Need some advice/clarifications for cellular backup with Elk M1


New Member
[SIZE=11pt]Hello everyone. I'm a fairly new DIYer with an Elk M1 Gold, and I'm trying to decide what to use for cellular communications with a CS (probably AlarmRelay). I realize there are a ton of forum posts around this subject already, but many are years old and seem like they may be outdated; and the information is not always clear (and in some cases rather confusing). I've read over almost all of them multiple times and I'm still a pretty confused.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=11pt]I have an Elk M1 Gold panel with an M1XEP. I don't want to lose the ability to connect to the panel directly via IP on my local network. I'm not opposed to replacing the M1XEP so long as I can still connect to the panel and won't be restricted communicating with it. Also, if possible, I'd also like to be able to use whatever app the CS provides for remote interaction. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=11pt]From what I can gather my main choices come down to: Uplink, Telguard, and IPdatatel/Alula. Beyond that [/SIZE]I have a lot of random questions I was hoping to get some help with, and just was generally hoping for recommendations.
[SIZE=11pt]1. It sounds like going the Telguard route could potentially lock me into a specific CS and/or cell provider and I'd be at the mercy of any rates Telguard or the sub-dealer decides to charge. Is that correct? [/SIZE]
[SIZE=11pt]2. There's a lot of confusion around the Uplink devices. Particularly around the "EZ" and "EX" suffixes for the various models. A few posts seem to reference these incorrectly. From what I can gather, the "EZ" models require some extra cabling or an adapter, while the "EX" models are much simpler to hookup. Can anyone confirm this? Does this apply to all models with those suffixes? The 4530EX is mentioned a lot in the forums, but their website no longer lists that model. Do the LTE30EX and CDMAEZ replace that model with basically the same functionality but a more modern radio?[/SIZE]
[SIZE=14.6667px]3. With Uplink or ipDatatel, do I sign up for the service and manage that myself? Would I just get a new SIM card from my cell provider and use that? Or does the CS handle all of this? It's not clear to me how this part works. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=11pt]4. Some posts also seem to indicate that you can't have both panel supervisory functionality and remote/interactive services when using these devices, because there is no way to connect both at once. Can anyone confirm this? Does this apply to pretty much any communicator I choose?[/SIZE]
[SIZE=11pt]5. Primary vs Secondary/backup: I'm not entirely clear what exactly this means. Does this refer [/SIZE][SIZE=11pt]only[/SIZE][SIZE=11pt] to communications with the CS? Or is it referring to my entire setup? My hope was to keep my M1XEP and use whatever cellular device I choose in addition to that -- either as a secondary/backup or strictly for communications with the CS.  Some devices are specifically labeled as Primary (the Uplink LTE30EX, for example), others as Primary or Redundant (Uplink 4500EZ), and still others not indicated at all (Uplink 5500EZ). Does this mean I can't use the "Primary"-only models and still keep the M1XEP? What exactly do these designations mean?[/SIZE]
[SIZE=11pt]6. Are there other options I'm overlooking? Am I making this too complicated? [/SIZE]
[SIZE=11pt]Thanks for any help![/SIZE]
Am I making this too complicated? YES.

Honestly, the fact of the matter is, there isn't that many choices of monitoring when dealing with the DIY market. Pick your monitoring place first, tell them the equipment you have, then they will probably offer one and maybe two choices, but not more than that. Then they should be able to tell you the pros and cons of each. Its that simple. Does this lock-you-in? Maybe, but their year contract will lock you in anyway. If they don't work out, then start at the top and repeat.

I have Alarm Relay and use cellular only. There isn't much reason for Internet because that involves switching, and cellular really should not be down much. Mine has gone down for two hours in the middle of the night once in 2 years. I'm guessing it was tower maintenance. People that have both cellular and internet (I'm not sure of the advantage of that) usually report lots more problems, and Internet typically goes down much more than cellular, at least mine does. If cellular goes down when your alarm goes off (natural disaster, hurricane, wildfire, etc.) its not very likely police or fire won't be available to show up anyway, so I wouldn't lose any sleep over a cellular outage.

I use the Telguard TG-1 Express which works great, and it can notify the panel if the connection fails for any reason. (Again, its only happened here once during the middle of the night.) I think the Teleguard cost slightly more to monitor than others. The Teleguard connects to the phone line interface for your panel. Your panel "dials" the call, and the Teleguard intercepts that and passes it to the alarm company. There is very little panel to monitoring company data that is exchanged, so it happens in seconds. I've had alarm companies call me back in 15 seconds.

Maybe MOST important, check the cellular signal in your area for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Some modems only work with some wireless operators. You don't need a super strong signal, just some. The monitoring company takes care of the sim cards and contracts.
Uplink has serial communications with the M1 which is the way I’ve seen it setup in past with good results, thinking you need a serial expander, and will not be able to do anything without an Uplink dealer account

But even better elk has a new cellular that Is pretty new, pretty sure telguard is the oem or Atleast does the hosting, but the elk c1m1 will give you the newest remote services, which if you’re on the app that is supported through elks third party developer.... “jay” (some dude sitting in his basement writing code, that elk contracted to make their first app) I would say to go with their newest solution.

