September 14, 2010
| by Lisa Montgomery
Keypads and touchpanels are a staple in any home with a whole-house music, lighting, security or control system.
In most homes you can find these control devices by the front and back doors, at the entrances to the family room and master bedroom and on an open wall in the kitchen. Smaller units are usually mounted somewhere easily accessible in bathrooms, hallways, guest bedrooms and other lesser-used areas.
Deciding exactly where that those somewhere locations should be can be extremely difficult. Should the keypad go by the vanity or the shower or both? Does is make more sense to have a touchpanel near the bed or by the closet? Is it necessary to have a keypad at both ends of the hallway or will one suffice?
These are important decisions, certainly. And you have every right to feel apprehensive about making a mistake. Once those control units are fused into the walls, there’s no turning back, unless you’re willing to pay a pretty penny to have the walls refinished.
The finality of the situation shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing your dreams of a high-tech home, though. You can test drive the locations of your keypads and touchpanels for weeks before you have them installed. All you need is paper and a good supply of scotch tape.
During your discussions with your custom electronics professional, ask him to print out a replica of your touchpanels and keypad on paper. Then, cut it out and tape it to the wall where you think it makes the most sense. Be sure the paper keypads and touchpanels are the same size as the real things, so you’ll get good sense of how they’ll “fit” in the allotted space.
Now, walk around your house, stopping at each controller to “fiddle” with the buttons. If it feels weird to activate a kitchen lighting scene from the great room, rip off your paper keypad and post it somewhere else that seems more logical. No harm done. Once you feel comfortable, go ahead and have your CE pro start installing the real deal.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.