Help I'm a newbie



Hi Guys. I have been pawing through the forum now for a little while and I can’t believe how helpful everyone is. So I thought I would put all your patients to the test and ask some real newbie questions. My new wife and I are building a new 2800sqft home!! And while trying to find a good security system I upon this whole world of HA stuff that now must go in the home because it’s too cool. So here is where the need for help comes in. I have a rough idea of what I want but have no idea what components I need and which brand to choose. I really like the HAL interface because of the option of voice control. (It seems very wife friendly)

Some other things that I want to have in the house that need to be HAL friendly are:

1) Security System - with capabilities for motion sensors throughout the house (to help trigger events in HAL) , Window sensors, and a few video cameras. (I’m not sure if those go with a different system though) smoke detectors and CO detectors.
2) Whole house audio. - I was looking at the Russ Sound CAV6.6
3) Phones - I would like to have the ability for two lines, intercom, and to use them as a way to communicate with HAL.
4) Lights – I’m going to use UPB switches and plugs. From all the reviews it seems to be pretty reliable.
I’m really most concerned with the security system because that will have to be installed early on. I should be well wired for everything else to be done later.

From the way I understand it is that each system phone, security, audio have all there own controllers and components and then HAL software comes in and links them all together.

Sorry for all the basic and broad questions. I’m just a diehard Do it yourselfer and I am totally hooked on all this neat stuff. There are just so many choices out there and not a lot of books or information out there to learn from. So I turn to you guys for direction and help.



Senior Member
Personally, I would focus on a hardware controller first and then decide what software to 'complement' it. You can either go for an all in one security/HA controller like Elk M1 or HAI OmniPro, or you can go withan HA panel like the JDS Stargate and a separate alarm, or, you could go with something like Cortexa and a separate security system. The Elk M1 is popular around here because Elk is diy friendly, but both the Elk and HAI are good choices.

On voice - it is alot trickier than you may think. You will need very good (aka expensive) equipment and a good design to make open air mics work well. Forget about it with kids or in any kind of noisy environment. Nice strategically located touch screens work better imho.

1. M1 or OmniPro are good choices
2. I prefer the Nuvo Grand Concerto over the CAV6.6. More powerful digital amps, 2 more zones (un amplified), paging input and nicer keypads imho. There is no video on the Nuvo but I question the usefulness of integrated component switching when you can get a separate video switcher that supports more. Rusooung is coming out with new stuff later this year tho
3. I'll pass, but Upstatemike like Panasonic systems I think. If you went with Russound, you could also integrate their Compoint system for intercom
4. I use UPB and think its a great choice, but if you have the budget and in new construction I would look at hardwire lighting if possible, or a hybrid hardwire (critical loads) and UPB (everything else)

I would consider the software last. HAL is good, but won't cut it if you want any kind of custom touchscreen interfaces. HAL's main strength is voice and if you require the VR, then HAL is ok, but it only connects to Elk via main serial port so you would not be able to use the XEP (ethernet adapter) which is a huge - imho. Homeseer is more complete than HAL and also has VR, albeit not as good as HAL. But I am a touchscreen kind of guy, so I prefer software like CQC or Mainlobby to complement the panel. My systems is an Elk M1, CQC and Nuvo Grand Concerto. I don't do video distribution yet.

#1 is to plan and prepare your prewire plan!



Thank for your reply. Thats just what i needed. Someone to point me in the right direction and an order in which to choose equipment. I'll do some research on your suggestions and see if i can finally make some decisions. I'm definately going to choose either the ELK or HAI seems like everyone on the forum has one or the other. I have to look into a comparison of the two alittle more. My pre-wire plan is coming along pretty well, and framing doesn't start for another week or so so I have some more time to decide what i need where. The theory seems to be by everyone lay more wire than you need so that is what I'm going to do.

Thanks again


Senior Member
Steve said:
3. I'll pass, but Upstatemike like Panasonic systems I think. If you went with Russound, you could also integrate their Compoint system for intercom
Panasonic has good and bad points and it really depends on what your overall phone strategy is going to be. Panasonic works for me because:

It is my primary paging/intercom system but this is only practical because I have a lot of phones (21). You either need enough phones to cover the house for paging or interface the phone system to a paging amp and have additional paging speakers.

I have a lot of phone lines. If you only have one incoming phone line the cost is hard to justify.

I hate cell phones - my cell phone is always fed through my phone system via a dock-n-talk and I rarely carry it with me. If you are one of those people who are always tethered to a cell phone even when at home then the value of phone extensions all around the house is probably much lower.

It was easy to interface my stargate to do paging announcements over the Panasonic. One of the oldest and best features of my automation system.

I am planning to play with VR using Homeseer (have alll the parts but no time to work on it). Other folks on the Homeseer board have used this with Panasonic phone systems with good success.

I hate having a phone depend on a local wall-wart for power so I won't even consider using the KSU-less systems that need local power.

I hate systems that are so geared towards business environments that they won't let 2 extensions join the same call without punching in a bunch of complex feature codes. With the Panasonic, when Grandma calls somebody can just pick up another extension and join in the conversation without having to dig out a manual for the "call privacy overide procedure".


Senior Member
The next software update for ELKRM , remote management software for PC or CE based Touchscreen, is about to release which will support the Russound CAV/CAM 6.6 system. The final part for IR support for TV, Receiver, CD, or anything else IR controllable is in final testing.


Senior Member
not to hijack the thread but you have opened it up Spanky....

How does the M1 do IR? What additional would I need for it to work other then a standard system?