Luxury items like control systems and home theaters usually come at a high price. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, claims professional home systems installer Greg Mizerek of Advanced Media Systems of Morristown, NJ. “When you use a combination of the right products, you can enjoy all the functionality of a high-end system but pay half as much,” he says.
As proprietors of their own home-building business, these homeowners know all too well how easy it can be to blow a budget when picking out amenities for a new house. So they took Mizerek’s advice to heart when it came time to construct their own custom home. Make no mistake, though. The couple wasn’t about to skimp on quality. Products from some of the most reputable names in the home electronics business would occupy their 9,000-square-foot colonial. Not one, but three full-blown entertainment systems would offer them several big-screen, 5.1 surround-sound movie viewing options; great-sounding built-in speakers would fill every nook and cranny with music; and a well-appointed rack of cutting-edge components would provide them with access to a rich variety of media content.
Even though the electronics chosen for their residence were powerful, sophisticated and rich in features, Mizerek was able to keep costs in check by going with products that were easy to program. “Often, that’s the biggest expense,” he says. He also made sure the products he selected would provide the homeowners with devices other than pricey touchpanels to use to control their home’s lights, thermostats and audio/video gear. “Some touchpanels can cost upwards of $5,000 apiece, plus programming,” says Mizerek. “In this setup, the homeowners would be able to enjoy the same level of control from less expensive keypads and handheld remotes.” Touchpanels do have their merits, though. They are extremely intuitive and easy to master, so the homeowners treated themselves to a couple of units.
So what kinds of electronic devices can the homeowners operate with their array of controls? Just about anything. They can arrange groups of lights for a party by touching a button by the front door, have different music piped to different areas, adjust multiple thermostats from a single location, view surveillance cameras on the screen of any TV, and much more.
Each electronic amenity is governed by its own system, an arrangement that offers the homeowners more spontaneity of control,” says Mizerek. “Instead of having to scroll through a series of menus on a touchpanel to find the controls for their whole-house music system, for example, they can go straight to an Elan Olé keypad, press one button and have music delivered to the room.” An Elan S12 multiroom controller processes requests issued by the keypads—each room has its own—as well as more complicated commands sent to it from a 7-inch Elan VIA! touchpanel stationed on the kitchen counter. From this one control device, the owners can view a list of their entire music library and direct certain songs to play in certain rooms. For example, they might pick something from their rock-and-roll archives to play out on the patio, something bluesy for the kitchen, and an FM news station for the master bedroom.
As many as 12 different streams of music can play simultaneously in up to 16 independent listening zones. Those audio streams are fed from a rack of components hidden away in a basement utility room to as many as 21 pairs of in-ceiling speakers peppered throughout the house and two pairs of rock speakers in the yard. Tucked inside the equipment rack are two FM tuners, three XM satellite radio tuners, an Elan VIA!dj music server and a high-def cable receiver. An iPod may soon join the audio accoutrements, too. Mizerek wired the kitchen and office for in-wall iPod docking stations, so that music stored on the portable can be spread throughout the house.
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.