Security System Plan

This is my first post to the forum - so please bear with me!

I recently (last week) closed on an old 3-story 2500sq/ft victorian house (~90 years old) bordering a not-so-good neighborhood. The house was completely gutted and remodeled/renovated about 4 years ago. There is an existing ADT system in the basement, keypad by backdoor, 2 smoke alarms (1st floor), motion sensor (1st floor), and glass break sensor (first floor). I contacted ADT and they wanted $$$ to add proximity sensors and ~$38/month for monitoring service. So that is what brings me here.

I was thinking about buying the ELK M1Gold w/Insteon support from SmartHome.com. It seems like it is a great system and can do all sorts of stuff. Here are some questions I had ...

1) Should I be looking at any alternatives to Elk M1 Gold?

2) Does the Insteon interface work well? Does it support all Insteon devices? I would really like to be able to come home, push a button on a keyfob (Caddx wireless???), have the outside lights come on, and the alarm deactivate. Any advice on what Insteon switches to buy for just single exterior light control?

3) ADT shot down my Comcast Digital Phone deal. I read in the forum that Elk M1 will work with Comcast Digital Phone. Is there a down side to this? Should I just get the Analog phone service?

4) I am experienced with doing small-scale wiring - but never house in-wall wiring. The house has an unfinished open basement - easy to run wires around. I want to add door and window magnet sensors - the wireless route is not an option because I am trying to reduce cost. From what I have read so far, it would consist of drilling a hole for the sensor in the frame (door or window) and then using one of those long flexible drill bits to drill through to the basement. From there I could fish the wire up to the sensor. How should I avoid hitting any existing in-wall wiring? Is there usually any wiring/plumbing next to the door/window frames? Should I be worried about complying with electrical codes? (I would hate to install all this, go to sell the house in 5 years, and find that I have to rip it all out!) Are there any references that could help me with the sensor install into a finished wall?

5) Any suggestions with the Monitoring services? Do they all qualify as alarm companies in the eyes of my home insurance provider - or should I be looking for something in particular? I am looking for both burglary and fire monitoring.

Thanks
Matt
 

WayneW

Senior Member
1) Nope ;) Although I bet there are vendors here that will beat SmartHomes price.

2) Yes, if you use PowerHome software to assist with the configuration. Personally, I wouldn't use Insteon with Elk without some outside software to assist in configuration and reloading. It supports all the devices I have tried, but I don't use the tabletop ControLink and I don't use Elk keyfobs. Pick the Icon series for lower cost or the regular series for full features, it is mostly a personal choice & often based on aesthetics.

3) It should work, But alarm systems in general are touchy about VOIP services, so you won't know until you try. It totally depends upon your service & environment.
 
Forgot to ask this one ...

6) Should I invest in a Whole-Home Surge Protector? I have seen that mentioned on a few sites. Does that protect all the electronics in the house?
 

Spanky

Senior Member
Answer to 6. At least protect the telephone line and AC lines running to sensitive equipment. ELK makes the ELK-950 surge suppressor for Telephone lines and low voltage AC line to the M1 Control.

If using VOIP, you need to protect your cable or DSL modem.
 

Steve

Senior Member
2) Does the Insteon interface work well? Does it support all Insteon devices? I would really like to be able to come home, push a button on a keyfob (Caddx wireless???), have the outside lights come on, and the alarm deactivate. Any advice on what Insteon switches to buy for just single exterior light control?
IMHO, its a bad idea to have a keyfob button disarm the system. Kind of defeats the purpose of security. If that is lost or stolen then somebody can disarm the system. Its bad enough they will probably have your keys, but at least let the security system do its thing when they let themselves in.
 
After searching all over the web - the best deal I could find was the M1 GOLD Package w/Insteon from SmartHome for $570. I called up AutomatedOutlet and they said that they were willing to pricematch. So looks like I am about to bite the bullet!

I was a little confused by the one response. Should I invest in whole-home surge protector? Will it protect all electrical equipment? or should I merely plug the alarm system into a surge protector strip? Would a whole-house surge protect my AV electronics?

