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Elk or DSC? Two ISYs with one alarm system?


madcodger

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I have a property with two ISYs (one in each building) but a single alarm system that is separated into two areas/partitions (buildings can be armed/disarmed separately). I want to replace the current alarm system (a Napco Gemini) with either an Elk M1G or a DSC that uses Envisalink, so that I can integrate with the ISYs (I've used Elk/ISY in past properties, but with only one ISY and area). 

I'm very familiar with the Elk-ISY combo (for a single ISY and area, at least). So, my first question is, do I gain or lose anything if I go with the DSC/Envisalink vs the Elk? I run polyglot on a RPi on each ISY, if that matters.

But then I thought about the two ISYS/one alarm panel situation, and wondered if that might be a problem for either or both alarm panel choices. Has anyone connected two ISYs with one alarm panel? Does anyone have any experience or thoughts on the idea? Thanks in advance for input.

 

 

 

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I've never tried 2 Isy's with 1 system but I do not see why it wouldn't work at least with the elk. I would personally stick with elk due to its native isy support vs relying on a nodeserver. 

With native support, the isy itself (or elk) has to crash for things to stop working. When it comes to the nodeserver, more things can go wrong; such as the nodeserver not connecting or running, the RPI or polisy (while a separate device) crashes, hardware, etc. 

I would imagine you would program the alarm itself to function outside of the isy and automation so you would still be protected. However, anything the isy controls would be lost which can effect experience

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1 hour ago, lilyoyo1 said:

When it comes to the nodeserver, more things can go wrong; such as the nodeserver not connecting or running, the RPI or polisy (while a separate device) crashes, hardware, etc.

I might be very wrong, but I understood that at some future date, when the ISY code is ported to Polisy, that Elk support would come through a nodeserver as well.  @Jimbo has stubbed out an Elk nodeserver in the NodeServer Store.

Just speculation on my part, but this architecture might be not be much of a liability, with the ISY and Elk nodeserver running on the same hardware, and nodeservers in general may be deeply integrated into the ISY codebase.

Time will tell...

 

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I might be very wrong, but I understood that at some future date, when the ISY code is ported to Polisy, that Elk support would come through a nodeserver as well.  @Jimbo has stubbed out an Elk nodeserver in the NodeServer Store.
Just speculation on my part, but this architecture might be not be much of a liability, with the ISY and Elk nodeserver running on the same hardware, and nodeservers in general may be deeply integrated into the ISY codebase.
Time will tell...
 


Truth be told if people were truly worried about security a consumer appliance would not be connected and integrated with their primary home security system.

UDI is very clear in their TOS as to not connecting or expecting their appliances to be counted on for health & safety.

There are just some things in life that simply need to be run independent and isolated from other core systems.

To be fair, if the security industry as a whole just took some real time to update their hardware and make a concerted effort to integrate with current home automation there would be very little need for DIY / 3rd party integration.

Unfortunately, for those companies that had the vision decades ago to offer such home automation features they saw very little adoption by the mass public.

This same problem continues to plague the CCTV industry. You literally have companies asking for thousands of dollars using 1990 - 2010 technology!

Imagine having a company tell you their super duper nuclear 1 MP camera will set you back $2K! You have to be retarded to think you’re going to sell millions or make long term profit going this route.

The only saving grace has been 3rd tier companies forcing the main players to do better as the others have offered more for less.

As of this writing 4K IP video is obtainable for the general public only because the Chinese have pushed the industry to keep up! Obviously none of this addresses quality / standards but truly believe there will be a time where both will be seen.






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54 minutes ago, Teken said:

 


Truth be told if people were truly worried about security a consumer appliance would not be connected and integrated with their primary home security system.

UDI is very clear in their TOS as to not connecting or expecting their appliances to be counted on for health & safety.

There are just some things in life that simply need to be run independent and isolated from other core systems. emoji52.png

To be fair, if the security industry as a whole just took some real time to update their hardware and make a concerted effort to integrate with current home automation there would be very little need for DIY / 3rd party integration.

Unfortunately, for those companies that had the vision decades ago to offer such home automation features they saw very little adoption by the mass public. emoji3525.png

This same problem continues to plague the CCTV industry. You literally have companies asking for thousands of dollars using 1990 - 2010 technology! emoji107.pngemoji90.pngemoji90.png

Imagine having a company tell you their super duper nuclear 1 MP camera will set you back $2K! emoji2957.png You have to be retarded to think you’re going to sell millions or make long term profit going this route.

The only saving grace has been 3rd tier companies forcing the main players to do better as the others have offered more for less.

