Advice please.


New Member
Ok .... I've been slowly trying to educate my non tech saavy brain .... but it's slow going. We start to build in a week, and here is what I've come up with for solutions to my various wants (note I believe they are needs but the wife disagrees!). I'd appreciate any comments you may have, and please correct me where I've misundersood a concept! FYI I've reviewed the wiring guide on this site (great tool!).

My House:

Three floors inclusive of a walk out basement. First floor, 2100 sq ft., has master bathroom and beddroom, office, great room, kitchen and laundry. Second floor, 1200 sq ft., has kids rooms, bathroom and bonus room. Walk out, 1400 sq ft., will be almost entirely a man cave, but has two bedrooms for future use. House will be heated through hydronic heat which is in turn run off of a geothermal system. Important to note is the fact that all things must have a very high SAF .... this means in particular that I must avoid having boxes all over the walls. So, with all this in mind I've come up with the following choices.

Control Devices:

I know this is a funny place to start, but I have a strong desire here which I believe will impact many of my other choices. I love the i-touch/i-phone's and would prefer, if possible, to use same to control my home automation. I see the i-touch as being the ultimate replacement for all my remotes! The screen is small, but I feel with the cool little magnification tools they have is more than useable. Plus it's wi-fi, so it should work anywhere in the house. As time goes by I see more and more companies jumping on this bandwagon, and for my wife it's hard to fault apple from an ease of use perspective.

Whole House Audio: (sources are MP3 collection, Internet Radio and maybe HD-Audio via DVD)

I want centralized distribution, not interested or more importantly allowed to have receivers in each room. I want ten zones. Master bedroom, master bathroom, deck, shop, kitchen/great room, kids rooms, office, downstairs rec room and bathroom.

I'm stuck between a few options.

a) Nuvo essentia which I believes allows you to expand up to 12 zones. Pros: Energy efficient, built in amps Cons: Nice wall plates, but another thing to add to the wall. Not sure of the quality of the built in amps. Can this be controlled through i-touch? Also, seems common for people to pick this up off of e-bay for a decent price. Can someone comment on the built in amp quality. Would I be better off buying seperate amps to go with this system, any recommendations?

:( Breath Audio .... from what I've read very similar to Nuvo but without the fancy keypads. Cheaper .... but maybe not so much if you can find a good deal on e-bay.

c) Speakercraft. Looks similar to the NUVO ... but may have nicer keypads. Has an i-touch app .... but seems ridiculously priced.

d) Squeezebox(s). Pros: Cool remotes ... may have increased fuctionality in the future Cons: I'm not sure this setup could work for how many zones I want ..... could I still keep the boxes centralized.

d) Speakers .... open to suggestion, but I'd like good quality (and easy to install!).

Ideally, I'd like to just run my speaker wire back to automation room and then control everything via RF or wi-fi remote. Can't see wanting to get off the couch to walk to a keypad everytime I want to change a source or song.

Whole House Video: (sources Sat TV, PS3 and content on the computer)

What a mess. The only solution that seems to be universally hailed is Kaleidascape. For me this amounts to champagne tastes on a water fountain budget. Not going to happen. This is an area I'm very confused on, but I'll give it a whirl. I need to be able to watch the same or different sources in different rooms.

Satellite TV: I think I need a box per room assuming each box only has one tuner which means I need to split the incoming signal someway without degrading picture quality since they are HD sat box's. I would imagine it's better to have the box' de-centralized and run an HDMI to each TV? That way I only need one RG6 wire from the control room to account for the the satellite.

Playstation 3:

Mainly will be used for home theatre which is downstairs, so doesn't make senses to distribute anywhere else.

NAS/Computer content:

My plan here is to have a 3 or 4 popcorn hour boxs in the control room and run a hdmi cable off of each box and run it directly to a corresponding tv source. Will this work? Can I run the TOSLINK connection into a AVR so that I can have sound come thorugh my speakers?


Thinking about using on-q, but the wall plates aren't exactly sexy.


Elk panel. I think I can run my smoke detectors, HVAC (ecobee, looks cool and it's Canadian!), door/window sensors, CO2 detectors and possibly my cameras. From my understanding of the wiring guide I can get away with one wire to most of these items. Whether it be security wire, cat 6 or what have you.

I will be buying POE IP cameras .... from my understanding I only need to run a single cat 6 wire to account for this? This would in turn run into some kind of a special network box?


