February 25, 2013
| by Arlen Schweiger
Cutting-edge technology makes life at home pretty sweet for Salty. But it’s because his day job keeps him on the road so much that MLB catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (the guy with the longest name in baseball history has a very convenient nickname) began exploring how a high-tech makeover could benefit his family’s West Palm Beach, Fla., home. Salty doesn’t need to think about the threat of stolen property—and the safety of his family—while he tries to stop stolen bases during the season, and a beefed-up security system delivers peace of mind whether he’s “home” up in Boston or on a Red Sox road trip.
So security and remote surveillance and command were a big impetus for what turned into a full automation and A/V installation performed by Structured Home Solutions of Sherman, Conn. Turns out that just about every aspect of home’s new technology, which centers around an Elan g! control system, is a hit with this baseball family.
“As a family (Jarrod and wife Ashley have three children) we enjoy waking up to music every morning, so it’s always a race to turn on the system. It also gives us great peace of mind—whether it’s the self-alarming security, the automatic night lighting or the extra set of eyes with the camera system, we have peace,” says Jarrod, who’s now in his seventh MLB season. “At first we just wanted a better way to control TV and music for the whole house, and g! definitely blew me away with how easy it is to use. My 5- and 6-year-olds figured it out as fast as I did!
“Now we have one remote that does everything—all the TVs, speakers and lights, the air conditioning, security and surveillance cameras—or we can use our iPads and iPhones, which comes in pretty hand, too.”
Catching the Camera’s Eye
Structured Home Solutions’ Dave Febbraio met Salty while he was working on another project—for Jarrod’s brother-in-law in Connecticut. It was while the then-Texas Rangers player was staying at the house during a trip to play the New York Yankees, and Febbraio was in the process of upgrading the existing control system to Elan g! for more functionality and controls.
The Connecticut system was given more lighting capabilities, double the amount of previous audio zones, streaming music support and better controls over everything. Small talk about who Febbraio was and what his company did turned into basically a technology demonstration that quickly caught the catcher’s attention.
“He had known his brother-in-law’s previous system but really was playing with it for the first time while it was a g! system. I remember going through the controllers, and he was definitely interested in it,” Febbraio says. “I think his interest was sparked by wanting some sort of audio system like that down at his own house, only he had no idea where to go or how to get it. … I showed him a lot more options, while standing with a touchscreen to select all the different rooms from one central location and he was surprised and impressed by that.”
Related: 9 Things to Consider in a Home Control System
On another, more formal meeting in Connecticut, Febbraio showed Jarrod and Ashley more about the g! system, including demos that allowed him to put the real all-purpose controller in their hands—Apple’s iPad. Using the tablet, the Saltalamacchias were able to peek into two homes (Febbraio’s, as well as an Elan demo site in Massachusetts) through surveillance cameras viewable through the g! system interface. That resonated like hitting a baseball right on the bat’s sweet spot for someone who’s away from home as much as Salty.
Credit: Keith Allison
“Obviously, with all the travel he does, he was very much looking forward to always having cameras and his security system at the ready on his phone,” Febbraio says. “He had cameras already, but he needed a laptop to log in to see them and hardly anybody’s carrying around a laptop anymore. Now he’s happy he can sit in the clubhouse and look at his iPhone and see cameras.”
Offseason Tech Workout
Febbraio and Structured Home technicians Andrew Orzech and Chris Kelvin made two trips to Florida to pull off the whole-home installation last winter. Planning for a robust control and A/V system isn’t the easiest thing to do being more than 1,000 miles from the site: Febbraio says they managed to ship all of the Elan gear, the Middle Atlantic equipment rack and the architectural loudspeakers; they got the wiring, Lutron lighting parts and Elk security pieces from an A/V distributor in nearby Boynton Beach; and they loaded up their checked baggage with as many tools as they could fit.
Structured Home spent five days on their initial visit to the Saltalamacchias’ home, mainly working on the wiring and the A/V system during that time, and spending the second trip implementing the lighting, security and other tweaks. In all Structured Home wired for nine audio zones and eight video zones. Pandora and Rhapsody streaming services are the main music sources, while the previously installed DirecTV system (after some re-jiggering) feeds 13 TVs, including a 70-inch Sharp LED centerpiece TV inside plus three LG LCD sets outside.
“We did the recon for everything else he was going to want—we knew right away the security needed upgrading—and went through the lighting to see how many loads there were, what kind, what size,” Febbraio says of the first visit. “We ended up having to fix the DirecTV wiring, and fix everything else because the low-voltage in the house was just a mess. Jarrod warned us that he didn’t have luck with other installers, and it was quite a mess in the attic.”
Related: What to Look for in a Professional Integrator
Of course, living in Florida not only puts Salty closer to Boston’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, but also allows him to take advantage outdoor living rather than being snow-bound inside during Massachusetts winters. Being able to easily turn on/off and command any of the outdoor TVs, along with the audio to play with them (whether it’s the corresponding TV audio or streaming background music instead) from one control interface has been a big winner for the Saltalamacchias. (Click here to view images inside the Red Sox catcher’s home.)
“The whole family loves the outdoors, so we spend a lot of time in the backyard. That’s why I wanted to add the outdoor TVs and a nice living room-style area on the porch,” Jarrod says. “The outdoor speakers sound great and they make it just as nice to watch a movie or a football game on the porch as in the living room, so I never miss a play when I’m barbecuing or playing with my kids.”
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.