March 30, 2011 by Steven Castle
A lighting control system is great for setting up a good morning scene. With just a press of a button on a keypad by your bed, you can bring up the lights to a comfortable level and have music or the news playing softly over a pair of speakers in the master bath.
But have you thought about warming the floor, or your towel racks, with that same button? That’s what the owners of this coastal California home did, thanks to the expertise and programming of custom electronics (CE) pro Philip Clough of Home Control Solutions in Santa Barbara.
These homeowners’ good morning button activates the in-floor radiant heating system and their towel warmers, some time before they actually get up—as it can take awhile for the marble floor and metal rods to get warm. The connection between the Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system and the in-floor heating system and towel warmers is accomplished through a simple relay, or contact closure. The owners could simply press a button to turn on the devices at the same time every morning, but Clough went beyond this basic means of control by allowing them to choose different times to kick-start the good morning routine. One press may start warming up the floor and towel racks at 6 a.m., two presses at 6:30 a.m., or three presses at 7 a.m. Pretty slick.
Tips For Making a “Scene”
Determine what you want.
Don’t get too complicated.
Live with a system for awhile to see how you use it.
Clough also worked low, medium and high settings into the button presses. It’s tricky to do with systems designed to turn all the way on or all the way off, but he accomplished it here through a technique he calls “duty cycling.” He explains, “A marble tile floor can take two hours to get to its full temperature, but if it’s on for 20 minutes, then off for 20 minutes, it can be at 50 percent [or medium warm] when the homeowners get up.” The system is accommodating of guests, too. The homeowners can press a button to tell the floor and towel warming systems to activate in both the master and guest bathrooms.
Privacy is another feature most homeowners covet from their master suite, so Clough programmed the room’s Lutron Sivoia QED motorized shades to descend automatically at sunset (transparent solar shades are used duing the day) and electric privacy glass in the shower to turn opaque at the touch of a button on a keypad. Another button press activates the coffee maker in the kitchen, so the java is ready the minute the homeowners step out of their warm, private, automated master suite.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates
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