The world of home electronics has definitely gone the way of wireless. Today, you can find sound systems that pump tunes to speakers without any wiring, security cameras that run off batteries and shoot video to your phone via Wi-Fi; and automation hubs that issue commands to lights, thermostats, and other gear over a myriad wireless networking topologies.
Wireless Lighting and Shades Ideal for Retrofit
It’s a movement that has broadened the home automation market immensely, enabling owners of existing homes to easily add technology without having to fish cabling behind finished walls. Moreover, the technologies that now empower wireless systems and devices have improved vastly, making them more reliable and robust in performance than ever.
A wireless system made perfect sense as the communications and control infrastructure in this renovated, historic 15,000-square-foot estate in the outskirts of Chicago–a project that was honored as the Best Wireless Installation in Lutron’s annual Excellence awards program. After all, the owners of the house surely didn’t want to sacrifice the integrity or authenticity of their home’s vintage style by drilling into the walls to add cabling. Nor would they settle for mediocrity in the efficiency, convenience, and functionality of the control system that would be installed. They wanted both a system that could be installed easily, and without disruption, into their 1890s home and that could deliver every imaginable feature normally associated with hardwired home automation systems.
Lutron HomeWorks QS Manages Over 120 Lighting Loads
The wireless solution chosen by the home integration specialists hired for the high-tech update: a Lutron HomeWorks QS system. “Given the size and age of the home and the objectives of the homeowners, this was the perfect project for a HomeWorks QS system,” says Ken Johnson, president, Premiere Systems. “The project would comprise more than 120 loads of lighting and numerous automated Lutron window treatments, so a system like HomeWorks QS that is engineered to handle this sheer number of devices was absolutely necessary.” The HomeWorks QS system would also be able to communicate not just with incandescent lights, but also with the home’s halogen, magnetic low voltage, and LED light sources.
To ensure that wireless signals issued from any of the home’s user interfaces would reach the intended light switches and automated window shades without a hitch, Premiere Systems installed two HomeWorks QS processors instead of just one, and complemented the duo with eight RF repeaters and four power panels for the window treatments. These repeaters and power panels are located in different areas of the house for even, wireless coverage throughout the four-level home and the expansive yard, where 16 lighting loads illuminate the grounds to accent the gardens, sculptures, and grand exterior of the home. The homeowners can issue commands from a variety of device, including Lutron LED and CFL dimmer switches, Lutron stationary and portable keypads, Savant touchpanels, and the Lutron Connect app of their smartphones.
Automated Window Treatments Marry Design and Technology
Equally as important as the elegant, easily controllable lighting of this home are the dozens of window treatments that fall under the aegis of the HomeWorks QS system. And, just like the lighting, the automated window treatments
run the gamut in terms of their design, with 29 Roman and roller shades, 11 drapery tracks, and one Venetian blind. For this portion of the project, Premiere Systems collaborated closely with the homeowners’ interior designer to ensure a perfect coupling of decorative and technological attributes.
The automation of the lights and window treatments through the HomeWorks QS system keep the spacious home looking its best by simply tapping a button on a keypad, touch panel, or mobile app. The owners never need to worry about brightening or dimming a light to achieve the look they’re after. Premiere Systems meticulously programmed the HomeWorks QS system so that each button on keypad, touch panel, and app issues a command to a predetermined group of lights to adjust to the ideal settings. A similar procedure happens when they press preconfigured buttons to control the window dressings.
Pushing the Integration Boundaries: Adding Fans and Fireplaces
Lighting and shading automation may be the forte of the Lutron HomeWorks QS system, but for this wireless retrofit, Premiere Systems also integrated the exhaust fans in each of the home’s five bathrooms and nine gas fireplaces. In the bathrooms, the lights and fans operate in sync at the touch of a button; elsewhere, one command instructs the fireplaces to activate and the fans to run at the desired speed.
Turning on the Charm from Anywhere in the World
It’s one thing to be able to easily manage a large household while you’re on premise; it’s another to do so while you’re traveling. But for these smartphone-toting homeowners, it’s just as easy to control the lights and window treatments while they’re away as when they are home. The same Lutron Connect app that the owners use to issue commands from the sofa and kitchen table is able to access the HomeWorks QS system and all its components from anywhere in the world. “Being able to see the status of the house and control it was a very appealing feature to these homeowners,” Johnson says. By launching a single command—no matter where the owners happen to be—their estate can instantly turn on the charm.