As of this writing 4K IP video is obtainable for the general public only because the Chinese have pushed the industry to keep up! Obviously none of this addresses quality / standards but truly believe there will be a time where both will be seen. emoji106.png






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The good thing is that elk can be used with the Isy vs dependant on the isy. I use the Isy for convenience vs the alarm system itself. I would suspect most do the same. It's a risk vs reward situation

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I can't for the life of me see how connecting an ISY to an alarm panel harms anything, from a practical sense. I'm not storing state secrets here where some nation-state is going to crack the code on my alarm login and steal the national jewels. And if the connection doesn't lock out the alarm panel, what on earth would anyone be worried about? If heaven forbid something catches on fire, or some punk breaks in while we're away, then I need the alarm to "call out". But it's not like the punks I worry about when we're away for the winter months are going to somehow shut down the alarm panel by breaking into my ISY.

So, back on topic, has anyone ever connected two ISYs to a single alarm panel? Thanks.

 

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I don't think it is likely to work well trying to have two ISY's sync to one Elk.  

Probably be easier to have 1 ISY and 1 Elk.  If you can bridge your two buildings together for security, I don't see why you can't bridge the two buildings for ISY.  I bridged two buildings together for my church.  I basically ran a long extension cord through a buried conduit and put an Insteon hub at the end of the cord.  The hub accepts PLC from the "extension cord" and broadcasts radio into building two which propagates then through building two.  I fused the "extension cord" with a 100ma fuse and there is no connection between the two electrical systems.  Basically, I am just moving a building 1 radio into building 2.  You may ask why a hub, well, I got one as part of some package deal and it is dual band so I just plugged it in.  It works very well, seems to have a stronger radio than most Insteon devices.  It does nothing else, just a PLC <----> radio interface.

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Thanks, @apostolakisl. I, too, am a bit worried about two ISYs and one alarm panel - even on partitions. But I am forced to have two ISYs at the property because I'm running z-wave (no Insteon) at this property and after many attempts with repeaters, etc., nothing would allow one ISY to control the two buildings I have here. So, I'm stuck in that regard. Z-wave is working well, though.

If I went the DSC route I could just put a separate alarm panel in each building, and the cost would be about the same as installing a single Elk, I think. But then I'm stuck with two different monitoring fees, which is a bit irksome but not too terrible. If I go with my current alarm company (that monitors my Napco) I may be able to cut a deal.

I think you are running the DSC nodeserver with an Envisalink. Is that working out well for you? Are you able to see and use the DSC system's zones as devices in the ISY? I currently have z-wave door, window, and motion sensors and would like to get rid of them, using the alarm panel's open/close, and motion, to trigger programs. Are you able to do that (reliably) with the DSC-ISY combo using @Goose66's impressive-looking nodeserver, and are you happy with that combo? Any downsides vs. what's available with the Elk integration? Thanks for any input on that. I'm already running a RPi with polyglot on each ISY, so setting that up should be simple enough if I go the DSC route.

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I can't for the life of me see how connecting an ISY to an alarm panel harms anything, from a practical sense. I'm not storing state secrets here where some nation-state is going to crack the code on my alarm login and steal the national jewels. And if the connection doesn't lock out the alarm panel, what on earth would anyone be worried about? If heaven forbid something catches on fire, or some punk breaks in while we're away, then I need the alarm to "call out". But it's not like the punks I worry about when we're away for the winter months are going to somehow shut down the alarm panel by breaking into my ISY.
So, back on topic, has anyone ever connected two ISYs to a single alarm panel? Thanks.
 


I’m going to keep this simple. Hammer for nailing. Rock can also nail - why would you?!?


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Just spitballing ideas ... I might be missing something

 

Why does the 2nd ISY need to integrate directly with security? Convenience, lighting, automation? Or something else - are you using z-wave sensors as security?

 

Can you get the Elk data bus to the 2nd building? Have you considered a hardwired expander M1XIN or Elk wireless whatever flavor in the 2nd building?

 

I believe there are / maybe you’re aware there are ways to “link” ISYs. So have 1 security system connecting the buildings via Elk bus and linked to 1 ISY. Have the 2nd ISY communicate key events via rest and variables to the 1st?

 

 

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7 hours ago, TrojanHorse said:

Just spitballing ideas ... I might be missing something

 

Why does the 2nd ISY need to integrate directly with security? Convenience, lighting, automation? Or something else - are you using z-wave sensors as security?

 

Can you get the Elk data bus to the 2nd building? Have you considered a hardwired expander M1XIN or Elk wireless whatever flavor in the 2nd building?

 

I believe there are / maybe you’re aware there are ways to “link” ISYs. So have 1 security system connecting the buildings via Elk bus and linked to 1 ISY. Have the 2nd ISY communicate key events via rest and variables to the 1st?

 

 

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@TrojanHorse This may end up being the way to go, and is the reason for my question. Perhaps this will answer @Teken's comments on a security-ISY combo, as well. Let me re-summarize.

