August 10, 2009
by Lisa Montgomery
Most people head to the nearest sports bar when they want to watch more than one football game at once. The owners of this 12,000-square-foot home in San Diego, Calif., just walk upstairs to their newly constructed game room.
High-level sports viewing was the impetus for building the space, says custom electronics professional Ryan Lipkovicius of Audio Impact in San Diego, Calif. “One of the owners is a football fanatic, so a top priority when building the house was to have a room dedicated to it.”
While the 700-square-foot game room was being constructed, Audio Impact laid out its plans. The front wall would feature an arrangement of five Pioneer plasma TVs: one 60-inch display in the middle, flanked by two Elite 42-inchers on either side.
Each display would be fed by its own high-def satellite receiver and controlled by the same Control4 touchpanel. It’s cool enough to be able to press one button to turn on five games simultaneously, but Lipkovicius took the cool factor up several notches by enabling the owners to move the images to whichever screen they want—plus operate the room’s lighting and heating and cooling—all through the one touchpanel.
Engaging a sports button on the lighting menu, for example, activates the lights by the bar at the back of the room. Touching movie, on the other hand, fades out the lights, and the owners can activate their Sony Blu-ray player and direct the movie onto the 60-inch display. There’s also a button that pulls a view of the front door surveillance camera onto the screen.
Lipkovicius could have stopped right at the game room, but he was able to stretch the homeowners’ $150,000 budget to include other features. The master bathroom, for example, was fitted with a 32-inch Sharp TV and a Control4 keypad. The TV was positioned behind a pane of two-way glass that functions as the vanity mirror. The Control4 keypad was planted on the wall near the bathroom entrance so that the owners can set the display and lights the instant they step inside. On the keypad is a button for each homeowner. One button tunes the TV to CNN; the other to a favorite sports channel. The bathroom lights also brighten when either button is engaged, but only if it’s nighttime.
Lighting scenes like this occur in other areas of the home, as well. When either the front or side entrance door opens, a sensor trips, which signals the Control4 system to light a pathway to the kitchen and master bedroom. If the GE security system is set off, several lights throughout the house flash and an email is sent to the homeowners.
The owners’ favorite scene, though, says Lipkovicius, is “goodbye.” This one command turns off all the lighting, audio and video equipment and turns down the HVAC system. “It saves them from having to run around the house to turn things off every time they want to leave.”
Interestingly, whole-house lighting control was one of the last features the owners integrated into their home. It wasn’t until they experienced the lighting arrangements in the game room that they requested similar setups for the rest of the residence. Lipkovicius figured they might. He and his team utilized wireless switches and dimmers to simplify the installation of those add-ons an prewired the house extensively for future upgrades.
At a Glance
How long did it take?
Design: 2 days
Prewire: 3½ weeks
Installation: 1 week
Programming: 4 days
The biggest part of the budget? TVs and video equipment
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.