Owner Goes to Great Lengths for Greatest Smart Home

Florida-based installation company Petrone Technology Group Inc. completed this New Jersey install earlier this year.

When it came to putting technology into this New Jersey home’s 10,000 square feet of living space, the homeowners didn’t just want the most skilled installer. They also wanted the most honest. So the owners called upon Petrone Technology Group Inc., even though the Florida-based company is located over 1,200 miles away.

Despite the distance, Petrone was able to outfit this space with a slew of high-tech options, including several displays, a dedicated home theater, Lutron Homeworks QS lighting, Tekmar thermostats, multiple RTI AD-8 distributed audio systems for streaming music from an RTiDock iPod dock, a Sirius tuner, and a whole-home media server. If those perks and the sheer size of the property aren’t impressive enough, it also has 17 zones of radiant heat, five HVAC zones, fingerprint access to the wine cellar and an equipment room, Aprilaire for controlling the temperature and humidity in that same wine cellar, and a remote-controlled fire pit. It’s quite a laundry list, but the owners can easily access all of the systems, since everything is tied into RTI’s XP-8 control processor.

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This installation was quite a project — one that many New Jersey-based RTI installers could have handled. However, the homeowners took a real liking to Petrone due to a chance meeting. A while back, the owners were having problems with an audio system, so they called in someone local. “Another company went out there and told them that they needed to swap out the whole system and it was going to be thousands and thousands of dollars,” says Anthony Petrone, founder and CEO of Petrone Technology Group Inc.

However, one of the electricians working on the job said that didn’t seem quite right, and suggested that the homeowners contact Petrone, a company he had worked for in the past. “It was something very simple,” Petrone says. “We charged them for a half-hour of labor and we left.”

Four months later, the same client called Petrone looking for input on something a little larger. Citing his “honest” approach to the sound issue, the couple wanted to get Petrone’s opinion on a local electrician’s technology proposal. Instead of feedback, Petrone offered his own services. Yes, the company is willing to travel, especially for a project like this one.

What started off as a little bit of home control, a couple surround sound systems, and some distributed audio ended up becoming a full-blown automated home. Given the space involved, it makes perfect sense. Plus, Petrone says that he loves a good challenge.

“I don’t like doing the same thing every day. That’s the reason why I got into this industry,” he says. “They allowed us to do some things that aren’t the norm. I do automation every day, but something on this scale… it was nice. I like a challenge.”

Because of the distance between the home and Petrone’s main offices, tweaks and service calls aren’t exactly convenient. A stand-alone Ethernet network was installed in the home, allowing Petrone to update programming on the processor, keypads, and iPads, all remotely from Florida. However, the system also needed to be exceptionally reliable, which is why Petrone picked RTI to be the backbone of the entire setup.

“We used all of the best equipment at the time,” he says. “We’re using the bulletproof platform of RTI, which I’m a huge fan of.”

With the exception of a firmware upgrade, which Petrone was able to do remotely, the system has been running smoothly since the install was completed earlier this year. There has been no need for long-distance service calls. “We have not had any issues with this house,” Petrone says. “I’m not going to say it’s luck. I think it’s proper planning and proper design. The client didn’t stress that hey, ‘I want to save money by cutting corners.’ He said that it doesn’t need to be the best, but it needs to be worry-free.”

In other words, he wants to come home, press a button, and have the system be on — every time.

That ease of use has a lot to do with the system’s programming, which Petrone finds to be the most impressive part of the project. Visitors might disagree, however, after getting a peek at the remote-controlled fire pit. This setup allows users to control the fire pit, using RTI’s U2 waterproof remote, the RTiPanel app on an iPad, or an RK3-V in-wall controller.

From start to finish, this project took about four years, but Petrone’s onsite time averaged out to about three months. (“It was just the way things had to be done,” Petrone says of the new construction.) While the house was being built, the owners were staying in a carriage house on the property, which is one of Petrone’s upcoming projects. That space, a garage and stables will soon receive temperature control, access control, security, cameras, and more. “Of course, they’re going to want Wi-Fi over there eventually,” Petrone adds. “And everything is going to be on the RTI.”

Even with those projects coming up, Petrone considers the main residence to be part of the company’s highlights reel, considering the size and everything that was put into it. “It was like a living creature. It grew right in front of our eyes,” he says. “Looking back on it, this was probably a shining point in our company’s history, getting this done with no hiccups… It was just a really cool project.”

For a sneak peek at this home, check out our slideshow for “Installer Travels 1200 Miles to Tame 10,000-Square-Foot Home.”

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