Wireless alarm system for use in home automation

Note: I am reposting this message because of a computer crash. I never saw any replies so if you made a comment would you consider doing it again? Thanks.

On to the message:


I have installed and programmed a Control4 based home automation system in my home. It's controlling my home theater, other media devices in the house and all my lighting. It is an extremely capable system with a solid programming system.

The Control4 system supports relay control and basic on/off sensor input. I've been working with this hardware I/O to do things like monitor and control my garage doors, turn on the sprinklers and other great stuff. All on the workbench so far, but I'm getting ready to design and deploy some real systems.

Now comes the fun part. In the past when I've done home brew home automation I have used various types of motion sensors (hard-wired, X10, light sensors, etcetera) to track people moving through the house. I would like to start implementing the same thing using Control4.

Here is the thing though; initially (maybe forever) I don't want to run wires. My house has both convenient areas and not-so-convenient areas as far as new wiring goes. Also, since I work for Control4, I do a lot of testing and experimentation with the system in my home so nothing is really in a fixed location at this time.

I would like to use a wireless alarm system as an easy way to interface motion and other sensors to the Control4 hardware. Yes, I know from reading these forums that wireless is not the best way to go. But, I'm not interested in an alarm system, I just want the sensor outputs. So, a bit less reliability or potential "hackability" is ok.

Regardless of other features, the wireless system needs to do the following:

  1. Support wireless motion sensors.

  1. Provide zone outputs or some other method that tells me which sensor has been tripped. The Control4 system will receive this information through it's contact sensors and perform various actions. Control4 can also do RS-232 so this is a possibility as well.

  2. Fast response time. If it takes more than a second for a sensor trip to be reported then it's too slow for home automation. This is why I've junked my old X10 motion sensors.

Some nice to have features:

  1. Other sensor types, like door/window opened and closed sensors.

  1. RS-232 output in addition to simple on/off indicators. A bi-directional rs-232 would be nice since I have the tools and skills to write rs-232 drivers for the Control4 hardware.

  2. Reasonable price. I don't want Radio Shack or X10 cheap, but don't really want to spend 00.00 for a basic system. Someplace in between would be great.

  1. Expandable, especially as far as motion sensors go. I'd really like to have motion and/or door sensors in EVERY room including bathrooms and closets.

  2. The ability to work with things like rain and moisture sensors (wired or wireless) and other "high end" sensors would also be cool.

  1. A hybrid system that can use wired and wireless sensors and can be expanded as far as things like zones or number of sensors are concerned would be great.

I've been looking at the Elk M1 and it seems to have everything I want. It has 13 outputs built-in and can be expanded to 205. Plus everyone on the form seems to know it and like it. I need to learn more about the Elk but I kinda hope it will do what I need. It seems really capable and flexible plus it is designed for home automation. It does not look like it supports wireless though, and that is my major requirement. Does anyone know if the Elk can work with wireless sensors? Also, I'm concerned about the cost of the Elk. If it can do wireless, what's it going to cost me for a basic system?

How about other systems? The GE Concord is wireless and looks like it would do the job. It's cheap (sensors are pricey though) and expandable too which is nice.

I would appreciate any comments from the group. Thanks!


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