The right HA + security match for me


New Member
Sorry if this has been discussed to death. I tried the search function already, so have mercy....

I am installing a security system for our house (new construction), with HA to follow on. My primary concern at this time is remote survaillance and intrusion detection...and I've been doing A LOT of reading. It's come down to the security system. Was leaning towards a HAI Omni IIe, but since lurking around here, I am thinking JDS or Elk.

I would like something with the flexibility to program complex triggering modes, and handle whatever signal (analog/digital) I throw at it. And the reason for this is that I want to reduce the chance of false triggers without compromising catch capability. Our house is set in a rural area, and we do a bit of out of town work. I will need to handle the occasional wandering deer and other wildlife. And when the system trips, I need to be notified (via Internet) so I can see whassup. To this end, I've research the best motion detectors, arranged devices in a layered approach, outdoor proof cctv's/IP cams, etc.

I figured an open and flexible system will allow for high customization and will future proof my investment as much as possible. I have a tech background, so I can probably work with whatever's available.

Please let me hear your experiences about systems you've used, what you liked, what were limitations--the more highly configured your setup, the better. Thanks.
Welcome to the forum

Generally, there are 2 schools of thought
1) 1 integrated system - Elk M1 or HAI Omni
2) seperate systems (security and automation) integrated together

I went route #2 because it fit my needs the best, and it was what was generally available at the time. However, many people here have been going with the Elk system and have been very happy.

I went with Caddx for security, and later added a HomeVision Pro (or you could add Stargate, etc). These systems integrate very tightly, and it allowed me to install in phases - security first, automation later. These systems are so tightly integrated, they look like 1 system to me when I'm programming.

Good luck! Lots of choices, and for the most part - you can't go wrong with any of them.

This is one thing that I am having a hard time discerning: A lot of the posts here don't distinguish between the 2 methods. To me, it appears there is a lot of security features overlap between an intergrated system and one made up of discrete components. I think I came across several threads that speak to the differences, but nothing that seemed clear cut to me.

So if it is within budget, I can just go with Elk or JDS from the start and skip the security box? From the programming perspective, this would seem ideal.

Did you find it relatively easy to match an HA product with your Caddx box? Does your setup allow you to do things that an Elk or JDS system alone can't do?

Reading system specs would work, but real life experience is much better.
If you want to go with 1 box, make sure you pick one that has both security and automation capabilities - such as Elk M1 or HAI Omni. JDS (Stargate), HomeVision Pro, and others are just automation controllers - you would require a seperate security system to use these.

Both schools of thought are perfectly valid. I don't have experience with option 1 (1 box for both), but my impression is that it will do 70-80% of anyones needs - which is usually more than sufficient. JDS and HVPro are (probably) more capable with more sophisticated logic capabilities... but I have nothing to substantiate that. What little information I have picked up here is that Elk is continually improving their controller (1 unit for both) which will continually make them more sophisticated and eventually catch and maybe surpass the stand-alone HA controllers.

My best recommendation is to attempt to decide what functionality you want in your house, and then review the specs to ensure it's capable. In my case, I wanted IR control, UPB (lighting), security, HVAC, phone control (caller ID and ability to change settings via phone, but not voicemail), a web interface, and many I/O points for monitoring non-security items (garage doors, AV component status, etc). To fit my needs best - I chose Caddx (Security) with HomeVision Pro (JDS could do it as well, but required more add-on devices (which are not hard to use, but added to the total cost).

Connecting these two devices (HVPro to Caddx) was very easy. Serial cable between them, and change a few registers in the Caddx device (comm speed, etc) and they were talking. Any standalone HA system has done this many many times and it will be well documented.

As for what can I do that a single device can't... I'm not sure anymore. As I mentioned above, Elk keeps improving their system so I do not know what it's capable of anymore. At the time, they couldn't handle IR, phones, and the built-in web browser needs (if I remember right). Also, I like having two boxes... my security is always on 100%, and I can work on HA as much as I want without worrying about screwing up my security. (this might be true with Elk as well... I do not know).

Good luck. There is no right/wrong answers. If you buy a system that is missing a key function, there is always another way to add it later.
the Elk tied with MainLobby suite is the combination of the stability inherent with a embedded processor (ELK), with the Media Management and user interface presentation plus all of the non critical function automation tasks (MainLobby). MainLobby would run on a 24x7 PC with touchscreens, pocketPCs, desktop computers tied to it for status and control.

One could also add Homeseer to the mix for all the power that that adds.

The combo above will do just about anything you can imagine with best of breed approach that ties very nicely and reliably together.
The ELK M1 has security and automation tightly integrated into one controller so that they can be used together and controlled from the telephone, webpage, keypad, or third party software such as CQC, MainLobby, and HomeSeer to mention a few.

PC based security is very questionable. The security system must be up always with fail safe watchdog restart. The M1 gives you this fail safe monitoring for security and automation.

The M1 can act like an input / output device to advanced PC based automation software. Should (When) the PC go(es) down, the M1 will continue to function in its security and automation role.

If it helps, I was originally leaning towards a HAI system when I first came here. I later decided on the Elk and I have never regretted my decision.

If you are installing it yourself, HAI (from comments I've heard) is not as oriented towards the DIY'er and focuses on dealer integration, so something to consider depending on who will do the installation.

My installation is still in progress, but I'm using it for smoke/fire detection, alarm, heating (hooked up to a HAI thermostat which I bought in preparation of my HAI system at one point), lighting (via Insteon) and have been working on integrating the sprinkler system as well. I haven't even gotten to a software based controller for touch panels or computer based control yet.