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ELK M1 Intermittent False Alarm


Best Answer flbbon4123 , 05 April 2021 - 07:11 AM

Final update.

After changing the CR2032 battery I have not had any false alarms in over 3 weeks.

My assumption at this point is the battery being weak "May" have been the culprit. But I don't have definitive proof.

 

Marking this thread as resolved.

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#1 flbbon4123

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 05:51 PM

Hi Everyone,

I am a homeowner who installed my M1 Gold security system in October of 2017.

Until recently the system has performed flawlessly.

 

November 12, 2020 a Burglar Alarm was triggered at 2:01 AM for the Kitchen window.

February 6, 2021 a Burglar Alarm was triggered at 3:44 AM for the Great Room window.

March 2, 2021 a Burglar Alarm was triggered at 2:32 AM for the Kitchen window.

 

System sent Burglar alarm voice message to cell phone reporting break-in.

 

Non of these alarms are valid as I was at home at the time of the alarms and confirmed no violation.

 

All of the sensors are Flair VIP94, hardwired and no EOL.

 

Great Room sensor is on Main Panel.

Kitchen window sensor is on M1 Extender (only 1 extender board).

 

ELK RP shows 0.0 volts for Great Room sensor and 0.2 volts for Kitchen window sensor.

 

Does anyone have any idea what might be the cause of these false alarms?

 

Thanks for any help you can provide.

 

 



#2 RAL

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 02:27 AM

I would start by checking the voltage from the power transformer to the M1.  It should be around 16 to 19VAC. 
 
Next, check the voltage at the battery.  It should be about 13.8VDC.
 
My guess is that you are still running with the original back up battery.  If so, at this point is at least 3-1/2 years old, and it probably sat on a shelf for a while before you purchased/installed it.   SLA batteries have a life of 3 to 5 years,  so you're in the range where it might be time for a new battery.
 
The M1 does a battery test about every 24 hours or so.  When it does the test, the system runs off of the battery for a short time to see how it holds up under load.  It's possible your battery isn't holding up and causing the false alarms.
 
One thing you can do is unplug the AC transformer and measure the battery voltage over a period of 30 minutes or so.  If it's dropping much below 12V in that short time, that may be your problem.

Edited by RAL, 03 March 2021 - 02:31 AM.


#3 upstatemike

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 10:04 AM

Funny I am also getting false triggers on a number of contacts I just added in the Fall. Fortunately they are only used as Chime alerts so not urgent to resolve but I am assuming they are a combination of voltage and loop resistance that put the zones right at the edge of triggering. My strategy is to troubleshoot is:
 
1 Check my voltages and probably refresh the batteries as RAL suggests.
 
2 Check the current draw on the main and auxiliary power supplies to make sure I have not added too much stuff. I also added 2 keypads in the Fall so extra current plus a few volts of  utility power sag could be putting me over the threshold.
 
3 Measure my loop restance on the loops that false and see how close they are to spec. These loops are on Cat5 cable for a long part of their run and doubling up the pairs might drop the loop resistance enough to stop the false triggers.
 
One thing I noted is that I will get several false triggers in a short period of time and then nothing for many days which is why I think it is a voltage/loop resistance issue. Maybe similiar to what you are seeing?


Edited by upstatemike, 03 March 2021 - 10:05 AM.


#4 flbbon4123

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 06:00 PM

Thanks Ral.

Here are the results of the tests...

Power Transformer 18.1 to 18.8 volts

 

Battery test shows 13.7 volts

 

A/C power disconnected for 30 minutes  --> after 6 minutes voltage dropped to 12.65 volts, after 13 minutes system reported A/C failure, Battery voltage remained constant for duration of test at 12.65 volts.

 

FYI, all sensors have a dedicated wire to them, They are not daisy chained.

 

Any other suggestions?



#5 RAL

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 12:50 AM

Thanks Ral.

Here are the results of the tests...

Power Transformer 18.1 to 18.8 volts

 

Battery test shows 13.7 volts

 

A/C power disconnected for 30 minutes  --> after 6 minutes voltage dropped to 12.65 volts, after 13 minutes system reported A/C failure, Battery voltage remained constant for duration of test at 12.65 volts.

