Newbie in Need of Advice....I am so confused

Hello All,

I am in need of some help.

I am purchasing an elk m-1gold system for my new home.

I am not confused with the security portion of the system, it is the automation part.

I am going to need:

3 control panels
11 dimmers
10 normal (on/off) switches
5 (3 way switches)
3 thermostats
5 cameras with DVR
17 smoke/fire detectors

There are so many different brands: UPB, Leviton, Insteon, etc.

Every time I call different places they give me advise for different manufactures. To be blunt, I want the easiest to install, with the ability to monitor and control the above items through my local network, INTERNET, and phone if needed.

My installer says he normally uses the Leviton with the DSC systems he installs. Is it the same process with the M1-Gold?

The property is 15000sq ft, 3600 sq ft home. I believe I will need a expander board for more zones.

Is the installation the basic same setup as the DSC security and home automation system? I don't want to confuse the installed any more then I am going to with him installing a product he normally does not install. He says he has installed elk systems in the past, but like I said I am not concerned about the security portion, more the automation.

Any help would be great!
I can only help with those items I have experience with. I have the M1G system and have the ethernet inteface (for your internet access), the Z-Wave interface (for controlling my lights & appliances) and the expander board (for additional input zones).

I find the Z-Wave stuff highly reliable but you should settle on a technology early so you don't have to re-invest. I recommend staying away from X-10 due to it being flaky in thunderstorms or flaky voltage situations. UPB, Z-Wave and Insteon are popular and will need thier own interface.

The M1G should become quickly familiar to your installer if he has any alarm installation experience at all.

The M1G comes with 1 keypad, you will need to purchase two more.

The dimmer and relay (on/off) switches are easy, find them at Make sure you NEVER put a dimmer switch on anything that has a motor or a flourescent light. A dimmer is suitable for incandecent lighting ONLY.

Can't help with the camera's, smoke detectors or thermostats since I don't have those.

Hopefully this will get the thread started for you.

I have M1G, ethernet board, 3 input zone expanders, 1 XSP, 12 Simply Automated switches (US240 and USR (slave)), NO thermostat.

You mentioned "3 control panels", I don't believe you need that many because M1G can be expanded up to 208 zones if I remember correctly. If you order the M1G System 4, it will come with enclosure, one keypad, speaker, transformer and a battery. You may need to order additional keypads if your installation requires.

I don't know anything about camera with DVR.

I'm using UPB switches with very good reliability. Model US240 can be used for one or three way. In a three way operation you need to purchase USR (slave) and use it with US240. Definitely stay away from X-10. You have to decide which technology you want to invest because folks have different opinions regardless of what the manufactures claims. US240 switches can be programmed for on/off or dimmed.

Smoke detectors: you have to decide whether using 2-wire or 4-wire. Make sure to stay with one of the recommended brand that is specify in the M1 installation manual.

Two-wire smoke detector can only be used on Zone 16, therefore, if you have 16 smoke detectors all interconnected you would not know EXACTLY which one trips except you have an alarm.

Four-wire smoke detector can be used on any zone. You can wire each smoke detector to a separate zone so you can tell which one actually trips.

You may want to consider using heat detectors in the attic, kitchen, garage and not smoke

Thermostat: Take a look at the M1XSP manual to see the required components in using any one of the three thermostat that is supported by M1G.
Welcome aboard.

Ask your favorite ETailer of the M1 Sytem about any options you are thinking of. Of course this forum is more than happy to answer any questions.

Your one comment on 3 controls: You will only need one M1 Control and maybe additional keypads or Touchscreen.

Happy M1ing!

I have an M1G myself. My choices were:

Lighting: I went with Insteon dimmers and relay switches. I particularly liked the ability to do 'virtual 3-ways' where I was able to make 3 way circuits using linking where no direct traveller wire was previously. There were a few spots where I wanted a new three way but did not want the hassle of opening drywall. They are connected to the M1 and it turns them on/off using automation rules (you need a serial expander for the M1 for this along with an Insteon serial controller). My wife also likes the controllinc controllers and I have one next to the bed for that reason. I also liked the keypad option.

