Sophisticated Automation Ensures Domestic Tranquility
This home control system adjusts to the musical, video and comfort preferences of each homeowner, automatically.
Credit: Simon Berlyn Photography
November 23, 2010 by Lisa Montgomery

The system also needed to minimize the amount of “running around” the couple previously did to get the house ready for bed, a trip away or entertaining guests. DSI honored all four requests.

Disappearing Displays
Nearly every TV is hidden, having been installed on motorized assemblies that keep the sets inside cabinets until the owners activate them by pressing a button on a handheld Crestron remote. On that command, a 50-inch Pioneer Elite ascends from a custom-crafted footboard in the bedroom. DSI chose one of the quietest motorized lifts on the market, according to Colletta, so that late-night viewing by one spouse wouldn’t wake the other. The kitchen has a similar setup, only here, a 26-inch Samsung pops up from inside the breakfast bar.

Other TVs may not be completely concealed, but they blend in nicely with their surroundings, having been recessed into the wall during the renovation. “It’s hard to believe that a 103-inch plasma could look understated,” says Colletta, referring to the display in the family room, “but it really fits the space nicely.”

Mac-esque Interfaces
Crestron, like other manufacturers of home control systems, offers an open programming platform so that the control menus on the touchpanels can be designed to suit a user’s comfort zone. In this project, both homeowners were savvy Mac and iPhone users.

“They felt comfortable in the Apple world, so we designed the on-screen interface of the touchpanels to look and function like the interfaces they would see on their Mac computers,” says Colletta. “This reduced the learning curve that’s often involved in operating a sophisticated and robust home control system and made them feel comfortable with the controls.”

Smarter Heating & Cooling
The owners were also on the same page regarding their old, inefficient heating and cooling system. Simply put: they wanted it out. “The old system didn’t support enough heating and cooling zones so the house never felt comfortable, the thermostats weren’t positioned correctly, and there was no cohesiveness of control,” says Colletta.

A new system was installed in its place by a local heating and cooling contractor, and divided into 32 independent heating and cooling zones. This would allow the homeowners to heat and cool areas of the house differently, for example, keeping the common living areas at a comfy 70 degrees while setting back the stats to a cooler, energy-efficient 65 degrees in unoccupied areas like guest bedrooms. The best part, though, was that all 32 thermostats could be adjusted from any Crestron touchpanel. Inconspicuous disc-shaped sensors monitor and relay temperature readings to the touchpanels, so the owners know if and when adjustments are necessary.

Contributing to the comfort and energy efficiency are five gas fireplaces and 30 motorized Lutron Sivoia window shades, all of which can be independently controlled from any remote or touchpanel.

Less Legwork
Likely, the owners feel the biggest change in their legs. They do a lot less running around now. “That 25,000-square-feet and six acres is a lot of ground to cover,” says Colletta. With the Crestron system in place, they can prep the house for any event or occasion from any of the home’s 21 in-wall touchpanels and 10 wireless control devices. It’s significantly quicker and more efficient than the way they used to do it—by going to each light switch, drapery pull rod, thermostat and entertainment component individually.

A special ENTERTAIN button, for example, turns on the lights by the driveway, on the porch and in the rooms where the owners entertain; activates the decorative fountains, distributes an XM Frank Sinatra station to the built-in Sonance speakers in the main area of the house; and sets the thermostats back to 69 degrees. That’s at least 15 minutes shaved off the party prep routine—a benefit both he and she can agree has made a real difference in their lives.

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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.

Systems Design & Installation
DSI Entertainment Systems
West Hollywood, Calif.

Bonded Electric

Fort Hill Construction

Control: Crestron
A/V Distribution: Crestron
Lighting & Shading: Lutron
Displays: Panasonic, Pioneer, Runco, Samsung, Séura
A/V Components: AudioControl, Integra, Kaleidescape
Speakers & Subwoofers: James Loudspeaker, JBL, Sonance, Velodyne
TV Lift: Activated Designs

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