 

FYI, all sensors have a dedicated wire to them, They are not daisy chained.

 

Any other suggestions?


Well, you've eliminated the easy causes.  Your voltages look like they are ok.

 

Are you running the latest firmware level on the M1 (5.3.10)?

 

The next thing to do is follow @upstatemike's suggestions.  

 

If you haven't done a current draw calculation, you should do one using the Elk spreadsheet to make sure you are not overloading the power supply.

 

It's worth measuring loop resistance, but there could be more to the story, such as intermittent connections.  So the resistance might look fine when you do the measurement, but the connection fails at a later time due to vibration, moisture or whatever.  Often, loosening and re-tightening the the screw terminals on the M1 zone inputs will clear up a problem.  Other possible causes are poor crimp connections or screw terminal connections at the contact, wires that get stretched too tight as a house settles, or rodents nibbling on the wires somewhere in between. 

 

So far, you've had false alarms on different zones.  If any of them start to repeat on the same zone, then another thing to try is swapping the zone with another one.  That can help narrow the problem down to whether it is a problem with the wiring or the M1 (or zone expander) itself.  If the false alarm moves to the new zone, then that's a pretty good indication that the wiring or contact is the cause.



#6 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 08:45 AM

More low hanging fruit to pick:

 

Lightly tug on wiring in the panel.  Gently tap on the sensor.  See if any of that trip the system.

 

The resistance check suggested by Ral and upstatemike makes sense (I'll third that suggestion).  Make sure you check for leakage with the window/door open as well and not just contact resistance (if you need help with that let me know).

 

Are these sensors wired to the main board or an expansion panel? 

 

Do the false alarms come at a time of high heat or very cold temperatures?

 

What is your gap distance the window can be away from the magnet on these sensors?  Does this trip during very windy days?  Rattle the door and window and see if that trips the system.

 

It's been a loooooong time since I had an Elk at my old house but isn't there a menu where you can see actual voltage levels on inputs?  What is yours reading tripped/untripped?


Edited by BraveSirRobbin, 04 March 2021 - 08:48 AM.


#7 flbbon4123

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 09:00 PM

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions.

As a newbie to the forum I can only post once per day until I have my 3 approved posts.

This is my 3rd post so I should be able to respond tomorrow in a more timely manner.

 

 

Funny I am also getting false triggers on a number of contacts I just added in the Fall. Fortunately they are only used as Chime alerts so not urgent to resolve but I am assuming they are a combination of voltage and loop resistance that put the zones right at the edge of triggering. My strategy is to troubleshoot is:
 
1 Check my voltages and probably refresh the batteries as RAL suggests.
 
2 Check the current draw on the main and auxiliary power supplies to make sure I have not added too much stuff. I also added 2 keypads in the Fall so extra current plus a few volts of  utility power sag could be putting me over the threshold.
 
3 Measure my loop restance on the loops that false and see how close they are to spec. These loops are on Cat5 cable for a long part of their run and doubling up the pairs might drop the loop resistance enough to stop the false triggers.
 
One thing I noted is that I will get several false triggers in a short period of time and then nothing for many days which is why I think it is a voltage/loop resistance issue. Maybe similiar to what you are seeing?

@upstatemike.....Thanks for your suggestions and my apologies for not responding to your suggestions.

As noted in my post the battery voltages and transformer output appear normal.

 

 


Well, you've eliminated the easy causes.  Your voltages look like they are ok.

 

Are you running the latest firmware level on the M1 (5.3.10)?

Yes, firmware is 5.3.10

 

The next thing to do is follow @upstatemike's suggestions.  

 

If you haven't done a current draw calculation, you should do one using the Elk spreadsheet to make sure you are not overloading the power supply.

I have never done a current draw calculation and will need to research that.

However, I am wondering what would have changed since installation that I would need to do that now.

