DIY Home Security, Part II: Hardware Installation

Previously I posted that I was installing my own home security system using DSC’s Power Series (rather than using newer, flashier protocols such as Z-Wave of Zigbee).  Here in Part II of the series, I’ll show the steps required in installing the hardware of a DSC PowerSeries 1616 (also applicable to models 1832 and 1864).

DIY Home Security Series Contents

  • Part I: System Selection
  • Part II: Hardware Installation you are here
  • Part III: Programming
  • Part IV: Interfacing with Automation (coming soon)

Installing a DSC PowerSeries 1616/1832/1864 system is slightly more complicated than other products, including DSC’s own PowerSeries9047 all-in-one panel.  The difference between the two is kind of like the difference between a component stereo system and a boombox: a component stereo system takes time to set up but you have more options available to you; a boombox can play music right off the bat, but there is limited expandability.  To recap one of the major points from Part I, we want to eventually be able to hook up the resulting system to a computer for automation purposes: this is something that the PowerSeries9047 and other products won’t allow.

Most PowerSeries 1616/1832/1864 (henceforth just referred to as 1616) kits, including what I linked to in Part I, include the following core components:

  • Keypad: Using the keypad is the primary way you will arm, disarm, and program the system.  Also, any DSC keypad with an “RF” in front of the model number also doubles as the wireless antenna, so the installation of the primary keypad in a central location to your house is key.  I will only be covering installation of one keypad, though DSC supports installation of multiple keypads.

    DSC Control Panel

  • Control Panel: The control panel is the “brains” of the security system.  It should be placed close to where the keypad so you don’t have to have a long cable-run.
  • Bell: It’s not really a “bell”, but rather a very high-volume siren that’s going to be an essential component in any system not monitored by an external monitoring agency.  For ease of installation, this should also be placed close to the control panel, but in a place where it’s sound will not be muffled.  Typical installations will mount it high on the wall above the keypad. If not installed (not recommended in an unmonitored installation), a 1000 Ω resistor should be installed.

The installation of a DSC system starts at the Control Panel.  Because DSC supports both wired and wireless zones, unused wired zones on the control panel will need to have 5,600 Ω resistors installed (included with most DSC control panel kits).  Most home users like me will want to install all such resistors, as we will be installing purely wireless-zone systems.

Before we can get to the wireless parts, we need to wire up the KEYBUS devices: our IT-100 serial interface and the keypad.  You will need at least 22 gauge 4-conductor wireto connect the KEYBUS.

To better illustrate, here’s a picture of my control panel installation:

There are a couple other items of note in the above picture.

  1. The KEYBUS 4-conductor wires go to both the IT-100 (yellow insulated) and the keypad (white insulated).
  2. Anything from 18 to 22 gauge wire can be used.  Typical installations where under 3000′ of wire will be run will be fine with 22 gauge, though the maximum distance between the control panel and any KEYBUS device (keypad, IT-100) should be kept to 1000′ or less.
  3. If the system is not connected to a phone line (as pictured above), it will show a trouble for the phone line unless you disable phone line monitoring by entering “* 8 [INSTALLER CODE] 015 7 ##” on the keypad (the default installer code is 5555).

The only thing left to do is connect the AC and battery backup.  Once again, 22 gauge wire is OK for a very short AC cable run, but I used 18 gauge 2 conductor wire.  All wire necessary for connecting the battery should be included in your kit, and installation should be self-explanatory.

I’ll have more about programming the zones, including a command cheat-sheet, in the next installment of the series.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Thank you for posting. There is so much ‘sales driven only’ security info out there, it is very hard to find legit/unbiased information.

    I’m also interested in self monitoring, but hadn’t thought about using computer; however, what are your plans if power is cut?

    Thanks again!

    • Hey Mike!

      Thanks for your comment. The DSC kit comes with a sealed lead acid battery that should provide somewhere around 4 hours of runtime for the DSC system itself.

