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Elk M1G vs. HAI OmniPro II

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
So I have been researching for about 4 weeks now on what I will install in our new house. We won't start construction for a couple of months, but I want to get some decisions made before that time.

For my HA, I am looking to do as much as possible; security, lighting, thermostats, etc. This will be a DIY project, however, I am a very competent installer (I just have never done HA before...all my 13 years of experience has been in premise wiring and networking). I plan on integrating with HA software such as CQC or Homeseer (another decision I need to make), and perform A/V distribution (am 90% sold on the Russound path).

I have made decisions on a lot of different peices, but am having a difficult time deciding between the Elk M1G and the HAI Omnipro II. I have done a lot of searching on the topic, but haven't found a good side by side comparison. If there is a good thread with a comparison, could someone point me in the right direction?

If not, please start responding with your pro/cons for either system. Pricing / Ease of Use / Expandability / Support / Features / Add Ons
post #2 of 30
You should ask kayemsi over on the CQC forum - she went through this exact same question a few months ago, and can totally address everything you're discussing.

My reason for going with the Elk is that they do active DIY outreach - their chief engineer (spanky) monitors cocoontech many times per day and helps out, plus they have their own subforum there. He's also interested in learning more about CQC, indeed even attending the last webinar, and determining when he can attend more. That type of assistance is invaluable, especially with something as new (to me) as a security panel.
post #3 of 30
I was totally new to HA when I got the HAI. It was simple to install and program, the 1st time i ever installed anything like it. Im very pleased with it. I dont know anything about elk, so I cant comment on that. HAI has some cool features, like snaplink which is a usb drive you plug into a computer, it connects back to your house and shows you the status of everything and lets you control everything without having to install anything on the foreign computer. I travel a lot for my job, so that was important to me. The programming of the system was easy. They use UPB lighting control which is much more reliable than the x10 i started out with. I control lights, a motorized door strike, thermostat, hot tub pump (this is an x10 switch), turn my computers off and on, garage door, and security. I have a touchscreen next to my bed so i can control everything without getting up in the morning. The scene buttons are very cool too, when you walk in your house, you hit one of the scene buttons, and whatever lighting combination you programmed in comes on. Next Im planning on adding a cam or 2, and maybe their hi fi unit. Mine has been in about 1.5 - 2 years without a hitch.
post #4 of 30
This question has been asked several times on Cocoontech, CQC and other sites. I've searched these threads myself to try and answer that question.

Basically I think it boils down to these things:

COST - honestly they will end up costing about the same. The Elk packages start out cheaper so you might be tempted to think it will be less expensive than the HAI, but the HAI has more capability built in from the beginning. To get comparable units in the end, they will cost about the same.

CAPABILITIES - with the right modules, addons, etc - the two units are about equal. The HAI does have some video capabilities built in, but I think you'll find most people end up using another option for video anyway.

SUPPORT - the Elk has much better DIY support than the HAI. Hands down.

To me, as a DIYer, the Elk is the better solution, if for no other reason than the support factor. Outside of the support factor, I think you'll find they are very comparable.
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
That is pretty much the conclusion that I came down to. I read a lot over at Cocoontech, and did more research. I think due to the fact that I will be doing a DIY, I will go with the Elk.
post #6 of 30
HAI has its own music system that actually is kind of neat. Elk on the other hand is adding direct integration with Russound equipment.

I went through this a while back and settled with Elk as well. I've just recently started my installation. The deciding factor for me is having direct access to the Chief Engineer. I've worked in technical fields all my life and I hate getting my technical advice from some flunky with no real life experience.
post #7 of 30
There was a problem with interfacing a pc with the HAI.. protocol timing or something to that effect? Or was it polling? I don't remember.

When I was researching, I found the HAI had a lot of nice features, until you wanted to interface a 3rd party computer.. Then there were problems with the status of zones updating.

This was a while ago, maybe it is fixed now.

If you don't intend on interfacing with it, then the point is moot.

Good luck,
Tim
post #8 of 30
I was searching for answers the OP had. Are there any new opinions on this topic? I am planning on doing the install myself and going to use ZWave for lighting.
post #9 of 30
Search for similar questions on cocoontech.com, for more opinions.

