We’ve said this before, but going green doesn’t have to mean giving up your big-screen TV or home theater—or adjusting your thermostat to the point of discomfort.
Take this Dallas-area home with a 10.56-kilowatt rooftop solar electric system that helps power 14 zones of high-quality audio, three surround-sound systems and a home theater with a 103-inch screen Screen Innovations display, Panasonic projector and Yamaha Aventage receiver. Paradigm in-wall speakers deliver music throughout the house.
The solar system is a no-brainer for sunny, hot Texas, and this system of 48 Sanyo panels provides the home with some of its electricity needs. (About 25 percent during the scorching summer months when a lot of cooling is needed, and in the winter it’s actually producing more power than the home needs and selling it back to the utility.)
The solar array is placed on a 22-degree sloped roof designed for the solar panels’ proper orientation by design/build firm ArTex Development of Dallas. “Making solar look good in Dallas is key to making it work,” says Tommy Kissell of electronics and solar installer Eco High Fidelity in Carrolton, Texas.
Another no-brainer for this drought-afflicted area is an automated rainwater harvesting system. Two 2,500-gallon rain barrels supply the Rain Bird automated irrigation system, and a Global Caché network adapter between the Elan g! control and irrigation system allows the water supply to switch between the rain barrels to city water when the barrels run dry.
Windows in the house have Lutron Sivoia shades that help bring in daylight or block lighting to maintain a comfortable environment and save on cooling costs.
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And one of the best green features? A centralized rack that cuts dramatically on wire runs and costs. In fact, leftover Category 6 cables were recycled to be used as jumper cables in the rack. Locating an equipment rack in a centralized spot within a home translates into huge wire savings, says Kissell. It’s an underrated way to help make a house green.
In the rack are an Elan g! home control system processor and efficient Elan integrated Class D switching amps that eliminate the need extra components. Two Panamax/Furman BlueBolt M5100 power conditioners—one in the main rack and a smaller one in the upper rack for important, “don’t touch” components that remain out of reach—monitor power of connected components and can reboot any remotely, if necessary.
The Elan g! system has Climate, Security, Weather, Shades/Lights, Media, Irrigation, Pool and Cameras apps. A mix of an Elan G TS7 in-wall touchpanels, iPads, iPhones, Android-based devices and Elan HR2 Remotes is used for control.
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Kissell also plans to get a solar or renewable energy app to display the solar production through Elan system touchpanels. Currently, that’s available only through a web-based interface.
Even in energy-rich and conservative Texas, Kissell expects more and more homeowners to want clean and green technologies like solar. “Movies and music is why we do this, but the paradigm has shifted and our planet is headed toward a sustainable future,” he says. “The path toward sustainability relies on technology to monitor, control and plan. The automated home will help determine our country’s carbon footprint in the 21st century.”
Eco High Fidelity
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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