      Regarding my computer hookup… I plan to use a single board computer (SBC) that has a very low power requirement, so a standard UPS should provide decent runtime for it plus the networking stack. More about that in part IV. Still working on finishing up part III, which i hope to put together a cheat sheet for a setting up the DSC zones for a typical wireless zone setup.

  2. Wow, thanks for the quick response.
    The info about low power requirement computer is also very informative because it constant high power requirement from computer was also a concern. I think I may be in over my head on all this, but I eagerly await your next installments. I have pretty good mechanical ability, but when it comes to electronics and such, I am kind of clueless. Still trying to determine if I think I can pull this off. Your posts are building my confidence. Please keep them up! Thanks again!

    • At the very least, I’m sure you can get a DSC system working that has local alarming only (i.e. it will make loud audible alarms that scare off burglars when a zone is tripped). The computer stuff will definitely be a bit more involved, but it will add stuff like being able to remotely arm/disarm from your smartphone, and you get the alerts on the smartphone when a zone is broken/restored.

  3. Re: no transformer
    Does that mean you need to wire directly to breaker box? If so, can you advise what amp breaker for this system?
    Thank you!

  4. Understood. One more question and i will try to leave you along. :wink: Since control panel is seperate does this help prevent ‘crash and smash’ (i.e. if someone breaks in and smashes the keypad, will the alarm still trigger or will it be disabled)? Thanks again for all your help!

    • Yes. Think of the system being like a desktop computer. The control panel is the actual computer, and the keypad is a combination of your display and your keyboard. You could smash the display and keyboard up all you want, but it wouldn’t do much good, as the computer itself is still running.

      These kits have the control panel come inside a metal enclosure that you can lock. It would be very difficult to “smash” the control panel before it started not only making very loud noises via the “bell” and/or sent you a notice if you go ahead with an automation hookup. I personally choose to put the control panel inside a closet, so it’s also not obvious where it’s located.

      I’ve got part III about 2/3 of the way done… these posts take longer to write than my other posts, so I work on them a little each day, but hopefully it should appear later this week…

      • umm… one note. This is only true where the control panel is separate from the keypad as I have been suggesting in my posts. I know DSC has a PowerSeries system where the control panel is integrated into the keypad…. I believe it’s the PowerSeries 9047. That system would be more susceptible to crash and smash attack. One of the reasons I don’t suggest using it, besides the fact that you can’t hook into it that I know of.

  5. Great info thanks. I have hard time finding the actual system you went with, so I think I am going with this system: KIT32-219 – DSC Power 1832 Wireless Ready Security Kit. It is probably more than I need though. I think I am going unmonitored and uncomputerized to start off with and I am looking for a loud siren to put in the attic near the gable vent. Do you have any good recommendations that will be reliable, loud and stand the heat? I am considering this:

    I am looking forward to Part III. If I can hook up to SBC, that will just be a plus!

    • yeah… 1616 kits seem to be in short supply right now. An 1832 kit will be fine even though its slight overkill. All of my directions should apply just fine.

      That siren looks good. I personally used a siren that was previously mounted by an existing ADT install that I was replacing. I think any siren that uses 12V DC should work. Going for a really loud one is definitely a good choice though if you think you may not go ahead with the automation tie-in. Also, this may not be necessary but just to be on the safe side since you’re using a high-output siren and placing it probably a longer distance away from the panel, you will want to go with the lower 18-gauge wire for the siren run.

      After you do the install, be sure to give your homeowners insurance company a call and let them know you now have a “local” security system (vs centrally monitored). They won’t give you as big of a break as they would for central monitoring, but they should give something.

  6. Longofest, you have been a tremendous help. It is ashame finding your website when searching for security info was so hard. I’m sure a lot of people could benefit from your write ups. It seems all the companies selling security systems/services have the market in terms of google searches and most of that info seems to be biased and indirectly trying to point you at something to buy. I was extremely lucky to find your site.

