Convenience. Safety. Comfort. These are a few of the reasons people choose to have an automation system installed into their homes. For Tate and Jennifer Jarvis of Dripping Springs, Texas, the ability to have the lights, thermostats, and other devices adjust all by themselves was more of a necessity than anything else. Paralyzed from the waist down after an accident three years ago, Tate found himself learning to adapt to life in a wheelchair. His brother, Todd Jarvis, a custom electronics (CE) professional at Sterling Home Technologies, Inc., offered to outfit his new 5,500-square-foot home with technologies that would allow him to lead an independent lifestyle, “without making the house look sterile or out of the ordinary,” says Todd.
“Our main goal was to design a system that would allow the house to operate around Tate’s needs without him having to tell the house what to do,” Todd continues. He and his team of designers and installers would accomplish this by incorporating technology commonly used in homes of able-bodied users, but applied in a slightly different manner. For example, motion sensors are used extensively throughout the residence, but not just for security purposes. As Tate passes by a sensor’s detection “curtain,” designated lights activate so that he can move throughout the house without ever having to reach for a light switch. After a certain amount of time or when he touches a button on his iPad, the lights switch off.
The iPad and iPhone are Tate’s main links to everything electronic in the house, including the lights, thermostats, audio/video gear, security system and swimming pool equipment. The operation of all of these individual devices and systems are synched together by a Vantage InFusion system, so that a single touch of a button causes several things happen at once. For example, from the Vantage iPad app Tate can tap the AWAY button to arm the security system, switch off certain lights, adjust the thermostats, and turn off any A/V equipment that may have been left on. In addition to the iPad and iPhone, the Jarvis family can also use wall-mounted keypad and touchpanels to issues commands.
Familiar with ADA guidelines, Todd knew that these keypads and touchpanels should have been mounted about 40 inches up from the floor (60 inches is standard for keypads). However, “when Tate rolled up to the wall and reached out, 40 inches was too low,” he says. “We ended up placing their keypads just 6 inches lower than a standard-height keypad. It was one of the ways we ensured that the house would look as much like a regular high-end custom home as possible.”
Automation helped downplay the appearance of technology as much as Sterling’s thoughtful design. For example, when the door to the patio opens, the exterior lights by the barbeque activate—no manual switches are needed. When Tate enters a room designed to dry off his wheelchair after taking a shower, a sensor triggers an exhaust fan to activate and runs for an hour to dry the chair.
There’s also no need to fiddle with the audio and video equipment. The family can call up a movie or music from a main rack of equipment stored in a mechanical room by touching a button on an iPad, touchpanel or keypad. The music streams to 11 zones of Klipsch in-ceiling speakers and video to several flat-panel TVs. Some TVs have their own Integra Blu-ray player, too, mounted so that Tate can easily access them. The speakers play another important role: They notify the family when a car has pulled into the driveway (sensors detect the car’s entry) by playing one of Tate’s favorite tunes, giving him plenty of time to get to the door to greet his guests.
Vantage InFusion Automation System
39 Vantage Keypads
5 Vantage Touchpanels
2 Apple iPads
3 Apple iPhones
2 RTI T2C+ Handheld Remotes
5 Vantage Thermostats
Vantage Energy Management System
DSC PowerSeries Security System
Pentair Pool and Spa Controls
Vantage 850 Whole-House Audio System
Autonomic MMS2 Digital Music Management System
Apple iPod Dock
DirecTV Satellite Receiver
Integra BluRay Players
Integra A/V Receiver
80-inch Sharp TV
Screen Innovations Motorized Screen
Cisco Network Equipment
Furman Power and Surge Protection
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.