Making a Grand Entrance with Automated Lighting

Electronic systems can provide huge curb appeal for your home.


How your house looks and performs on the outside says a lot about what’s in store on the inside. Electronic systems can turn the entrance of your house into something grander, as well as provide additional security and convenience.

To get a sense of what’s possible, we talked to custom electronics (CE) professional Tom Vaughn, vice president of Concept Electronics, Pflugerville, Texas, about a project the company had recently completed, where much of the focus was on the entrance of the home, where the electronics were designed and installed in a courtyard to roll out the “red carpet” for guests.

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Evenings are when most of the magic happens in the courtyard, where a well-choreographed sequence of events unfurls when a guest presses a button on a Holocom intercom station positioned at the front gate. First, a chime rings through the home phones and the speakers of a whole-house music system. Per the owners’ request, Vaughn programmed the system to play Westminster chimes as the audible signal for the front gate. If music happens to be playing through the speakers, the song mutes temporarily so that the chime can be broadcast. At the same time, video from a camera that’s built into the intercom station transmits video to select TVs. If these TVs happen to be on, the program pauses automatically and the camera image appears on screen. After 15 seconds on screen, it disappears and the program picks up where it left off.

The owners can speak to the visitor and unlatch the electronic lock on the gate via any phone (home or mobile) or iPad.

The unlatching of the gate signals a Savant home automation system to activate the outdoor lights in a pattern intended to lead guests to the front door. Fixtures attached high on the house activate first, ramping up slowly for effect. Once they reach a 90 percent intensity level, the sconce lights slowly brighten, followed by the lights on the porch. “As you walk through the courtyard, the lights greet you,” Vaughn explains.

Four JBL Control 25 weather-resistant speakers are ready to pipe music to courtyard. The owners need only touch a button on an iPad to choose a piece of music and control the volume. From the iPad’s Savant app they can activate the fountain as well, turning the courtyard into a grand, welcoming entrance.

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