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#1 Wingnut

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:34 AM

I've retrofitted my last two houses with M1's and have been very pleased with their reliability and interoperability with various HA systems like ISY and Homeseer.  I'm building a new house and was wondering with current best in security system y'all would recommend.  Is the M1 still top of the stack or are are there new systems being introduced that are a bit more advanced?  Thanks in advance.



#2 jeditekunum

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:22 PM

Looking forward to this thread but honestly not expecting anything useful. I built a little over a year ago. DIY installed a Loxone for lighting/automation and an Interlogix UltraSync Modular for security. Haven't even hooked up the UltraSync beyond smoke/CO (tied to SystemSensor 2-wire setup). Now Interlogix has been closed by parent company. The modular version was very promising hardware but the software was slightly polished stone-age.

 

I struggled for a long time before picking the UltraSync. In the end I went with it because it looked to be more "modern" and it was pretty cheap so not a great loss if it didn't pan out.

 

In my opinion, the entire security system market is full of ancient garbage. There might be some nice stuff in the extreme high-end large corporate systems (ICT - maybe). It seems to me that the market is either unaffordable high-end or commodity wireless Chinese junk.

 

I'd never buy a M1 Gold as the automation is nothing compared to Loxone (which has its own problems) and its too expensive for what it is. An EZ might be ok but probably more expensive than equivalents. If I had to replace mine today I'd probably just do a DSC 1832 or 1864. Their new stuff isn't that much different other than proprietary closed protocol (a now widespread disease).

 

Loxone claims to do security but they aren't appropriately "listed".



#3 sic0048

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 11:27 AM

I agree that a basic DSC unit is probably the best option.  I have an M1 but don't utilize any of the automation features, so I definitely overpaid for my security system.  I'd get a DCS unit if I was doing it again today. I don't use any of the automation aspects of the M1 because I went to a full automation system (I use CQC).  At the time, I thought I might want to offload some of the automation stuff to the M1, but CQC has been so stable and flexible that I've hung everything off that instead of the M1.


Edited by sic0048, 15 January 2020 - 11:31 AM.


#4 lanbrown

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 06:35 PM

Even doing light duty HA activities on an alarm panel is not wise.  The series 700 chips for Z-Wave are just hitting the market and well, you can forget about the M1 supporting that in the near future.  You're at the mercy of Elk to add support for new Z-Wave devices and as the technology progresses, the panel will still have that old Z-Wave chip in it.  If you want HA, you really need a standalone system that can integrate with other systems.  If the M1 panels goes, so does you HA system.  Likewise, you can use Z-Wave with say the Trane XL1050 thermostat.  Once again, you're stuck to what they want to support and any issues with say weird Z-Wave products (there are many of those) or companies that seem to change functionality with firmware updates which might include changing how the product reports itself as, then you have issue.  Is Trane going to quick with a fix?  Probably not and neither would Elk.  On My HA system, when a 700 series controller is offered, I can upgrade.  My HA system just talks to it via USB.  So the controller handles the radio portion of Z-Wave while the HA system just uses the API to send the commands.  So there is a way to upgrade without a forklift like replacing an entire alarm panel, thermostat, etc.

 

My NX-8e is integrated with my HA system.  So my HA system stays out of the alarm control side and the alarm stays out of the HA side.  The HA can tell the alarm panel to do something but it also receives what the panel is doing as well.  So they are always in sync.



#5 batwater

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 03:54 PM

Like Brian (sic0048) I am running CQC. Alarm panel on the house has been a DSC xxxx (1864 currently) for going on 20 years now. At some point in the past I was able to bridge the DSC to CQC to have 2 way communication between both systems. Each does what they are good at without being dependent on the other for core functionality.
 
 used a security professional to install the alarm system initially and extended the configuration myself later when I added the PC interface which is used by CQC to communicate. A DSC panel is gawd awful to program and the requirements for the wiring termination are stringent but it can be managed with patience. Bottom line, it's reliable and bullet proof if done correctly. 
 
If you truly want a security system to protect your loved ones and assets then stick with companies like DSC where security is their bread and butter and use an automation platform like CQC for your automation activities. A panel that does security and some automation or one that specializes automation and some level of security is a compromise at best.

Edited by batwater, 17 January 2020 - 03:54 PM.


