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Organization of Alarm Panels


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#1 DotNetDog

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 01:44 PM

DISCLAIMER: I'm a computer programmer, not an installer. I definitely need guidance here.


I am building a new house and will be purchasing the Elk M1 Gold. Due to the number of devices that I need to connect to the Elk I am trying to decide the "best" way to organize the alarm panels.

I will have a total of 147 "devices", including keypads and more. Here is the list:

Number of Alarm Keypads: 4
Number of Interior Door Sensors: 24
Number of Exterior Door Sensors: 5
Number of Furnace Monitor Sensors: 1
Number of Garage Door Openers: 2
Number of Garage Door Sensors: 2
Number of Glass Break Sensors: 10
Number of Heat Detector Sensors: 1
Number of Irrigation System Sensors: 1
Number of Temperature Sensors: 6
Number of Occupancy Sensors: 47
Number of Piezo Screamers: 2
Number of Sirens: 2
Number of Strobes: 1
Number of Water Leak Detectors: 20
Number of Window Sensors: 19


Now, do you guys prefer buying one large panel and putting most things in one? Or do you prefer to break things up? If so, do you organize by device type (doors and windows to one panel, glass breaks to a different panel)? Do you organize by location (basement, bedroom, main floor)?

I was thinking of going with multiple panels to better organize everything. What do you guys recommend?

#2 Digger

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 02:27 PM

The temp sensors have to be in the first 16 zones on the main board so must be home run. You may want to reserve zone 16 for future 2 wire smoke detectors.

Personally I put a subpanel on each floor of the house to minimize wire runs. Others prefer to home run everything. Each have their advantages. In my case I put a zone expander, an aux power supply, and a PD9 in each subpanel. I also have SVAUX power pulled to each subpanel. I can add a relay board to if I need to.

You need to consider an aux power supply or two in my opinion looking at all of the devices you will have.

Also consider a CO detector outside the bedrooms and on each level of the house.

I assume you are using 120 V smoke detectors otherwise you should consider smoke detectors.

#3 DotNetDog

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 02:34 PM

Thanks Digger. The pre-wire is already completed...everything was homerun-ed. I haven't [yet] spec-ed out the Elk system but I know that I will need multiple expansions and aux power. Yes, we wired for 120V smokes and I didn't think I needed to supplement those. I probably should consider CO detectors (before sheet rock goes in).

#4 Sandpiper

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 02:40 PM

DISCLAIMER: I'm a computer programmer, not an installer. I definitely need guidance here.


I am building a new house and will be purchasing the Elk M1 Gold. Due to the number of devices that I need to connect to the Elk I am trying to decide the "best" way to organize the alarm panels.

I will have a total of 147 "devices", including keypads and more. Here is the list:

Number of Alarm Keypads: 4
Number of Interior Door Sensors: 24
Number of Exterior Door Sensors: 5
Number of Furnace Monitor Sensors: 1
Number of Garage Door Openers: 2
Number of Garage Door Sensors: 2
Number of Glass Break Sensors: 10
Number of Heat Detector Sensors: 1
Number of Irrigation System Sensors: 1
Number of Temperature Sensors: 6
Number of Occupancy Sensors: 47
Number of Piezo Screamers: 2
Number of Sirens: 2
Number of Strobes: 1
Number of Water Leak Detectors: 20
Number of Window Sensors: 19


Now, do you guys prefer buying one large panel and putting most things in one? Or do you prefer to break things up? If so, do you organize by device type (doors and windows to one panel, glass breaks to a different panel)? Do you organize by location (basement, bedroom, main floor)?

I was thinking of going with multiple panels to better organize everything. What do you guys recommend?

If it were me, I'd do this:

1. Wire the keypads, sirens, strobes, and a limited number of sensors to the main panel, where the M1 will reside.
2. At 2 or 3 other locations, say in closets, place an expansion box which will contain an ELK-M1XIN with battery backup and charger, such as an Elk P212S. The input expander will pick up all sensors in the immediate vicinity, so mixing and matching is no problem.
3. Allocate a few spares in each box for future changes and expansion.

With that many devices, wiring to a single panel would result in a very large bundle of wires. Distributing the inputs will result in smaller bundle sizes which will be more managable and should also be more servicable in the future.

#5 Digger

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 02:58 PM

Thanks Digger. The pre-wire is already completed...everything was homerun-ed. I haven't [yet] spec-ed out the Elk system but I know that I will need multiple expansions and aux power. Yes, we wired for 120V smokes and I didn't think I needed to supplement those. I probably should consider CO detectors (before sheet rock goes in).



You may want to wire for one smoke detector on each level. This way if you are not home and there is a fire the fire department will be notified so you dont come home to a pile of ashes.