I'm leaning heavily toward the Elk myself. Seems a little more dependable for the alarm component, and better customer service.
post #10 of 30
Thanks for the reply. Anyone else that use these systems have any inputs.
post #11 of 30
Now that HAI has their own subforumon CT, the approachability thing is equal. I don't think you'll go wrong either way. Map your alarm/automation requirements to each panel, see which one has a better fit, and go with it.
post #12 of 30
I have an HAI Omnipro II installed in our home. I did everything myself. Previously, I was using a HomeVision Pro. First of all, the integration between all of the various components is simply fantastic. Alarm, Lighting, Temp, Control/Video panels, etc. - all integrate with the contoller and the programming. The newest version of the software is a huge leap from where they were. Also, I now use ZWave exclusively in our home. HAI integration with this protocol is really good. I have HAI integrated with three Pronto remote controls in our house (9800, 9600, 9400). Prontoscript for HAI control works great and is a snap to setup (HAI integration script is provided by Phillips Pronto). The screens on the remotes basically look the same as the video panels making it easy for family members to use. Additionally, firmware is flashable on the controller. I have had excellent support from HAI for a couple of items. They were very responsive. Have not used Elk, so hard to comment. But I am very satisfied with HAI and glad I upgraded from my old setup (including getting rid of X-10). SJ
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SJHT View Post

The newest version of the software is a huge leap from where they were.

Yeah, the new 3.0 software/firmware is awesome. Anyone who has, or is considering, HAI and isn't familiar with 3.0 should definitely check it out.
post #14 of 30
Deciding betweent these myself...

Does anyone have any input about thermostats available for each? I do like the HAI thermostats (Omnistat), but it seems it would not work with the Elk?

Also, both seem to have some functionality to control via PDA / smartphone. Does anyone control their HAI or ELK systems this way?

Thanks,

Paul
post #15 of 30
If you are looking to do as much as possible, then I would recommend the Omni Pro 2. Hands down, the HAI product line is way more capable in terms of automation and user interfaces. For example, HAI can automated 3rd party distributed audio in their macros. You can run "party mode" and you can program the NuVo Grand Concerto to turn certain zones on, go to a particular volume level in each zone, play different sources in each zone, and even play a play list off of a the media server. Another big automation feature that HAI has is the ability to compare values. This comes in hand for energy management. You can run temps inside based on what is happeing outside. There are many other advanced features that HAI has that ELk doesn't. Furthermore, everything is integrated into the OmniPro 2. Witht he ELk, you have to cluge modules in order to accomplish basic connectivity with anything other than security. This makes for a terrible installation. HAI is definitly an easier and neater install.

Here is a great document on HAI's latest system capabilities:
http://www.homeauto.com/downloads/pr...arerelease.pdf

As far as interfaces go, HAI has pretty much anything you want. Support for any smart phone, a pronto module, an interface to media center, etc. All of these interfaces provide two-way feedback for everything that HAI automates and controls. (including 3rd party systems)

If it were me, I would go with HAI.
post #16 of 30
Now that HAI is seemly reaching out to the DIY community more, the two systems are very hard to choose between.

HAI probably does have an advantage when it comes to audio and video integration. But many of us use a third party software system (like CQC or Mainlobby) to integrate many of these systems together. If that is the case, the you probably won't even use the HAI audio and video capabilities. But you'll pay for them in the hardware you buy.

So as IVB suggested, you probably need to write down your goals and dreams for the system and see which one comes closer to meeting those things.

It's like trying to compare a BMW to a Mercedes. They are both excellent products and you cannot go wrong with either choise as long as your choice has all the "extras" that you where looking for.
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sic0048 View Post

Now that HAI is seemly reaching out to the DIY community more, the two systems are very hard to choose between.

HAI probably does have an advantage when it comes to audio and video integration. But many of us use a third party software system (like CQC or Mainlobby) to integrate many of these systems together. If that is the case, the you probably won't even use the HAI audio and video capabilities. But you'll pay for them in the hardware you buy.

So as IVB suggested, you probably need to write down your goals and dreams for the system and see which one comes closer to meeting those things.

It's like trying to compare a BMW to a Mercedes. They are both excellent products and you cannot go wrong with either choise as long as your choice has all the "extras" that you where looking for.

