DIY Home Automation Full House Help

Hi guys,

I am interested in all of your expert feedback. I am in the process of building a good size home (5000 sq ft) and want to have the ultimate smart home experience. Im banking my wife will love it after its complete. As a way of background, I have worked in technology for 20 years or so, however more on the data storage and software application side vs. audio/video/security side.

I am also a DIYer. So here is the plan:

1) Electrician pull the wire (Rough in)
2) Trim out team will be handled by separate team.
3) I will do all the connections, acquisition of product and programming

Attached is the PDF illustrating what I want to do. As you’ll see I have the different aspects of the solution highlighted with the product im leading towards and the price (Internet prices). Some components I already own (mostly the data zone). Some are incomplete, but I have put estimates below.


The cost breakdown is roughly the following:

Core Infrastructure
A/V Rack
Data Zone
10% Contigency
Trim Out
Rough In

So I have lots of questions that I need help on.

a. I intend on using Haiku for Ipad/Iphone connection to all components (security/audio, etc). How good is it? How simple is Haiku to register and acknowledge the components?​
b. PC Access looks to be the only way to interface with the controller? True? If so, HAI needs to update it…​
c. An option is to get HAI Automation Software and program the interfaces of the touchscreens for my own liking. Anybody use this successfully?​
2) Audio/Video:
a. It appears that instead of using audio faceplates to control music, I could stick ipad mini’s in the wall and have the same control and provide a dual use capability. True? Granted 3” vs. 7” is a bit more revealing.​
b. HAI says Grand Concerto with Nuvo interface well. True?​
3) Electrical:
a. All of this equipment will be running in an A/V storage closet. Do I run any electrical / static issues?​
b. What connection points do I need if any, between the electrical circuit breaker box to the Structured Wiring control?​
4) Wiring: I have decided to go Cat6 550 mhz Shielded wherever I can (except for the security side) to future proof. Right call?
5) Cost: Where would you strip out costs? Or add?
6) Lighting: It appears that UPB is the easiest way to manage lighting. The forums illustrate that wireless is good but expensive and has some electrical interference challenges. UPB seems to have much more positive vib around it, albeit they haven’t updated it in a while. Zigbee/Zwave would be nice, however, why risk it?
7)Video (Goal: no technology clutter in the rooms):
a.I plan on distributing the HDMI signal to all the TV’s in the house. What things do I need to worry about? How does the IR work? Is this technology there today?​
b.Will my kids be able to play the Wii while the main box is in A/V equipment room?​
8) Am I nuts? J Don’t answer that one….


Senior Member
A lot to go on so I won't try to answer everything - just the ones that stood out...

UPB is great - it's what I use in a 4000 sq ft home. That said, your $1500 is a bit low... I'd put closer to $4000 there taking a SWAG at your number of switches... up to $6K if you want the more expensive ones. HVAC - I hope that number is just the controller? If so you may be high - probably about $250/tstat off the top of my head for a SWAG.

Nuvo - you can use the smaller keypads AFAIK; we're supposed to add a system here one of these days; my wife has indicated not wanting keypads - doesn't want the clutter; would rather use her iPhone. YMMV.

For your dedicated wiring, I'd pull in a dedicated 20-amp or two - depending on what you want to run, perhaps do one as a 20A twist-lock compatible with many bigger UPS systems. You'll also want to look at doing some-sort of filtering to make life easier on your UPB system; though I'm not sure off-hand what the best filtering mechanisms are for large loads such as that as I haven't had to deal with it.

Cat6 Shielded - there's almost no reason at all to bother with shielded. The only place I know that calls for it are certain HDMI over Cat6 systems that specify it only because they're so insanely sensitive to noise - but honestly I think it's just more of a copout for them when it doesn't work as expected. Cat6 will hold you for the next 15 years just fine - although everyone here will recommend leaving chases/raceways/conduit/smurf-tube wherever possible so you're not stuck with today's wiring and can add as you wish later. Also, terminating wire is good practice and part of earning your smart home - so there's a place you can save!

Wii - the controllers are bluetooth and it needs the local IR receiver on the TV; game consoles don't lend themselves well to centralization. Everything else does though - in fact DirecTV is now offering the Genie whole house receiver that doesn't need a STB for compatible TV's. Use a media server/movie library and you won't need blurays or much else.