#6 jeditekunum

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Posted 18 January 2020 - 03:26 PM

I'm curious if there are any panels that aren't gawd awful to program? My UltraSync has what is apparently an attempt at a modern web interface yet the terminology and behavior is archaic and obscure. I imagine this is so that everyone who has paid their dues for decades and knows the cryptic incantations aren't shocked. As a retired software engineer it looks like the worst kind of junk from the stone ages.

 

As a side, is there a good document anywhere (book?) that explains the archaic and obscure world of alarm panels?



#7 lanbrown

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 09:47 AM

As a side, is there a good document anywhere (book?) that explains the archaic and obscure world of alarm panels?

 

I think there is, but Amazon doesn't ship stone tablets.

 

It really goes back to low powered processors and very limited memory.  So the streamlined code made the programming very unfriendly.  Also keep in mind that many of these systems have their roots into where a keypad didn't even have an LCD display.  So they had to use LED's on the keypad to show you if a command was accepted or not.



#8 Linwood

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:14 PM

I was thinking of starting a topic but will jump on this.  I had a M1G in last home for 10 years or so, sold that house with the panel.  Current house is new construction but I bought it already built. It has no pre-wire for anything, but reasonable attic access.  My main concern is to get the smokes wired to an alarm system, but will likely try to hardwire to the doors, and maybe put motion detectors on the inside as the windows are too painful to get to.

 

I'm happy with a simple minded security system but I want one that can easily connect to a UL CO via IP and cellular.  A nice to have would be to get alarm and zone state passed off to my home automation system in some fashion, which is Home Assistant.

 

From what I'm reading so far it sounds like DSC?   Are there other real options, other than Elk?   I have nothing against Elk, but it's ancient in terms of automation, a bit pricey, and was always a bit... prickly in terms of home owner installs, e.g. C1M1 vs XEP (I have no idea if that's still true). 



#9 jeditekunum

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 03:55 PM

...  A nice to have would be to get alarm and zone state passed off to my home automation system in some fashion, which is Home Assistant.

 

From what I'm reading so far it sounds like DSC? ...

 

From what I can tell, the current generation (PowerSeries NEO) DSC do not play with automation. The keypad/panel communication bus has become encrypted and proprietary. Last time I looked there was NO add-on that enabled automation integration.

 

So if DSC is the best option besides Elk then its the previous generation PC1832/PC1864.

 

I just discovered that they have a newer high-end "Pro" series now too. No idea if that can do automation. The way things are going its probably dealer-only.



#10 Linwood

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 06:27 PM

From what I can tell, the current generation (PowerSeries NEO) DSC do not play with automation. The keypad/panel communication bus has become encrypted and proprietary. Last time I looked there was NO add-on that enabled automation integration.
 
So if DSC is the best option besides Elk then its the previous generation PC1832/PC1864.
 
I just discovered that they have a newer high-end "Pro" series now too. No idea if that can do automation. The way things are going its probably dealer-only.

 
Well, shoot.  I don't really want to go with an already out of date one either.
 
Just to be clear, I don't want to control automation from the panel, just get zone and alarm status.  But I think you understood that.
 
Anyone else have suggestions?  Is it just ELK? 

Edited by Linwood, 28 January 2020 - 03:40 PM.


#11 jeditekunum

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 03:36 PM

Well, shoot.  I do9n't really want to go with an already out of date one either.

 

Just to be clear, I don't want to control automation from the panel, just get zone and alarm status.  But I think you understood that.

 

Anyone else have suggestions?  Is it just ELK? 

 

I'm not an expert on any of these products so all I can do is comment on what I think I've found in my research which many times is just what other people have said. My current understanding is that the DSC NEO are completely closed systems with no automation interface at all. If I recall correctly, the previous generation had an optional module or two that would interface to RS232 as well as the 3rd-party Envisalink ethernet interface (not sure but possibly because they reverse engineered the unencrypted protocol).

 

I believe the NEO is like my UltraSync. Looks more "modern" but primarily just more locked down. The UltraSync has the hint of "future" automation integration, basically a place to put a password for said automation to use. But the reality was that the protocol was still proprietary and licensed to 3rd parties; in fact, when I asked a couple of years ago they had exactly ONE 3rd party licensee that was a nobody. I was told that providing wider access or even publishing the interface was a potential future feature. Of course completely dead now along with the company.

 

It could very well be that my info is out of date and that DSC has released an add-on or published a protocol for the NEO series. I hope so but have zero expectations.