 

It's worth measuring loop resistance, but there could be more to the story, such as intermittent connections.  So the resistance might look fine when you do the measurement, but the connection fails at a later time due to vibration, moisture or whatever.  Often, loosening and re-tightening the the screw terminals on the M1 zone inputs will clear up a problem.  Other possible causes are poor crimp connections or screw terminal connections at the contact, wires that get stretched too tight as a house settles, or rodents nibbling on the wires somewhere in between. 

Will check this and let you know.

 

So far, you've had false alarms on different zones.  If any of them start to repeat on the same zone, then another thing to try is swapping the zone with another one.  That can help narrow the problem down to whether it is a problem with the wiring or the M1 (or zone expander) itself.  If the false alarm moves to the new zone, then that's a pretty good indication that the wiring or contact is the cause.

Will check this and let you know.

 

 

More low hanging fruit to pick:

 

Lightly tug on wiring in the panel.  Gently tap on the sensor.  See if any of that trip the system.

 

The resistance check suggested by Ral and upstatemike makes sense (I'll third that suggestion).  Make sure you check for leakage with the window/door open as well and not just contact resistance (if you need help with that let me know).

Will need to check and get back to you.

 

Are these sensors wired to the main board or an expansion panel? 

1 on main board and 1 on expansion

 

Do the false alarms come at a time of high heat or very cold temperatures?

Alarms happen between 2 AM and 4 AM.

First alarm in November the high during the day was 19 celsius and dropped to minus 1.3 celsius during the time of the alarm.

February the low was minus 10.3 celsius and March minus 17.9 celsius.

Normal temps for this location (London Ontario Canada)

 

What is your gap distance the window can be away from the magnet on these sensors?  Does this trip during very windy days?  Rattle the door and window and see if that trips the system.

Will check

 

It's been a loooooong time since I had an Elk at my old house but isn't there a menu where you can see actual voltage levels on inputs?  What is yours reading tripped/untripped?

Voltage on Kitchen window showed 0.2 volts untripped and 13.7 tripped. After opening the window, cleaning the contact and reconnecting sensor wires I couldn't get the window to arm. Looks like the sensor is fine (placed a spare magnet on sensor and was able to arm).

Will need to reposition the contact.

 

Great room window sensor shows 0.0 volts untripped and 13.7 volts tripped.

Will investigate further and get back to you.

 

 

 



#8 flbbon4123

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 05:02 PM

If you haven't done a current draw calculation, you should do one using the Elk spreadsheet to make sure you are not overloading the power supply.

Current Draw Calculation = 1.269

 

So far, you've had false alarms on different zones.  If any of them start to repeat on the same zone, then another thing to try is swapping the zone with another one.  That can help narrow the problem down to whether it is a problem with the wiring or the M1 (or zone expander) itself.  If the false alarm moves to the new zone, then that's a pretty good indication that the wiring or contact is the cause.

There have been 2 false alarms on the kitchen window.

Sensor is OK but magnet needs to be repositioned as I can't alarm without bypassing. I'm not sure why as nothing has changed.

Your suggestion about possible cause being house settling makes sense as the home is only 3 years old.

 

More low hanging fruit to pick:

 

The resistance check suggested by Ral and upstatemike makes sense (I'll third that suggestion).  Make sure you check for leakage with the window/door open as well and not just contact resistance (if you need help with that let me know).

I need help with this as I'm not sure how to do it!!

I have a multi-meter for the testing.

 

What is your gap distance the window can be away from the magnet on these sensors?  Does this trip during very windy days?  Rattle the door and window and see if that trips the system.

Spec Gap distance is 3/4". Actual distance is 3/8" to 1/2". 

Doesn't appear to trip during windy days.



#9 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 05:21 PM

Take your multimeter and place it in 'ohms' (horseshoe symbol).  This measures resistance.  Take your leads and touch them together...you should see near zero reading.  
Separate the leads and you will see some sort of infinite indication.
If you have a 'manual' scale meter, place it on the lowest scale level.
Remove the sensor leads from the security panel input
Close the door/window
Touch a lead to a wire end of the sensor (each lead on a wire end).  Important:  be sure not to have your fingertips touching the tips/wires as that can influence resistance readings.  A clip/test lead is great for this application.  Also make sure the leads don't touch any metal object as well during this process.
Write down the resistance reading.  It is most likely something under 10 ohms depending on cable length/type/gauge (I believe you are not using EOL's.  If so, this reading will be the EOL value plus cable resistance).
Open the window and the reading should be infinite.   If you have an auto-scale meter place it in the largest scale and ensure this reading is still infinite.
 
