Why Qolsys IQ Panel Is a Smart Choice for the Smart Home

Is the Qolsys IQ Panel the best possible solution for your installation jobs? Security industry expert Robert D. Grossman answers in SSI’s Bench Test.

As far as connecting devices, you need to know your way around both the panel and the technology involved. I first attempted to set up the panel using only on-screen help and the Quick Guides provided, and had some success. The panel has an “auto learn” feature that will allow it to find some sensors on its own, and tweaking the settings is fairly intuitive to a point.

And I suppose if you’re looking for a plain vanilla setup that may be sufficient. But if you want to use advanced features or really customize the programming, you’re going to have to crack the manual, watch some videos (there are plenty of them on Qolsys’ YouTube channel) or both.

To that end, it seems that pretty much every setting on this panel is customizable. From voice language (currently English and Spanish) to grouping sensors to configuring alarm types and delays on a sensor-by-sensor basis, you are covered.

Annunciation sounds can even be assigned individual “ring tones” like contacts on a cellphone. This is clearly an installed product and we aren’t reviewing this in the context of a do-it-yourself project.

There’s an investment of time required to learn what can be done, and tinkerers such as ambitious homeowners monkey at their own peril. There’s a separate installer pass-word that opens up more configuration options, and we recommend guarding it with vigilance.

A number of settings are also performed via Alarm.com but reviewing that software is beyond the scope of this Bench Test. We did find that site, and the related apps, to be far more intuitive than the front panel from both an end-user and installer’s prospective. Qolsys says that homeowners are far more likely to use their smartphone for all but basic arming and disarming of the system, and we tend to agree with them.


A key ingredient of an alarm panel is reliability and we put the IQ Panel through its paces for an extended period with-out a hitch. Simulated power failures didn’t throw it (there’s a 2500mAh lithium ion battery backup) and a configurable power saving feature is smart enough to shut off the slideshow and panel lights when the panel is running on battery.

We also tried simultaneous alarm events, tampering with sensors and any-thing else we could think of. With the exception of the need to press hard or make sure fingernails weren’t in the way when activating the touchscreen, the panel performed flawlessly. In fact, the use of a resistive touchscreen, unlike a capacitive screen such as the ones used in smartphones and tablets, allowed us to arm and disarm the panel while wearing gloves – a handy feature given the intended application.

The alarm notification via Alarm.com was also appreciated. It was good to be notified of power failures and water leaks, as well as the usual “arm” and “disarm” notifications. The granularity of notifications borders on creepy, but you can selectively shut them off as needed. You can be told when your child arrives home from school and disarms the system, but I’m not sure you’ll want to know when they’ve opened the refrigerator. Your call.


  • Features: : 5/5
  • Construction: : 4/5
  • Setup: : 3/5
  • Performance: : 4/5
  • Overall: : 4/5

Our main criticism of the IQ Panel is the end user-facing software. Sure, we understand that you’ll be using the Web site and apps more than the touchscreen, but that doesn’t excuse poor usability. End users will compare this to slick tablets and be disappointed.

For example, a user entering an invalid alarm code will show up in the Status log on the home screen. Pressing the Status icon will show you the alarm event, but if you want to see a picture of the person who entered the wrong code, you have to go back to the home screen, press the Camera button, press the Alarm Photos button and view the picture.

Why can’t these be cross-linked? Screens aren’t intelligent or persistent; if I press on the Status icon because it is showing that there were alarm events, why can’t it take me to the Alarms tab instead of always taking me to the Status tab? There’s no way to clear an alarm event without deleting it – suppose I want a record of how many times little Johnny entered the wrong code?

Sure, I can look in the History log, but there are a lot of entries there and things will get lost. You can’t page down through long logs, even though a scroll bar appears on the right side of the screen. Granted, these are issues relating to refinement rather than functionality, but they can be frustrating, particularly to non-technical people who seem to complain the loudest.


The Qolsys IQ Panel is a well-designed, solidly built alarm panel that can serve as the brains of a smart home while reliably handling routine alarm duties. It is constantly evolving and improved quite a bit during the course of the review period. A better screen, some software refinements and perhaps an eye on outward aesthetics might make this product even more appealing, but these aspects of the panel by no means diminish the ease of use and versatility of this innovative product.

After playing with the Qolsys panel for a few weeks, it will be difficult to go back to my basic teeny alarm keypad, its green LCD display and tinny beeping noises! To say nothing of the huge locked cabinet in my utility room that Qolsys is rendering obsolete.


Products are tested and reviewed by R. Grossman and Associates Inc., an independent consulting firm specializing in electronic security products and projects. For more information, visit www.tech-answers.com.


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About the Author


Bob Grossman has held positions in all areas of the security industry — giving him plenty of opportunity to learn from his mistakes! Bob has authored articles for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION and other publications and has spoken at numerous industry events both internationally and in the United States. Currently the founder and president of R. Grossman and Associates, a consulting firm, he divides his time between project-based work for large integrated systems and product consulting for a variety of cutting-edge manufacturers. For more information, visit www.tech-answers.com.

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