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    Using homeseer as an alarm system

    I often see in the forums it’s not recommended practice to use HS as an alarm system due to it not being as reliable as a traditional alarm system. Instead it’s recommended to get a standalone system that can integrate. I agree this would be the ideal approach.

    In Australia it’s quite a bit more difficult to get a system installed that can integrate well with HS as per the systems usually recommended on here.

    Based on this if I was to set up a z wave based system with wireless sensors ect and with HS as the alarm controller would this be practical if:

    - we set up automated checks to ensure the HS PC is running reliably and alerts if it isnt
    - we don’t intend / are not too worried about when we have to leave the house for extended periods.

    Based on this what other concerns would you raise about using HS over an alarm system?
    it seems unlikely (or an acceptable risk in this instance given the benefits) that at a time of break in the system would happen to be crashed/not working if it’s being tested regularly and automatically.

    Is there anything else to keep in mind?

    #2
    Key considerations include how important it is to detect either an intrusion or a fire. Keep in mind that Murphy was an optimist, so the chances for HS to be malfunctioning at just the time you need it to raise an alarm are much higher than you suspect. A less obvious consideration is that if you find that having a reliable alarm system brings peace of mind, then whenever you encounter a problem with HS, your stress level could be significantly increased as you struggle to troubleshoot and fix it. On the other hand, if you live in an area where you don't really have to worry about intrusion, and you have high quality smoke detectors, then the value of a reliable alarm system may not be so high.

    Another consideration is why you want to integrate it to HS. I do it so that I can use the door sensors and the state of the alarm system (home/away) as event input. If that is the primary reason to have an alarm system, then there is no reason not to use HS as that system.

    Most of us, of course, are between the extremes, so in the end it's going to be your own judgement that will determine the answer.

    Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
    HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

    HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

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      #3
      If I had the option I would definitely use a dedicated security system. Can you not get a DSC system in Australia? I use this also extensively for home automation by acting on doors that are being opened/closed and motion sensors. It's just that this system is rock solid and doesn't require any batteries. Having said that, in my opinion there is no reason why you couldn't use HS as a security system. Just make sure you have a way to be notified when the system is down. For instance when electricity goes out and the system reboots but you don't run HS as a service. Also make sure the computer automatically reboots when it was shut down unexpectedly. Or if Windows forces a restart because the do an updated, etc. If you are really concerned you could use a UPS but personally I don't think that's necessary if you have basic notifications if the system is down and you have a way to log into the computer remotely.

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        #4
        Subscribed. I've been thinking about this for a while and have a few notes:

        1. A UPS is a must just to avoid brown outs and also for surge suppression. Added bonus is the HS system can detect the event and alert on it.
        2. UPS can trigger a graceful system shutdown. Set PC to "Always Turn On" when AC is applied to recover.
        3. Set up PC to auto-login and start HS. Use something like Startup Delayer to manage startup.
        4. Windows Updates must be disabled or delayed until scheduled maintenance windows. This can be done by setting the Ethernet connection to "metered" in Windows 10 and then manually downloading updates during the maintenance window.
        5. Internet connection needs to be on UPS and needs to stay up during an area power outage. This is a concern whether it is wired or wireless (cell tower) internet. Satellite would be the only exception to this.
        6. It would be best if the PC had no moving parts as in an SSD and also fanless.

        Comment


          #5
          Regarding UPS, make sure it can deliver the power you need for your PC. It's not just about the capacity but also the maximum power it can provide. If it's rated too low your PC will crash. The Windows update can be a problem if you don't use the system much as then you won't see when an update is due. In my case HS is actually running on the computer I use on a daily basis. Hence, if an update is due and I go on vacation then I can just install the update before leaving. The chance of the PC being down while somebody is trying to break in is pretty small. The important thing is that you really test your system to make sure it works as intended. You don't want to have events set up and then when somebody is actually trying to break in you realize the logic in your events was wrong...

          Comment


            #6
            I've used homeseer as an alarm for 4 years total. I can count the hours homeseer has been down on one hand.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by kenm View Post
              Subscribed. I've been thinking about this for a while and have a few notes:

              1. A UPS is a must just to avoid brown outs and also for surge suppression. Added bonus is the HS system can detect the event and alert on it.
              2. UPS can trigger a graceful system shutdown. Set PC to "Always Turn On" when AC is applied to recover.
              3. Set up PC to auto-login and start HS. Use something like Startup Delayer to manage startup.
              4. Windows Updates must be disabled or delayed until scheduled maintenance windows. This can be done by setting the Ethernet connection to "metered" in Windows 10 and then manually downloading updates during the maintenance window.
              5. Internet connection needs to be on UPS and needs to stay up during an area power outage. This is a concern whether it is wired or wireless (cell tower) internet. Satellite would be the only exception to this.
              6. It would be best if the PC had no moving parts as in an SSD and also fanless.
              Point 2 will not work with " always turn on" when you have shutdown windows " gracefully" and power is applied.

              Point 4: with metered, some updates will still be done I have read/encountered.

              In win10 pro there arebetter options, other people wrote about it on the forum.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Corvl1 View Post

                Point 2 will not work with " always turn on" when you have shutdown windows " gracefully" and power is applied.

                Point 4: with metered, some updates will still be done I have read/encountered.

                In win10 pro there are better options, other people wrote about it on the forum.
                My BIOS has three options when AC is applied: OFF, ON, or LAST STATE. When set to ON, the system will power up when the AC power cord is connected, even if a graceful shutdown was the last action performed. I could see that not all BIOS have this setting.

