AJAX Systems alarm system – premium and reliable security
Source: Smarthome magazine, written by: Martijn Chel
If you are looking for an alarm system, then of course you value reliability, quality and good support. AJAX Systems is a relatively new player in the market of alarm systems and promises not to disappoint you in all three areas. We take the test and test a fully equipped AJAX alarm system.
What’s the AJAX Systems alarm?
AJAX Systems is a company that has been marketing security products since 2011 and cannot be confused with the brand of fire extinguishers or the football club. The company is based in Ukraine, where the R&D is also located, but there are offices all over the world.
AJAX Systems’ goal is simple: to develop a premium alarm system that stands for high quality, ease of use and premium design. This without pulling cables or emptying your entire savings account. So AJAX Systems is a wireless alarm, but without having to sacrifice safety or reliability. Of course it’s also a ‘smart’ alarm because you can operate the system with your smartphone or tablet, and you also have the possibility to perform some simple automation functions with the company’s own products.
Grade 2 alarm
The AJAX Systems alarm system is not a cheap system, especially if we compare it to the dozens of do-it-yourself alarm systems you can buy today. But, on the other hand, a very good support, high quality, an extensive range and – not unimportantly – a well secured and reliable system. The alarm system is certified according to the Euro standard EN 50131-1 Grade 2 standard. This simply means that it is not easy to bypass the system or jam. Burglars with some experience and special equipment can be stopped. Of course, it is not impossible to enter unseen, but to do so one has to be very willing and bring really specialized equipment. Grade 2 is generally sufficient for houses and small offices.
Finally, it is important to mention that the AJAX Systems alarm system offers several possibilities to raise the alarm. The hub of the system can be connected via WiFi, which gives you an alarm signal via an internet connection, but that is quite basic. You can also choose to connect the hub via Ethernet (again a bit safer) and you can even put one or two SIM cards in the hub, with which you can get an alarm notification via SMS or phone call.
Our AJAX alarm system
For our setup we have completely unpacked, mainly because we want to test the system as complete as possible. The products below have been installed.
1x Hub2 (with 2x GSM and IP)
2x DoorProtect magnet contact
1x MotionProtect Outdoor motion detector
1x MotionCam motion detector with camera
1x FireProtect smoke detector
1x LeaksProtect water leakage detector
1x Button panic button
1x KeyPad code panel
1x SpaceControl remote control
1x HomeSiren indoor siren
1x Socket smart plug
This brings our system to a total of around 1,500 euros, but the total price for your system depends entirely on the exact situation, how you want to secure it and what the requirements are in terms of sensors and products. The range is large and certain products are also simpler variants for sale. For example, you can also buy a standard motion detector instead of the motion detector with camera. There are also products that we have not included, including a glass breakage detector, a CO2 sensor and an outdoor siren.
A battery life of 5 to 7 years
The AJAX Systems alarm system, with the exception of the hub, is completely wireless. This means that every product comes with a battery (CR123A). It varies per sensor how long the battery lasts, but according to the company itself this is between 5 and 7 years. So you don’t have to worry about the battery life of the products, and on top of that, the app shows you how the battery is doing. The Hub2 is equipped with a back-up battery, which means that the alarm is active for another 16 hours in the event of a power failure.
One aspect that AJAX Systems also focuses on is design. According to the company, an alarm system does not have to come with ugly sensors that fall out of control. A lot of attention has therefore been paid to this. AJAX’s products look very sleek, have a modern design, feel high quality and come with green LEDs (where applicable). You can choose between white and black variants.
In a contemporary interior they fit perfectly, but they are just sensors you’d rather not see. Some sensors are a bit on the big side, including motion detectors. Particularly the outdoor ones are very large, but that can also be explained by the fact that they have two PIR detectors in them.
Install yourself or have it installed
The AJAX Systems alarm system is neither an entry-level alarm system nor a high-end wired alarm system. You can assemble and install the system yourself but there are many shops and companies that can also do it for you. To really be sure that everything is placed in the right position and functions correctly, AJAX Systems advises to have the installation done, but we Dutchmen like to save on this and therefore often prefer to do it ourselves.
We have chosen to install the entire system ourselves, in order to gain more insight into how easy or difficult this is. And let’s get straight to the point: it really is very simple. The only reason why you should call in an installer is to be 100% sure that the sensors are in exactly the right place and have the best possible signal. However, you can see and test all this yourself in the app, but in a large house that takes some time.
Everything runs via the app
Before you start installing and assembling you will need the app. The AJAX app is free to download for iOS and Android, and after downloading it’s just a matter of creating an account. Once done you will be guided through the process of adding a hub. The entire app is in perfect Dutch, but keep in mind that you have to read the manuals of the products through the app and they are in english.
