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|Z-Wave Security Alarm System|
|Written by Peter|
So, you've decided to go with a Z-Wave based home automation system. Perhaps you have a house with older wiring or another reason to choose the RF-based Z-Wave over it's dual-mesh and powerline-only competitors. Regardless of the reason, now you're looking at a world of possibilities including integrating with a ZWave alarm system, controlling curtains and other household fixtures.
Fortunately, some of the top products that other home automation technologies have integrated with for a while now are becoming available to the Z-Wave crowd. Looking at alarm systems, the top rated Elk M1 system now has a ZWave Interface (Elk M1XZW) which allows the alarm to activate devices and events within your home automation system. Need to trigger a z-wave device from a door sensor or provide a warm welcome with your lights when you disarm the alarm? Not a problem with the Elk to Z-Wave interface. This setup is by far the most well-integrated and advanced, however there are other options for those on a budget.
Purchasing Z-Wave compliant door sensors and coordinating the sensor inputs, remote commands and alarm outputs with software can be an economical option for smaller houses. The tradeoff for this approach is that with Z-Wave compliant sensors costing approximately ten times as much as the hardwired Elk M1 sensors, the more doors and windows you have to monitor, the more sense the M1 system and Z-Wave interface makes.
Some people have also been using the M1 as a central coordinator in their systems, which negates the need for Z Wave software and a computer running 24/7 or another dedicated device being purchased. It is important to note that the M1 interface (M1XZW) establishes itself on the Z-Wave network as a secondary controller, so it's designed for established Z-Wave networks and you will still need a primary controller for the initial setup and pairing of devices.
If you're interested in going this route, I highly recommend reviewing the training videos put together by Elk and hosted by Kanak - They're thorough and cover some of the gotchas associated with a new installation. Essentially the system is as elaborate or simple as you need it to be and while you may want to dedicate a weekend to getting everything setup, there is nothing overly complex for a typical installation. One hint during installation is that many people will remove the circuitry from the supplied plastic case and embed it within the M1's steel case, either for aesthetics or because they assume it is necessary. Testing has found that doing this significantly reduces signal range of the Z-Wave interface and can contribute to erratic signal performance. Mounting the M1XZW directly above the M1's case seems to perform optimally while meeting maximum cable length requirements.
The Elk M1 with Z-Wave interface is the most expandable, well-integrated system we've seen and is unlikely to be surpassed in the near future.
Keep an eye on our home automation section as we'll be covering more Z-Wave reviews in the near future.