Controllers Most Used By the Pros


Senior Member
I was wondering what are the most common controller platforms used in professional HA businesses? Do most commercial HA systems start out as security installs using HAI or ELK M1 systems that have been “up-sold†to include automation features? Are they more often whole-house audio installs that are enhanced to include scene lighting and thermostat control? Or are there businesses that are based on selling a Home Automation platform like Homevision Pro or Stargate or HS Pro 100 as the core controller?
I believe that an alarm control panel has much more sales and installations than a "home automation" system of any type.
I agree that the alarm business is much bigger than the HA business. I was just wondering if anybody out there is doing HA as their primary business and if so what hardware do they prefer? Are there any businesses making a living primarily from Homevision or Stargate type installations?
I am guessing that most pro installed HA solutions to date are using JDS or HAI. I have just never heard of too many people professionally installing any of the other packages or software. This is just my guess, I have no facts to back this up. I also think that the Elk M1G will makes its way onto this short list VERY quickly, but the others have a many year head start so it will take a while for the isntalled unit count to even come close.
Crestron and AMX are probably the top two that I've read about. ELAN, for distributed audio, is another one that I've read about, but I don't think its that popular of a choice.
Crestron and AMX are two that were easy for me to forget about. They are expensive and typically not supported/sold directly to users, you must go through a dealer/installer. Do Creston & AMX even have a good rules engine? I always think of them as a GUI and interconnect system, mostly for home theatres.

If you look at sales volume ($), then maybe Creston and AMX would beat my two picks. I am ignoring Creston & AMX corporate installations. But if you looks at units installed, I think JDS and HAI might beat them. Anybody know where to get facts instead of my guesses? Anybody have a connection to Parks & Associates?
It sounds like if I want to break into the automation busines I have to become an alarm installer and focus on HAI or Elk M1 as a platform, or else become a pro sound installer and use AMX or Crestron. So much for my dream of turning my hobby into a business! What about the vast network of dealers lined up to install the new HST PRO-100? Are they gping to be mostly alarm dealers as well?
The HST PRO-100 is probably perfect for the type of business you want, just keep in mind that it might require more support than an alarm panel. I look forward to seeing a HA business in the CNY area :D
I think in the past a lot of professional installers went with the HAI panels. I think you'll see a lot of shifting to the Elk though. If I did installs for customers (which I don't), I would probably focus on the Elk. It has a lot more bang for the buck, dirt simple to install, and has a lifetime warranty.
I think you are both right. The HST PRO-100 would be perfect for this type of business but the ELK M1 Gold is the current favorite of new controllers. I really like some of the features in the M1 that are not readily available in other controllers, for example: Support for reading temperatures below zero (very important in CNY), a "whenever minute equals xx" trigger, and an extensive built-in vocabulary. In fact I was so interested in the M1 that I downloaded the demo software and started running some tests to see what it would take to migrate my Stargate events over to the M1. I have to say I was a bit surprised at what I found...
For my test I picked the first event I ever programmed into my Stargate. It simply announces the new setpoint whenever somebody changes one of the thermostats. I figured out how to set up the trigger using the ElkRP program but when it came to the announcement I was surprised to discover the M1 can't speak the setpoint value of a thermostat; only the current temperature. An email reply from Elk tech support informed me that you can't get around this by loading the setpoint into a variable because the M1 can't speak the value of user defined variables either! No announcing the number of times the doorbell was pressed while you were out, or the stored high temp for the day or anything else you might want to track with a variable. The M1 will talk your ear off about partition status or bypass zones or any number of things that only an alarm guy could appreciate but it doesn't look like I could convert many of my Stargate status announcements over to an M1 platform.
That's pretty interesting, but I would think that this is just a software limitation, and hopefully someone from Elk is watching and will realize that this might be a great addition.
The reply from Elk (below) says it is on their list for consideration I think it just depends on what the demand is.

Good morning Mike,

At this time the M1 can not speak the value of a thermostat set point or the value of a counter. I will add this request to our list for future enhancements but no guarantee as to if or when these will be released.

Best regards,

Brad Weeks

Technical Support


:D Speaking variables and set points is on my short list to do. It will happened in a future software upgrade.

Elk Engineering