                I've never encountered a problem with updates being downloaded over a metered connection and I've been running with this setup for almost 4 years. For Win10 Pro, I agree there are group policy settings than can be changed.

                I agree with mulu that one of the biggest risks (and effort) is testing the logic and edge conditions of your system and as chrisfraser05 stated, I have much bigger issues at my house if HS is down for very long.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by kenm View Post

                  My BIOS has three options when AC is applied: OFF, ON, or LAST STATE. When set to ON, the system will power up when the AC power cord is connected, even if a graceful shutdown was the last action performed. I could see that not all BIOS have this setting.

                  I've never encountered a problem with updates being downloaded over a metered connection and I've been running with this setup for almost 4 years. For Win10 Pro, I agree there are group policy settings than can be changed.

                  I agree with mulu that one of the biggest risks (and effort) is testing the logic and edge conditions of your system and as chrisfraser05 stated, I have much bigger issues at my house if HS is down for very long.
                  The problem with the graceful shutdown is that you never remove the AC power because the shutdown happens before the battery runs out so the BIOS will not turn the computer on by itself in this case. For this reason I just let the battery run down and accept a dirty shutdown. Once power comes back the computer starts up again. I also have a KASA WIFI plug for the server so I can power cycle it remotely without ZWAVE.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by mulu View Post
                    The chance of the PC being down while somebody is trying to break in is pretty small. The important thing is that you really test your system to make sure it works as intended. You don't want to have events set up and then when somebody is actually trying to break in you realize the logic in your events was wrong...
                    Well said and much clearer than my post. HS not running is not the most likely problem. The problem is that testing the 'alarm' function you design requires serious thought and effort, and it is not easy to imagine and test all the possible circumstances that need to be covered.

                    Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
                    HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

                    HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by farfromuman View Post

                      The problem with the graceful shutdown is that you never remove the AC power because the shutdown happens before the battery runs out so the BIOS will not turn the computer on by itself in this case. For this reason I just let the battery run down and accept a dirty shutdown. Once power comes back the computer starts up again. I also have a KASA WIFI plug for the server so I can power cycle it remotely without ZWAVE.
                      Good point. This is an edge timing case for me that I haven't run into. In almost all cases here, we either have a brown out or a few second outage which we just ride through, or we have a PSPS (Public Safety Power Shutoff) where the power is shut off for several hours due to high winds. In the later case, the HS system gracefully shuts down and then the battery is further drained by some network equipment that's always on. That drain results in a UPS shutdown which kills the AC.

                      I'll have to rethink this in regard to my new platform. I now have HS4 on a Win10 Pro laptop which probably shouldn't be on a UPS so it can detect AC OFF and ON and switch between battery and AC as needed.

                      As many have said, lots of thought and testing required to improve reliability.

                      Thanks,
                      Ken

                      Comment


                        #12
                        RonPiper -
                        I often see in the forums it’s not recommended practice to use HS as an alarm system due to it not being as reliable as a traditional alarm system. Instead it’s recommended to get a standalone system that can integrate. I agree this would be the ideal approach.
                        Take a look at this thread:

                        https://forums.homeseer.com/forum/homeseer-products-services/system-software-controllers/hs3touch/hs3touch-how-tos/1388759-keypad-for-hstouch/page3

                        Post 31. S Rodgers has built an ELK security panel as an hstouch keypad so it can be controlled through HS.

                        You can make homeseer do some alarm system features. It will not be monitored 24x7 but security is like you and your friends being chased by a bear. You don't have t be faster than the bear; Just faster than one of your friends. You can tie into a smoke detector system with a mimo lite and an interconnect if that is a requirement.

                        I tie my DSC system into homeseer and use the reed switches on the doors and windows. Interface to HS through BLDSC and an it100 board.

                        Hope this gives you some ideas to think about.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by farfromuman View Post

                          The problem with the graceful shutdown is that you never remove the AC power because the shutdown happens before the battery runs out so the BIOS will not turn the computer on by itself in this case. For this reason I just let the battery run down and accept a dirty shutdown. Once power comes back the computer starts up again. I also have a KASA WIFI plug for the server so I can power cycle it remotely without ZWAVE.
                          Indeed, for that reason I have between the "power"-pins on the motherboard a time-relays this relays is connected to the mains ( not via the UPS). When power is restored, the UPS is recharging , and the timer starts running, after 10 minutes of constant main power the relays does it's thing and the computer is started.

                          Cor

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Corvl1 View Post

                            Indeed, for that reason I have between the "power"-pins on the motherboard a time-relays this relays is connected to the mains ( not via the UPS). When power is restored, the UPS is recharging , and the timer starts running, after 10 minutes of constant main power the relays does it's thing and the computer is started.

                            Cor
                            Very nice. Would you mind sharing more details about the relay and associated circuit you are using?

                            Thanks,
                            Ken

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Corvl1 View Post

                              Indeed, for that reason I have between the "power"-pins on the motherboard a time-relays this relays is connected to the mains ( not via the UPS). When power is restored, the UPS is recharging , and the timer starts running, after 10 minutes of constant main power the relays does it's thing and the computer is started.

                              Cor
                              I have a similar arrangement using a small microcontroller and a transistor. The circuit is powered by a wall-wart plugged into a non-ups outlet. The microcontroller senses the 3.3V supply on the PC motherboard. if the circuit has power (from the wall-wart) and no voltage from the PC for more that ten minutes, it pulses the transistor that acts like pressing the power button on the PC. It will retry a few times if the PC voltage doesn't come up in a few seconds.

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