That will also open up a bag of worms about whether your firmware will support the new stuff or then get your self a copy of rps and backup your program prior

Or pretty much any full data lte cellular that uses contact id dial capture will work for basic communication, we use alot of napco starlinks, I used to do uplink and telguard. Now everyone wants an app

On a side note the only place I know as a subscriber would be like an alarm relay or using full data, I would recommend to find a local alarm guy and beat him up, tell him simplisafe gave you a great deal lol

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Thank you for the info! They recommended the C1M1. But beyond that they said it doesn't really matter whether I do Telguard, Uplink, or whatever. 
Frankly, I wasn't really sold on the C1M1 initially because 1) it's twice the cost of the other options; and 2) I've read conflicting reports of it being DIY-friendly. But now i'm rethinking it. Since the C1M1 essentially has the functionality of the M1XEP built in, from a cost perspective it actually is comparable to any other communicator plus the M1XEP. And it sounds like it's a pretty easy install. And means I have one less thing to power. Plus it allows me to use ElkLink or eKeypad, etc.. The main downside I keep seeing around the C1M1 has to do with email notifications, which I'm not all that worried about.
It looks like they discontinued the CDMA model when they came out with the new LTE model. Signal is not an issue for me no matter which I use, so I'm guessing LTE is the way to go simply because it's not as dated as LTE and will potentially have a longer lifespan. Anyone have any input on way on the other on whether to choose the GSM or LTE model?
She also mentioned that panel supervision is an extra $1.95 per month. Any reason I shouldn't have panel supervision? I'm surprised they actually charge extra for this.
I went with Alarm Relay and I have to tell you that they are absolutely fantastic, especially with the Elk M1.   They are the only ones I found that monitor via the Elk M1 XEP, and their tech Paulie, was intimately familiar with it.  He knew all the settings off the top of his head, and I think he is an Elk owner.    He walked me through all the settings in the Elk RP software and got me set up with both IP monitoring and cellular.  And is it cheap too.  I used them in my old house and I had absolutely no complaints. 
Also, for the rest of your question, yes-- going with M1 XEP, you still have full control of it.   In fact, I was using Elk RP software during the setup, and AlarmRelay could see the system communicating at the same time. 
The cellular device that they send you just connects to the telephone output (red and green wires) and 12V power.   You don't need to use the serial port or anything.  Frankly that part was ridiculously easy.
joek said:
She also mentioned that panel supervision is an extra $1.95 per month. Any reason I shouldn't have panel supervision? I'm surprised they actually charge extra for this.
So I have a Omni with Telguard TG-1 Express.  The Omni connects to the phone interface, so if the Telguard is not connected, it will report "Phone Dead"  The cellular connects to a cell tower, like a smartphone does. It stays connect all the time, unlike a POTS phone call. Within that data call, the Teleguard connects to their monitoring station the same way applications like Skype on your PC connects to its server.  The Teleguard has a set of contacts allows you can connect to an unused zone input, and its this that indicates that the whole path is valid and connected.  If the cell connection breaks or the monitoring station disconnects, you know. (Its only happened once in 2 years. Tower Outage I believe.)
Now, one thing with Alarm Relay, they only let you do a test once a week.  I had "reports" turned on, meaning every time I turned the alarm on or off, it would notify the alarm center, BUT this also uses extra cellular data that costs extra, so guess, this is the $1.95/month charge. After about 6 months, got a call from Alarm Relay telling me to turn off report because that costs extra, but I didn't explore the cost.
I pay $21/month which I don't think is cheap at all considering they do very little for this. But they do monitoring well. They just don't do a whole lot extra, like Next Alarm does. But other than those two, pickins are pretty slim.
Thanks for this thread.  As a result of reading, I cancelled my C1M1 order and just got an upgraded BAT device from Alarm Relay.  I have used their service for some time but just realized they monitor the XEP too, which I have.  So why add an additional C1M1 for $300 (approx) when I can use my existing XEP plus the new BAT from Alarm Relay?
I have a Mac and must use Parallels to access the ELK programming software, but it is not a big deal to work this way.  And the Elk software on my iPhone works great (eKeypad).
pgershon said:
I have a Mac and must use Parallels to access the ELK programming software, but it is not a big deal to work this way.  And the Elk software on my iPhone works great (eKeypad).
Another way to go is just buy one of those cheap under $200 PCs you see around thanksgiving. I have one for PC Access and UPStart, and have a monitor/keyboard switch on my Mac. I think it use 32Gb of flash as its harddrive. Works fine, but Windows gets frustrated because it doesn't have a drive big enough to support updates.