Installing An Ademco Vista 20p System

Alarm systems, like the Ademco Vista 20P, are used in single family houses.

The Ademco Vista 20P, manufactured by Honeywell, is the central control panel of a home alarm system. All keypads and sensors for windows, doors, motion, heat, fire, water and sound connect directly to the panel. The panel then determines if the system is set, what type of response came from the sensor and then what to do about the response. If the control panel alarm is set, the keypad lights up, the alarm sounder is set off and a call is sent to a monitoring service alerting them of the problem. The Vista 20P allows for upgrading of older systems because it works with most standard sensors and wiring. Does this Spark an idea?


1. Open the box containing the Vista 20P. Ensure that the electronic PC board, lock, battery backup, telephone jack, remote alarm sounder, resistor package, metal case and transformer are included in the packing. The PC board is wrapped in special shipping material and must be protected from static electricity and rough treatment.

2. Locate the bundle of alarm sensor wires and the telephone line installed by the electrician. Each alarm wire will be labeled with the location and alarm sensor type. Position the control panel in an easy to reach location near a power outlet. The location must be dry, have access to a sturdy wall and not be directly visible to the public.

3. Use a level to ensure the metal case is square to the walls for a professional-looking installation.

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Select a comfortable height for the cabinet. Use a level to mark a horizontal level line about six inches longer than the distance between the mounting holes in the metal case. Mark a short vertical line for the upper left mounting hole. Measure the distance between mounting holes in the metal case. Use a measuring tape and mark the upper right mounting hole. Measure the distance to the lower left and lower right mounting holes and mark the center of the holes.

4. Use a drill bit recommended by the plastic wall anchor manufacturer to drill a pilot hole for each screw. Insert the plastic wall anchors into the holes, being careful not to push them through the wall. Place the metal case on the wall, aligning the holes with the plastic wall anchors. Use the Phillips head screw driver to anchor the screws and cabinet to the wall. Once the cabinet is attached to the wall, install the lock to the door by inserting the tumbler through the door hole and twisting on the retaining ring.

5. The circuit board must be treated with care and protected from static.

Mount the PC circuit board in the metal cabinet by inserting the top into the metal slots and using the fasteners to secure the bottom of the board. Tighten the screws enough to secure the board without over-tightening. The connectors are lined up on the bottom of the circuit board.

6. A good pair of electrical pliers will help you install the alarm system.

Strip the outer coating of each alarm wire using the electrical pliers to expose the twisted pair of wires. In most cases one wire will be red and the other wire will be white. Strip off each pair of wires with the electrical pliers to expose about ½-inch of copper wire. Although the direction of current flow doesn’t matter for most alarm sensors, being consistent helps in troubleshooting. Secure the white wire to the first screw mount on the PC panel for the first circuit. Secure the red wire to a resistor provided with the alarm using a low voltage crimp cap. Attach the other end of the resistor onto the second screw mount on the circuit. Continue installing the remaining circuits using the same technique.

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7. Complete wiring in the keypad, telephone jack, alarm sounder and power. Wire order and color coding is very important for this step. For the keypad, ensure black goes to “-“, red goes to “+”, green goes to “IN” and yellow goes to “OUT”. Wire the alarm sounder red wire to connector “3” and white to “4”. For the telephone, brown connects to “21”, gray to “22”, green to “23”, and red to “24”. Wire the 16.5 volt a/c power to connectors “1” and “2”. Last plug in the battery and then plug the transformer into the outlet. The panel is now ready for programming.