There are software applications better than PCAccess for integrating with your system; check out things like CQC, HomeSeer, Elve, Premise to see which ones are compatible - then you can make your own totally custom systems that have much more expansion capability. Given the extent of automation you want, that'll let you get much more granular in your control system rather than having to rely on the HAI for everything. These software apps are way more powerful and flexible, and if you're a software guy, you may be able to fill any voids for missing drivers/plugins.


Senior Member
Just opened the link (you hit the magic 4th post which lets you post links)... not a lot of feedback; for your WAP's - being in IT forever, no linksys product will ever live in my home - and it's a shared feeling among anyone I know who deals with *a lot* of residential equipment. For a 5000 sq. ft home, I'd look at a Ubiquiti UniFi setup using 2-4 of their very nice ceiling mount WAP's strategically placed. I use a single UAP-LR for my 4K home and I get coverage out into the street and yard just fine - but mine's a 2-story box; if you're trying to cover 3 floors or wider spaces, one isn't going to cut it.

The UniFi system lets them all work together amazingly easy and they're pretty reliable - it's enterprise networking at a soho price - the controller software is free and only needs to be run during setup; doesn't need to remain on. They're POE (the PRO is 802.3af compliant active POE so it'll work off your planned switch; the others are passive POE using either their injector or an adapter that converts active 802.3af to their passive 24V mode.


Senior Member
Install your cables for maximum future flexibility. For example, run catx to every potential keypad/controller location. Wire for speakers in all possible rooms.

Figure out what cables you need to each potential display location. Don't just wire the 3-4 you want now.

What video sources are you interested in distributing? Cable? Satellite? HTPC? The new DirecTV Genie boxes, and I'm sure Dish and Comcast, use client boxes small enough to fit behind a flat panel TV, wall mounted.

If you install HDMI (runs less than 35 feet), cat x 3-4, and coax x 1-2 you'll be well covered for the future. As W2P alluded, an empty 1.5" conduit to each potential display location will have you covered for the next HDMI variant (although an extender using 1-2 of those cat6 cables will get you there too, at a cost).

Spend some time reading the Cocoontech Wiring Your New House 101 Wiki.


Active Member
Plus on using shielded wire only for HDMI over cat6.

To save money: focus on getting all the wiring, pull as much wire as you can afford plus conduit to at least all of your TV locations. You can take your time on choosing the actual devices and technologies later.

Interfaces: pull cat6+18/2 to any location you envision having a touch panel, you can choose the exact device after you are done with the rest. Haiku is a very nice application, but it only runs on mac OS. HAI has its own apps for iphone and android. Unless you plan using HAI omnitouch panels, you don't need the automation studio.

Video: make sure all you video signal wire is run within appropriate distance from hi-voltage sources (min 2 ft away if parallel for more than 18"). You can even use long HDMI cables if it is protected from interference. Also may look at Global Cache and iRule for control options. A quality HDMI matrix switcher will cost you $$$. Alternative is to use multiple inexpensive amplifiers and splitters to share sources.

Lighting: install deep gang boxes with neutral wire in each, will work for any technology you choose. Consider installing whole house surge protector to insure your investment (wire it next to the main breaker panel).

Window coverings: prewire with 16/2 + 22/4 or cat5 for shades, cat5 + 110V outlet for drape rods.

Other things you may want to pre-wire for: wire to the panel for energy meter, automated windows/skylights, sensors in interior doors, fireplace switch, cat5 drop in the laundry, wire to the garage opener, more cat6 in the kitchen for future "smart" appliances, water shut-off valve, sprinklers.

One thing is guaranteed: you'll have a lot of fun. Good luck.
Great advice all.

As you can all attest to, the fun part is seeing what you can do with this type of infrastructure and sometimes I forget that you have to get the wiring right first before all the technology gets deployed... Good advice on the DirectTV genie. I plan on having Satellite as my cable choice... (NFL Red zone is hard to pass up)

1) Any recommendations on whole house surge protector?
2) How would a multiple amp / splitter set up work for sharing sources? Any good pictures/diagrams?
3) Id love to do the fireplace, however, mixing HV/LV doesnt smell right to me...
4) Im assuming stay away from IP based speakers? Sounds too new of a technology.... thoughts?