 

When I last looked, the Honeywell stuff was just as ancient and cobbled mess of components.

 

As I've said, the UltraSync hardware seems pretty nice and the product line made sense. The software was supposedly an improvement. They, and many other companies, see the IoT world as a business opportunity beyond what they have the chops for. They all think they can make their product the center of the universe and therefore they don't want their stuff to be a slave to other systems unless its one of the huge voice assistants. I, for one, have zero interest in a voice assistant spying on me nor do I like any cloud-dependent service. None of these companies want to empower consumers.

 

In my new house I've got a couple other uncooperative products. Geothermal HVAC with Ecobee-based thermostats that will only talk through the cloud. Chamberlain garage door openers that talk through the cloud. Velux skylights that make it really difficult to integrate. My Loxone is the only thing that is at least reasonably capable of two-way integration. I just haven't gone to the work of kludging together all the hacks that would be required to integrate everything (which would still be stubbornly cloud dependent).

 

The be-all approach is just plain stupid and I wish manufacturers would get a clue. Applies to other consumer electronics too. TVs with a pile of garbage apps. BluRay players with apps! Just bloated junk that adds to the cost but doesn't really do anything useful.



#12 vc1234

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 05:18 PM

 
 
Anyone else have suggestions?  Is it just ELK? 


As I wrote a while ago:

 

"I've used elk for several years  relatively successfully.  At another place I thought long and hard whether to get another elk, but decided to adopt an existing immortal Vista 20p panel and separate automation from security.  I just added an AlarmDecoder tiny board that lets me integrate Vista easily with for example Home Assistant so that all zones are presented as binary sensors, etc.

"

 

Vista 20P is inexpensive but rather old.  It can use Honeywell sensors in addition to wired zones( if you have an RF keypad) that are just as good/bad as the discontinued Interlogix/GE sensors.



#13 picta

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Posted 28 January 2020 - 08:33 PM

In my new house I've got a couple other uncooperative products. Geothermal HVAC with Ecobee-based thermostats that will only talk through the cloud. Chamberlain garage door openers that talk through the cloud. Velux skylights that make it really difficult to integrate. My Loxone is the only thing that is at least reasonably capable of two-way integration. I just haven't gone to the work of kludging together all the hacks that would be required to integrate everything (which would still be stubbornly cloud dependent).


I have a Velux made module that controls the skylight via dry contacts, has been working flawlessly for years. The Ecobee-based thermostats may very likely be possible to replace with non-cloud communicating thermostats. HAI Omnistats support 9 versions of HVAC systems. RCS could be an option also. The garage opener is harder to integrate if it does not have dry contact control, but some people solder control wire to the remote buttons or use the bluetooth based button pusher.

 

As for the OP question, I would second the others who suggested Elk. It is not an automation controller but rather a security system that offers friendly integration with automation controllers.



#14 pete_c

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 09:42 AM

Personally would stick to using the Elk.  Here sticking to my OmniPro 2 panel.  It's been integrated to Homeseer now since the early 2000's and not failed me yet.

 

Today still have more faith / trust in a wired transport with a simple bus that works fast enough for me BUT I am now looking at open (not propietary) wireless MQTT integration. This sort of resembles yesteryear's xPL, xAP automation common platform protocols.

 

Today it is integrated with MQTT and Home Assistant and Homeseer and the software works well in harmony.

 

or

 

Jump on the Security in the cloud bandwagon and get a Ring alarm security system (all wireless) and relatively cheap.



#15 Linwood

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 10:21 AM

Personally would stick to using the Elk.  Here sticking to my OmniPro 2 panel.  It's been integrated to Homeseer now since the early 2000's and not failed me yet.

 

Today still have more faith / trust in a wired transport with a simple bus that works fast enough for me BUT I am now looking at open (not propietary) wireless MQTT integration. This sort of resembles yesteryear's xPL, xAP automation common platform protocols.

 

Today it is integrated with MQTT and Home Assistant and Homeseer and the software works well in harmony.

 

or

 

Jump on the Security in the cloud bandwagon and get a Ring alarm security system (all wireless) and relatively cheap.

 

I've come to love Home Assistant and MQTT with ESPHOME items, for dollars and a few solders you can build amazing stuff which you can flash and re-flash over the air, and completely local control.

 

So.. old Elk or older Vista... I guess everyone wants to be in the cloud now.  There are just so, so, so many reasons I hate that idea.  Especially for an alarm.






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