You connect the hub, follow the steps in the app and in no time the hub will be set up. The hub is also the device with the most settings and options. It is therefore a good idea to read the manual carefully. I skip this step with many products, but in this case it is really advisable to sit down for it. There are several settings and options that need extra explanation and this way you will also get to know your own alarm system and how it works. For example, here you can adjust how the hub communicates with the outside world (WiFi, Ethernet, SIM), you can turn on geofencing, you can create security schedules (when the alarm has to go on or off anyway), you can add an alarm center and you can access various advanced settings about the communication between sensors and the hub, and between the hub and the outside world. Further on in the review we will go into a number of important settings in more detail.
Once the hub is active you can start adding sensors and other products. This works almost the same for all sensors and products. You indicate in the app that you want to add a device, you scan the QR-code on the device (or on the piece of paper in the box) and with one push on the button each device is added. The app does require you to create rooms and also assign the different sensors and products to a specific room. We haven’t experienced any problems at all, but here too we recommend that you sit down for an hour with full focus. This way you avoid mistakes and you can be sure that everything is correctly added to the app.
If you already know where you want to place the different devices and sensors, you can set them up right after you have added them. For example, you can specify what the delay time should be when entering or leaving (wait a few seconds with alarm), you can check whether the sensor should work in night mode or only for the full alarm, and you can change the name of the sensor or the room in which it hangs. There are some additional options depending on the product, so please read the manual carefully.
Mounting with tape or screws
Once everything is in the app and working properly (e.g. test the magnet contacts by taking the magnet away from the contact, which if okay appears directly in the app as “open”) it’s time to put the different products in place. Again: read the manual. Each sensor works in its own way and there are certain requirements for optimal protection and an optimal signal. For example, you have to hang the motion detector at a height of 2.40 meters, but it has to be at a height of 80 centimeters for outside use. The walkway is also important here, and whether, for example, there are moving objects in the image.
The magnet contacts can be used upside down and for a door with more distance to the frame you can use the larger magnet. In short: read and then assemble. For the motion sensors, you can also set the sensitivity (on the sensor itself or in the app). With the indoor motion detector, the lowest setting is for example for those who have pets (maximum 20kg and 50cm high).
Most sensors can be attached in two ways: with the supplied double-sided tape or with screws. The tape is handy, but AJAX Systems recommends using the screws for optimal security. What you can do is first use the tape to test certain sensors on their position. Does the magnet contact work properly? Then you can use screws. Does the motion detector detect your movements? Then you can screw it down. In the app, you can perform a signal strength test (Jeweller signal strength test and Damping test) and a detection test (Detection zone test) for each sensor. You get the feedback from the sensor itself (via the LEDs) and in the app.
The place where you control, set up and (possibly) operate everything is the AJAX app. This app is a relief when we compare it with apps from other alarm systems we have tested. Everything is clearly displayed in perfect Dutch, the app has a very clear design and setting up and operating the alarm goes very smoothly.
When you start up the app, you will immediately get to the Remote tab, where you can control the alarm. This remote is exactly the same as the physical remote, including on, off, night mode and panic button. The tab next to it is the logbook. Here you can see what’s happening, which sensor is notifying you and who operated the alarm. The third tab is the rooms-tab, where you get an overview per room, including temperature (more about this later). You can give each room its own name and image.
Finally there is the Devices tab, where you can see a clear image of each device and icons indicate what the battery status is, what the signal strength is, whether the device has a delay in turn on/off and whether the device is active in night mode. If you click on a device you will get an overview with more details, including the status of the cover (is the back of the sensor placed?) and the percentage of the battery. The cogwheel then takes you to the settings that vary from one device to another. From this screen you can also do the signal strength test and the detection test.
Main settings and functions
There are hundreds of settings and options in the app. Too many to describe and explain all of them, so we’ll cover a few important functions.
An alarm is not a smart alarm when you can’t work with different users. Through the app you can easily add multiple users (up to 50). You can restrict these users yourself in terms of possibilities. For example, you can determine which notifications and how they receive notifications and you can specify which screens the user can see and adjust. Each user can also create their own alarm code (for disabling and enabling), and set their own coercive code. When each user uses their own codes on the KeyPad, you can see exactly who did what in the logbook.
The coercive code is a special code that you use when you need to disable the coercive alarm. The person forcing you only notices that the alarm is going off, but in the background the alarm center (or another user) gets a message that the forcible alarm has been deactivated.
Alarm center (Control Room)
In the control room list (settings of the hub) you will find a list of control rooms to which you can sign up. These are paid control rooms that can respond to an alarm from your system. However, you have to pay for this, but the amount depends on your alarm and the possibilities offered by the hub.