Senior Member
IP based speakers sound interesting but all the ones i've looked up had astronomical pricing - only justification would be in a large distributed system, but even then a nice 70V system is much cheaper. If you find something affordable, post a link - I'd love to check it out!

The fireplace isn't that big of a deal... I'm guessing you saw the link in my signature - if you're building a house, you can have them install an ignition system that operates from switched 120VAC, then any traditional automated switch would work; My house was built with a millivolt system, so you can see what I put together. Honestly what I did added a huge layer of safety from the way the house was - because I use UPB, I set it so the switches only respond to double-taps, and my kids haven't figured out how to double-tap within 750ms, so they can't activate it. Also, if the motion in the room stops for a while, we activate the "downstairs off" or the alarm arms, it turns off - and any time it's turned on, it's with a timer for a max of 4 hours. Lastly, using that keyswitch the way I did lets me set it for normal operation, disabled, or manual override - and because of the millivolt system that requires no actual power, I can still use my fireplace during a power outage. While not to "code"and not something I could ever sell professionally, I have absolutely ZERO issues with it because I know what I did and I know it's very safe.


Active Member
For whole house surge take a look at Leviton model 51120-1. Some fireplaces have an option for wall switch that is usually a low voltage on/off switch. You can use relays instead to operate the switch. My fireplace also has a blower that is plugged in into controlled outlet.


Senior Member
I like Eaton for surge protection.

I word suggest asking the electrician what he uses.
So i will have a lightening protection system installed as well... (we get some boomers..) Im assuming, maybe incorrectly, that these guys will be installing something like that.... Agree?


Senior Member
I would second the idea that gaming systems don't belong in a centralized equipment location. Changing games is a real pain and the wireless range of the controllers are usually very limited. That being said, you might not want to have the system located at the TV. For example, many people want the "clean wall mount" look for their TVs and having a gaming system attached to the TV destroys that look.

We have our Wii set up on the opposite side of the room as our TV (on the bottom shelf of a sofa table). We have the RGB + R+L stereo runs go back to the centralized equipment location via mini-RG6 wiring. The signal is then tied into the video distribution system which allows all the TVs to view the Wii. Of course only the TV in the room where the Wii is located ever utilizes the signal, but that was the easiest way to handle the distribution and prevents us from having a dedicated line from the Wii to the TV.

Having it in the same room as the TV, yet tucked away in a very unimposing location is the best of both worlds. You don't see the equipment and can still have that "clean wall mounted" TV installation, yet the game controller is right there for easy game swaps and reliable controller connections.

You can do the same type of thing if you want to have a single tray DVD player located nearby. I've set an automated system at my parents house and have installed a DVD player in one of their bedroom cabinets. This allows them to easily watch a DVD on any TV without having to go downstairs in the basement to their equipment location. Again, the video and audio from the DVD player goes directly to the distribution system, so they can watch the DVD in their bedroom, the den, or any other TV the want. But having the DVD player upstairs is a lot more convenient for rental or Netflix DVDs that they get regularly.

In the case of the DVD, I use a model that has a hardwired RS-232 serial control input that allows me to tie it into the automation system. So it is easy to control the functions of the DVD player from any room in the house. Again, this RS-232 control is sent via a Cat5/6 wire to the central equipment hub. I generally run at least 5 mini-RG6 cables, 3 cat5/6 cables, and 1 RG6 cable to any possible TV or hardware (like Wii/DVD player) location.
Thanks Brian.

You mentioned video distribution system in your thread. What system do you use? In an earlier thread, a poster mentioned that it is no where near perfect and has a hard time posting 1080p or even worse 4k by 2k. Im ok with paying a little, if i can get that clean look throughout the house. I will definitely implement the Wii idea.


Active Member
If I were building from scratch I wouldn't go with a UPB solution for lighting control. I did a retro on my home with UPB... and its OK but it isn't as reliable as a dedicated hardwired system would be. Belkin is coming out with WIFI connected wall switches at CES now which I find very interesting. I like this much more than the zwave stuff that has been floating around for a while now. (I am an IT guy though... so I am biased toward IP networks.) Other things that might have been addressed or might be out of scope... look at installing true occupancy sensors in each room. Don't rely on security motion detectors. Drop 2 or more CAT6 and 2 or more coax into every room. If you can prewire a couple of sets of speaker wire to the ceiling of each room that would be good too. You never have enough wiring.