As an ex-police officer, Stacy Chaffin is passionate about home protection. “It’s a really big deal for me,” he says, “so when we started building our new house, security was an integral part of its design.” Even the main level is constructed with 14-inch concrete, creating a virtual fortress impenetrable to water, high winds and other conditions.
Then there’s the technology. The house is peppered with a combination of strategically installed motion, door, window, glass-break, smoke, fire, heat and carbon monoxide detectors. The Chaffins’ electronics and security contractor, Home Technology Solutions of Matthews, N.C., tied all of the sensors to an HAI (Home Automation Inc.) OmniPro II processor and set up the system so the family could easily arm and disarm it from any one of home’s keypads, touchpanels, handheld remotes and phones—or remotely from a computer or cell phone.
The Chaffins also hired Home Technology Solutions to install whole-house audio, video and communications systems. These technologies seem unrelated to home security, but just a few tweaks and hardware additions created a whole new dimension of protection. For example, the Key Digital 8x12 video matrix distributes a variety of entertainment sources to 13 TVs—and with a Hunt 160GB digital video recorder, the matrix also feeds real-time or recorded images from four black-and-white Hunt surveillance cameras to every display. By pressing buttons on the RTI touchpanels or the remotes, the Chaffins can choose to view each camera individually or in tiled array.
There are cameras at the driveway gate, front door and pool, but the one that gets the most on-screen action is in the basement rec room. “This is the area I thought would be most vulnerable [to break-ins],” says Stacy. “However, it’s also a place where our two boys and their friends hang out. With the camera there, we can always look in to make sure they’re not getting into something they shouldn’t be.” Later, Mom and Dad can review the footage. “The DVR records every camera 24/7 for a period of two weeks,” says Stacy.
If the Chaffins want to watch the action remotely, they do so through an Internet connection to the DVR. It’s a workable solution, says Home Technology Solutions’ David Robaina, but by swapping the analog surveillance cameras for IP (Internet Protocol) they’ll be able to access each camera directly. The house is already wired for the upgrade.
In the meantime, the Chaffins will continue to access their security system remotely. Through HAI’s Snaplink feature, they can use their cell phones to arm and disarm the sensors, review a log of who has entered and departed, and set up temporary access codes for those who need to visit the house.
Don’t Forget the Lights
Lighting can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of a home protection system, and can usually be tied to various security settings. Here are some examples.
Goodbye: One command simultaneously arms the security system and shuts off the lights.
Home: As the security system disarms, lights illuminate a pathway from the garage to the kitchen.
Goodnight: This command arms the exterior of the house and softly illuminates pathways from the bedrooms to the bath and kitchen.
Evening: Arms the door and window sensors, but disables interior motion sensors so you can move about without setting off an alarm. Meanwhile, exterior lights illuminate the property.
Vacation: The security system is on full alert while the lights turn on and off to make your house look occupied.
Follow Electronic House
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.