At each TV location I'm going to run 2 cat 6 wires and four rg6 (I think this will give R,G,B + sound). I will also run an HDMI cable from the control room as well as one from somewhere within each room to accomodate the sat tv. Are there any faceplates that accomodate, or do I need seperate ones. Speaker wire will run directly back to hub room.

I'm sure I'm missing a lot, but at the end of the day I'm hoping to end up with one control device in each room that controls all of the above. I was thinking of using mainlobby as a front end, but CQC seems great as well. Not asking which is more powerful, but rather which would be the easiest to get up and going with.

Make your software decision dead-last. It's the least important thing there, and can be swapped at will. Plus, you'll get into a whole pissing frenzy, none of which really matters right now.

Worry about wiring first, specific devices later. You're breaking ground on the house, it'll be much easier to run wiring now than at any point in the future.

If you run your wiring properly, you can alternate between local boxes & centralized distribution quite easily. (i.e., run the speaker wiring through a location in the room, put a single-gang box with a plate over it, then run that & an 18/2 back to a wiring closet so you can even put in local touchpanels later).

I'm not moved in yet so i can't comment on how well this plan is going to work, but i did the following:

- Whole house audio
- Everything homerunned to the wiring room
- 7 zones are pre-wired, but realistically probably only 5 will get used so most multizone systems (Russound, Nuvo,etc) will be able to support this.
- 16/4 from wiring room via a future keypad location (hidden in the wall) to the speaker
- Cat5 from wiring room to future keypad location
- This seems to be the standard setup everybody recommends and maintains a lot of flexibility for different systems, the future keypad location consist of just wiring in the wall so if i go with a keypadless solution then there's no uglyness on the wall.
- I think i'm pretty set to get Nuvo, but am happy my wiring is such i don't have to make a decision yet.

- Lighting
- I am planning for OnQ ALC but possible other LV hardwire solutions could work.
- My approach was to have the electrician wire the house as he normally would, but for most (not all) switch location i asked for a gangbox that is 1 gang bigger than he was planning. This will allow for placement on scene switches. To all switch locations on the ground floor I have 3/4" conduit that connects to the extra gang. The electrical inspector was cool with this, we just had to cap the conduit and put some rockwool for fire retardancy in which i will obviously remove after i move in. Where there is no extra gang there is still the conduit or where we forgot in a few places a direct cat5 line running to the top of the gangbox so i can fish it out later.
- Through this conduit i can later run cat5 (as many as i want to allow for several 3-4-5 way switches with direct wired aux slaves, also if i want i could run wiring for local IR receivers/blasters, possibly microphones, whatever..
- To save on cost i didnt have this method used for the upstairs except in some key locations where i knew i wanted a scene switch. From the attic it should be easy to drop a cat5 into the wall cavity and pick it up at the switch. Much easier and less risky than drilling up from the basement and firestops in the ground floor walls, hence the conduit in the ground floor locations.
- This may seem expensive, but the electrician asked $65 for a location (extra gang plus conduit) which i thought was a good price, for a regular cat5 run most guys ask more. I know i still need to run the cat5 myself now, but i only have to put in where i need it. On top of that the conduit is pretty much fool proof against sheetrockers cutting through the wires.

- TV / Network
- Instead of running 2RG6QS and 2 Cat5/6 to many location like most people do I had them put an LV mudring in with a 3/4" conduit down to the basement or up to the attic.
- Same as for lighting, electrician asked $65 per location. I'll have to run my RG6QS and cat5/6 myself after i close on the house, but i only need a few runs and can add when needed. I can buy better quality coax and cat5/6 for data for runs i'm actually using and not let the more expensive cables go unused in the walls.

- Alarms
- LV contractor pre-wired ground floor doors and windows with recessed sensors for me as well as the keypad locations and siren. When i move in i will have to put the panel, sirens and keypads in myself. I'm ordering these now (2 months before move-in) to get familair with them and benchtest.

- General
- I had 2 2" conduit put in that are a straight run up from the basement wiring room to the attic.
- My attic insulation is matt or batt they call them i think. I don't think i woudl want to go hunting for conduits in blown in insulation.

As i said before i don't know how well this is all going to work out, but the concerns i had with the conduit at lightswitches regarding code appear to be a non-issue. We'll see how things work out in a few months.

