newbie security / home automation plan


I'm planning to add a security system to an existing home, but I want home automation at the same time -- it seems to me there is too much overlap to have them separate. So, I'm considering the Elk M1 Gold and Zwave light switches. But talking to Elk, their Zwave controller is one-way, which sounds like a problem -- the feedback seems important.

I'm away from the house several months a year, so I prefer not to have a dedicated PC for the automation part, but will do so if that is my best option. But that seems to overlap a lot of functionality with the M1G.

I actually don't need that much for security -- just a central motion detector and a few contacts on the doors will make me happy, but I like the idea of voice-announcing from external motion detectors and controlling the lights from the detectors, as well as timers -- and the flexibility to add more features down the road. The Elk software interface looks good, and that it will do everything I need -- IF it is sufficient to control the Zwave devices.

Now, tell me what I'm missing, haven't thought about, or what else I should do.

Or, if you are concerned about 2 way staus why not just use a different protocol, like UPB?
I'd use the feedback to make sure the commands got to the devices -- I have a friend with X-10 who said it is a pain when the lights don't go off if they should. So my impression is that the Elk sends the commands, but if something goes awry, well, too bad.

Why not UPB? First, it seems much more expensive, and second, it looks to me like Zwave will have the most support / devices down the road. With Leviton, Intel, Linksys, etc backing it, it looks like I will have the most options in the long run for expandability. But that is always a guess as to what will come. And I'm operating completely on theory versus practical experience, hence the forum posts.
if you're away from the house for long stretches, would you want to check in on the house? If so, that's where the PC as front-end controller to the Elk would help. Plus then you could directly wire zWave to the PC, bypass the Elk.

That's what I do, and I use it regularly when i'm not at home. Both via my PDA cellphone (for image-rich screens), and via a regular web-browser (for text-only screens).

As far as motions, I prefer to put one in *every* room, both for security and automation. They're pretty cheap ($20 each), so may as well.
I might want to check in on things while away -- but I could do that by phone, or the Elk ethernet expansion -- if I kept my broadband on (at $40 / month -- might not be worth it). Or, I may want cameras, but I'm not sure they are necessary. I know enough to know that once I get things set up, I'll figure out other possibilities or things I'll want to do -- hence, the seeking of advice from those who have been there.

I did ask Elk about the 2-way Z-wave interface. The tech guy said he thinks the engineers are working on it. I may just wait for that aspect, but I hate to plan on products that have not even been announced -- the ones that have been announced are risky enough.

Oh, and I can also see using the feedback to do something else -- such as if a switch is flipped on, to start a timer to turn it off 30 minutes later (for my outside lights) Again, not sure what I'll want to do, but I like the idea of being able to control anything I can imagine.

Thanks for all the advice.
Yeah, I just remembered that I am going to do something similar with my lights - if they're left on either manually or via my touchscreen, and there's no motion and nothing on in that room, turn them off after (x) mins.

If you're sold on zWave and the Elk, unhappy with the current state of the zWave-Elk controller, you could always use a software engine to directly control zWave for now. Of course, that's an extra expense, but it would be pretty trivial to do.