to Konnected.

Tragically, consumers are completely unaware and in my opinion have been put at high risk by Konnected’s technical advice. According to Clark, because Konnected products “do not handle the logic of arming, disarming, alerting, monitoring, fault detection, etc.,” the company is not providing a complete security system. Yet, the company’s representations to the public are materially different.

In my opinion, Konnected provides nothing less than a dangerous and false sense of security to consumers as it relates to threats by the criminal element and life-safety risks in the event of a fire, CO and/or gas emergency. Importantly, Clark concedes the company’s products do not handle “fault detection.”

Once again, this is yet another inherent danger of Konnected products which cannot exist on alarm products. There are no warnings as to the products being non-compliant, nor are there any warnings to consumers about strict adherence requirements to NFPA 72.

Konnected represents to the public that its products “turn any alarm system into a smart alarm.” Let me be perfectly clear: There is nothing “smart” about any of the company’s products. Moreover, there are a multitude of listed alarm products sold by professional equipment manufacturers, which provide features and functions that either meet and/or exceed what Konnected states its products provide.

In a similar vein, the majority of these professional products have been tested by nationally recognized testing laboratories and have been specifically designed to connect to listed household and commercial alarm control units. Yet another troublesome technical directive on the company’s website concerns the potential for a malfunctioning board:

If your device is not responsive and feels hot to the touch, it needs to be replaced. Sometimes this is caused by a short circuit or a voltage spike, but other times the board is just bad.

In other words if the Konnected alarm panel fails, unless you are touching the circuit board when it is hot, you will not know that it failed. Additionally, once this board fails, everything connected to the Konnected board is no longer functional.

A short circuit should not blow a circuit board on an alarm system or on any device which is being connected to an alarm system. The fault on the board can also negatively effect other mission-critical functions of the host security system control panel.

Not surprisingly, Konnected products do not provide any automatic way to warn consumers of a failure on their unlisted product line, and since they are required to connect to the auxiliary output (data bus) of the host control unit, a short from the Konnected equipment will shut down most host panels.

The built-in switch/relay on the Konnected Alarm Board can accommodate a siren up to 1.4A or 15W. When the siren exceeds this specification, or when wires are shorted across the switch, it can become fused in an on or off position. When this happens, you will not be able to either turn your siren on or off depending on how it’s stuck.

Here Konnected is using its nonlisted equipment as the portal to activate the system’s sirens with the caveat of what can happen without any warning whatsoever to the consumer. Self-evidently, not only is the siren(s) not electronically supervised like the rest of the design doctrine of Konnected products, but it can become fused without warning and end up in a sustained off position.

Woefully deficient, the Konnected product line does not detect this material change of state and remains silent just like all of the connected sirens. Thereafter, if the siren is fused in the “off” position, there will be no onsite audible alarm when an emergency is detected. This design flaw has a high propensity of negatively effecting other crucial functions of the security system without any onsite and/or remote warning being provided to consumers.

Concurrently, if there is a fire and/or CO and/or a gas emergency event in the premises, and the siren output is locked in the off  position, the system will not audibly sound.

Keep reading for additional false claims, as well as a suggestion for manufacturers to hold Konnected legally responsible for claiming its products can be safely connected to professional alarm control panels…

About the Author

Contact:

Jeffrey D. Zwirn, CPP, CFPS, CFE, FACFEI, CHS-IV, SET, CCI, FASI&T, MBAT, writes Security Sales & Integration’s “Security Science” column. He is also president of IDS Research and Development, an alarm and security consultation, expert witness and training authority providing nationwide services on all issues related to alarm and security matters. He can be reached at (201) 287-0900.

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