I was interested in using AlarmRelay or NextAlarm as my monitoring company. NextAlarm also uses the ABN interface to connect via broadband. I noticed some posts talking bad about the connectivity using ABN. I currently do not have a home phone line and use Comcast for broadband. Using ABN, would save me the extra phone line bill. Any comments on ABN?

I was looking at INSTEON switches because of the package deal listed above. I guess I do not need to use the INSTEON PowerLinc and could use the M1 lighting interface to connect to some other lighting device. Any recommendations?
 

WayneW

Senior Member
Personally, I would never discourage anybody from using whole house surge suppression as every ounce of protection may help. Unfortunately, about the only way you know about it is when it didn't work and you have something zapped, you never know when it did save you.

I believe that quite a few folks use the Elk M1 with VOIP without the ABN. But again, YMMV and you won't know until you try it at your house. You can always add the ABN later if needed.

Insteon is a good choice, as it works for me. But I added the Insteon on my own, the package is just a sales & marketing bundle. You can add whatever lighting interface you wish at whatever time you wish. As long as you have an Elk XSP you can do whatever you want with it.
 
Do you have any recommendations on whole-house surge protectors? I am guessing I will need an electrician to install that! How does it tie into the home electrical system?

I hesitated at getting the Comcast Digital Voice package because I was worried about it not being compatible with alarm system. I think it is basically VOIP. I currently own my cable modem and they said I would be required to rent one that supports both internet+phone - so that would suck!
 

mustangcoupe

Senior Member
IncrdblHulk9 said:
I hesitated at getting the Comcast Digital Voice package because I was worried about it not being compatible with alarm system. I think it is basically VOIP. I currently own my cable modem and they said I would be required to rent one that supports both internet+phone - so that would suck!
Yes it is VOIP, and would require a diffrent modem... I have vonage and at their cheap price you could get a voip phone line just for the ELK. I do not have mine monitored but I beleive others are with vonage.
 

ver0776

Active Member
My electric company (KCP&L) offers whole house surge suppressors for like $4.95 a month. That include insurance should it fail.

I would always ask at least before making such a descision.

Vaughn
 
I was looking at the Leviton 2-phase whole house surge protector offered by AO. http://www.automatedoutlet.com/product.php...67&cat=0&page=1

Anyone have any experience with this?

I have been examining my floor plan to see where to place sensors. And I have also been examining my doors and windows trying to decide on the best approach of installing the sensors. Some other posts mentioned including pictures in the post to get assistance. I will do that when I get home.

The one thing I have going for me is that my 90 year old home was built using balloon construction - so it is likely that I can fish the wire down to the basement without having to use a flexi-bit to drill through the horizontal floor joist. Although it was also brought to my attention that during the remodel (~4 years ago) - the contractors my have had to add horizontal fire stops to bring it up to code - that would suck! Any tips?
 

scottmi1

Member
I put in one of the Leviton whole house units when we moved into our house 7 years ago. Haven't had a problem yet (knock on wood), but then again it's one of those things you can't really prove is working until it doesn't :)

Mike..
 

Steve

Senior Member
See my reply in this thread. Best is the meter mount, then outside by service entrance, then panel. Nothing is perfect, but the Leviton is a decent model.
 

wuench

Senior Member
I installed a Leviton in my old house. Worked well, never had a surge take out any of my x10 or other equipment via the power line. I did have a PC get fried through the phone line though. I think the phone line is more prone to getting hit because the phone ground is usually not bonded to the electrical ground. I don't know why this isn't done everywhere, I think it would solve a majority of surge issues.

You can hire an electrician if you are uncomfortable working inside your electrical box but it is a fairly simple install you just need to add a breaker to each phase and wire it to the Leviton. They recommend wiring it to the first breakers in the box. So you may have to move breakers around to meet that.
 

rfdesq

Senior Member
Steve said:
See my reply in this thread. Best is the meter mount, then outside by service entrance, then panel. Nothing is perfect, but the Leviton is a decent model.
Do you recommend a unit with replaceable modules or do you think the fixed one is okay. I'm looking at the Leviton 51120-3R.
 
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