Help spec'ing out Elk system!

Since you are starting from scratch, let me offer you a few ideas to help you build an ultimate system –
1- Use vertical conduit everywhere! Smurf Tube is cheap and easy to install! You will thank yourself when you forget something….and, you will forget something. Plan for change.
a. Basement to attic (2†minimum clear for future)
b. All phone, TV, touch-panel, keypad, and speaker locations.
c. Run to all unfinished areas, to attic if on upper floor and to basement if on lower floor.
d. If in doubt, install conduit!!!
2- Homerun all of your data and phone CAT5 and RG6 to a BIG structured media panel.
3- Mount your M1 panel next to the structured media panel with conduit in between.
4- Make a shelf for your routers and modems next to the panels with provision for power and UPS…back up your router and DSL or cable modem. You might want to text message yourself if the power goes out and even turn off the water. And, your iPhone eKeypad will still work!
5- Take advantage of the Elk remote expanders with subpanels -
a. Use a 28†main panel with the M1, DBH, and XEP
b. Use multiple subpanels….depending on the size of the house…A closet is the perfect place for a subpanel.
c. Use 28†subpanels…..I’d rather have it half empty than run out of space.
d. Use 2†hard conduit to feed each panel. You will have to cut these into the panel with a hole-saw or knockout tool as the M1 panel only has 1-1/4†stamped knockouts.
e. Use an Elk DBH in each subpanel
f. Pull one CAT5 to each subpanel from the main panel DBH. You can series as many DBH’s as necessary.
g. Use M1 zone expanders in each subpanel so you don’t have to pull long zone homeruns back to the main panel. The time savings by eliminating unnecessary homeruns will far outweigh the cost of the added hardware.
h. Make sure that your electrician has power to each of the sub-panels in case you need to provide power to future expanders….remember that the main panel can only provide power to a reasonable number of devices over the 485 network. In the future, you might need to add a battery and power supply.
i. Mount wireless nodes where they make sense…and feed these from the subpanels
j. Plan on placing serial expanders in the sub-panels as well. A serial connection in your main automation panel is pretty much useless unless you plan to use RS232/Ethernet converters on each end and this is a kluge IMO.
k. Use a sub-panel with a relay output board to control your irrigation system.
6- Interior Speakers with Temp Sensor
a. Mount a low voltage wall box with speaker cable pull from main panel
b. Pull an additional CAT5 for a temp sensor
c. Mount temp sensor with remote probe in the box (loose in the wall cavity is fine
d. Mount the speaker over the wall box with temp sensor loose inside of the speaker (the sensor should not touch anything since you want it to sense the air temperature and the wall/speaker has thermal mass which will corrupt the probe response. I used hot-melt adhesive to fasten the wire to the speaker housing so it doesn’t rattle.
7- Mount a subpanel in your media closet with CAT5 to the M1 panel. This will give you a connection to serial expanders to communicate with all of you AV equipment and remote IR blasters/receivers. It is easy to control your theatre lighting system, regardless of type, from virtually any remote control. I prefer UPB and I control mine with a Xantech XTR39 using M1 rules and ascii strings. This opens up a world of remote control possibilities.
8- Regarding your question about moisture sensors………..use GE wireless sensors. You will waste too much time trying to figure out how to install wired water sensors.
9- Mailbox – Use a wireless PIR mounted on the back inside wall of a plastic mailbox. It should stay dry enough to use an indoor wireless PIR which is far cheaper than an outdoor PIR.
10- Outdoor Light Control and Doorbell –
a. I like the GE outdoor wireless PIR. But, it has to be mounted such that it does not have direct sunlight exposure. And, while it is water resistant, it is not waterproof.
b. Wire the doorbell detector to an input zone either on the expander or on the main board.
c. Write M1 rules to turn on lights when motion or doorbell events occur depending on sunrise/sunset or armed states. You can have your M1 send you a text message when an event occurs. I even fire up my irrigation at night upon certain motion events, make interior voice announcements, and turn on interior lights.
Hope this helps.
Hi all,

I wasn't able to check in for the past few days and just came back to see all the great responses. Thanks everyone (and special callout to Gearhead for that detailed list!)

I've updated my plan based on many of the responses so far, including using the top-mounted garage door sensors (setnetpro link), adding the ethernet board, adding a strobe, modifying the # and placement of indoor speakers, making sure the exterior temp sensor doesn't get hit by direct sunlight, various details from Gearhead's list (though I'm happy to say many of those were already in the plan where applicable), and ditching the idea of using Elk indoor temperature sensors.

I don't have indoor temperature sensors nailed down yet. I'm fine with the idea of using the Qkit/VK011 (thanks Sic!) with the exception of the tiny sensors themselves. I have a zillion balls to juggle in constructing the house so creating sensor mounts isn't another thing I want to tackle. I'd prefer a more turnkey solution for mounting them in-wall and directly exposed to the air to detect rapid changes in air temp. Primary purpose I'm thinking is to have the bathroom's ceiling heaters turned on via relay on cold mornings before coming in to shower, and shutoff when the appropriate temp is hit.

Note that I have Aprilaire 8870's and Aprilaire offers a flush-mount temp sensor, but from what I can tell you have to buy a $55 surface-mount part for every 2 sensors you want to install. Not a good solution!

What about one of these flush-mount sensors? www dot automated1 dot com /tspot.html . (Sorry - users with low msg post numbers can't post links). Check out the 3rd one -- the ATS2000D. After clicking the ATS2000D link, be sure to click the PDF link in the bottom left corner for extra details. They're referencing the DS18S20 so would this be compatible with the Qkit/VK011 controller? If so it sounds like I have my solution.

I probably have another question or two left but my wife demands my presence :(...

Thanks again!