On, off or night mode
The AJAX Systems alarm has three alarm presets: full off, full on and night mode (sleep mode). You can specify for each sensor in which mode it should be active and what the delay time is. For example, in night mode we only switch on the magnetic contacts. The motion detector is off because someone can walk through the house at night.
You can control the alarm manually, using the app, the button, the remote or the KeyPad. However, you can also choose geofencing. With this option you indicate in the app within which radius around your house you want to receive an alert. For example, if you choose 500 meters, you will be notified on your smartphone (or smartwatch) as soon as you go outside this radius, asking if you want to activate the alarm. If the alarm is on and you come within that radius, you will receive a message asking if you want to deactivate the alarm. For security reasons, the alarm is not automatically activated or deactivated. We have seen this with other alarm systems, but it rarely worked perfectly. As far as we are concerned, therefore, a good choice.
If necessary, there is the Panic function. Someone can press the Panic button via the button, the remote, the app or the KeyPad, after which a self chosen action is taken. In this way, the control room can be switched on or other users can be notified. You also have the choice, for example, to activate the Siren.
Where are the cameras?
You may have noticed that AJAX Systems does not offer cameras. According to the company itself, this is a different sport, but fortunately there is the possibility to integrate cameras. You can add network cameras that support RTSP H.264 to the app. In addition, Dahua, Uniview, Hikvision and Safire cameras can also be added thanks to native support. If you choose to enable an alarm center, then this is actually a must, because alarm centers use cameras as an extra verification of an alarm. This minimizes the number of false alarms.
Is the house secure?
The whole story above should eventually lead to one important question: is the house well and reliably secured? We can be fairly brief about that: Yes! We are very impressed with this alarm system, with its reliability but above all with its possibilities. We have been using the AJAX alarm for two months now and not once has a false alarm been issued, sensors function perfectly even during tests and the alarm reacts exactly as we set it. What makes the alarm especially good is the way you can adjust it to your own wishes. When you receive which notifications, how and when different sensors or detectors should respond and how and when different sensors should be active or inactive. In this way, the entire system can be adjusted to your own situation and use.
The alarm also seems to be very stable and safe. For communication between the hub and the sensors and detectors, AJAX uses radio communication via the self-developed Jeweller protocol. This connection is secured so that it cannot easily be intercepted. When the frequency is ‘moaned’ by a malicious person, the system automatically selects another frequency to remain operational. The administrator of the alarm system also receives a notification that a hacking attempt is being made. The sensors and products themselves are also extra secured by means of so-called ‘tamper protection’. This means that they are protected against sabotage. Depending on the product, you will receive a notification as soon as the cover is removed, as soon as the product is moved or as soon as it feels a shock. For example, you can set the alarm to go off or you can only get a notification as soon as the back cover is removed from the hub. Finally, the system has a range of 2000 meters (without obstacles) which is more than enough for the average house. With the hub on the ground floor and a sensor in the ridge of the house, the signal is still perfect. Should it be the case that you still have a bad signal then there is an amplifier for sale.
Also, almost all sensors have a temperature sensor, of which you can read the temperature in the app. However, it is better to ignore it, because the sensor is built into the processor and in most cases it does not give an accurate display of the temperature. It is more of an indication of the internal temperature of the sensor, so you can see if the device can still function properly. By the way, the system itself can keep an eye on whether the whole system is still functioning properly. For example, if a door with magnetic contact is open while you want to turn on the alarm, you will immediately receive a message about this. You then have the choice to override this message and turn on the alarm or to solve the problem first. The system continuously checks itself whether everything is still working correctly, which is a reassuring thought.
We have installed several sensors, and they all work perfectly. One is more interesting than the other in terms of possibilities, so we highlight a few products.
Apart from the hub, MotionProtect Outdoor is the most expensive (and largest) product in our alarm system, and for a reason. This sensor is made especially for outdoors, and comes with two PIR sensors that work together in an advanced way to see what’s happening. The lower sensor keeps an eye on everything up to about a metre high, while the upper sensor catches everything above it. Only when the two sensors see something moving together that also moves in the same way, an alarm is sounded. So a moving tree that is seen by one sensor but not by the other is ignored. A pet that walks up to 80 centimeters in height and is seen by only one sensor does not raise the alarm either. This works almost perfectly. Nearly because the cat is completely ignored while walking around, but when the cat jumped on the table and got exactly in the field of vision of both sensors the alarm went off. So the placement of this MotionProtect Outdoor is very close, and the effect depends on what is in your garden and how animals and objects move around in it. So it’s just a matter of trying it out and determining the optimal placement. By the way, this sensor also has an anti-masking function, so you get a message (or the alarm goes off) when someone is hanging something in front of the sensor. If someone pulls the sensor off the wall, the alarm can go off or you get a message.
