A Future-Proof Home that Delivers
By utilizing the latest IP technologies this homeowner has ensured his home will remain cutting edge for a long, long time.
With a little planning, and a lot of structured wiring, this home stays ahead of the curve. Photo by Alistair Tutton.
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August 27, 2007 by Steven Castle

What are the most important spaces in a 6,000-square-foot home with 18 zones of audio and three surround-sound systems? They may well be the closets—and we’re not concerned about the amount of shirt and scarf storage (though that’s always welcome). We’re far more interested in some of the electronic goodies that can be housed inside—and why.

But first you need to know something about homeowner Gregg Schwartz. He’s a very detailed guy who doesn’t mind doing a lot of planning. And he works for electronics installer Trage Brothers Electronics & Appliances in the Chicago suburb of Forest Park, IL, so this two-year new home project was both work and play for Schwartz.

“I assembled the project on spreadsheets, with calculations of [electrical] loads,” he recalls. “It took several hundred hours of coordinating lighting and electrical locations.” Much of this work was attributed to an intensive Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system that governs 250 recessed can lights and fixtures ranging from low voltage to museum-quality projector lamps.

You could say this house is well lit. Even when the power goes out, a backup generator provides enough juice for basic room lighting while eliminating the architectural lighting—a setup carefully designed by our homeowner.

But this isn’t really a lighting story. To get at what’s in those well-lit closets, you also should know about the audio system. It’s from NetStreams, which makes IP (Internet Protocol) whole-house audio systems that deliver music signals over high-speed data wire like Category 5e (the e is for “enhanced”). This is the same stuff you plug into a computer for a high-speed broadband Internet connection. The audio signal is sent over the Cat 5e to each listening location, where a NetStreams digital amplifier boosts the signal and sends it over conventional speaker wire to the room’s loudspeakers. The advantages are not having to wire an entire house with speaker wire and hearing a cleaner sound due to the fact that the audio signal remains in digital form for longer and travels a shorter distance over analog speaker wire.

“[Trage Brothers] is looking for ways to do a standardized prewire for homes with structured wiring. The whole IP system makes things a lot easier,” Schwartz says. “We chose NetStreams because we’re technology-oriented guys, and we liked what NetStreams was doing with the user interface. These technologies are supposed to make people’s lives easier, and the NetStreams GUI [graphical user interface] was already done.” That meant no additional programming was necessary.

But Schwartz couldn’t make it too easy. “We started with a basic structured wiring program.  But instead of a couple coaxial cables for cable and satellite and two Cat 5e cables for networking and telephone, I wanted satellite with TiVo, cable, off-air TV reception, telephone, computer networking and fiber optic wire. The easiest way to do all that was to buy a Banana Peel [structured wiring package] cable from Belden, which was bundled with RG-6 coaxial video cable, Cat 5e and fiber optic, and we doubled that at every location, with the exception of the fiber, for present and future use.”

This is where the closets come in. The big closet is the equipment room in the basement, which contains various NetStreams DigiLinx processors, a ReQuest audio server and a Polk XM satellite radio receiver. From that point, audio signals travel to various NetStreams amplifier locations, several of which are in bedroom closets. Schwartz explains, “closets became the central point for expanding all our multimedia in the home. Each bedroom becomes its own contained growth area. We can put a satellite or cable receiver in a closet or computer in each room.” Wire from the closets to the speakers and TVs travels via flexible wire raceways from Carlon that ride in the attic space above and allow more wiring to be added from the basement to the attic, because, as Schwartz says, “You never know what you’ll want to do in the future.” A variety of Energy in-wall speakers and Posh and Jamo in-ceiling speakers are the final stops on the audio highway.

“In the future, if we’re getting everything from the Internet, we’ll already have prewired pathways for digital and analog audio and video to locations in each room.” Each bedroom is wired for 5.1 surround sound, though presently only the family room, master bedroom and basement recreation room are equipped for home theater.

In addition, a component video distribution system allows feeds from security cameras throughout the home to show on the displays.

The vast majority of control happens through universal remotes. Three Universal Remote Control MX-3000 remotes are programmed to the family’s favorite XM stations as well.

