IP Control Manages 14,000 Square Foot Home

An IP-based control system monitors every aspect of this sprawling Chesapeake Bay home.


You’d think this sprawling, 14,000-square-foot spread on the Chesapeake Bay that contains a dance hall/nightclub, observatory, billiards room, home theater, 14 flat-panel TVs, 12 zones of audio, 14 security cameras and 145 security and safety sensors would be controlled by a heavy-duty, ultra-expensive home automation system that itself costs more than many homes.

But you would be wrong. Instead, this extensive home’s many subsystems are operated by a less expensive IP (Internet Protocol)-based system, using HomeLogic software and web tablets, HAI controls, and Windows-based Media Center PC. The IP network operates similarly to an office computer network, with many individual systems sharing information over high-speed cables.

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In this setup, the HAI system receives signals from the many motion sensors in the security system and safety sensors on the water, sewer and irrigation systems. The HomeLogic system provides the overlaying IP control, allowing the homeowners to access and monitor their home systems while they are away.

“They wanted to start traveling, and they wanted peace of mind so they could leave the house with nobody there and not worry about it,” says Scott McCoy of custom electronics contractor Priority Cabling Service. The owners can log on to a secure web site to check on the home and make any adjustments. “The energy management system can shut down in areas not being used, and the irrigation system is tied in as well,” says McCoy.

In addition, a camera at the docks shows the view across the bay, where the homeowners can often see storms coming in. They get weather reports on the HomeLogic screens as well. And a Davis Weatherstation will soon be tied into the system.

Audio and video for the house is handled by switchers from Russound and Elan, with a combination of B&W speakers inside and Polk and Rockustics in three zones outside. A custom-built Windows Media Center server stores MP3s, pictures and video that can be routed through the house via Linksys media extenders. A Dell server backs up critical files and hosts a user-friendly, interactive program that displays wiring diagrams, outlet and rack layouts, and product manuals. Two of the flat-panel TVs in the observatory and master bedroom rise into view on motorized lifts.

A LiteTouch lighting control system handles the outdoor lights, and a Lightolier lighting system that works over the home’s powerline is used in certain areas inside. All this can be operated by HomeLogic’s touchscreen interface, and some lighting and security keypads are located in areas that are out of direct view but still accessible.

The extent of this setup certainly made the project expensive, but according to McCoy, going with the IP-based system over a proprietary home automation system saved tens of thousands of dollars.


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