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Opinion on ELK...Plus Wireless Keyfobs


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I'm considering picking up an Elk M1 system.  We don't have a system, and I'm ready to add one.  Based on the overall reading here, everyone highly recommends it, and it integrates with ISY which is a bonus.


But a couple of questions remain:


1) Any experience with the wireless key FOBs?  I'm going wireless since the house isn't prewired for it, and I just don't feel like spending that much time under my house to install 19 sensors.  That being said, the keypad isn't wireless.  Running one set of wires isn't a huge deal, but I also don't have a great place for it in my entry way.  Do the key FOBs work well?  Is there some additional security besides press to arm/disarm?  Maybe some typed of button code?  I can put the keypad by the rear door if the key FOBs work OK for entry into the house most of the time.  I'm just not sure how secure it is for someone to be able to one button press disarm the system.


2) Does anyone know if the 2-way wireless can co-exsist with older non 2 way wireless?  I've got a bunch of compatible GE windows sensors I got for free, but I was going to buy door sensors for a cleaner install...probably the 2 way ones.  Can I use both types of sensors at once?  I'd look it up, but the manuals are behind closed access on the ELK site?


You guy have anything else to add that I should be aware of?  I've configured some wired systems (DSC) in the past, so I don't think this should be that hard.



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I use the two-way key fobs - they work very well. The panel reports status back to them very reliably so you can tell if the system is armed or not. No code on them though - its single button arm, disarm, emergency and one other function. I strongly advise running a wire for at least one panel.


Yes - the two way Elk devices can co-exist with Elk 1 way. I also have the GE transceiver, and mix GE one-way devices as well without issue.

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Yes. Each type of wireless you want is a separate module. To use the Elk two-way fobs you'll need the Elk wireless module (its not built into the base system). Then for the GE sensors you'll also need the GE wireless module. They both connect to the same bus as the keypad and this is exactly what I have - and it works well.

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Thought I would chime in here too and try help (or confuse you more). I understand "free" stuff but sometimes for things like security I would rather do it right the first time. Not that GE is a bad product or "wrong" per say but I think the Elk two way wireless is a much better solution. You can always use the GE wireless for now then but as you can afford it swap them out with the Elk two way wireless. The Elk-6021 mini sensors are small and unobtrusive even on doors. I do use the additional Honeywell wireless transmitter myself for outdoor waterproof sensors on two side gates on my home plus a heat detector for in the garage (since you can't use a smoke detector in the garage), all which work perfectly. The nice thing is with the ISY with Elk module is that if someone comes in my gates I get alerted via a Pushover notification from the ISY/Elk module. You can also set a delay so if someone leaves the gate open and you have pets you can get notified. Lots you can do with the ISY/Elk together.


Some other things I wanted to mention. As MWareman has said you will need a separate wireless transceiver for the Elk to communicate with the GE sensors as they work on a different frequency. You will also need the ELK-M1XRFT though for the Elk key fobs to work. The benefit of using all Elk wireless devices is then you wouldn't need the additional wireless transmitter. Overtime I have noticed I hardly will touch any of my keypads. You do need at least one keypad but don't worry about others really. Depending on your cell phone, ISY, remotes, etc you can use those devices to arm/disarm the alarm rather than directly with the keypads. For example I have Mobilinc app on my iPhone and setup a geofence at my home. When I leave the house mobilinc sees that I left the geofence area and then will arm the alarm which is followed by a Pushover notification that the alarm has been activated. When I come home the reverse happens. I also have a RTI remote control system but many here also use the Harmony and with it you can program a key on the remote to activate the alarm when your in bed for the night.


I can't say enough nice things about the Elk security system and ISY. They truly compliment each other well and can do most everything you could want. Add the Mobilinc app to the mix and you have a very powerful system.


EDIT: Forgot to mention on the Keyfobs there is a LED which will change from green to red and visa versa to give you two way feedback the alarm has been armed/disarmed. Also you will need a ELK-M1XEP to connect the Elk to the ISY.

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Yeah, I agree with you....the 2 way wireless sensors are a better solution.  But...I've got 20 windows and doors in my house.  I've either got to figure a way to secure double windows with one device (not possible), or I'm going to go with the GE sensors for now.  At $40 a pop a window...I'd be adding $600 or so dollars to this thing that I'm just not ready to spend now.  Maybe I'll change my mind, but either way I think I'll take your advice and upgrade them in the future...even if it's just a few at a time.


Also, good to hear that you don't use your keypad much.  That means I can bury it by the back door no problem.  


The idea of being able to automate things from ISY with the sensors on all doors and windows is pretty cool.

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Worst case is you dont get perfect 100% reliability on the GE sensors so you may just need the Elk for those windows. Just make sure to try them multiple times to make sure the transceiver sees them. Also in my opinion you dont need to arm second story windows unless there is roof access. The Elk wireless motion detectors and glass breaks work well too as secondary precautions.


You could even possibly skip keyfobs totally and just use an iPhone with Mobilinc and the Elk plugin. Not sure what kind of cell phones you use. Just depends if you dont mind opening the app to arm/disarm (or use geofence). Could save you on extra cost for the hardware. The new "today screen" plugin could be handy to add a arm & disarm button.