Thermostat: I have a HAI RC80B, although it was purchased in advance when I thought I was buying a HAI system. It is also integrated with the M1 and I can bring up thermostat status on a web page and modify it needed. Note another serial expander is required here as well. Some of the other options are nicer, but also are more expensive. Considering how infrequently it gets used (since heating is automated), and that is has a nice blue backlight I have been happy with it.

note, I recommend the ethernet expansion (also much easier to update).

Smoke Detectors: I went with 2-wire system sensor smoke detectors. I am only using about 8 and based on the configuration of my house I was not as worried about which one. Using 4-wire smokes adds a few things like EOL relays and will cost a bit more. If you want to know tho, 4-wire may make sense.

CO2 Detectors: I added (or am adding) 3 of these on separate zones. I went with the GE/Sentrol ones that Martin has at

Heat Detectors: I put heat detectors in the shed, garage and attic on a zone for each area. I used System Sensor models here as well.

Don't forget about using the proper cable for the smoke detectors ('fire wire').

Irrigation: If you want to control the sprinkler system, you might want to consider one of the relay expansion options for the Elk.
You are right when I say 3 comtrollers I mean three keypads.

When it comes to the thermostats I am not to worried about anything. There are not many choices.

Thanks for that advice on the smoke detectors, I didn't know about that.

The lights are really annoying though. it seems that there are so many choices.

I am going to choose between leviton, zwave, instion.

With the zwave is all I need is the elk adapter box and that is all?

It seems that the Insteon system and some others are RF and Powerline. So I need to get two things to plug into two sockets also to make them work. Is that correct? Why is that the case?

How does the elk system know how many switches, detectors, etc I am going to have?

That is where a lot of my confusion comes from.

Obviousy I am going to need the ethernet board. Can someone explain how it is done exactly. I don't mean the physical hookup, but the login and software to use on my laptop to connect, monitor, and program.

Does the software need to be running on a server machine or is it all run by a flash chip in the m1 brain?

I will let you all know what I choose.

Thanks again for all the help.
5 cameras with DVR

The are a couple of basic ways to go with camera's and DVR's. After doing much research and stalking this CCTV Forum I decided upon a dedicated PC with a Geovision 1240 card (high quality and higher $$) DVR card. Some people do prefer dedicated DVR's (esp if your not super computer literate). With either a computer DVR or dedicated hardware, you can use lower dollar (and higher quality) conventional analogue camera's. Either DVR will convert the signal such that it will be IP based coming out of the DVR. Most all have web server capabilities as well.

Another way to go is to use to use straight IP camera's. This option is more expensive in my opinion, and there is not as many camera's to choose from. It is also my opinion that IP cam's tend to be lower quality in general (I have owned the very best D-Link cams and they are low quality compared to my KT&C N600H's IR bullet cams (which were 1/2 the price).

Hope this helps.
I am going to choose between leviton, zwave, instion.
I understand that leviton is just a brand of X-10. Others migth confirm/correct.

With the zwave is all I need is the elk adapter box and that is all?
From the M1 side, yes. But notice that the Elk adaptor box works as a secondary Z-wave controller. You still need to buy one master z-wave controller (in addition to the devices) in other to program your z-wave network.

It seems that the Insteon system and some others are RF and Powerline. So I need to get two things to plug into two sockets also to make them work. Is that correct? Why is that the case?
X-10 has completely separate protocols for RF and powerline. Insteon has specific protocols for powerline and RF that allows the usage of RF for bridging separate powerline circuits. While the Insteon marketing says that Insteon is dual band, they refer to the protocol (which is truly dual band). Currently only one of the many Insteaon devices on sale is dual band (actually, it is the only one using RF). These devices bridge the two 110 Volts AC circuits in your house (mostly all houses have two 110v circuits). While X-10 uses a powerline bridge (or the utility transformer, if not too far), Insteon uses RF.

