My Home Automation Experience



I thought I would share my home automation, security and whole-house audio adventure with you. I have owned some property in Upstate NY in the Adirondacks for quite some time, and am finally getting an opportunity to build on it. The plans are to initially build a 3-bay garage with one high bay for my camper and a one bedroom apartment on the second level as a second home. This phase will be completed in another month. Eventually I will be building a timberframe home overlooking the lake, but that will not be for a while.

I wanted to post some pictures, but the system won't let me! :-(

Since this is a second home and I will not be there all the time, I thought it a good idea to automate the house so I can manage and control it while I am not there. I also wanted to load it up with the latest gadgets since I want to enjoy the time I spend in the house when I am not mountaineering.

There are three major systems going into the house:

1. Whole house audio system using SpeakerCraft components
2. Network and telephone distribution system using Leviton
3. Home automation and security using the ELK M1 Gold system

Whole House Audio

I had initially designed a system using Leviton's audio components (I am a fan of the Leviton line of products), but upon further investigation, decided to go with SpeakerCraft. With the Speakercraft system, I have divided the garage/apartment into 8 zones (high-bay garage, two bay garage, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, screen porch, deck, and patio). The living room will contain a 5.1 surround sound system consisting of a 50" plasma TV, in-ceiling speakers and an in-wall subwoofer to conserve space. I am working with an audio subcontractor for this part of my adventure.

The system is composed of the following:

* MZC-88 Multi-Zone A/V Amplifier Controller -- This device has 8 independent zones, 2 built-in AM/FM tuners with 10 presets per zone, and a whole host of other features
* MODE (Music On Demand Experience) Keypad -- Pretty slick device that enables me to fully control the zone, including complete control of my iPods and playlists
* Yamaha 5.1 A/V amplifier (which one, I have not decided as yet)
* AIM surround sound speakers
* I-Pod Interfaces
* 50" Panasonic Plasma TV
* Other keypads and speakers

Using this system, each zone in the house will have complete control of a variety of sources for both audio and video. I have taken care to run CAT-5e and coaxial cables from my media closet to various locations throughout the structure so I can not only listen to and view, but each location can also act as a source. My contractor kids me all the time that with the amount of wire I have put in the structure, I am going to disrupt the Earth's magnetic poles!

Network and Telephone Distribution

This system is fairly straightforward and is composed of the following:

* Two CAT-5e cables from my utility closet to each telephone/computer location (one for telephone and one for computer)
* Leviton 42" SMC structured wiring cabinet
* 24-port telephone/CAT-5e structured wiring panel
* 2 100MPBS Ethernet switches (one for the first floor and one for the second floor)
* Linksys router/firewall
* Satellite internet (which one, I do not know at this time)

I have also included provisions for integrating this syetm with the whole house audio system and home automation/security system so my computers can be integrated into the systems, providing complete control.

Home Automation and Security System

This is the system I am currently working on. It is based on the ELK M1 Gold with all the whistles and bells, including:

* 32 input zones
* 2 kepads
* Weigand reader for codeless entry using a key FOB
* Thermostat/lighting/serial interface
* Ethernet interface
* Two-way speaker/microphones
* Temperature sensors
* Smoke and CO detectors
* etc.

Using this system, I will be able to completely manage and monitor the house from my primary location in Massachusetts.

Rather than deal with different types of wire and always thinking of future expansion, I ran CAT-5e wire to all the detectors, devices, etc. I even installed some PVC piping from the utility closet to the media closet and attic for future expansion, including the implementation of outside cameras that will be linked to the system so I can remotely view what is going on.

So, I don't really have any questions, but would appreciate everyone's thoughts I what I am doing. Thanks in advance!

Welcome to CocoonTech Gary! Sounds like a fun project. Do you want to share why you went with Speakercraft over say a Russound or Nuvo system?