Self-Sufficient Home Even Handles Chores
From security to housework to entertainment systems, one tech-savvy family has gadgets for nearly every aspect of home life.

- Home of the Year

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May 01, 2008 by Lisa Montgomery

The equipment rack holds not one media server but two. At the front door there’s a fingerprint scanner, a surveillance camera and an intercom nestled within a sleek, modern pedestal. Outside, a weather station instructs the draperies and thermostats to adjust. And those are just a few of the innovative high-tech features in Wolfgang and Cornelia Haerle’s 5,000-square-foot automated home. “We considered every possibility before we started building,” says Wolfgang. He and his wife even went so far as to place an LCD TV behind a two-way mirror in the powder room. The 15-inch monitor activates automatically when the door shuts and can be tuned to any video source by pressing a button on a wall-mounted keypad.

The Haerles had good reasons for going all out. First and foremost, they wanted a self-sufficient home that would give them more time to spend with their children Julian, 11, and Maja, 9. This meant investing in a system that could handle routine household chores such as locking the doors, turning off the lights and shutting the drapes. Also important to Wolfgang and Cornelia was that the house feel comfortable and safe. Last but not least, the well-appointed home would need to serve as a living laboratory where Wolfgang could test new systems for his Gulfport, FL–based electronics installation business, MaJul Total Home Technology, and a place where he could bring prospective clients to experience a wide array of technologies in a realistic home setting. “It definitely makes a difference when people can see the systems working in a house rather than in a showroom,” says Wolfgang.

Embracing the Differences
That difference is apparent the second you step to the front door. Mounted adjacent to the entry is a stylish intercom station featuring a biometric fingerprint scanner. The scanner precludes the need for a traditional door lock and keys, as it grants access into the home by reading the pattern of a visitor’s fingerprint. If the device recognizes the fingerprint, the door unlocks; if not, the door stays shut. Wolfgang programmed the fingerprints of each family member into the Siedle door station and added a few lights and security sensors to the scenario. When the Siedle station trips the lock, select interior lights flip on and the security system disarms.

In the foyer, Wolfgang and his guests are presented with another control station, this one a security panel from Home Automation Inc. Here, touching a home button sets in motion a completely new sequence of events. Additional lights engage, motorized draperies open, music plays and the temperature adjusts to a comfortable setting.

Taming the Technology
From here on out, an assortment of Crestron touchpanels take over. Wolfgang peppered a combination of wall-mounted and portable units throughout the residence, and he programmed all of them to synchronize the operation of hundreds of devices, including lights, security sensors, audio and video components, motorized TV lifts, drapery tracks, and swimming pool and hot tub equipment. Remarkably, it takes only a few button taps to adjust them all. A spa command, for instance, activates the hot tub, whole-house music system, and exterior lights. entertain, meanwhile, lights up the interior and exterior of the house to welcome guests. Engaging the play button on the office touchpanel lowers the shades, dims the lights, spins the ceiling fan, and powers up the Xbox 360 and the 50-inch LG plasma TV for a serious gaming session. The Crestron home management system is even on call during the wee hours of the night. Touching the midnight snack button, for example, instantly illuminates a pathway from the third-floor bedrooms to the kitchen.

Firing out a single command to control dozens of devices is certainly an efficient way to run a household, but there are some changes that happen automatically for the Haerles. For example, when the outdoor temperature reaches a certain point, the Davis weather station signals motorized draperies throughout the house to close to keep out the heat. The station also disengages the sprinkler system temporarily when there’s been a recent rainfall. A connection to a weather website also prevents the Rain8net irrigation system from watering the lawn by disengaging the sprinklers if any precipitation is forecasted over the next 72 hours.

Even when the Haerles are vacationing, the Crestron system keeps things in order. Having been fitted with special software, the system lets Wolfgang and Cornelia monitor the status of every integrated device and alter settings remotely from a laptop computer or a mobile device such as their Pocket PC–based cell phone. “Whatever I can do while I’m inside the house I can do while I’m away,” Wolfgang enthuses. For example, should the system show that the house is too warm, he can bump up the AC and close the drapes from anywhere in the world.

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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.

Equipment List

Control System
Crestron PRO2 control processor
Crestron CT-1000 color touchpanel
Crestron TPS-2000L Isys 5-inch touchpanels (2)
Crestron TPS-3000L Isys 6-inch touchpanels (2)
Crestron TPS-3100L Isys 6.4-inch touchpanel
Crestron TPS-3000 Isys 6.4-inch touchpanel
Crestron TPS-4000 10.4-inch touchpanel
Crestron TPS 5000 touchpanel
CrestronSTX 1700CXP 2-way SmarTouch wireless touchpanels (2)
CrestronTPMC-10 Wifi touchpanels (2)

Audio/Video Components
Crestron PVID8x4 video distribution switcher
Crestron PAD8A audio distribution processor
Crestron BIPAD8 audio distribution processor
Crestron IADS intercom audio distribution system
Crestron IVDS intercom video distribution system
Crestron C2N-FM tuner
Crestron C2N XM tuner
Crestron ST-VS video sensor modules (2)
Crestron PBAR4 audio receiver
Crestron PBVR4 video receiver
Crestron TPS-RFGWX 2-way RF gateway
Crestron STRFGWX 2-way RF gateway
Crestron DAP8RC 7.1 surround-sound processor
Crestron CNXRMC room solution control boxes (4)
Crestron CNXRMCLV room solution control boxes (2)
Crestron C2ENET-1 Ethernet card
Kaleidescape DVD and CD server
Escient FireBall DVDM-300 DVD and Music Manager
Bose Lifesyle 50 system
Samsung, Panasonic and LG plasma TVs
Draper 110-inch screen
JVC video projector
Halcro surround-sound processor
Meridian 561 surround-sound processor
Auton plasma lift

Security System
Siedle door entry station
Home Automation Inc. security system
Sony EVI-D70 PTZ surveillance cameras (2)

Lighting System
Crestron CAEN lighting enclosures
Crestron 1DIM4 four-channel dimmer module
Crestron 1DIM eight-channel dimmer modules (14)
Crestron 1FAN4 four-channel fan speed control modules (4)
Crestron 1MC4 four-channel motor control modules (4)
Crestron 4HSW4 four-channel high inrush switch modules (6)
Crestron CNX-B12 12-button keypads (3)
Crestron CNX-B2 2-button keypads (12)
Crestron CNX-B4 4-button keypads (15)
Crestron CNX-B6 6-button keypads (12)
Crestron CNX-B8 8-button keypads (8)

Additional Components
Rain8net lawn sprinkler system
Jandy Aqualink pool and spa controls
Davis weather station

Systems Design & Installation
MaJul Total Home Technology
Gulfport, FL

Daniel Dawson
St. Petersburg, FL

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