Hey sic0048,
I know your a CQC guy. So could you list somethings that you can do, Home Automation wise, with CQC and Elk M1 that you may not be alble to do with HAI? I may be posing this question incorrectly but from your personal experience why would one benefit you more than the other?
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoDatFan View Post


If it were me, I would go with HAI.

Thanks for your rationale. Are you aware of any way the HAI system can email on an event (alarm) - without having a PC running all the time? It seems the ELK ethernet interface will do this.

Paul
post #19 of 30
one very nice thing about the elk is that the president (David Steele, aka Spanky) himself spends time on the cocoontech.com forums. He's been active in one of the feature request threads, and just today, he posted that it would be in the next firmware release. That's certainly not enough to push the decision on it's own, but all other things being equal, it's a factor to consider.
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkarmouche View Post

Thanks for your rationale. Are you aware of any way the HAI system can email on an event (alarm) - without having a PC running all the time? It seems the ELK ethernet interface will do this.

Paul

Yes, the newly released IP screens that HAI has introduced are capable of doing this.
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by curtis104 View Post

Hey sic0048,
I know your a CQC guy. So could you list somethings that you can do, Home Automation wise, with CQC and Elk M1 that you may not be alble to do with HAI? I may be posing this question incorrectly but from your personal experience why would one benefit you more than the other?

Elk and HAI control alot of the same equipment as CQC (or other automation systems). Things like thermostats, lighting systems, irrigation and other contact closures, etc, etc, etc. But having an automation system is going to allow you to control items that the ELK and HAI cannot.

Things like HD video switchers (I believe HAI's video is strickly composite), whole house audio systems from a variety of companies (I use a B&K CT600 which isn't supported by either ELK or HAI). Home theater receivers for surround sound, TVs and media devices like DVD players, etc. I'm controlling my SageTV DVR setup with CQC for example. I use CQC to warn me of severe weather alerts when they are issued by the National Weather Service, etc, etc, etc,. The software based system is just going to be 1000% more flexible than the ELK or HAI when it comes to this type of control. The ELK and HAI have a relatively narrow range or abilities which they really do excel at, but the automation system allows you to break through this limit into other types of control.

The ability to use virtually any touchscreen or interface rather than just the ELK and HAI branded screens is also pretty nice. I've used wall mounted touchscreens, my laptop and other computers (both from home and away), UMPCs (like the Q1,etc), Nokia Internet tablets, regular IR remote controls, etc to control my system, and I don't even own a smart phone or I'd be using it too (like IVB).

The other benefit is endless amounts of memory (OK - I guess there is a physical limit, but you won't get there by writing rules ). So while you may run out of rules space in ELK or even HAI, using CQC I can write rules to my hearts content.

I'm not discounting the positives of the ELK and the HAI. Being a hardware based system there might be reasons to have somthing controlled by the ELK/HAI rather than a software based system like CQC. But I can do that if I wish. When I get into lighting control for example, I can decide if letting the ELK control it is going to be better than letting CQC control it. Eitherway, I'll be able to react to lighting changes wth both the CQC and the ELK, so my decision doesn't have an effect on the larger picture.

In the end, my CQC system works better because I have an ELK, but my ELK wouldn't be enough by itself to do everything I do, an I have a pretty basic setup IMHO.

So those are just some thoughts on the subject. I'll never get rid of my ELK, but having the CQC along with the ELK allows me to do things that the ELK or HAI systems can only dream about.
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sic0048 View Post

Elk and HAI control alot of the same equipment as CQC (or other automation systems). Things like thermostats, lighting systems, irrigation and other contact closures, etc, etc, etc. But having an automation system is going to allow you to control items that the ELK and HAI cannot.

In the end, my CQC system works better because I have an ELK, but my ELK wouldn't be enough by itself to do everything I do, an I have a pretty basic setup IMHO.

So those are just some thoughts on the subject. I'll never get rid of my ELK, but having the CQC along with the ELK allows me to do things that the ELK or HAI systems can only dream about.

