Need assistance with new security system


New Member
I am looking too get some advice on selecting a new security system. I am not familiar with security systems but I have over 20 years of computer technical back ground. I don't think I'll have many problems with setting it up myself as long as I can get my hands on the manuals for installation & user guide (with assistance when I get myself in a situation as we all do). I currently have a very old (25 years) ADT Caretaker system so I plan on using the wires that are already there. If I have to I'll replace the contacts but first I'll see if they work.
I was looking at ELK & HAI systems but am leaning toward the ELK for cost savings. I was looking at either Honeywell or DSC Neo system but the cost can be so close to an ELK system once you add automation via Vera or Homeseer and it is all in one system instead of interfacing.
If you have the time please provide the components or options you would purchase to accomplish the requirement.
This is my requirements list:
Control board in enclosure, I probably go with a kit like the M1GSYS4.
Battery & transformer Backup
Need minimum 8 wired zones (these are the ADT pre-wired ready to go zones)
(Dining  room windows (2 contacts wired together) – living room windows (2 contacts wired together) – slider – bath window – kitchen bow window (3 contacts wired together) – kitchen window – front door (door jamb contact) – kitchen door – door jamb contact)
Indoor Sound /speaker device – current system has one but not sure if it will work
My current system has wireless zones for 2 back doors that I think I can easily wire so I’ll need contacts for these.
Wireless zones (some I might be able to wire)
       Window contacts - 3 (finished basement windows would be hard to hardwire)
       Garage door contact – 1 (I could wire this easily so if that would be better than please provide both options)
       Motion sensor (pets) – 2 – I could wire these easily so if that would be better than please provide both options)
       Outdoor contact for shed (about 50 ‘ from house)- 1  
       Outdoor speaker/siren/strobe – only if I can control it to only go off on a time delay
       Fire alarms – 3  (would be nice if they all sounded if one is tripped) (There is one wireless from the ADT system) I can wire these if that would be a better solution, if yes please give me both options so I can select if wires are not possible.
       Carbon monoxide/natural gas sensor alarm – 1 – wireless would be easier but I can wire this, the problem I have is our town just passed a new law stating we have to have CO2 detectors that provide a constant readout of current CO2 level. Not sure such a thing is possible yet.
Keypads 2 (front & rear doors) – talking or very easy to use, would be nice if one (front door could display items like weather in addition to alarm status. One is already wired and I think I can wire the back door.
Wireless keypad or ability to use Android phone/tablet (for bedroom) – easy to use, display items like weather, time, system status (window doors open)
It would be nice to be able to connect via a pc for programming if that is possible.
I have a few Z-Wave lights in my home currently controller by a Harmony 890Pro. I want to integrate these (and add new ones) so I’ll need the interface module and I assume some type of stick to pair the devices.
Monitoring – I’d like to be able to monitor this system myself via android app and I’d like to subscribe to a central station (good cheap one) with both a phone line (I have cable company phone service) and ability to have cell type backup.
Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Rykman
Read the manuals before you buy a thing.  You need to piece together the puzzle first, or you'll buy stuff you don't need.
I can't give you an inventory list but I can tell you that I decided on the Elk for combined security and automation a short while back and am happy with my decision. I've had some problems but I can't blame the equipment and Elk's support has been great. I also couldn't have done the install myself if it weren't for the help that I've gotten here.
I started with the M1GSYS4 and added a few components.
Neurorad said:
Read the manuals before you buy a thing.  You need to piece together the puzzle first, or you'll buy stuff you don't need.
Wiser words have never been spoken. I bought a few parts that may turn out to be extras and I did read the manuals and I did the research but with no experience to guide you it's hard to get it right the first time.
I would say buy the minimum basic system and build on it only after you get the basics running stable. I made a judgement call on adding a second power supply for my garage and may end up ditching it. It really isn't necessary and has introduced complications that I did not foresee.
Thanks for your replies.
I have begun to read the manuals and I have spent considerable amount of time deciding what components I'll need for my system. I've been researching this on my own for about 2-3 months, that is how I came to the conclusion of using ELK instead of the other vendors I listed. I am in the middle of selecting what components to buy but the problem is knowing what products are compatible (unless I buy just ELK products). What I don't want to do is buy a component and then find out it is not compatible. None of these vendors will provide support to DIYers so that is a little nerve racking but I'd really like to try to do this project myself. I wasn't going to attach everything and the fire up the system. My plan is to build the basic system panel, keypad, smoke, and a contact and get that working. Once that is done I'll add components one at a time, this way when something goes awry I'll know what it is. I am hoping to get some recommendations on components that work best. Who is the best retailer to use (who carries the most components). Just some advice to get me actually started rather than just planning.
I've beaten the drum of a loaded Vista panel (IE:20P) expanded and with other components quickly approaches the cost of an M1 kit many times. As far as DSC and their new panel series...well dealing with DSC many times in the past, I can't stand behind their product line and a first gen would scare me to say the least.
A Caretaker or ITI control to M1 is a very wise and lateral swap. The high piezo in the speaker(s) should be abandoned, as the granular control on an M1 as the ITI has really isn't possible, but the speaker(s) themselves can be reused. Any device that is powered off the panel (you could have a separate power supply) is going to require replacement. The speaking feature of the M1 would be a direct cutover from the Caretaker to the M1 if you reconnect the installed speakers.
The RF devices might be able to be reused with an M1 and compatible GE technology receiver installed. Any existing smokes are garbage at this point in time, they are well due for replacement. Personally, contrary to others, I would not recommend Elk's proprietary RF at this point in time, there's far too few devices and the pro's vs. cons don't outweigh that in my mind yet.
CO detectors for an alarm system that are presently commercially available do not have a readout as to concentration levels, however if the system is professionally monitored or the hardware is compliant, I would argue the point with your AHJ's. The readouts are typically only found on low end consumer grade hardware and of that, I only know of the Nighthawk units with that feature....they can't force a HO to purchase only a single manufacturer's product to fit their mandate.