The exterior lighting is just as kind to the environment. Per instructions from the Control4 system, they ramp up to a soft lighting level gradually at dusk. “Set low, the lights don’t interfere with the stars in the night sky,” says Gaskell. Dimmable lighting was carried through to the interior, with every Control4 light switch programmed to keep the incandescent fixtures at a low intensity.
The owners are free to adjust the brightness levels from a keypad, or they can simply select one of the lighting “scenes” that they and Gaskell created while the Control4 system was being installed. Again, they didn’t overdo it. Just an evening scene for the master bedroom and a couple of entertainment scenes for the great room would suffice.
“They know they can add scenes anytime they want,” says Gaskell. No only that, the couple can expand the lighting system to cover more rooms. Currently, none of the guest bedrooms are on the system, but they can easily join the network by swapping the existing switches for Control4 models.
The facilitation of simple, hassle-free post-installation add-ons is a specialty of the Control4 system, and one of the main reasons Gaskell recommended it to the homeowners. “They could start with the system and expand it as their needs and wants change,” he anticipates.
In addition to greater lighting control, Gaskell suspects the couple will eventually replace the standard wall-mounted keypads with Control4 touchpanels. The touchpanels will provide a larger interface that can display several control options on a single page. Plus, the owners will be able to view cover art and metadata about the songs on their audio system—information their current keypads are unable to show.
Additional TVs and speakers will probably make their way into the home at some point, too. Right now, there are just two TVs—a 46-inch Hitachi plasma in the great room and a 42-inch Samsung in the master bedroom. A partially finished space in the lower-level is a likely recipient of new gear, having been prewired by Gaskell as a game room.
As important as the two TVs are to the homeowners’ entertainment needs, like all other electronic gear, they were designed and installed to not intrude on their enjoyment of the lake and mountains. The Hitachi set literally sinks into the woodwork, having been mounted into an alcove where it’s nearly impossible to see it from the side. A retractable Sanus wall-mount allows the set to be extended two feet from the alcove when the owners want to watch a satellite program or a DVD. This TV also serves as the couple’s biggest home control interface. Here, they can view all the home system commands and navigate the menu via a handheld Control4 remote.
Granted, this home may not have all the bells and whistles of most automated residences, but what it does have has made a huge impact on the home owners’ lives. With the ability to monitor the house from afar, they’re blessed with the peace of mind that all is well at the lake. And with simple controls at their fingertips, they waste little time setting the temperature, lights and music during their vacations at the house. Most importantly, with few big-screen TVs, massive, bass-pounding speakers and flashy A/V components to distract them, they’re free to enjoy the surrounding beauty of the outdoors.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.