Thanks Brian for answering my question. What would you suggest in my future setup. I really like the possibilities of CQC but I comfortable and like using the Media Center interface. Unfortunately CQC never developed a form of Media Center Controller. That would be perfect for me. On the flip side, outside of Casa Tunes, there are not any affordable solutions to do Whole House Audio within the Media Center interface. Here is what I would like in the future:

6 to 8 zones of Whole House Audio
Media Center PC w/ 4 Cable Card Tuners
Windows Home Server w/ 10tb of storage
6 Media Center extenders throughout the house (most likely Xbox 360 centrally stored)
Zwave lighting throughout the house
ELK M1 Gold for security or HAI
Security cameras in front and back of house
Audio intercom system integrated in the dorbell
Zwave door lock at front of the house.
Zwave or IP based thermostat
post #23 of 30
You might want to look into Autonomic Controls, they have a similar product to Casa Tunes. Also, I'm not sure if you are aware, but HAI has a plugin for Media Center that gives you an interface to control your system.

What type of Cameras do you want to use (IP, composite?). How do you want to view them? (on Touchscreens, TV, etc..)

What audio system do you want to use?

I've had really good experiences with UPB and Leviton Vizia RF for Z-Wave. My only advice with Z-Wave is that if you choose to go that route, make sure that you stick with all of one vendors stuff for lighting if you can, it just makes things easier and ensures that you are going to get 2-way feedback.

Aaron
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaron.ard View Post

You might want to look into Autonomic Controls, they have a similar product to Casa Tunes. Also, I'm not sure if you are aware, but HAI has a plugin for Media Center that gives you an interface to control your system.

What type of Cameras do you want to use (IP, composite?). How do you want to view them? (on Touchscreens, TV, etc..)

What audio system do you want to use?

I've had really good experiences with UPB and Leviton Vizia RF for Z-Wave. My only advice with Z-Wave is that if you choose to go that route, make sure that you stick with all of one vendors stuff for lighting if you can, it just makes things easier and ensures that you are going to get 2-way feedback.

Aaron

Hey aaron.ard, ohhhh I love Autonomic Controls server software. Just don't love it enough to pay $800.00 for it...lol. I wasn't aware of the HAI plugin for Media Center unless your speaking of, (cough, cough) MControl, which I am also considering :-). The only problem I have with MControl is that it does not have the flexibility of CQC in regards to designing the User Interface. I may be mistaken and I am sure you can correct me. I would love to hear you sell me on MControl.

I am not sure what cameras I plan to use. I am thinking of something with a dome type look. But I also plan to have a touchscreen on at least 2 floors of the house which can use in my Home Automation setup. I am loving these new Borg Displays. I would like to also view cameras on TV which I know I can do through MControl in Media Center.

As far as TouchScreens, I would like to be able to control lights, thermostats, whole house audio and video(especially when I don't want to fire up the PJ), weather, and cameras. But I would love for it to serve as a digital photo frame whenever it is not in use.

As far as whole house audio goes, I was planning on using NUVO or something similar. A component Matrix switch for Video. I am not comfortable yet with the HDMI Matrix switch that are availabe.

And I am pretty happy so far with the Intermatic Zwave switches I have used so far.
post #25 of 30
Curtis,

Yes, the Autonomic software is very nice, I honestly don't follow prices too much (I'm not in sales!), so I had no idea how much it actually costs. The HAI plugin I was speaking of isn't MControl. I've seen some of MControls stuff, but I've never played with it at any length, so I honestly can't say much about it.

HAI's plugin basically just gives you an interface on Media Center to control you HAI system. It runs strictly on Media center, not on touchscreens, etc.

I've been waiting for a HDMI Matrix switcher also, I did see this the other day...
http://www.cepro.com/article/wyresto...trix_switcher/


So far everyone I've talked to in the industry is holding out on HDMI until they have to switch from component, I've been waiting to see what happens with that too.

FYI: Myself and others have had some issues getting Intermatic switches to automatically report their status...you can check out cocoontech for the thread. Basically, Z-Wave device manufacturers did things slightly different when implementing that feature, or didn't implement it at all.

If you are using some software that polls the switches (QCQ might do this, I'm not sure), it might not be an issue. You can also program HAI panels to poll the switches if you need to.
post #26 of 30
Curtis,

You're right about the lack of CQC control of VMC. as you mentioned, there was a project started, but never completed. CQC does support SageTV very well, but I can see that you already have a pretty big investment in VMC hardware. I don't think SageTV supports cablecard tuners - most of us use the Hauppauge HD-PVR to record encrypted cable or satellite. With the addition of the really nice SageTV HD extenders, it makes a very nice system.

Other than the issue with VMC, I think CQC can control (or will be able to soon) pretty much everything else on your list. I know they are working towards getting a full feature zwave driver together. Currently there are several different options but there is a need to get it all under one driver and support it going forward.
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sic0048 View Post

Curtis,

You're right about the lack of CQC control of VMC. as you mentioned, there was a project started, but never completed. CQC does support SageTV very well, but I can see that you already have a pretty big investment in VMC hardware. I don't think SageTV supports cablecard tuners - most of us use the Hauppauge HD-PVR to record encrypted cable or satellite. With the addition of the really nice SageTV HD extenders, it makes a very nice system.

Other than the issue with VMC, I think CQC can control (or will be able to soon) pretty much everything else on your list. I know they are working towards getting a full feature zwave driver together. Currently there are several different options but there is a need to get it all under one driver and support it going forward.

I remember reading the thread on someone in the CQC forum working on a driver for VMC. It would be nice if they could have incorporate the app someone written called "VMC Controller". I wonder if that was Open Source.

Anyway, CQC is still high on my list for its ability to customize the interface.
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by curtis104 View Post

I remember reading the thread on someone in the CQC forum working on a driver for VMC. It would be nice if they could have incorporate the app someone written called "VMC Controller". I wonder if that was Open Source.

Anyway, CQC is still high on my list for its ability to customize the interface.

Curtis - I think I have some good news. There are currently two CQC drivers to control VMC but it appears that both work with 32bit Vista only. The first was started by a CQC user who actually wrote the VMC Controller software I think you were referring to. He wrote the software as a result of this desire to control VMC in CQC. Small world isn't it. It looks like other people have taken his initial work and continued to improve on it.

The other driver was written by one of the original founders of CQC - Mark Stega. It was written specifically for a installation job he was doing and he doesn't trust it enough to be included in the formal CQC release. It isn't that the driver is bad, it's just that MS didn't design VMC to be controlled in this manner, so it has some weird issues sometimes. Apparently the file is too big to post of the forum, but you can simply e-mail him and he'll send a copy out.

So it looks like there is OK control of VMC already in the CQC system. Neither drivers are in the formal release, but that isn't an issue. In fact many of the devices I control are not included in the formal release yet since they go through a pretty lengthy "real world" test before Dean wants to include them in a profession package with all the support issues that raises. For use DIYer's we tend to be OK with the beta drivers and the 99.8% reliability they tend to have.

Hope this helps!
post #29 of 30
I'll jump in here as well with a few thoughts. First, as to the HAI vs. Elk issue, it doesn't really exist. They both do their respective jobs very well and at similar price points. It's a lateral move at most. I take issue with the idea mentioned earlier that somehow HAI has an edge on AV control. That's BS, IMHO. Their new, EXTREMELY expensive IP touch screen option (coupled with their OEM'd Bitwise Controls piece) will indeed help here but, if you were looking at their "standard" touch screens, AV control is extremely kludgy at best. Sure, you could use the preintegrated Nuvo, Russound, Proficient Audio, etc. interfaces for distributed audio with some success but, using their "Buttons" paradigm to control an AV device directly is an abysmal option. Both Elk and HAI have usable but ugly, kludgy, uncustomizable touch screen options and I personally feel that both companies charge entirely too much for their touch screens because of that. This is an area where "layering" the system (HAI or Elk) with a customizable 3rd party piece (such as Crestron, CQC, Mainlobby, what have you) is a must. With all that said, I must mention that I'm a "professional" who typically works with (and lives with) HAI. I just feel it's best to expand, or layer, a system to enable embedded stability on the security end and 3rd party capabilities in expansion and customization everywhere else. Where curtis104's desired list includes a great deal of AV control, neither HAI or Elk will natively integrate well in an elegant way without additional control on top.
post #30 of 30
Anthony Z, thanks for the reply. Customization, particular on a touchscreen, is one of the biggest reason why I want to go down the CQC route. Hopefully when Windows 7 is officially release someone will develop a good driver to control Media Center. Until then I will check out what is there already(VMC Controller).
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