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Elk M1XRFTW comments/questions


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#1 d.dennerline

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 01:23 AM

I read through all the new Elk M1XRFTW manual as I am considering buying system. I had another false alarm on GE receiver last week. Some comments/questions come to mind.

The 6010 keyfob is sealed and battery cannot be replaced. Elk indicated the life is approximately five years. I understand the weatherproof motivation, but they should have found a way to provide both weatherproof and replaceable battery. I guess as backup, you might have to purchase alternate in case battery dies and Elk stops supporting product line before the five years.

The M1XRFTW must be installed at address 2. This means that you will have gaps between wired/wireless input zones. I purposely moved my wireless zones to start a 48. Now you will have to reserve a wireless block from 17-N. Then continue your wired zones.

M1XRFTW uses internal ceramic battery. I am not sure about wisdom of not using, or at least supporting, external antenna. The only benefit I can foresee is aesthetics. My current receiver is hidden in closet.

I definitely like the fact that window transmitters use colored status light feedback. This one feature alone (along with violation acknowledgement) may make me swap out a chunk of my GE system. This gives you a warm fuzzy feeling that transmitter is working properly without having to do a walk test.

The M1XRFTW does not go into depth on page 3 on how to combine different wireless technologies. I wonder how much testing Elk has done with their other wireless products. If you uses a hybrid system and have problems will technical support ask you to disable the GE/Ademco transmitters.

The keyfobs can program up to eight functions using different key presses.

The keyfob has a status button, so you can check alarm status before rolling out driveway/garage.

It would be nice if Elk had a 30 day return policy as this product line is totally brand new (i.e., widget 1.0).

#2 DELInstallations

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 06:10 AM

I can't see taking the plunge myself or for a client's install with the product. It's as you said, widget 1.0, and frankly, it looks great on paper, but there's far too much out there that isn't there IMHO.

Honeywell (Ademco) had fobs/panics that had non-replacable batteries, but their existance only lasted a few years, but they still offer a single panic button with that "feature". In a commercial setting where the buttons get hammered on and broken/lost, it's not a huge deal, sometimes desirable to replace the unit itself to avoid issues in the long run, but might not be practical in a residential application.

5 types of transmitters is a huge item. I haven't read up on the range, but I'm sure it's close to the same application of Honeywell/GE to an extent (the 2 way can only go so far, however). I would've felt a little better if Elk spent the time/effort to work with Honeywell's 5800TM protocol and forgotten about their bidirectional RF, that way it would've been far easier to gain RF status and could've possibly opened up the ability to use some of Honeywell's bidirectional devices on the M1, although it wouldn't have directly allowed keypads, it might have.

#3 d.dennerline

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 08:54 PM

I am 50/50 at this point. I am losing too many strands of hair with false alarms from back bedroom. I have had to change both bedroom windows from Interior Burglar to Aux2. I may have to invest in a second GE receiver or change type of transmitter.

A perspective customer would have to invest roughly $400 to jump on the, “Buy 10 transmitters, Get M1RFTW receiver free,” deal.

I understand that more devices are coming, but what happens if they don’t come? As Del suggested, having a wide selection of devices increases value proposition.

I know that Spanky has talked about a wireless temperature and humidity sensor. I am not a big fan of the M1ZTS as it’s not very accurate. I have to “recalibrate” all my M1ZTS every summer/winter. If they would have gone to market with more devices, then decision would be much easier.

Can someone at Elk comment on “M1XRFTW architectural roadmap.”?

Edited by d.dennerline, 11 August 2012 - 08:54 PM.


#4 DELInstallations

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 09:45 AM

Have you looked into either GE's or Honeywell's RF repeater? May be cheaper and easier than installing a second receiver, as well as not needing to be tied to the bus or allocated zones.

#5 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 10:05 AM

This is true 'two-way' wireless technology with incredible range. I did a review of new devices HERE at this year's ISC West Convention.

#6 DELInstallations

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 12:01 PM

Range has nothing if there's only 4-5 devices to install, with lack of variety for a flexible installation.The retransmission ability is nice, but if it doesn't make it to the receiver on the first or even 3rd transmission round (as other manufacturers units transmission protocol is) is it really going to make a difference if the unit keeps retransmitting (not taking a jam condition into consideration)? The only sales point that I can see is the faster sync times. I really think Elk missed the boat on this one in terms of what's being marketed as well as functionality. You could have the best widget out there, but in the end theres some key points that stick with me:
  • How much battery life difference could one expect vs. a standard unit? The answer is there's no good model or baseline, since every install is going to "self adjust" I feel that the "auto sync" is going to negate the life cycle savings of the self adjustment of transmit strength.
  • Is the cost payoff of only replacing a couple of batteries here/there going to be a good enough selling point where the pro installer can justify to their client to pay them multiple service calls to "chase the battery" in multiple units? An end user is only going to see multiple service calls at T+M, not a value by only replacing X batteries. In the case of a PSA, it's going to cost more to send a tech multiple times to replace single batteries than replace all at the first low battery service.
  • How about paying $$ for replacing a keyfob with dead (non-servicable) batteries, since that unit would typically see the most use, besides a main entry point. Where is the added value ?
  • Is the sales model to install multiple RF receivers to support 2 or maybe 3 different product lines to facilitate a true RF integration and flexibility?
  • Is the confirmation of a transmission that big of a selling point? Is the contact going to tell you anything the panel doesn't already by a failed supervision timer? (I already know about the delay in knowing such)
  • In real life, is an end user going to walk around their house and search for a flashing red LED on all their RF devices to see that it didn't get a signal from the panel?
  • Besides a keyfob returning status, what is the selling point that isn't already covered by supervision timers and adequate time spent doing appropriate system testing during commissioning?
  • Would it have been more prudent to look at a true peer to peer mesh installation method that already exists with other manufacturers rather than the feedback at the device method that was implemented?
  • Can an integrator really use the sales model of "I can install more RF devices farther from the panel because of XY and they'll always work" instead of the present method of ensuring there's enough coverage and no dead areas by installing multiple receivers or even repeaters? How much does that truly save?
The sales model doesn't necessarily exist unless you have someone comparing single line items as what is different between system X, Y, and AB, and at that rate, the real line items of pros/cons are still biased towards another manufacturer's product line. A power outage, as described by Elk isn't commonplace with an ample backup battery in the panel and in the case of servicing the system, after replacing the battery in an RF transmitter, it's foolish to not test the unit for proper operation afterwards (negates the need for the device to sync with the panel).

