When you find something you like, it’s usually best to stick with it. This was the reasoning behind a recent installation of an HAI Omnipro II system (now owned by Leviton Security & Automation) in 3,500-square-foot house owned by David and Laurie Cribari of Palm Springs, Calif. The couple had already been living with an HAI home automation system since 2008 in their home in Denver, Colo., and had come to rely on it as a critical component of daily life, where it instructed shades and drapes open and close automatically based on the time of day, lights to brighten and dim automatically and sensors to notify them of everything from guests in the driveway to a leaky pipe in the basement.
When last year the Cribaris purchased their fixer upper in Palm Springs, Calif., they immediately called Michael Murdock of Time Direct, Aurora, Colo., to design and install the same type of automation system that he had put into their Denver home, but with a few updates, of course. And, unlike the first go-around which occurred while their house was under construction, this project would involve fishing wire and installing equipment into a house that was completely finished and without a basement or an ample-size attic to use as wiring avenues. With slightly more equipment and labor utilized in the Palm Springs house, the Cribaris spent about $20,000 more on their second automation project than the first, to a total of about $98,000.
Rather than sacrifice any automation functionality, the Cribaris willingly tore down much of the home’s existing drywall so that the appropriate cabling could be routed to all the right places—and to give the 90s style home a more modern appearance. Also specially built for the technology was a cabinet to house all of the electronic components. “It looks like wood hutch, but inside it holds three full racks of equipment,” David says.
One of the couple’s favorite features of their previous residence that was incorporated into their new Palm Springs house: a driveway sensor that sounds a chime inside the house to alert them of guests. Murdock gave it an extra twist this time, though. In addition to the audible alert, the sensor triggers the garage doors to open so that guests can enter casually through the service entrance. When the sensor detects that a car is leaving, it signals the HAI OmniPro II system to close the garage doors.
Extra twists and tweaking were carried through to the operation of the lights, A/V gear and other components, and was handled largely by David himself. After setting up basic control parameters for the house, Murdock provided David with the HAI software that would allow him to program new settings into the system freely as he saw fit. The hands-on homeowner took the ball and ran with it, customizing the HAI system precisely to his and Laurie’s habits, routines and preferences. “Few of my clients are into the technology at the level David is,” says Murdock of his decision to provide David with the HAI software. “And I like that he is. Being able to modify settings to your changing lifestyle is the key to successful automation.” Adds David, “I would program something, try it out, and if I didn’t like it, simply reprogram.”
One example of David’s handiwork is the ability for drapes and shades (attached to motorized tracks and rollers) to move up and down as the lights brighten and dim according to the position of the sun. David also set up an HAI switch in the master bath to control not only the light fixtures, but also a NuVo Grand Concerto whole-house music system.
Lighitng, shade and music control are all accomplished via the HAI Leviton interfaces.
Because the Cribaris live in this house part time, being able to access the home control system remotely to check up on the security, heating/cooling and other elements was critical, and required an ultra-reliable Internet connection. This was accomplished through the installation of a Web Power Switch from Digital Loggers. The device pings specific Internet sites at regular intervals to test the home’s Internet connectivity. If the Internet is down, it can reboot the appropriate devices in proper sequence.
The Cribaris really stepped things up when it came to home entertainment. Murdock installed a NuVo Grand Concerto whole-house music system and integrated it with the HAI OmniPro II system. The capability for the NuVo and HAI products to communicate wasn’t available when the Cribaris were working on their Denver house, so being able to now access and control their audio components from the same touchpanels that they use to command lights, window treatments and thermostats is a newfound convenience.
Getting audio and video into the master bathroom is one of the many perks of the media distribution system.
Also new to the Cribaris is the versatile and powerful video distribution switcher from Audio Authority that pipes content from three cable boxes and a Panasonic Blu-ray player to seven TVs. In addition to Blu-ray Discs and cable programs, web content can be streamed to any and all TVs via the Blu-ray player’s built-in Internet feature, Viera Cast. Radio-frequency remotes from were programmed by Murdock for one-touch access to the web, as well as quick and convenient operation of each of seven entertainment areas. Although the remotes are dedicated to the control of A/V equipment, Murdock expects that one day they will also be programmed to operate lights, thermostats and other components currently managed by the HAI Omni Pro II. And who knows; given the homeowner’s comfort level with home technology, he may be to make that happen.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.