Looking over your gap distance numbers...you only have a 1/4" distance the window has to open before tripping.  Shouldn't be a problem as long as nothing is 'wiggling' or rattling such as high winds or any variations resulting from extreme temp changes.  I think you knocked on your windows and rattled them manually to ensure this? I realize 1/4" is a lot of movement, but this may be even less if the magnet is not truly aligned with the sensor.

Edited by BraveSirRobbin, 05 March 2021 - 05:24 PM.


#10 RAL

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 11:47 PM

flbbon4123, on 05 Mar 2021 - 17:07, said:
Current Draw Calculation = 1.269

I can't say that this is the cause of your false alarms, but it could be. Whether it is or not, it is something that needs to be taken care of.

The maximum current that the M1's power supply can provide is 1.0 Amp, so you're over the limit. The result you get from the current draw spreadsheet is based on the maximum current for all devices and it's possible they aren't all drawing maximum power all the time. So much of the time you may be under the 1.0 A limit and things will work fine. But at some point, you may hit that worst case condition.

The M1 power supply output is protected by 1.25A PTCs, which act as self-resetting circuit breakers. In your worst case condition, you could cause the PTCs to trip.

The way to address this is by adding an auxiliary power supply, like an Elk P412, P212S, or an Altronix AL400ULPD8. My pick would be the Altronix. You can often find one in new or good used condition at bargain prices on eBay. Their quality is top notch. Here's one example. You'll also need an Altronix LPD (low power disconnect) to prevent the battery from running down to too low a voltage.

When moving some of your devices to the aux supply, you'll want to split up the load so that the batteries in the aux supply can provide power during a power failure for a longer period of time than the M1's battery. You want the M1 to run out of battery power before the aux's battery does. Otherwise, the M1 may see some of it's devices disappear as the aux supply's battery runs out, and that can cause false alarms.

Edited by RAL, 06 March 2021 - 02:24 AM.


#11 flbbon4123

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 04:52 PM

I can't say that this is the cause of your false alarms, but it could be. Whether it is or not, it is something that needs to be taken care of.

The maximum current that the M1's power supply can provide is 1.0 Amp, so you're over the limit. The result you get from the current draw spreadsheet is based on the maximum current for all devices and it's possible they aren't all drawing maximum power all the time. So much of the time you may be under the 1.0 A limit and things will work fine. But at some point, you may hit that worst case condition.

The M1 power supply output is protected by 1.25A PTCs, which act as self-resetting circuit breakers. In your worst case condition, you could cause the PTCs to trip.

The way to address this is by adding an auxiliary power supply, like an Elk P412, P212S, or an Altronix AL400ULPD8. My pick would be the Altronix. You can often find one in new or good used condition at bargain prices on eBay. Their quality is top notch. Here's one example. You'll also need an Altronix LPD (low power disconnect) to prevent the battery from running down to too low a voltage.

When moving some of your devices to the aux supply, you'll want to split up the load so that the batteries in the aux supply can provide power during a power failure for a longer period of time than the M1's battery. You want the M1 to run out of battery power before the aux's battery does. Otherwise, the M1 may see some of it's devices disappear as the aux supply's battery runs out, and that can cause false alarms.

Ral, thanks so much!!

I think I get it.....I have been lucky that I haven't had a more serious problem because I'm maxing the capacity of the transformer!!

I will look at getting the auxiliary supply and rebalancing the system.

