Home Control to the Extreme
From audio/video to irrigation to hot tub and elevator control -- one system operates it all in this renovated custom home.
Credit: Phillip Ennis
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January 06, 2010 by Lisa Montgomery

The system maps out a course to the destination automatically, based on where the user is. For example, if the user activates the MOVIE path from the kitchen touchpanel, lights leading from the kitchen to the home theater switch on. The same command from the touchpanel in the master suite lays out a totally different path.

The settings also differ depending on who initiated the command. If a command comes from the push-button controller in his car, the appropriate garage door opens and a pathway illuminates from the entrance to the master suite. A command from her car, meanwhile, opens her garage door and activates the lights in the kitchen.

One of the most efficient ways to maintain a comfortable temperature in a large home is to divide it into individual heating and cooling zones. Each of the 10 zones in this house has its own AMX thermostat, but instead of having to set each one individually, the homeowners simply go to an AMX touchpanel where they can view the current temperature of each zone, set up a schedule, and make immediate adjustments if necessary. For an extra blast of warmth, the owners can use the touchpanels to activate, raise and lower the flame of several gas fireplaces. The panels also display the current level of the propane and oil tanks, giving the homeowners a heads-up when the fuel is running low. 

The AMX system provides basic control over the home’s Napco security system, allowing it to be armed and disarmed from any touchpanel. The owners can also tap into 18 surveillance cameras to inspect the house and yard. They can access the cameras of a particular area or floor, and pan, tilt and zoom in for a better look. Advanced Home Audio installed infrared illuminators at select outdoor locations so that the cameras can pick up images in total darkness.

Should a car pull into the driveway, a sensor triggers the AMX system, and video from the camera by the front gate appears on the touchpanels automatically. After that, the owners have several options: They can engage the touchpanel’s intercom feature and talk with the visitor, open the gate, close it and lock it immediately after the car has driven past. If several guests are expected, they can set the gate to stay open for a set period of time and have it close automatically. If they’d like to review the comings and goings, an entire month of video from the cameras can be recorded and played back.

This is no ordinary lawn. In addition to a well-manicured front yard and elaborate landscaping around the swimming pool, cabana and spa, there’s an apple orchard on the property and pathways that wind into the nearby woods. All of these areas are maintained by one custom irrigation system. Rather than having to fiddle with cumbersome control dials to set up special watering cycles for each zone, the family can program it all from an AMX touchpanel. They just select the zone, enter the start time and the duration, or they can set up a complete schedule for the entire season.

Pool and Spa
Being able to control the Jandy pool and spa controls from the AMX system saves the family a lot of time and energy. Instead of having to go to the poolhouse to adjust the water level, temperature and the colored underwater LED lights, the owners can monitor and control the pool and spa conveniently from the panels inside the house or from the 10-inch touchpanel mounted in the poolhouse. And like every system tied to the AMX control processor, the pool and spa can be operated from an Internet-enabled device. The owners can access the system remotely from a computer to warm up the hot tub and select either a “relaxing” or “massage” mode of bubbling action.

Elevator and Motorized Doors
An elevator was installed during the renovation of the home, so the owners made sure to integrate it into the AMX system. The elevator page shows the location of the elevator and a call button to bring it to the appropriate floor. “The owners don’t have to punch in which floor they want the elevator to come to; it knows where to go based on which touchpanel was used to activate it,” Charney explains. Advanced Home Audio integrated motorized doors into the setup. When the elevator reaches the lower level, a pair of wooden panels automatically opens.

Divide and Conquer
Managing all of the electronic systems in this home could have been a nightmare for its owners, had it not been for the AMX system. The custom-designed home management system consolidates the controls of every electronics device and makes them accessible from several strategically located touchpanels.

From any of those panels the owners can adjust the temperature of any zone, choose a particular song to play in a certain room, light a pathway to the home theater, choose a red wine for dinner and fire up the hot tub. It saves time, it saves energy and most of all, it saves the family from the day-to-day hassles of managing a humongous house. 

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

Installers, Equipment

Systems Design and Installation
Advanced Home Audio
Shelton, Conn.

Jablonski Associates
Wilton, Conn.

Theater Design
Theo Kalomirakis Theaters
New York, N.Y.

Home Control: AMX
Whole-House Audio: AMX
Security: Napco
Surveillance: Speco, Panasonic and Extreme
Pool and Spa Control: Jandy
Media Server: Kaleidescape
Lighting Control: Vantage/Legrand
Heating and Cooling Control: AMX
Irrigation System: custom
Motorized Canvas Artwork: Media Decor
Propane and Oil Monitoring: Robertshaw
Wine Management: eSommelier
Flat-Panel TVs: Fujitsu
Video Screen: Stewart Filmscreen
Projector: SIM2
Theater Speakers: McIntosh Laboratory

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