The MotionCam is also a pricey but interesting product. It is not just a simple PIR motion detector. This model comes with a built-in camera that automatically takes pictures as soon as a movement is detected. The number of photos and the resolution (maximum 680×480 pixels) can be set in the app. The higher the resolution, the longer it takes to see the photos. The most sensible choice is 320×240 pixel resolution as you will see your photos within seconds. If you choose the highest resolution, it can take up to a minute before the photos appear. They are sent by radio signal.
As far as we are concerned, the built-in camera makes this MotionCam the best sensor in the lineup, and even the best sensor for an alarm system that we have tested so far. Not everyone wants to have a camera in the house that records continuously and also takes up extra space. This is a very handy alternative with which you (or the control room) can quickly check what is going on in the house.
The KeyPad from AJAX Systems is a code panel as you would expect, but we would still make an improvement to it. The panel looks tight, is neatly finished and works well, but since the panel does not have physical heads, the operation can sometimes be a bit awkward. After all, you first have to touch the panel on one of the buttons, after which the panel turns on and you can only enter a code or press a button. This is an extra action, and although the beep of activation is different from that of pressing a button, it is sometimes not clear whether you have pressed a button or whether the panel has been activated. In addition, the touch buttons offer no feedback (apart from sound), which sometimes causes confusion. It’s not a big drawback, but a next version may have normal buttons as far as we are concerned.
Finally, the notifications, which is an important part of an alarm system. In this respect only praise for the AJAX Systems alarm system. Notifications are short but powerful, appear very quickly on your smartphone and contain enough information to know immediately what is going on. Even if you use geofencing, as soon as you enter the beam you will immediately receive a notification asking if you want to turn on the alarm. Clicking on the notification will take you directly to the app to unlock the alarm. We didn’t have any empty or incorrect notifications, 100 percent of the notifications appeared on the smartphone within 1-3 seconds and all notifications were clear.
Integration with standards and platforms
If there is one drawback to mention, it is the lack of integration possibilities with other systems and platforms. Of course, in today’s smarthome you want your alarm system to really be part of the smart home. For example: you set the alarm to night mode and immediately your lights go out, the TV goes out and the shutters go down. AJAX Systems does offer that possibility, with its own smart plugs, built-in switches and relay switches that can switch equipment and lights and can be operated via the app. However, you are then bound to the products of AJAX Systems itself and the automation possibilities within the app are still limited. For example, you can let the smart plug (Socket) with a lamp connected to it go on when the alarm goes off, or when the alarm is switched on. You can also create a diagram so that the plug at a specific time on or off. The products also indicate how much power is consumed and provide voltage protection.
For those who want to extend their alarm with a few simple scenes with lights or devices connected to it, it is fine, but for those who already have their home full of smart devices or use a different hub or platform for automation, it is not enough. Fortunately, AJAX Systems is a very active company that really listens to customers. So this year the company promises to come up with an API that allows integration with different platforms and standards, making it even more interesting for the true smarthome-lover. On this page of AJAX Systems you can even vote for features you would like to see, including the integration of standards and platforms. For the time being we have to do it with the products of AJAX Systems itself, which looking at the reliable and qualitative security is no punishment, but anyway we are looking forward to the extra features that will be unlocked in the coming months to make it a real part of a smarthome.
Apart from some very minor points of improvement, the AJAX Systems alarm system is, as far as we are concerned, the best, smart alarm system we have tested to date. There is nothing that doesn’t work well with this system: the improvement lies mainly in expanding the possibilities to link the alarm system with home automation applications. That this is going to happen is certain, it’s only a matter of time. The price, however, is an important point. After all, AJAX Systems’ alarm system is not cheap. For a basic package with which you secure your entire house, you quickly go to 1,000 euros. But, on the other hand, a flawlessly working system, high quality and innovative products, no need for a paid subscription, good support, a lot of ease of use, a lot of setting possibilities and future proof. As far as we are concerned, this system is certainly worth its price if safety and quality are high on your wish list. And as a true Dutchman you can save on the professional installation because the system is easy to install and install yourself. In short, if you are looking for a good and reliable alarm system but don’t want to install an expensive, wired system then AJAX Systems is an absolute must.
- No (simple) integration with the smarthome yet
- Code panel may be more user-friendly
- Not cheap
- High quality and innovative components
- Very user friendly
- Alarm functions quickly and faultlessly
- Reliable and safe
- No subscription required
- Many setting options
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