Yes, it is very cool that each sensor can now be used to automate anything you like with the ISY. If the window is opened you can turn off the AC etc.


For monitoring check out Alarm Relay. Other members here use them and have had great results at a fair price. You can do internet communication as primary with cell backup with an Uplink or C3 device. You can also use Pushover or PushBullett for notifications of violations too.


So many options and flexibility with Elk and ISY. And no I dont work for Elk. :) Just really like the product. I have had the Vista 20P via ADT, a DSC with a indy security company and now Elk. Elk is hands down is my fav if you cant tell.

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Mobilinc is only a benefit if you use IOS devices. If you are part of the majority that use Android Mobilinc provides zero benefit in this area. However - you could create a Tasker widget and place it on your home screen to arm and disarm the system. You could even have it prompt you for the code before sending the disarm to increase security (so you don't have to store the code in your Tasker profile).


That being said - back when I got my Elk - they had only just launched two way wireless. The keyfob, non-mini door/windows and motion sensors were the only available devices. I wanted hidden sensors - so I got the GE transceiver and many GE devices as well. This was for interior doors where I was going to use them for automation tasks when the alarm was not armed - and additional detection points when the system is armed away. For that purpose - they worked very well. I never recorded a door open or close being missed by the panel in several years of use. Of course - they are wireless. It depends a lot on your specific situation.


Even with that - we use our keypads all the time. I put one by the door to our garage, one near the front door and one in our master bedroom. My DW was never very good at remembering to set the alarm - but having a visual panel near each exit really helps remind her. The bedroom one makes it easy to visually see the state of the panel - and arm in night mode with a single touch of F1 (in our case). That being said - our builder let us run the wires before the drywall was hung - so this was really easy for us.


I was also able to place several 'stress pulsor' sensors into the structure of the house (http://www.sureaction.com/homealarmstresssensors.html) and hardwire these to the panel. Awesome solution that replaces the need for motion sensors. If you have a basement or a crawl space you could place these under choke points in your house for very effective detection - and would only need to have door sensors on entry/exit doors.

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Thanks for everyone's help.  I've got a lot more to consider that I'd originally thought.  It does sound like this system is the most flexible on the market, so I'm pretty much positive that this is the way to go.


I'm not going to secure second story windows, but all my entry points are on the ground floor.  I have a lot of windows for an 1850 square foot house.  


I've got double hung windows...which I didn't even consider till now.  It looks like I'm going to have to create custom mounting blocks to get any sensor to work.  They have no flat areas on them anywhere...it really sucks.  I started looking at other sensor options, and 2 way wireless my be my only option.  They don't have a flat encasement on the right, so I can't use micra hidden sensors.  I can't place sensors flat to the right or left. 


It looks like the only option is the 2-way slim sensors and a custom block I'm going to have to create to each window to flatten where the window edge is angled.  The slim sensor will fit between the two sashes...so that's good.  I just have to figure out how to mount it flat.  Probably going to involve finding a buddy with a 3-D printer and having him print a little ABS piece for each window.


Also, thanks for the heads up on the vibration sensors.  I'm going to look into those...did you need a specific module for them, or do they operate like typical 2 wire sensors?  My house it off the ground (Florida Bungalow), so wiring them wouldn't be too big a problem.  I've already got a ton of cable under there.


It's never as easy as it seems....



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Forgot to add...anyone know if the sensors have to be installed with the arrows pointing at each other.  There might be some creative mounting options if they could be mounted 90 degrees from each other with the factory gap.


And, you guys have anyone recommended to buy from?  There are a ton of sketchy looking sellers out there.

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Yes - the arrows need to point to each other. In the transceiver - the arrow indicates the side the reed relay is - on the magnet it's the side the magnet is mounted (though this one is less critical)


I got my system from Smarthome...








I ended up getting the GE module from Amazon:



(Edit: 22% off everything on smarthome.com right now for labor day - might be worth jumping on this - assuming Elk is under this promo!)

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Yeah, the 22% off was one of the things that had me on the road...I've been wanting to do this for awhile.

I second Smarthomes labor day deal even if its just to buy the system.


The window sensors can handle a .25" gap I believe. What about skipping the windows and just add wireless motions and glassbreaks? Thoughts? If your bedrooms are upstairs at night you could arm the motions downstairs - if someone breaches the window they are caught by the motion. You can still roam around upstairs. Your windows look like they have nice manual locks so for someone to gain access is most likely to break them if they are properly closed and locked.

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Yeah, thought about that too. I could add break sensors on the window stills. I'll have to see how much those bad boys are. It'd cut the number of sensors I'd need by half since many of my window are "double"...on window with 2 sashes per set.

You only need one window break per room. Look at the Elk 6040 - http://www.elkproducts.com/product-catalog/elk-6040-glass-break-sensor-two-way-wireless

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Thanks for all help.  Pulled the trigger on the following:


1 M1 with Wireless 2-way

1 Ethernet Module

3 Glass Break Sensors

2 Slim Window Sensors

3 hidden door sensors

1 additional keyfob


I think it's going to be a solid start.  The glass break provides a more logical protection than windows sensors as first...as it will protect against my huge glass windows on all doors.  I'll let you know how install goes, but the smarthome sale made this a pretty good deal. 


Thanks again...I'm sure I'll add more in the future....but a huge step forward.

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