#6 DotNetDog

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 03:23 PM

Thanks Digger. The pre-wire is already completed...everything was homerun-ed. I haven't [yet] spec-ed out the Elk system but I know that I will need multiple expansions and aux power. Yes, we wired for 120V smokes and I didn't think I needed to supplement those. I probably should consider CO detectors (before sheet rock goes in).



You may want to wire for one smoke detector on each level. This way if you are not home and there is a fire the fire department will be notified so you dont come home to a pile of ashes.



Actually, I'm replacing the last 120V smoke with one that can connect to the Elk. I realize I won't know which smoke triggered the event but in case of fire/smoke, I figure I mainly just want to know that something happened and get the heck out.

By the way, this was how my low voltage wiring guy suggested.

#7 DotNetDog

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 03:26 PM

DISCLAIMER: I'm a computer programmer, not an installer. I definitely need guidance here.


I am building a new house and will be purchasing the Elk M1 Gold. Due to the number of devices that I need to connect to the Elk I am trying to decide the "best" way to organize the alarm panels.

I will have a total of 147 "devices", including keypads and more. Here is the list:

Number of Alarm Keypads: 4
Number of Interior Door Sensors: 24
Number of Exterior Door Sensors: 5
Number of Furnace Monitor Sensors: 1
Number of Garage Door Openers: 2
Number of Garage Door Sensors: 2
Number of Glass Break Sensors: 10
Number of Heat Detector Sensors: 1
Number of Irrigation System Sensors: 1
Number of Temperature Sensors: 6
Number of Occupancy Sensors: 47
Number of Piezo Screamers: 2
Number of Sirens: 2
Number of Strobes: 1
Number of Water Leak Detectors: 20
Number of Window Sensors: 19


Now, do you guys prefer buying one large panel and putting most things in one? Or do you prefer to break things up? If so, do you organize by device type (doors and windows to one panel, glass breaks to a different panel)? Do you organize by location (basement, bedroom, main floor)?

I was thinking of going with multiple panels to better organize everything. What do you guys recommend?

If it were me, I'd do this:

1. Wire the keypads, sirens, strobes, and a limited number of sensors to the main panel, where the M1 will reside.
2. At 2 or 3 other locations, say in closets, place an expansion box which will contain an ELK-M1XIN with battery backup and charger, such as an Elk P212S. The input expander will pick up all sensors in the immediate vicinity, so mixing and matching is no problem.
3. Allocate a few spares in each box for future changes and expansion.

With that many devices, wiring to a single panel would result in a very large bundle of wires. Distributing the inputs will result in smaller bundle sizes which will be more managable and should also be more servicable in the future.



Well, the house is already pre-wired with a TON of wires all coming into one room in the basement. My build is shocked at the amount of wire in that one room. Anyways, I'll need to place all panels in that room...but I definitely think multiple panels.

#8 Steve

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:06 PM

Yea, you will never cram all that into one can with any semblance of neatness. I used every square inch of a 52" can just for 48 zones. How many cans do you have room for? I would spread it out to make it as neat and clean as possible. There really is no 'best' way, its what you're comfortable with and makes sense to you. If I had the total luxury of space I would put a can for each function. So, I would have one can (you may even need two) dedicated probably as a demarc where all the incoming wires punch down - din rail, 66 block, 110 block or whatever works well for you and your wire type. I would probably then have a 'main' can that would hold the controller and at least the zone expanders. I would put the output/relay expanders too if room. Of course there are tricks to maximize space if needed, like stacking the expanders. I also like to use wire duct to make it look nice and neat. I would have a power can that contained an aux power supply. The power distribution blocks could go in the power can or near the zones if room. I would have a 'misc' can for things like a Rain8 or other misc pieces of the system. If you had the stud bays available, 3-5 52" cans would work great with conduit runs between them all at several locations. Anyway, just some other ideas...

#9 DotNetDog

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:22 PM

Yea, you will never cram all that into one can with any semblance of neatness. I used every square inch of a 52" can just for 48 zones. How many cans do you have room for? I would spread it out to make it as neat and clean as possible. There really is no 'best' way, its what you're comfortable with and makes sense to you. If I had the total luxury of space I would put a can for each function. So, I would have one can (you may even need two) dedicated probably as a demarc where all the incoming wires punch down - din rail, 66 block, 110 block or whatever works well for you and your wire type. I would probably then have a 'main' can that would hold the controller and at least the zone expanders. I would put the output/relay expanders too if room. Of course there are tricks to maximize space if needed, like stacking the expanders. I also like to use wire duct to make it look nice and neat. I would have a power can that contained an aux power supply. The power distribution blocks could go in the power can or near the zones if room. I would have a 'misc' can for things like a Rain8 or other misc pieces of the system. If you had the stud bays available, 3-5 52" cans would work great with conduit runs between them all at several locations. Anyway, just some other ideas...