"Real" security is currently handled by a Napco Gemini. The alarm itself is apparently fine, but it communicates with the monitoring station via a proprietary mesh radio network (many homes form the mesh) that was common in rural areas some years back, but that is apparently failing as fewer and fewer people utilize it. So, we need to replace at least some equipment. That has me thinking that I may as well replace the "brains" of the system (the panel), leaving the hard-wired sensors in place. That would allow me to install a system that integrates with the ISY. I don't need or use the ISY for actual security (to answer Teken's concerns), but it's very handy to use the sensors for things like knowing when a garage door has been left open. I use z-wave sensors for that now and am not thrilled with that approach as z-wave battery devices aren't all that great and batteries tend to fail at inconvenient times.

The previous owner ran cable between the buildings that connected the Napco panel in the main house to Napco's equivalent of the M1XIN in the other building, creating two areas/partitions. So, we could use that cabling and have just one alarm panel (and monitoring fee), but two areas/partitions, which we need. But I'm forced to have two ISYs, as that's needed for the z-wave to work (one doesn't cut it).

I ran additional CAT6 between the buildings when we installed a new generator last year to power both buildings, so comms between the buildings are very solid. I guess I could have one ISY interface with the alarm panel, set up state variables in both ISYs, and have that "main" ISY communicate with REST commands to the other ISY, updating the 2nd building's door and other sensor status as state variables instead of security zones. I'd be more inclined to do that if the ISY allowed variables to be displayed as virtual devices, but I'm not aware of a way to do that (which, I maintain, would be a nice addition, but UDI does not agree).

Anyway, greatly appreciate everyone helping me think through this. Ideas welcome! I just wondered if anyone had been faced with this before me. I may become the guinea pig...

 

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@madcodger

Couple things.

1) You have two buildings hooked up with copper.  This is asking for trouble.  Unless they are pretty close together and share the same electric service, they are going to each have their own grounds and any lightening strikes nearby will cause electrons to flow through your data cabling as the ground difference equalizes.  This will tend to let the magic smoke out.  It is very tricky and expensive to have proper protection.  I would suggest using fiber to connect the two buildings for data and put that worry to rest.  Or, as I have just been researching, using a couple of Ubiquiti LiteBeam 5ac Gen2 devices.  If you are only a few hundred feet apart you should get 450mbs.  

2) As far as the alarm panel.  I use DSC at my office and use IOGuy's node server (slightly different than the polyglot node but fundamentally is the same).  I have multiple partitions on that panel and it all works well as if it were multiple independent alarms.  The DSC is like an order of magnitude cheaper than Elk which is what I have at home.   DSC is a lot more of headache to program as you pretty much have to program it through the keypad with all sorts of cryptic code and limited feedback.  Also, DSC logic isn't as flexible as Elk.  I have a water valve that shuts off at the office when both partitions are armed after a 45 minute delay as well as when any of the water sensors are tripped.  It took me some creative thinking along with a relay to get this to work letting ISY doing the logic.  Anyway, all the zones show up on ISY and I can control each partition from ISY.  If you wanted two DSC panels it is not a problem to have two separate DSC nodes on ISY, or like I did, one DSC node with two partitions.

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@madcodger
Couple things.
1) You have two buildings hooked up with copper.  This is asking for trouble.  Unless they are pretty close together and share the same electric service, they are going to each have their own grounds and any lightening strikes nearby will cause electrons to flow through your data cabling as the ground difference equalizes.  This will tend to let the magic smoke out.  It is very tricky and expensive to have proper protection.  I would suggest using fiber to connect the two buildings for data and put that worry to rest.  Or, as I have just been researching, using a couple of Ubiquiti LiteBeam 5ac Gen2 devices.  If you are only a few hundred feet apart you should get 450mbs.  
2) As far as the alarm panel.  I use DSC at my office and use IOGuy's node server (slightly different than the polyglot node but fundamentally is the same).  I have multiple partitions on that panel and it all works well as if it were multiple independent alarms.  The DSC is like an order of magnitude cheaper than Elk which is what I have at home.   DSC is a lot more of headache to program as you pretty much have to program it through the keypad with all sorts of cryptic code and limited feedback.  Also, DSC logic isn't as flexible as Elk.  I have a water valve that shuts off at the office when both partitions are armed after a 45 minute delay as well as when any of the water sensors are tripped.  It took me some creative thinking along with a relay to get this to work letting ISY doing the logic.  Anyway, all the zones show up on ISY and I can control each partition from ISY.  If you wanted two DSC panels it is not a problem to have two separate DSC nodes on ISY, or like I did, one DSC node with two partitions.


100% About possible induced EMF from lightning or from ground strike. You just can’t go wrong using fibre to connect mission critical infrastructure.

No worries about noise, interference, data loss, or consistent throughput. Just make sure to use the proper in ground armour cable if this is in an exposed trench. If it’s in a solid conduit you could cheap out and use CM / CMR rated cable for better protection.


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