  7. I am just about ready to begin wiring my system. I have the 22 gauge 4 conductor wire I need. I was unsure about the 18 gauge 2 conductor wire. They had lamp wire, speaker wire and theromstat wire. I am going to use this to wire the siren, but also for the transformer. I bought the non-stranded thermostat wire. Is this okay/ideal? If not, I can take it back and get something else.

    • I personally used stranded wire. I believe stranded wire can take more current than non-stranded wire, but I’m not sure the difference will matter in this instance. To be sure though, it might just be better to take it back and swap it out for 2-conductor stranded wire. Good luck!

  8. Thanks! It is no problem to take back since I have to go back anyway for ground wire. I hope there is someone there with more electrical knowledge than was there yesterday.

    I know I need to ground the cabinet, but the installation manual isn’t very clear. It shows 2 ground wires on the nut. Does one of these go to the circuit board? In the slot marked EGND on the far right bank?

    If that is the case, the other wire I plan to run into the basement and ground on a metal pipe. The closest pipe is a gas line, but is it 100% safe to ground to this. I can ground to a metal cold water line if necessary, but it is a further run.

    Can you recommend type wire to use for both of these ground wires?

    • It is 100% unsafe to ground to a gas line, so please don’t do that! Honestly, the best ground is your electrical wiring ground (assuming you have 3-prong outlets and they are properly grounded), so I’d use that. Saves a long wire run to your basement :)

      The other wire does indeed go to the circuit board to the EGND as you noted. That stands for “Electrical Ground”.

      Have you noticed part III?

  9. LOL! Yea, I would have never considered using gas line, but I saw a connector in Lowes that actually said for use on water or gas line. Thanks for heads up.

    Unfortunately, my house is older and outlets are not grounded. One day I should pay someone to rewire the whole house, but house down the street had this done a few years ago and it burned down and mine is 60+ years old and still standing. ;)

    I haven’t noticed Part III. I thought I looked for it yesterday, but didn’t see it. Awesome, I will go check it out.

  10. Jeff,
    I want to use Seeco-Larm 16 channel power supply to control the security cameras and V3R5LD BAT for self monitoring. I realize the systems utilizes DC power and the DSC 1616 has approximately 4 hour backup battery power, but what UPS or type of UPS system you think would be prudent to give us say 8-10 hrs of protection.
    many thanks, yours very respectfully,

    • Welcome and thanks for the comment!

      First let’s focus on the DSC system. The DSC kits come with I believe a 5 amp hour battery. amp hour is a measurement used to measure battery capacity – while it is related to how long a battery will last, it does not mean that a 5 amp hour battery will last 5 hours… that depends entirely upon loading. The DSC kit includes a 5 amp hour battery because it is sized to meet the UL spec for residential applications, which is 4 hours runtime. So, if you go and buy a 10-12 amp hour battery, you should get the runtime you are looking for. Here is one that should work: EnerSys Genesis (formerly Yuasa) NP12-12T – 12 Volt/12 Amp Hour Sealed Lead Acid Battery. Note that these batteries will all be much bigger than the included 5 amp hour battery, so they may not fit in the DSC chasis.

      I do recommend you go with the 12 amp hour and don’t skimp down to 10 amp hour. The reason for this is because you will be adding the V3R5LD device to the system, which will draw some current. The UL spec is based solely on a base system, not on any add-ons. Oversizing your battery will ensure you meet your 8 hour expectation.

      Regarding your security camera system… I’d suggest going for a standard computer UPS system for that. I have no idea what kind of current draw your camera system will take, so its impossible to tell you what size to get.

  11. Hi,

    I’m currently trying to wire up my 1616 and having abit of difficulty with the included schematic.
    Are you able to label the wires on your control panel installation picture? I just need to know what goes where.

    Regards Chris
    maniotas1hotmail dot com

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