About what you will need to buy is:
- Elk Serial Expander
- Insteon Powerline Serial interface
- Insteon kit including the two RF bridges plus other desired dimmers, keypads, etc. (not a must, but it is cheaper than separate components)

How does the elk system know how many switches, detectors, etc I am going to have?
You program them into the M1 using an Elk Program called Elk-RP (for remote programming). The program license is included with the purchase of your first M1 system.

Obviousy I am going to need the ethernet board. Can someone explain how it is done exactly. I don't mean the physical hookup, but the login and software to use on my laptop to connect, monitor, and program.
The ethernet card does 3 functions:
- Allows the system to send fixed email messages. You create up to 16 pre-defined messages that are triggered via the M1 rules.
- Allows you to connect to the M1 using a more convenient interface than the default serial connrector. You will want to connect to program it using Elk-RP, or to control it using the optional Elk-RM (remote management) program (.NET based program installed in the remote PC - you need to buy it for $150), or you can connect to it using any other progam than can talk the M1 Serial protocol (HomeSeer, CQC, etc.).
- Finally, it works as a Java web server that allows you to control the M1 remotely without installing anything in your PC. This is not as powerful as Elk-RM, but is very good.

Does the software need to be running on a server machine or is it all run by a flash chip in the m1 brain?
Everything runs from the control panel (this is the equivalent of the CPU in a regular PC - thats why everybody said you dont need 3 of them). No PC is involved (can you base a security system in a PC nowadays?).
I am also probably going to be purchasing the ELKm1g as is DTT and have a question about the UPB and Thermostat interface.

How exactly will I need to interface the Elk with the powerline network. I assume I need the serial expander from the Elk side and a UPB computer interface.

What will I need to tell the elk what lights are what? Is this pretty easy to do? I assume the Elk programming software makes this easy. Does is have any import capability from the UPstart UPB programming software? (ala the homseer plug-in)?

Also, I am going to have 4 tstats (3 HVAC units, but with separate zone for the home theater). What is the easiest of the communicating tstats to get hooked up to the ELK? Also, if you hook them up to the ELK, would you then use the ELK plug-in to get tstat I/O to say homeseer?
Yes, the UPB CIM plugs into a dedicated M1XSP serial expander. You configure/program your network with UPStart, then you setup your lights and links in the M1 via the ElkRP software. There is no import but it is very easy to setup. You can then create rules to control those lights.

I did find the Elk manuals on the website which were very helpful.

Another question on this. I am building my control system around homeseer and mainlobby.

I've noticed that Mainlobby has a nice Elk plug-in and interface, but homeseer has a plug-in also.

Can all of these talk to and control the Elk M1, even with the Elk Ethernet adapter?

Finally, does anyone know when Elk will support the RCS zone controller?
Ok, well here is what I am running into.

I cannot find a single installer that will install the ELK system. They all say they only install the products they sell. This is so darn frustrating.

Then they try to convince me to buy their products. When I ask them if their product does this or that (ELK functions or automation) they all say

"ummm no, but it has a nice GUI"
"ummm no, but their switch cover plates come in 14,353,424 colors"

Does anyone know of an ELK installer in the Southern California area?

Yes, both Homeseer and MainLobby support the ELK M1. With the optional ethernet addon to the panel, I believe both HS and ML can both connect to the same panel. I haven't done this personally, but at least one of MainLobby's (and Homeseers) customers uses it this way.

I haven't used the Homeseer plugin for a while so I am not up to date with the capability of their plugin, but the MainLobby plugin is very comprehensive and stable. The keypads are also emulated in software so that the end user can directly send their disarm via a touchpanel graphical keypad without the security risk of storing the values in software. Not a huge security issue, but a nice feature.
I guess if one can figure that out and hack it, they are smart enough to have an honest job ;)
One final option for you software wise - Me & several other folks are using CQC to manage the Elk M1. I was using the serial cxn, decided to buy & use the Ethernet cxn so I could use the ElkRP program on a remote PC.

Here's my screenshots: