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Elk M1 and Z-Wave...

So I'm experienced on the security side of things, but rather new to the whole 'automation' side. So a few beginner questions:
 
1. I thought about getting an Elk M1 and the M1XEP thinking I could integrate z-wave stuff...but after doing some research, it appears that the M1XEP is just a secondary controller and I would still need something like Homeseer or Vera or whatever to act as a primary controller? If so, I would basically need an Elk M1, Elk M1XEP and a controller like Homeseer...correct?
 
2. My goals overall are pretty simple. I mostly want to be able to control lighting and temperature. So when I walk in a room, an occupancy sensor will tell the z-wave wall switch or light to turn on, for example. Or when I leave the house, it will tell the z-wave thermostats to lower the temperature. What would be the easiest way to handle to? Should I bother getting the items I described above or would simply getting Homesee or whatever controller alone to handle it be sufficient?
 
3. Overall, what would you recommend that is both decently advanced, but beginner friendly enough for basic automation? I'm pretty decent with tech, but I'm not looking to spend a month learning stuff just to do basic stuff like have a light turn on.
 

macromark

Active Member
I'd recommend a slightly different approach. Instead of centering your system on the M1, consider centering it on one of our HomeTrollers instead... and then integrating it with the M1. That would give you the best outcome for security and automation. Our Z-Wave support is considerably more robust than Elk's and you'd also be gaining voice assistant features too (Amazon Alexa & Google Home). You'd also be able to leverage a lot of other technologies too.
Just a thought...
 
macromark said:
I'd recommend a slightly different approach. Instead of centering your system on the M1, consider centering it on one of our HomeTrollers instead... and then integrating it with the M1. That would give you the best outcome for security and automation.
 
Thanks for the reply. So not being an expert on automation, how easy is it to connect the M1 to a home troller? For example, if I want the M1 to send a command that when a motion detector detects motion, then Homeseer should activate a light...how would I or what is the best way you would recommend to accomplish that?
 
Speaking of motion, do you consider the HS-MS100+ Motion Sensor to be more like a security motion detector...or more like an occupancy sensor? At it's most sensitive, would it be suitable as an occupancy sensor?
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I'll let Mark respond to the questions directed to him but I will make the following points in case they are helpful.
 
I use the Elk M1 and it connects very easily to a hometroller using the Elk M1 plugin. I have many homeseer events that are triggered by Elk inputs and there is no delay.
 
I currently use Insteon lighting via an ISY 994 which connects to my Elk directly as well as connecting to Homeseer. I use motion sensors connected to the Elk inputs to control lights.
 
If I was using Z-Wave I would use it with Homeseer for configuration and programming. I would then use Z-Wave motion sensors to trigger the events that control lighting. I think you should only get the Elk if you want to do other things with it like fire or security or access control but I don't see where it adds value if your main focus is Z-Wave lighting. I don't know the answer to your question about sensitivity of the Z-Wave motion detectors but I believe a lot of people do use them for occupancy/vacancy triggers.
 

macromark

Active Member
Speaking of motion, do you consider the HS-MS100+ Motion Sensor to be more like a security motion detector...or more like an occupancy sensor? At it's most sensitive, would it be suitable as an occupancy sensor?
 
These sensors can be used for both security and occupancy. However, my suggestion would be to install wired motion sensors directly to your Elk panel (if possible). That way, your security system will always be able to function 'stand alone' and... via the Elk integration, your HomeTroller will also be able to trigger any events based on Elk-attached sensors. Wired sensors would also have the benefit of no-battery-changes too...
 
upstatemike said:
I'll let Mark respond to the questions directed to him but I will make the following points in case they are helpful.
 
I use the Elk M1 and it connects very easily to a hometroller using the Elk M1 plugin. I have many homeseer events that are triggered by Elk inputs and there is no delay.
 
I currently use Insteon lighting via an ISY 994 which connects to my Elk directly as well as connecting to Homeseer. I use motion sensors connected to the Elk inputs to control lights.
 
If I was using Z-Wave I would use it with Homeseer for configuration and programming. I would then use Z-Wave motion sensors to trigger the events that control lighting. I think you should only get the Elk if you want to do other things with it like fire or security or access control but I don't see where it adds value if your main focus is Z-Wave lighting. I don't know the answer to your question about sensitivity of the Z-Wave motion detectors but I believe a lot of people do use them for occupancy/vacancy triggers.
 
Thanks. Good to hear. And yeah, I've been a bit on the fence about which way to go. Originally I was thinking of just doing a typical security system with a totally separate z-wave setup to control some lights and thermostats with occupancy sensors. But then I was considering getting the Elk to help integrate them together...thinking it would be nice to be able to have the lights turn on if the alarm goes off or whatever. But now I'm back to wondering if it's worth the extra expense to get the Elk, especially with Elk not really being a 'popular/well supported' system in the alarm world and costing quite a bit more then a typical alarm...or whether it's best to just do it completely separately.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
For me it is worthwhile because I use the fire and security features of the Elk plus I use a lot of hard-wired inputs and outputs. I also mix lighting technologies so it makes sense that I might have a motion sensor wired to the Elk turn on both an Insteon light and a Hue light or have some Hue lights turn on red if the fire alarm is tripped.
 
