The Need to Boost Capacity: Texecom Connect
The Benchmark Smart Solutions project recently took an initial look at the Texecom Connect platform which runs on Texecom’s Premier Elite control panels which are running V4 firmware or later. This means that installers and integrators have the ability to upgrade any existing customers using Premier Elite panels to the Texecom Connect platform. The fact that this system delivers additional benefits might have unexpected but positive consequences, as we quickly discovered!
The Texecom Connect platform adds a wide degree of smart control to the Texecom range of Premier Elite control panels. Whilst the core alarm system remains generally unchanged in terms of capabilities and control, the addition of the Connect element adds a variety of benefits and added value functionalities.
Because the control panel effectively ‘manages’ the Connect elements of the system, there are no concerns that a user implementing home automation of smart appliance control will inadvertently do something that compromises the performance of the security system. Indeed, because the control panel remains at the top of the system hierarchy, it will not allow any form of compromise to made, either intentionally or accidentally.
This also means that whilst the end user can add devices or change programming for the Texecom Connect platform, the installer or integrator remains firmly as the engineer in control of the graded
Premier Elite security system. Whilst the heart of any Texecom Connect system will be a professionally installed graded alarm system without any compromises or ‘dumbing down’, the user does have the ability to enhance the performance of the system.
For many installers and integrators, this might have an unexpected but positive consequence.
The Premier Elite range of control panels support the Ricochet mesh-based wireless platform. This makes adding devices to deliver a wide range of benefits a simple task. Whilst many of the devices will be added by the installer or integrator, there are also home automation devices, which do not impact on the operation of the graded alarm system, which can be added by the user via the app.
With the field test system installed for the Benchmark Smart Solutions project, the Premier Elite 88 was specified, with two 32 zone wireless expanders. This might seem like overkill, but the important thing was to consider that a system built on the Texecom Connect system will require additional devices in order to deliver the smart automation potential that the user is buying in to.
To start off, the system will require the usual devices: hardwired keypad and sounder, plus additional wireless keypads and sounders, PIRs and dual techs, door and window contacts, shock sensors, etc.. These form the core security system.
However, given the flexibility of the Texecom Connect platform, you also have to consider what the end user might want to add in the way of benefits. For example, if they want to base Recipes on a door or window being opened, or for that matter a cupboard or appliance being opened, they will need additional shock sensors. The tiny Micro Contact-W recently launched by Texecom is ideal for this as it has a small footprint, a very low profile and an aesthetically pleasing look.
This point actually illustrates how installers and integrators need to think through the idea of smart automation! Not only will the potential for smart tasks help sell the Connect platform to the customer, but actual suggestions of what can be achieved will fire up their imagination and identify which additional devices the installer or integrator needs to add.
Currently smoke/heat detectors can be added, as can carbon monoxide sensors. These strike a chord with end users as safety if always a concern, both in the home and business premises. Therefore, expect to see a few wireless zones eaten up by these devices.
As already mentioned, the Micro contacts allow a wide range of items to be monitored. Contacts can be added to appliances, cupboards, drawers, etc., and designated with a Moment Key zone type. This will mean they can be used for additional tasks within the Connect platform but will not impact on the graded alarm system. Allow a few zones for these devices too.
External beam detectors can be used to add security and to trigger automation events. However, it might not be desirable to allow these to impact on the alarm system. Again, if given the Moment Key zone attribute, these devices can be programmed as part of Recipes to add functionality to the system.
Using custom Modes actually allows such devices to used in a variety of ways. In an Evening mode, for example, a beam on the driveway might be used to switch on courtesy lighting whenever someone approaches the house. However, in a Night mode it might send a push notification to the user and switch on a video surveillance camera. If installers and integrators present such scenarios to the end user, the likelihood of add-on sales is greatly increased.
Texecom Connect supports the use of video cameras, so this opens up another avenue for the installer or integrator, especially in the domestic sector. Few homeowners will opt for an NVR and monitor in order to add a camera. Their most likely source of such additions will be a DIY shed or the internet, and the quality of the deices is questionable. With Connect, it is possible to add a camera and control it via Recipes and Modes. Again, this equates to a few more zones.
Texecom is also developing flood sensors and smart buttons. The latter are simple wireless push buttons that can be used to manually initiate a sequence of actions via a Recipe. Again, these will add to the overall zone count.
Finally, consideration must be given to the Ricochet Smart Plugs. These devices can be used to control any mains-powered appliance, and as such form a significant part of the smart automation offering of Texecom Connect. These devices can be added by the end user via the Connect App, and then are used manually via the App or as a part of Modes or Recipes. Each plug requires a wireless zone.
As is becoming obvious, even domestic applications will require larger capacity control panels. Indeed, the field test Premier Elite 64 was very quickly at full capacity, and the need to upgrade soon surfaced.
Texecom has recognised this, and as a result with the imminent launch of the V4 firmware, all wireless control panels in the Premier Elite range will support a minimum of 64 zones. Where legacy systems exist, any customer switching to the Connect platform will – either immediately or within a very short time – require a larger capacity control panel (and additional expanders).
This might seem like a negative as it adds cost, but the reality is the panel needs to be expanded because of functionality that the customer wants to add. This isn’t a grudge purchase; it’s one driven by customer demand!
If this situation occurs, one benefit for the installer or integrator is the way in which the Premier Elite V4 firmware handles ‘learned’ devices. There is no need to relearn existing field devices as these are retained. In the Smart Solutions project, the upgrade was simply a case of swapping the PCB.
Once this is done and the hardwired connections remade, testing and commissioning is a brief and stress-free process. For the user, once the installer or integrator has finished, they merely need to resync their App with the control panel and the job is complete.
While Texecom Connect is a powerful, flexible and smart system, it will inevitably require additional devices to suit the user’s needs and intentions, and as such it represents a positive opportunity for installers and integrators. As evidenced from the Smart Solutions project upgrade, it’s also a very straightforward task.