Fixing and Expanding a Vista 20P, for a Newb

Hi all! I’m a first time poster so please let me know if I’m doing anything wrong.

I have a family member who has a 2013 Honeywell Vista 20P. Whoever installed the panel didn’t seem to have any idea what they were doing. The wires are a mess and there are boxes of some sort hanging out of the panel. The system appears to be working, but suffice to say, it needs some help.

Currently, the system is not monitored (I think the original company went out of business, but I don’t know the full story there). We’d like to get it monitored by a company eventually, but until then, we want to take care of the wiring issues and make sure the system is functional. That’s where my questions come in.

  1. Does anyone know of a good beginner’s guide to working on Vista 20Ps? I know there’s manuals out there, but I’m new to security systems and I’d like something a bit more comprehensive than installer-speak. Wiki format would be great but I’ll take whatever suggestions you have!

  2. Is there a way to hook up speakers with custom voice messages to the system? I’d like to create my own messages to put on the system for fire, carbon monoxide, and burglary.

  3. When we get monitoring for the system, is there a way to send medical emergency alerts via the 20P? For reasons that I will not discuss, I think this family member would benefit from having a medical alert pull station.

  4. Does the Vista 20P support distinct smoke and CO detection? If I have to tie them all in as fire, then so be it; but I would prefer they be distinct.

  5. The system has some System Sensor i3s on it now. I’d like to add more of those and some System Sensor CO detectors, but where can I find some (especially the CO detectors) for a good price?

If you know of a better place for me to ask these questions, please let me know! Thank you for reading!

Edits (to this post and any applicable replies): spelling corrections.

There is via the ELK-120, a programmable siren driver, & if you need more channels there’s the similar ELK-124:
4-Channel Recordable Voice and Siren Driver - ELK Products
8-Channel Recordable Voice Driver - ELK Products

According to a document I found it does support CO detectors as well as smoke detectors, but the former may only be a thing on newer versions: make sure to check this.

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  1. I Highly advise reading over at the Vista20p manual and programming manual. Since you will be doing some programming, Id advise printing out the programming manual, as it helped me reprogram the system. Make sure you have an Alpha-Capable keypad (6160/6139) and the Installer Code.

  2. Carson pretty much already answered this…

  3. If the system is not monitored already, you can use an EyezOn EnvisaLink 4 which is an IP communicator that can dispatch a Text as well as alert Emergency Services upon alarm.

4/5. Yes, Vista20p’s are capable of Fire and CO Detection, and the best way to implement this with your setup is using the System Sensor I4 Series of detectors, which have both Fire and CO detection. With the Needed COSMOD Module, you can use both your existing I3’s and I4s on the same circuit. Unfortunately, the COSMOD/I4’s run in the $100s per unit range, and are usually expensive…

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Yeah: also good luck trying to find ones new for a reasonable price anywhere or from anyone, since you’d be taking a risk using used ones (& the fact that companies that manufacture commercial devices don’t typically sell them to private civilian consumers).

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Couple other things:

#1: Are the existing i3s in your system 2-wire or 4-wire? There are differences between the two that are important to know about (including what module to buy for them).

#2: If you have each detector or group of detectors on a separate zone (so you know where each is located), that’ll quickly fill up the panel’s capacity since i4s need a separate zone for the CO output (whether zone expanders are made for the Vista-20P I don’t know).

Thank you both for your advice!

This looks like it covers exactly what I want! Thanks for the suggestion!

I really like this idea, but we have had trouble with Comcast screwing my family member’s internet up. I think it’s a great idea if I can find a fallback, though. There’s an existing Honeywell LTE-I of some sort (identified just by pictures so I don’t know the actual model number yet); is it possible to use them both at the same time?

Argh! I put more faith into System Sensor detectors than anything else Honeywell/Resideo has on their website right now, but $100 per detector could be cost prohibitive. I’ll have to check with my family member since it’s on their dollar. I want everything tied in but worst case, I guess we could get some i3’s and use standalone CO detectors.

Yes they do exist, (Thankfully), the Model No. is 4219.

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One of the detectors is a 2WT-B. I didn’t have time while I was there to check the other two but I assume they’re the same.

Ultimately we’ll probably only have one or two CO detectors on the system (one outside sleeping areas and one near utilities) but this is good to keep in mind. I see MrFireAlarm’s reply that there are zone expanders so looks like we won’t have to worry about that.

Edit/Question: is there a way to mark two posts as solutions?

Sure thing!

Oh definitely: System Sensor has certainly proven that they are indeed the world leader in smoke detection technology with how much they’ve innovated over the years! (especially when it comes to their i3 & i4-series detectors)

Ah, good.

Yeah: if one’s 2-wire the rest are likely the same. Thankfully System Sensor sells most models in the i3-series in 2-wire (& of course a 2-wire i4 as well).

Ah okay: might want to just buy two System Sensor CO1224T(R)s & use those then (though just the same having i4s in their place means you’d get both CO & smoke detection with one device).

No: that actually should be amended if possible if you ask me since there might indeed be multiple solutions.

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I’ve been thinking about that. Ultimately it’s going to be a matter of how much my family member is willing to spend on it. If they’re willing to get the i4 control module, then it’s probably easiest to swap an i4 for the i3 that’s near the sleeping areas, and then move the i3 somewhere else. Not sure how we’d get wiring up there for a separate CO detector so I think the i4 would be our best bet. It’s a two story house plus a basement so running wires could be a bit of a pain.

I definitely agree with that! I’ve seen a lot of multi-post solutions so it’s kind of disappointing to see this.

Well, with all of that said, thank you both for your help! I’ll see what I can do with this system once I have a chance to work on it, and if I have any more questions then I’ll be sure to update. I appreciate the advice!

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Yeah. The 2-wire i4 actually only needs two wires from it to the module: the module for it meanwhile sits near the panel & uses 6 or 8 wires from it to the panel depending on the setup, meaning you should be able to reuse the existing pair of wires.


You’re welcome!