Automating a house at 10,000 feet.


Active Member
I have a new client with a weekend home in the mountains. She gets up there about 2-3 weekends per month in the summer and maybe 1-2 in the winter. The cabin is at 10,000 feet so it gets very cold in the winter.

The owner is an Aerospace Engineer so she is very tech savvy, however, the cabin is to get away from all that so I need to keep the look and feel of the system hidden and very little interfacing from the client. She also lets a lot of friends use the cabin so it needs to be very intuitive.

I am planning on using an M1 since the phone line will be the only way to interface with the system remotely.

Here are some of the things I am proposing and wanted suggestions on things I should consider.

1) Water - The likelyhood of freezing pipes is very high in the winter. The water is supplied by a well and an electric pump (220V 30A). Currently, she switches a large breaker, for the pump, manually every time she comes and goes for more than a few days. I am proposing using the ELK-9100 for this since the main system will be an M1 panel. I wouldn't trust this operation to X-10 but I read the 9100 can be controlled via dry contact closure; how would this be wired? I am planning to create a bunch of rules for the pump based on occupancy, house temp. and perhaps a water sensor.

The hot water heater is gas so I don't know of any way to set it's mode automatically.

2) Septic tank - The septic tank has a heater which is currently controlled by a standard toggle switch in the house. The owner typically leaves it on from late Sept. to May. I'm not sure how much this needs to be controlled but it seems like it might be worth writing some rules based on temperature and making sure it is on all the time during the more brutal months. I dont know the ratings for the heater yet but hope I can use a relay wall switch.

3) HVAC - Proposing a communicating thermostat so the house could be warmed up remotely while the owner is driving up to the cabin. Heat is from a standard forced air furnace. There is no A/C, just open the windows. :) I also plan on placing several freeze sensors, any suggestions on ones that will work well with the M1?

4) Fire - So far, in my new venture, I have tried to steer clear of doing any fire protection. It's something I really don't want to mess up in someone elses house (or mine for that matter). There are several hardwired smoke alarms in place and the Fire Dept. isn't exactly close so I don't plan on proposing anything here.

5) Security - The basement is still open and there is only 1 story so it will be easy to wire sensors however there is the issue of drilling fairly new windows and she is not the type that would accept surface mount sensors so I am planning on a few glass break sensors, Motion Sensors and a reed switch at each point of entry. Her next door neighbor is a County Sheriff so I don't think security is her main concern but as long as the panel has it anyway, why not use it.

6) Lighting - Maybe nothing for now. She really wasn't too excited about lighting control but that may change.

That's it for starters. What am I missing?


Is there cellular GSM service? Maybe Cingular.

Nope landline only. A Lot of people in the area have Satellite but the owner doesn't think it's worth it as she goes there to escape.