Otherwise my rule of thumb is for actions to take the most direct route. If I am doing something that only involves the Elk and Insteon lights then I use the direct integration between the Elk and the ISY 994. If I need to do logic that can't be done within the ISY or Elk  then the route is Elk to Homeseer to ISY 994. For some Hue lights I use Hue motion detectors so only the Hue hub is involved. Whatever gets the job done with the fewest dependencies (fewest different systems involved) without having to compromise on what I want to accomplish.
 
upstatemike said:
For me it is worthwhile because I use the fire and security features of the Elk plus I use a lot of hard-wired inputs and outputs. I also mix lighting technologies so it makes sense that I might have a motion sensor wired to the Elk turn on both an Insteon light and a Hue light or have some Hue lights turn on red if the fire alarm is tripped.
 
Otherwise my rule of thumb is for actions to take the most direct route. If I am doing something that only involves the Elk and Insteon lights then I use the direct integration between the Elk and the ISY 994. If I need to do logic that can't be done within the ISY or Elk  then the route is Elk to Homeseer to ISY 994. For some Hue lights I use Hue motion detectors so only the Hue hub is involved. Whatever gets the job done with the fewest dependencies (fewest different systems involved) without having to compromise on what I want to accomplish.
 
Thanks. I'll definitely have to think about whether it's worth it to combine the two. Overall, are you happy with the Elk system itself? Any problems or issues with it?
 
 
macromark said:
These sensors can be used for both security and occupancy. However, my suggestion would be to install wired motion sensors directly to your Elk panel (if possible). That way, your security system will always be able to function 'stand alone' and... via the Elk integration, your HomeTroller will also be able to trigger any events based on Elk-attached sensors. Wired sensors would also have the benefit of no-battery-changes too...
 
Thanks. Yeah, the only thing is that most security motion detectors aren't nearly as sensitive as actual occupancy sensors...so a security motion detector wouldn't detect me sitting at the desk making only tiny movements...and the lights would shut off. Whereas a real occupancy sensor will notice even tiny movements and keep the lights on. Which is why I was wondering if those were designed more as security motion detectors or more as occupancy sensors.
 

macromark

Active Member
Thanks. Yeah, the only thing is that most security motion detectors aren't nearly as sensitive as actual occupancy sensors...so a security motion detector wouldn't detect me sitting at the desk making only tiny movements...and the lights would shut off. Whereas a real occupancy sensor will notice even tiny movements and keep the lights on. Which is why I was wondering if those were designed more as security motion detectors or more as occupancy sensors.
Hmmm, If that's the definition of an occupancy sensor, I've literally never seen one available for smart home systems! Let me know if you find one... I have a bunch of uses for it.  :)
 
macromark said:
Hmmm, If that's the definition of an occupancy sensor, I've literally never seen one available for smart home systems! Let me know if you find one... I have a bunch of uses for it.  :)
 
You've seriously never heard of an occupancy sensor? There are tons of them, like these that we use at work: https://www.leviton.com/en/products/commercial/lighting-controls/occupancy-sensors-and-vacancy#t=Products&sort=%40wcs_site_tree_rank%20ascending&layout=card
 
This one here has a form c relay, which while intended for the HVAC system, can easily couple to a z-wave input: https://www.leviton.com/en/products/commercial/lighting-controls/occupancy-sensors-and-vacancy#t=Products&sort=%40wcs_site_tree_rank%20ascending&layout=card
 
You can use the above occupancy sensor and attach the relay from it to this device and use it as a z-wave input: https://www.fortrezz.com/shop/mimo-lite  ...You don't even have to attach the lights to the occupancy sensor, you can just use it to sense motion and trip the relay, which in turn will be the z-wave input to turn on a z-wave light or do whatever.
 

macromark

Active Member
Correct, I've seriously never seen one that's designed for a mainstream smart home system... still haven't! All the Z-Wave ones I've seen are not sensitive enough to detect small movements.I understand that you can integrate just about anything with a contact closure interface, etc.... 
 
macromark said:
Correct, I've seriously never seen one that's designed for a mainstream smart home system... still haven't! All the Z-Wave ones I've seen are not sensitive enough to detect small movements.I understand that you can integrate just about anything with a contact closure interface, etc.... 
 
Yeah, while a bit of a pain, a regular occupancy sensor like the ones I linked to could easily be attached to the Elk panel, then used to activate whatever I suppose. Although it would be nice to not have to beat around the bush with it.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I think the more common use for smart home system motion sensors is in pass-through situations to light a path in a hall or stairwell. I recently converted my basement (7 rooms plus stairwell) to use actual occupancy sensors instead of smart switches. (I used the Leviton model that allows multiple occupancy sensors on the same circuit to address coverage issues in some areas). Each circuit includes a controlled outlet with a wall wart in it. The wall warts drive relays which in turn provide a dry contact input to my Elk M1. when somebody goes down there the Elk M1 announces each room as the lights come on (via the voice chime feature) so I know exactly where folks are wandering to. Homeseer also reminds me every half hour that the lights are on down there so if I think a switch might be stuck or getting false triggers I can go investigate.
 
I have also used this method for outdoor motion sensors using cheap Home Depot sensors for detection but having the lights actually controlled by Insteon switches run from Homeseer events. At some point I expect to swap some of the outdoor sensors for the new Homeseer Zwave sensor which essentially do the same thing without the wall warts, relays. and Elk inputs.
 
I also have some plain old security sensors in the front hall and butler's pantry which control Insteon switches for pass through. These sensors are plenty sensitive enough for this purpose and this configuration allows me to run the logic from the Elk M1, the ISY 994, or Homeseer depending on what conditions or extra actions I want to accomplish beyond just having the light triggered by motion.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
Another thing that might be of interest to you is the BLRadar plugin for Homeseer which gives you very granular control of how motion sensors behave in your system. There is a very good demo of what the plugin can do on YouTube. I'm pretty sure you can mitigate any concerns about sensor sensitivity using the options available in this plugin.
 
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