Thanks Steve....excellent ideas.

In the "mechanical room" where the Elk panels will go I have a wall that is about 11 feet long. There is another corner that I could use too but I think the 11' wall will be more than enough for 4 or 5 cans.

I like the idea of a can for wires to punch down. I'll consider that one...

#10 pete_c

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:35 PM

If I were doing it all over again I would have spread my wiring to more than one can in one location.

Today I have everything crammed in one box. Adding any devices has become a major PITA. I have my panel mounted on wood and its mounted on two 2 by 4's. I drilled a couple (only two) holes below the panel in the box and pass all of the wires behind the wood from the top. I left a spare wire such that I can utilize it to pull more cable but its very tight after 7 years. BUT one mistake was that I initially utilize CAT5E then later went to 2/4 wire alarm panel cabling. In FL the prewire was done with all 2/4 wire alarm cable. Much easier and doesn't use up a lot of space. I recently did add smokes/CO's in their own zones to my panel and left the older 120VAC smokes in place. I did create a couple of loops in FL relating to the glass sliding doors creating the loops in the panel (2 per door X 4 sliding glass doors). In the midwest didn't use any loops. I used sensors on the exterior to exterior doors (IE like the Laundry room) but no interior doors - IE bedrooms etc. With the wiring footprint you have you will truely be able to see occupancy at a very granular level.

In FL even though the wires were all labeled I still did them one at a time; initially using a loud VOM meter to hear when I closed the switch; then a laptop connected to the panel watching the zone. The most difficult was doing the doors as the exterior metal doors were wood framed inside and cement outside. The alarm company left just enough wire but much of was into the cement and I had to do some very small hole chistling without damaging the alarm wires.

#11 russban

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:02 PM

I would definitely go the multi can route, Steve's ideas are great!

It would be really interesting to see photos of each step as you go along. I always like seeing how others solve their "puzzles"!

#12 cornutt

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:16 PM

Just out of curiousity, why 47 occupancy sensors? Even for a large house, that's a lot.

#13 DotNetDog

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 07:40 AM

Just out of curiousity, why 47 occupancy sensors? Even for a large house, that's a lot.


Yeah, I'm planning for very detailed occupancy detection. I definitely won't install all (or even most) of the sensors on day 1. I plan to use sensors and rules to try and come up with a very good plan for occupancy-based automation. I'll start one room at a time and see how it works. I figured that I needed to wire for everything and implement slowly as I work out the implementation details.

By the way, here's a list of the occupancy sensor locations:
  • Terrace - In-Law Suite Bedroom
  • Terrace - In-Law Suite Bathroom
  • Terrace - In-Law Suite Closet
  • Terrace - In-Law Suite Kitchen
  • Terrace - In-Law Suite Laundry
  • Terrace - In-Law Suite Sitting Area
  • Terrace - Bar
  • Terrace - Media Room
  • Terrace - Media Room
  • Terrace - Media Room
  • Terrace - Bathroom
  • Terrace - Exercise Room
  • Terrace - Exercise Room
  • Terrace - Mechanical Room
  • Terrace - Vault
  • Main Level - Covered Deck
  • Main Level - Keeping Room
  • Main Level - Kitchen
  • Main Level - Breakfast
  • Main Level - Pantry
  • Main Level - Mud Room
  • Main Level - Great Room
  • Main Level - Hallway
  • Main Level - Dining Room
  • Main Level - Study
  • Main Level - Guest#1 Bedroom
  • Main Level - Guest#1 Bathroom
  • Main Level - 2-Car Garage
  • Main Level - 1-Car Garage
  • Main Level - Master Bedroom
  • Upper Level - Master Bathroom
  • Upper Level - Master Bathroom
  • Upper Level - Master Closet
  • Upper Level - Hallway
  • Upper Level - Hallway
  • Upper Level - Laundry Hall
  • Upper Level - Laundry
  • Upper Level - Guest#2 Bedroom
  • Upper Level - Guest#2 Bathroom
  • Upper Level - Daughter's Bedroom
  • Upper Level - Daughter's Closet
  • Upper Level - Daughter's Bathroom
  • Upper Level - Daughter's Bathroom
  • Upper Level - Son'sBedroom
  • Upper Level - Son'sBedroom
  • Upper Level - Son'sBathroom
  • Upper Level - Son's Bathroom


#14 pete_c

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 08:15 AM

Occupancy-based automation attempts over the last few years have not worked for me due to WAF.

I tried various methodologies of my HA logic and while it was fine for me it wasn't for her.

Its like what should happen, what does happen and what could happen....nothing works...

#15 Neurorad

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 01:47 PM

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