Best system for HA AND security - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 01-28-2010, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm researching home security systems for a friend. After several hours of this, I've come to the conclusion that most of these systems leave a lot to be desired on the UI front.

Given that, and the fact that he'll need to bring in a contractor for the installation anyway, it seems prudent to research a hybrid HA and security solution. Security is the priority, but with the whiz-bang fun of HA.

He doesn't need cameras or a DVR, just door sensors, auto-dial on alarm, etc.

Which HA system offers the best suite of security add-ons?

If there is no system that does both HA and security well, which security-only system do you prefer?
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post #2 of 20 Old 01-28-2010, 11:24 AM
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HAI OPII, maybe Elk M1G or M1EZ8. How dirty does he want to get his hands? Most professional installers won't want anyone screwing with their installed components. A pro can run the wires for the door and window sensors, but the rest of the install should be done by your friend, if he wants to mess with it.

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post #3 of 20 Old 01-28-2010, 03:20 PM
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+1 for the OmniProII and the ELK M1Gold. I'm in the process of having a new home built and I went with the ELK M1Gold. I'm having everything prewired for future automation possibilities but I'm only having the security side of it programmed for right now. That way, I can always go in and program the automation rules that I want.

In terms of 'security add-ons', what are you referring to? Are you talking sensors like motion detectors, H20 detectors, glass break, etc? If so, I'm pretty sure these are generic sensors that would work for either.

I did a fair amount of research on the two and they are both very good systems. The ELK starts out cheaper than the OPII but by the time you buy the expansion boards for the ELK in order to give it similar capabilities, it's about the same price from what I remember.

As far as UI's are concerned, both have touch screens available but a lot of people go with CQC to drive a display. There are alternatives to CQC but basically it is a software application that contains similar automation rules and sends the proper commands to the M1Gold or OPII, which in turn controls the various hardware. So basically, you can either have all of the automation rules programmed in the M1Gold/OPII or can have them programmed in CQC or a mix of both. Hopefully that makes sense.

As a disclaimer, my ELK M1Gold install has not been completed so I'm not speaking from hands-on experience. Information about the two systems can be found here on AVS but also on cocoontech. I don't know if links are allowed (for cocoontech) but you can PM me with any questions.
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post #4 of 20 Old 01-28-2010, 07:14 PM
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The nice thing about layering CQC on top of an Elk or HAI is that it's MUCH more than just a pretty GUI; the rules engine is much larger & simpler, and the # of devices you can integrate directly to CQC is staggering. By using them both, you get the best of both worlds.

I've almost fully stopped using the Elk rules engine, and have centralized on CQC rules as much as possible. A single location for all that is pretty convenient.

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post #5 of 20 Old 01-29-2010, 06:26 AM
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If you are layering more/better functionality on the Elk or HAI, why pay the premium for their built-in functionality? Does anyone make a simple, reliable security controller with suitable interface to a more robust control solution? And does anyone make control pads that will work with HAI/Elk that don't look like they were designed in 1993!?

After looking at Elk, I'm now leaning toward a basic DSC system because it's cheaper and the Elk looks a bit erector set with all the modules and add-ons. And the keypads are ugly (same goes for HAI). I would have to add a touchscreen to get around the poor appearance of the keypads which is an uneccessary expense. Or use an iphone- but I still need the ugly keypads for back-up.

So I'm not expecting a control system interfaces on the DSC and I'll have to replace the unit in rthe future when more refined solutions are developed.

Thoughts?
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post #6 of 20 Old 01-29-2010, 06:45 AM
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Yeah, my first thought is that you can't do anything close to what an Omni Pro2 can do with DSC panel. Furthermore, when one adds up the cost of kluging several systems together the cost increases quidkly. Security (as well as many other features) are inherent inputs to the HAI Omni Pro2. Because of this, one can program the system to perform an almost endless lists of tasks to accomplish and the cost won't skyrocket. The Pro 2 is an integrated system. Meaning, one doesn't have to add on an ethernet board or a serial interface to support lighting, etc. HAI does this out of the box.
As far as support is concerned, hands down HAI is the best I have worked with. The folks at ELk are simply a much smaller company with less resources. HAI continues to evolve and release new products and support for third party products.
My best advice is to come up with a list of requirements for functionality and work with an experienced hardware providor. Worthington Distribution in PA literally wrote the book on value added sales for their customer base. They are very technical and steer you in the direction that is best for you.
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post #7 of 20 Old 01-29-2010, 08:08 AM
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+1 for the ELK M1G or the HAI OmniProII.

