DSC PC5020 Upgrade…need a gut check

I am dropping my ATT telephone service (Fiber) and switching to Callcentric (VOIP provider). We have direct monitoring to our local police department over the telephone line (3 min response time). At a minimum, I need to replace the communication link. That got me thinking it might be time to update our alarm system to allow for smartphone access. That opened a pandora’s box and a $1600 quote from a local alarm service company. Money I would prefer not spending.

So, I thought I would explore doing this upgrade myself but wanted to bounce the idea off of the wizards of r/homesecurity for input and a gut check.

Existing System – DSC Power864 (circa 2004)

PC5020 – Panel

PC5108 x 3 – Zone Expanders

SLA1055 Power Patrol – 12v 5Ah Battery

PTC1640U – Plug in wall transformer

LCD5501Z – Keypads x 3

32 Available Zones but 29 Zones in use (includes FIRE)

All Zones are hardwired back to the cabinet.

Proposed Changes

– Replace PC5020 panel with PC1832

– Keep existing 8-Zone expanders, keypads, battery and transformer

– Install new dual-path SEM unit: ADC-SEM210-PS-AT

– Establish both LTE and backup IP communication path


– Restore communication link with monitoring service (local police department) with a cellular and/or IP communicator

– Have Alarm.com type app services on my phones/desktop. Our monitoring service supports Alarm.com, I have not asked about other vendors.

– Find a solution that requires parts I can easily source, with installation and programming instructions that I can follow.


1.) Is the PC1832 a good choice to replace the existing PC5020, given I have 29 zones and three-zone expanders. I ask because the quote I got from the alarm company specified the PC1616.

2.) Existing PC5108. I plan to leave these zone expanders wired in place and attach the 4-wire coming from the last expander to the new panel. Any problems with this?

3.) Wiring the new panel. The wiring diagram of the PC1832 is almost identical to the existing PC5020. Is it as simple as moving the wires to the same locations on the new panel? I assume yes, but wonder if I am missing something.

4.) Connecting the SEM210 to the panel. Is it as simple as running the SEM BLK/YEL/GRN to the same connectors on the panel (Keybus), and the SEM RED to the battery?

5.) Upgrade Keypads? I see that the PC1832 is backward compatible with all PowerSeries keypads. Is there a compelling reason to upgrade my existing LCD5501Z keypads (other than aesthetics)? Is there functionality only available on a keypad that I can’t access on the Alarm.com app?

6.) Is the current zone configuration stored in the keypads or on the panel? If I keep my existing keypads but replace the panel, will I have to program all my settings/zones again? Is there any other way I can lose existing programmed information?

7.) Dual-Path. Is it worth it? Or should I just activate cellular communication?

8.) Favorite vendors for components? Any that provide better support for DIY?

9.) What are the important but perhaps not obvious things I should do or consider before I start disconnecting wires?

submitted by /u/Keystone0605
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