 

 

 

Take your multimeter and place it in 'ohms' (horseshoe symbol).  This measures resistance.  Take your leads and touch them together...you should see near zero reading.  
Separate the leads and you will see some sort of infinite indication.
If you have a 'manual' scale meter, place it on the lowest scale level.
Remove the sensor leads from the security panel input
Close the door/window
Touch a lead to a wire end of the sensor (each lead on a wire end).  Important:  be sure not to have your fingertips touching the tips/wires as that can influence resistance readings.  A clip/test lead is great for this application.  Also make sure the leads don't touch any metal object as well during this process.
Write down the resistance reading.  It is most likely something under 10 ohms depending on cable length/type/gauge (I believe you are not using EOL's.  If so, this reading will be the EOL value plus cable resistance).
Open the window and the reading should be infinite.   If you have an auto-scale meter place it in the largest scale and ensure this reading is still infinite.
 
Looking over your gap distance numbers...you only have a 1/4" distance the window has to open before tripping.  Shouldn't be a problem as long as nothing is 'wiggling' or rattling such as high winds or any variations resulting from extreme temp changes.  I think you knocked on your windows and rattled them manually to ensure this? I realize 1/4" is a lot of movement, but this may be even less if the magnet is not truly aligned with the sensor.

Brave Sir Robin,

Thanks very much for the explanation.

Question: How exact does the alignment need to be between the magnet and the sensor? The one window won't arm unless I crack the window open about 1/4". The window is casement, not slider, and swings out from both sides, left and right, rather than being pinned on one side and swinging open on the opposite side.

Sorry if this doesn't make sense.



#12 flbbon4123

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 08:37 AM

Ral, I have egg on my face!!

 

I made a mistake in the calculation of current draw. I had entered a value in the M1RB Relay Board which inflated the value by 0.05 amps.

I don't have any M1RB's

 

The new calculation is 0.885 amps.



#13 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 09:48 AM

Brave Sir Robin,
Thanks very much for the explanation.
Question: How exact does the alignment need to be between the magnet and the sensor? The one window won't arm unless I crack the window open about 1/4". The window is casement, not slider, and swings out from both sides, left and right, rather than being pinned on one side and swinging open on the opposite side.
Sorry if this doesn't make sense.
 
Hmmm...this isn't making a lot of sense.  I'm hoping you have a 'normally closed' contact on that window.  Connect the meter to the sensor's leads (with the leads removed from the security input terminals).  If you can clip the leads or wrap them securely around the meter's lead tips (ensuring the leads themselves are not touching each other or any metal) that would be best for this next test.
 
There should be a setting on the meter that will emit a 'tone' when the leads are touched together indicating a 'short' or 'contact'.  If you can, find this setting (it should be near the ohm symbol...if you can post a pic of the meter, I can tell you exactly what it is).  Touch the leads together and you will hear this tone.
 
Go to the window and when closed, you should hear this steady tone.  If you have to play around with the window open/closed/cracked this isn't good and something is wrong.  Most likely the magnet is misaligned.  If this were me, with that type of window, I would get a wide gap sensor (an inch or so gap before tripping). You can also test the gap distance by slowly opening the window until the tone stops.
 
Anyway, play around with your troubled windows with the testing method above and, because it completely eliminates the security system itself, will hopefully narrow down the problem IF indeed it is a sensor(s) giving you trouble.
 
Did this make sense?  Can you take a picture of a window with, if possible, a ruler (to give us a sense of measurement in the pic)?

Edited by BraveSirRobbin, 07 March 2021 - 09:49 AM.


#14 flbbon4123

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 04:25 PM

Brave Sir Robbin,

My Meter is probably 25 years old, manual and doesn't have a "tone" setting.

That said, I think the first problem is the magnet is misaligned and because I am using a sensor that only allows a 3/4" gap it is now giving me problems.

I am going to order some sensors that have a wide gap, as you have suggested.

 

I will try and take pics and post to show what I currently have.

 

Thanks so much

Gary


Edited by BraveSirRobbin, 07 March 2021 - 07:04 PM.


#15 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 07:04 PM

Still do that test I described above...but just place the meter on the lowest ohms setting and have someone watch it when it 'toggles' a high/low reading.  This will give you an idea of what exactly the problem is.

 

Better not to go trying to look for a solution that might not be the problem!






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