There are a number of systems that do HA (HomeLogic, CQC, MainLobby for example) that will support the ELK or HAI units .

At a minimum you will have access to the security system features.

You may also be able to make use of the HA features of the ELK or HAI units.

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post #8 of 20 Old 01-29-2010, 12:10 PM
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Thanks for the input; the security installer sells Elk; I looked at pictures of one of his installs and there were lots of break-out boards; it seemed overly complex. I like what you are saying about complete integration and I also like the Omni control panels marginally better than Elk's.
Are there any third party keypads available that look more like something from Lutron, Nuvo or Russound's wall controllers?
And do I need at add anything to the Omni to use an iPhone to control it? Which Omni do I need to have this functionality?

Cheers,
Scott
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post #9 of 20 Old 01-29-2010, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundKernel View Post

the security installer sells Elk; I looked at pictures of one of his installs and there were lots of break-out boards; it seemed overly complex.

I'd not assume something is overly complex just because there were a lot of breakout boards. Rather that could reflect on the flexibility of the product and the requirements of that particular project.
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post #10 of 20 Old 01-29-2010, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundKernel View Post

Thanks for the input; the security installer sells Elk; I looked at pictures of one of his installs and there were lots of break-out boards; it seemed overly complex. I like what you are saying about complete integration and I also like the Omni control panels marginally better than Elk's.
Are there any third party keypads available that look more like something from Lutron, Nuvo or Russound's wall controllers?
And do I need at add anything to the Omni to use an iPhone to control it? Which Omni do I need to have this functionality?

Cheers,
Scott

With regards to the third party keypads, HAI supports all three comapnies you mentioned. The convergence of these is done through an inwall touch screen so you don't have several keypads mucking up your wall. The touch screen will give you a virtual interface of the russound/nuvo interface. One could also use the Lutron keypads as and interface to the Omni panel as the PRO 2 panel has full two way support of homeworks and RA.
For the iPhone there are a few options. There is a free option called H@me from itunes. The other would be to use a server based product from HAI (WL3) which is capable of serving up an interface to any smartphone with a browser.
Hopefully this helps.
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post #11 of 20 Old 01-29-2010, 01:36 PM
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a plethora of breakout boards could be there to simplify wiring. You only need to run 1 4wire from a breakout board back to the main unit. If you have several floors, and several devices per floor, it's simpler to put a breakout board per floor and run the device wiring s to the floor's breakout board.

Could also have a lot of optional modules (ie doorbell ring detector, voice announcement expander, etc), each of which are on their own board.

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post #12 of 20 Old 01-31-2010, 08:28 PM
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Re: Break-out boards; the system was in a pretty large house so maybe it's required.

Sounds like I need an HAI to integrate with better keypads and/or RadioRA. I'll do more research before posting again.

Thanks,
Scott
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post #13 of 20 Old 01-31-2010, 09:53 PM
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I prefer the look of the Elk keypads, over HAI. Look at them in person, pics don't do either justice.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #14 of 20 Old 01-31-2010, 10:08 PM
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Keep in mind that the most visible keypad(s) will eventually be replaced with touchscreen(s).

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. -Fishbone
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post #15 of 20 Old 02-05-2010, 05:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Keep in mind that the most visible keypad(s) will eventually be replaced with touchscreen(s).

that is correct; I usually install the alarm panels in a closet or pantry (for liability reasons) and touch panels in the main areas.

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post #16 of 20 Old 02-05-2010, 06:08 AM
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Elk is a good system ... a lot of people love it and it plays well with other HA equipment/systems

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post #17 of 20 Old 02-27-2010, 02:23 PM
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Both Elk and HAI are good systems. If you want to be able to customize the touch screens though, the HAI will be a better solution.
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post #18 of 20 Old 02-27-2010, 10:30 PM
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post #19 of 20 Old 02-28-2010, 08:37 AM
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-1

Elk offers design software (RM Designer) for it's 7" touchscreen. I don't know how 'configurable' the GUI really is, but it seems to be pretty flexible.





More screenshots on the Elk website.

I haven't seen 'breathtaking' GUIs from either HAI's Automation Studio software nor Elk's RM Designer software, but HAI certainly is better at marketing their product.

Martin, if you could compare/contrast the 2 design programs, it would be appreciated. I know that you sell the HAI Automation Studio SW, and that you don't sell the Elk SW (sold direct from Elk). Maybe you've seen the Elk SW?

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. -Fishbone
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post #20 of 20 Old 03-04-2010, 08:53 AM
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bump

hard to believe how few people are using these SW programs

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. -Fishbone
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