My feelings are that I think Elk made a product that really didn't need to be made,with the hardware as it's being presented,missing what most installers and integrators want/need, besides having a bidirectional keyfob (or if the RF protocol allows, a full featured RF keypad that doesn't cost the same as a tablet or other web enabled unit).

The bidirectional isn't a selling point for me for anything other than a keyfob being able to tell me basic status for arm/disarm, or locally giving me zone status or data at an RF keypad. In my mind, I would've rather had them make up a firmware for an XSP (or even OEM one like they did for the Zwave) and integrate with Innovonics serially....they already have the burglar alarm items in addition to temp/humidity, then address the items that don't exist (like a bidirectional fob, etc.) Also nice when a RF transmitter can support EOLR and can be set for NO/NC like Honeywell's or GE's units.

Edited by DELInstallations, 12 August 2012 - 12:03 PM.


#7 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 01:22 PM

Actually, I think range and the two way confirmation has EVERYTHING to do with 'it'!!

Edited by BraveSirRobbin, 12 August 2012 - 01:23 PM.


#8 DELInstallations

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:50 PM

I see nowhere range is specified or notated, so I'd assume it's a function of the frequency and relative strength of the transmitter itself, the receivers all pretty much have the same reception/gain, so unless I see specific factual numbers, I would be very cautious in saying their range is greater than another product on the market. I think there's a confusion regarding overall performance and how specific units actually work.

The FCC allows a higher transmit level on the 900 Mhz band compared to the 300-433 Mhz band that other manufacturers use, what that means is to compare side by side, a 900 Mhz can typically perform up to 10X better than a comprable lower frequency unit if you're only looking at sheer comparitive, hard number value. The big item is if units work using spread spectrum, which transmits on multiple bands at the same time, which helps reduce in-band interference. The higher frequency bandwidth allows the signals to pass through smaller openings (that might block lower frequency signals). While this may enhance performance, saying it's without inherent issues is not a fair statement.

To provide an analogy to what I said above, it's like stating a new hybrid car gets 30 MPG and the existing unit only gets 25 MPG....look at the huge difference. Then put a side by side where the hybrid will cost 10% -20% more to purchase, have fewer parts in common with a standard unit, cost more to repair, as well as not see the cost savings/performance side by side with a comprable unit, the line between the two becomes far more blurry and in actuality, in the case of a hybrid car, they usually cost more to run than a comprable traditional vehicle with a worse enviromental impact than a Hummer. Most people will never see the cost savings or return on a hybrid vehicle until fuel costs hit X or performance needs are Y. The end result is while in marketing materials and thin line numbers, one clearly looks superior than another, a detailed comparision shows they're really not that much different.

As I said, there are bunch of items I think Elk failed to address or consider with this product offering. I think the 2 way aspect is being far oversold in this case with it's abilities in the marketing slicks compared to a real world installation and application. I'd move towards a mesh network before locking myself into Elk's 2 way product and limited product line.

BSR, if Elk's engineers shared some information with you at the sales booth that isn't listed in the specs or sales information, I'd be interested in hearing it.

#9 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 04:41 PM

At the ISC West convention at the (large) Sands Convention Center Elk engineers were able to walk most of the show floor with all those frequencies of the various vendors clouding the airways and see proper operation of their strongest transmitter.

The two-way acknowledgement of a signal sent is the second biggest feature of this system.

I don't have any specific range performance numbers.

#10 d.dennerline

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 11:13 PM

The Elk Mini Window Sensor (ELK-6021) sensor documentation lists distance as 100ft. I am not sure how attractive the other two Elk sensors are when installing on a double hung window. In addition, Elk recommends that Active Sync be disabled for ELK-6021.

The ELK-6021 manual indicates that only one CR2032 battery is required. The GE DesignLine transmitter uses two CR2032 (the GE documentation incorrectly states one). Based on close physical dimensions as compared the similar GE DesignLine transmitter, I am not sure why Elk choose to use single battery. Wouldn’t two batteries have allowed Active Sync to be enabled and increase changeout duration?

GE DesignLine 1.1"W x 2.30"L x .25"D
Elk Mini-window 1.0"W x 2.44"L x .35"D

#11 EENut

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 03:24 PM

Will this unit work with the series 5800 sensors or just the hand full of Elk wireless sensors. If you look in the setup for this it has a location to place a H ID for the 5800 series.
Just asking.....

#12 DELInstallations

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 07:28 PM

Elk only.




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