Total Tech Overhaul: Home Gets Automation Upgrade
A kitchen remodel evolves into a full-blown upgrade, including a sure-fire cell phone signal strengthener, a golf simulator and a dedicated theater.
March 25, 2013 by Lisa Montgomery

It all started as such a simple plan. Frustrated by the poor cell phone reception at his new beachfront residence, the homeowner sought a solution that would let his family roam the 13,000-square-foot home and Lake Michigan property without any communication glitches. Boosters from big-name box retailers didn’t work. Neither did a new service contract from his cell phone provider. Out of ideas, he called on the advice of local custom electronics (CE) professional, John Goldenne from Digital Home Technologies, Palatine, Ill.

Dead Phones Spur a Tech Makeover

Cell phone solutions were not in his company’s bag of tricks, Goldenne admits, but “I wasn’t going to give up until I found something that would work.” The fix-it would come down to the installation of a high-end, pro-grade system consisting of numerous antennas and boosters that would be situated strategically throughout the house (see how Wilson Electronics cell extenders were implemented).

The addition of this equipment couldn’t have come at a better time. The family was already in the midst of remodeling their 18-year-old home, primarily “because my wife wanted to update the kitchen,” says the homeowner, who requested to remain anonymous. “She told me that the kitchen was her only concern, but soon we were redoing the entire first floor, putting in a new heating system and replacing windows.”

The family was already living with the daily disruption of contractors working in the house, so the crew at Digital Home Technologies fit right into the workflow. And, it gave Goldenne and the homeowner a chance to chat about other possibilities for the house.

Getting Comfortable

As it turns out, “comfort was one of his biggest priorities,” says Goldenne. “It’s a big house with big windows that face Lake Michigan, so it can be tough to maintain a consistent temperature without running up the utility bills.”

The owners had already taken the first step by installing radiant heat in the main first-floor rooms and upgrading to high-efficiency windows, but as Goldenne explained to them, a whole-home control system could make an even bigger impact on the comfort level. “As long as we were already remodeling, we thought we might as well go all the way,” the homeowner relates.

Goldenne suggested the g! system from home automation manufacturer Elan. It would allow the homeowners to monitor, manage and regulate the temperature settings in eight independent heating and cooling zones from the convenience of an iPad, iPhone or one of several Elan TS7 touchpanels that would be mounted to the walls in several key locations in the house. And, if the family wanted, the g! system could be expanded easily to tackle other areas of control.

Once the owners saw how dramatically the system simplified the control of multiple thermostats, it wasn’t long before the pros at Digital Home Technology were configuring the g! to operate a Lutron RadioRA lighting system, motorized Lutron shades, a whole-house music system, a video distribution system, IC Realtime surveillance cameras and the electronics in a dedicated state-of-the-art home theater.

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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.

Digital Home Technologies
Palatine, Ill.

Tom Stringer Design Partners
Chicago, Ill.

Eiesland Builders
Glenview, Ill.

Control: Elan
Lighting and Shading: Lutron
Audio Distribution: Elan
Video Switching: Atlona
Speakers: SpeakerCraft, Paradigm
TVs: LG and Pioneer
Video Projectors: JVC and Epson
Home Theater Screen: Screen Innovations
Acoustical Treatments: Cinemacoustics
Surveillance and Security: Ademco and IC Realtime
Cell Phone System: Wilson Electronics
Networking: Pakedge
HVAC: Aprilaire

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