BBB Business Review

What is the difference between a DSC PK5501 and a DSC PK5500 keypad?


The 5501 line of keypads is a fixed message style of keypad. This means that screen will only display a specific, predetermined set of symbols and information. Because of this limitation there are a few areas of the system use that are more difficult. On the other hand, the 5500 is a full message keypad. This adds quite a few features: easier programming, the ability to check the event log, custom zone labels, easier trouble condition checking, easier troubleshooting. Overall, the keypad is a much friendlier user experience. We always recommend people having at least one of this style of keypad on their system as it has shown time and time again to help prevent headaches, especially for an inexperienced alarm DIYer.

The easiest way to compare the 2 styles of keypads is to compare different functions that the keypads are commonly used for. We will start with the simplest: arming and disarming. The process is exactly the same on both. But let's say you press the stay key to arm in stay mode with a silent exit delay. The 5500 will display that the exit delay is in progress whereas the 5501 will just have a blank display with the red lock lit up. This can be potentially confusing, but most likely not a big deal.

What about if there was a zone or multiple zones open? On the 5501 you would see the word open and then the screen would flash different numbers one at a time. Each number would be an open zone number. But you would have to know what that zone number corresponded to. The 5500, assuming you programmed zone labels, would do something similar. But it would show the labels that are programmed for those zone numbers. So instead of seeing a 5 you might see Back Door. This is obviously much more useful information in the day to day use.

Entering user codes will again be very different between the 2. The 5501 will flash the user numbers that have a programmed access code. You would be doing everything from there pretty much by knowing exactly what you need to enter. There is no way to see what access codes have actually been entered. On the 5500 keypads access code programming functions more like a menu where you can scroll through each user number and go into them and see what is programmed as well as make the access code changes that you want.

Another huge difference between the two styles is that the 5501 cannot be used to check the event log. You can check the event log using the 5500 though. While this is not something that you will use very often, it can be essential in some troubleshooting situations to know exactly what is going on with your alarm system.

The most complex thing that you can do on the keypad is programming. The 5501 keypads have a really hard time here. The keypad kind of gives you some clues as to where you are at in the programming menus, but nothing very specific. The only exception to this is any programming section that has toggle options. The 5501 will show which toggle options are on/off. But for many of the sections you will have no way of seeing what data has been entered or that you are even in the correct section. Conversely this is where the 5500 really shines. You can see a lot more information with the 5500 style keypads. You will be able to see what section number you are entering. You can even see what data has been entered and how many digits you need to enter. This is by far the biggest reason we recommend having at least one of the 5500 style keypads or better on your system.