“Our 5-year-old, Carley, can operate the NetStreams system from the KeyLinx keypad,” says Schwartz. “She knows where the rock, dance and Disney are on the preset buttons. And now our 21⁄2-year-old son, Cooper, can reach it, and he’s turning it on in his room. I have filtering, so they don’t have access to the rap channel or XM Raw.” That, too, was well thought out.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.


    Whole House Audio
  • NetStreams PL750 power supplies (3)
  • NetStreams SW324 Ethernet switches (2)
  • NetStreams SL251 50-watt x 2 IP-based amplifiers (14)
  • NetStreams SL220 20-watt x 2 IP-based amplifiers (9)
  • NetStreams MU290 100-watt x 2 amplifiers (2)
  • NetStreams TL380 3.8-inch touchscreen controllers (5)
  • NetStreams KL200 4-source in-wall keypads (9)
  • NetStreams AP500 audio wall-mounted input/outputs (6)
  • ReQuest F2.500 500CD music server
  • Polk Audio XRT12XM XM Satellite Radio receiver
  • Energy V2.3HM 4-way in-wall speakers (2)
  • Energy V2.2HM 3-way in-wall speakers (16)
  • Jamo 6.5K4 in-ceiling speakers (4)
  • Jamo 6.5DVCA2 dual voice coil in-ceiling speakers (2)
  • Posh 928 in-ceiling speakers (10)
  • Niles Audio ABS1 speaker priority switchers (2)
  • Master Bedroom
  • Sony KDL46XBR2 46-inch 1080p LCD TV
  • Peerless ceiling mount for flat-panel TVs
  • Energy V2.2HM 3-way in-wall speakers (5)
  • Velodyne SPL1000II 10-inch amplified subwoofer
  • Sony ES STRDA 5200ES surround-sound receiver
  • Sony RDRVX515 DVD-VHS combination player
  • Motorola DCT-6412 dual DVR & HD cable box
  • Family Room
  • Panasonic TH65PX600U 65-inch 1080p Plasma TV
  • Peerless ST680 flat-panel wall mount
  • Sonance Elipse 2.0 in-ceiling speakers (5)
  • Velodyne SPL1200II CH 12-inch amplified subwoofer
  • Denon AVR-3806 7.1 surround-sound receiver
  • Motorola DCT-6412 dual DVR & HD cable box
  • Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray DVD player
  • Sony RDRVX515 DVD-VHS combination player
  • Basement Recreation Room
  • Sony KDL52XBR3 52-inch 1080p LCD TV
  • K2 X-arm Robotic articulating wall mount
  • Energy V2.2HM 3-way in-wall speakers (3)
  • Jamo 6.5K4 in-ceiling loudspeakers (2)
  • Velodyne SPL1200II BK 12-inch amplified subwoofer
  • Denon AVR-2807 7.1 surround-sound receiver
  • Motorola DCT-6412 dual DVR & HD cable box
  • Sony BDP-S1 Sony Blu-ray DVD player
  • Sony RDRVX530 DVD-VHS recorder
  • Lighting
  • Lutron HomeWorks H8P5-H48–120 processor
  • Lutron Homeworks HWI-MI-120 standalone module interfaces (6)
  • Lutron Homeworks HR-REP–120 hybrid wireless repeaters (6)
  • Lutron Homeworks HW-RPM-4U-120 dimmer modules (40)
  • Lutron STWD-6BRL-WH six-button wall controls (42)
  • Lutron Maestro wall switch with dimmers (5)
  • Lutron SCR-20-DFDU-WH 2-wall receptacles (2)
  • Racks, Cable & Accessories
  • Audioquest Interconnect Cables
  • Belden Banana Peel 7914-S structured wiring
  • Liberty Wire speaker wire
  • Middle Atlantic SRSR4-20 rack systems
  • Panamax MAX5100EX voltage surge protectors (3)
  • Liberty Wire Panel Crafters custom wall plates (40)
  • Smart Home 2509 7-day programmable timer
  • Universal Remote MX-3000 Remote Touch Screen (3)

System Design & Installation
Trage Brothers Electronics & Appliances
Forest Park, IL 60130

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