Elk M1G for Father/Mother-In-law, any tips?


Senior Member
My Father-in-law/Mother-in-law have a 25 year old unmonitored DSC system with all the door/window/motions they need. They don't want to pay the $50/month monitoring, plus the codes are long since forgotten. They had a strange scare with a dude coming up to the door, plus burglaries are rising in NorCal so now they're contemplating redoing it. We owe them many favors so I figured I'd install an Elk for them. I know I can just get an EZ8, but I know the M1G layout (re-doing entire main board now as I had to tear it off the wall due to a rebuild of the room) so to keep life simple for me I figure I'll just put that in.
I'll let them pick KP1 vs KP2, but wondering if anyone has any tips or suggestions. I will *NOT* be installing an HA controller (CQC, Homeseer, etc) so I'll look into the various Elk-supported software / app control options (they are an iOS family).
IIRC, the main difference you would likely see in an install of this size is just that the EZ8 doesn't support voice messages (a la "Front Door Open"). The EZ8 has less on-board functionality (8 inputs vs. 16), but is expandable to more than you should need for a residence; comparison of main features here: http://www.elkproducts.com/product_family_overview.html
I think the cost difference is roughly $150. Having said that, I too would likely go with the M1G as well... I am all for commonality and ease of support.
What sort of tips/suggestions are you looking for?
You may not be installing a software based HA controller, but the Elk works just fine as a hardware based HA controller :)
eKeypad is the app of choice for iOS users: http://blog.ekeypad.com/   There are different flavors of the app (eKeypad M1, eKeypad Pro, eKeypad UPB, etc). Personally I have the Pro version which is $100. Steep, but the Pro version allows you to control a LOT more than the M1 alone - it's basically a combination of all the others combined. In this case, I think eKeypad M1 will be more than enough and is priced at $50. Here's a listing/comparison of all the variants/apps: http://blog.ekeypad.net/applications/
It's more expensive, and I hope this doesn't presume a sterotype, but I suggest the NAV keypad.  It's MUCH more user friendly for people who might not pay a lot of attention to the alarm until they need it.  
I agree with general usability of the NAV keypad - I just hate that they are so small! They need to bring back the 7" touchscreen (or larger)!
Awesome thanks. Those are the type of tips I was looking for, I know how to install the panel but they're 71 & 65,wasn't sure what to do to make it easier. Also any elderly assistive type sensors? Would a keyfob just confuse older folks?
I find the keyfobs to be a more convenient method to arm and disarm the system.  Just press the button and no worry about entering codes.  Also, once you have a wireless receiver, you can also get an emergency panic button pendant if you feel that's worthwhile.  The downside is the added cost of the wireless receiver.  But for an extra few hundred bucks to make the system easier to use, it's probably worth it.
My wife (not old but technophile) can use the fob much moreso than the alarm panel.  Or let me say WILL use it more.  The bad news about those is she keeps setting it by accident shifting stuff between purses, etc.  If I were doing it all over again... not sure.  I ended up using only two wireless sensors (primarily just so I had some to help justify it as I got the receiver for the fobs).  I strongly prefer real wires, and it is pretty pricey just to get the fobs. OTOH the emergency buttons for those who are getting infirm may definitely be worth it.
You could use the Resolution RE124DG DSC-to-GE-wireless Translator at least you don't have to change all the sensors.
The price difference, if you can come near trade, is greater for a M1G vs. EZ8. If you're not doing voice, interior/exterior sirens, etc. then I'd put an EZ8 in. Everything you know about programming is pretty much there. The board is physically different, but there really isn't too much an EZ8 can't do in 99% of the installs out there, especially if zero integration is going to happen.
The only downside is you'd need to pick up a serial port to get an XEP on the panel (and/or simplify programming, unless you're doing via a telco line on site).
For simplicity, you really can't beat a prox fob and appropriate rules. Press exit to leave, hold tag here to disarm. Press stay if you're home. All the rest and step arming can be done via programming to make it even easier. It's even easier than a RF fob and takes the confusion out of the mix (although the GE fobs are pretty easy if you just put arm/disarm on them).
As far as RF fobs, while Elk's with the LED's are nice on paper, I've always ended up just putting an LED outdoors (soffit or similar) to provide feedback to the end user. I wouldn't pigeonhole on to Elk's wireless simply for that feature.
I used a cheap SECO-LARM receiver and keyfobs - IIRC it was something like $25 for a 4-channel receiver and $18 for each keyfob. It's really the only way we arm/disarm the house when away. It's rule driven and verifies all windows/doors are shut before arming then closes the garage door (which we enter/exit from) and flashes the strobe for verification. When returning it'll disarm, open the garage door, and turn on lights if night time hours. It will also chirp the siren if there was an alarm condition which I didn't receive notification about to prevent the wife and kids from going into a potentially dangerous situation. The disarm button also operates as a simple and portable garage door opener.