Since the house is being built by a developer i cannot do any of the LV wiring myself, but i got lucky and the builder is really flexible and let me work directly with the electrician and LV contractor to figure out what we need. This is only a small development of 4 2800sqf homes so larger builders like Toll Brothers doing 100 homes are not likely to be as flexible.
I am using the ELK-M1 with the ONQ ALC interface and it works like a champ. I tried X10, UMP, ZWAVE and now I am testing VIZIA RF+ and the only working solution is ONQ ALC. By working I am talking about direct feetback to the touchpanel or controller or webinterface. There is nothing else out there what provides direct update when you change the level on the switch. Even Vizia RF+ is only doing a polling what you are able to adjust down to 1 minute but ONQ does it within a second.

Bad about ONQ is that the switch design is not very cool and you have to run a wire to every switch but it is the only working solution for me.
With respect to the ELK panel can someone spell out all the parts I need to get up and running. If I just by an ELK M1G will this suffice, or are there additional parts I should be ordering. Also, do you terminate right onto the ELK panel or is it better to use some form of structured wiirng panel and then come over.

Finally ..... does this seem like a decent deal with respect to my home audio needs? Thanks to those who take the time to help the newbies of the world out. IVB I'm going to take your webinars once life simmers down a bit. Read nothing but good things about them.
WRT to the Elk, I would get either the M1GK(S) or M1GSYS4(S) depending on what you are going to do with your wiring and any other cans, etc. These kits have all the 'Elk' stuff you need, just add any additional hubs/serial/ethernet/io, etc you way want as well as the contacts/motions/glass breaks, etc etc. There are many threads even with pictures discussing terminating to 66 or 110 blocks or patch panels. etc, all depending on your goals, how much room you have, etc, etc. There is unfortunately no single right answer. In the simplest form you take all your wires direct to the panel and that works fine or you can add in from there.

WRT Nuvo, the only caution of would put out there is to check and make sure that place is an authorized Nuvo reseller. Typically Nuvo and Russound, etc do not allow sales over Ebay, etc. If they are not authorized you risk not getting any support or equipment replacements, etc.
Just a quick glance.

Look at SageTV might possibly be able to handle all your AV and DVD needs.
You would only need RG6 to the data closet where all the sat boxes would live togther.
You would only need a couple few Cat5 to each display if you have the client there (popcorn hour or Sage HD Extender) couple few more if you don't.

Don't worry about PoE cameras run 18-2 with the Cat5 it's cheap and many cameras do not support PoE whereas all PoE cameras also support LV wiring. Not to mention if you do get PoE cameras you can use that 18-2 for something else in the future. Your PoE cameras would be powered from a PoE switch or PoE injector, be careful with the injectors many are nothing more then power over Cat5.
What do you plan to do for termination? Meaning, are you putting things into a dedicated closet, corner of a basement, etc?

Also, WRT the elk, I started with the sys4, then ended up using only the elk and power supply and keypad out of it. The can is too small, but the package may be worth the price anyway depending on the setup you want. I didn't want the big wall speaker and I found out after ordering that the nice flush-mount keypads don't have the speakers or temp sensor (but they look the best).

For example, here was my parts list:
Elk M1GSys4 (should be the right one, with the KP2)
2 more KP2's
Elk 28" enclosure
1RT Speaker (bought the 150RT siren first and realized I didn't like that option as much)
DBH Data Bus Hub
ElkRM Software
a handful of SP12 speakers - these can also mount inside the flush-mount box of the KP2's for invisible speakers
2 serial port expanders (need a 3rd for the W800RF32; have UPB and HAI Thermostat)
input expander
XOVR output expander
relay board (gives you 8 more relays off the XOVR)
several of the Elk mounting boards
1 package of gel connectors

and probably some other parts I'm missing...

Long story short, don't think you're going to order today and install over the weekend - you'll want to research, play with your options - play with the unit, see how it all works, ask questions on here, etc - after you play with it a little, you should be an expert in no time. The more you can tell us about what you want to accomplish, the more we can guide. I know I made a couple mistakes when I first started out so it took a few orders before I got it in... I'm at about 80% right now and still need to finish some things.
Welcome to Cocoon!

If you're like me, all the different types of systems was VERY overwhelming. I was wiring a year ago for a huge house (11 miles of cable). I took IVB's advice and just worried about the wiring. I think it's also smart to think about where/how it's going to be terminated.

There's a great guilde, wiring your house 101 which describes what type of wire to run for each system.

Currently, I'm working on one system at a time, since our construction is still on going.

Good luck!