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The ISY 994i Experience

Alan M

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This is my first post on this forum, so first, let me thank the other members whose posts I have read that provided interesting and useful information to help in getting a perspective on working with my new ISY 994i.  I've had the unit for about a week and have nothing but great things to say about it (as well as the excellent service I received throughout the single support call I needed to place because of a problem with my Antivirus software interfering with the ISY admin console function).  Second, I apologize in advance for the length of this post.


My background with home automation extends back to X10 hardware in the early 1980s.  Today, I enter the world of the ISY 994i having an Elk system, X10 modules and Insteon equipment installed with plans to add Z-Wave outside door lock devices soon.


The goal for my current automation configuration was intended to better assist in the evolving eldercare needs of my mother in law, whom we have been taking care of in our home for several years.  To reach that goal, it made sense to extend the basic alarm and relay functions the Elk system capably provides to help us.  To that end, I recently allocated a number of Elk sensors to various inside doors and a stairway chairlift and picked up a number of Insteon devices.


The Elk unit we already have is a great alarm system that includes some programmable voice announcing capabilities.  It also has a flexible programming language and is easy to work with for both alarm and relay oriented functions like sprinkler control, outside low power lights, etc.  The ISY Elk module offers terrific integration capabilities with the Elk system and can track the state of all the Elk sensors via wired and wireless Zones (inputs) on the Elk system.  The Elk also interfaces to a variety of home automation products, though at its heart, it is primarily an advanced alarm system that also serves as an excellent relay control system.  The ISY is far more capable in its huge available program space and its ability to easily handle disparate automation technology integration.  In fact, the primary reason I purchased my ISY was because the Elk documentation effectively recommended doing so, as the best bridge to integrating the Elk to Insteon technology, which was needed to allow me to achieve my current automation goal.  The ISY has proven simply remarkable in allowing me to do this easily and reliably.


Insteon offers some very reliable home lighting and electric power device control products that feature two way feedback and human visual confirmation.  Again, the ISY has been a dream to work with to make some useful automation effects possible, which I do not believe could be done with any other device on the market.  My goal in integrating Insteon in our automation was to control lighting and to keep those awake aware and informed during the time when mom was going to be going down for the night until she got up in the morning, keeping track of her movement and needs through automation during those overnight hours.  When mom's doors open, the ISY is told by the Elk and it responds by setting a "Yellow Alert" condition using the Insteon devices, which then shows up visually on key pads as a controller button with a yellow back color lens installed, noting the reason for the alert on the Elk control keypads for easy confirmation of why that little yellow light appeared on the Insteon controllers. 


Since we are blessed with a large home, the idea was to create other visual effect to get attention for anyone who might be up without disturbing those who are asleep.  Thus, a lamp goes on in my downstairs office as well as certain midlevel lights to clearly note that mom is up and on the move, thereby allowing anyone up who notices these alerts to respond in a timely manner.  Should the rest of the household be sleeping (it happens), once mom gets to the chairlift and starts heading to the midlevel, there is a danger she could injure both herself and the rest of us by attempting to start cooking (something she has not needed to or really been able to do for many years now) or wandering out of the house into the night.  In order to respond to that danger, as the chair leaves the downstairs position, the Elk informs the ISY and the ISY is then able to notify more Insteon devices to come online and provides the Elk system the appropriate words to begin actively speaking to mom, suggesting it is late and she needs to return to her bedroom.  Should her chair make it to the top stairs position because she is ignoring the pleas to return downstairs, the Elk again informs the ISY and the ISY asks the Elk to be more forceful in its oral insistence to have mom return to her room, also now activating internal home alarms to get those humans who are asleep up to address the issue first hand as a "Red Alert" state.  Once the human commotion settles down and the chair docks back downstairs, the alert returns to "Yellow Alert" and once the doors are closed back to a "Green" state (again, indicated on the Insteon Keypads with color lenses fitted).


Once more, the ISY really shines here, because it is able through programming to keep track of the state of the home before all the excitement occurred and after returning to a "Green" state, it can selectively turn out the lights that were on during the "Yellow Alert" or "Red Alert" states, but not on during the "Green" state.  Kind of nice, if you were in the kitchen when the state changed and had a light used during alerts already turned on, because it will stay on after the alert, while the other alert indication lights are reset to off.


So, there it is.  Though my first post seems like something of a book (probably won't do that again), hopefully it provided some insight into what we need to do around here to manage our after hours eldercare needs by leveraging advanced home automation technology which features the ISY as the electronic equivalent of musical conductor flawlessly directing the band of disparate home automation systems and devices.


Alan M


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Thanks for sharing, no apology needed for the length - it's a fantastic story.  The combination of ELK M1 and ISY does truly provide for limitless possibilities as you shared with us. While it sounds like you are well on your way to making your home safe and comfortable for you and your family, please know that we're here to assist if you run into situations you'd like to automate but need a little help sketching it out.


Lastly, and certainly not least, I am humbled that we play a large part in assisting you to provide an environment safe enough for your mother in law to stay with family in this challenging time of her life.

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