There’s this annoying glitch that happens sometimes in an automated home called “latency.” It occurs when you press a button to, say, activate all the lights in the house, and you’re left standing at the threshold tapping your foot waiting for the lights to turn on. Those few seconds of lag time might seem inconsequential, but when you’re walking into a dark house, you want those lights on in an instant. For years, the owner of this renovated condo had struggled with this same issue due to an automation system that was slow to respond.
Electronics Design & Installation: Wicked Smart Homes, Sarasota, Fla.
Automation & Control: Crestron
Whole-House Music and Video: Crestron & Autonomic
Speakers and Subwoofers: Klipsch, Niles, Episode
Heating/Cooling Control: Crestron
Lighting Control: Crestron
Motorized Window Shades: Crestron
Ready for some well-deserved R&R—and an automated house that would cater to his need for speed— he purchased a 3,500-square-foot condo in Sarasota, Fla., as a part-time getaway from the cold weather in his hometown of Toronto and as a convenient spot to conduct business (he’s a condo developer in Sarasota). Although his experiences with automation up until this point had soured him a bit on the technology, he was willing to give it another shot in this new abode, as long as there was no question about the system’s ability to get signals from point A to point B in the blink of an eye. He wanted the lights, motorized shading, and music to turn on the second he stepped inside. “He wanted that immediate gratification,” says Mark Bolduc, whose Sarasota-based company, Wicked Smart Homes, was hired to tackle the design and installation of a Crestron automation system and other high-tech accouterments.
Equipped with a robust processor, the Crestron system would be able to easily handle the homeowner’s quest for quick setups of his new home’s environment. He’d be able to tap a button on his iPhone and shift effortlessly into an easy-going Sarasota lifestyle and a home that required virtually no tedious manual preparation. That one command is all it would take to have the lights set up to the ideal intensity levels, the shades open to their appropriate positions, the thermostat to adjust to a predefined comfort setting, and the whole-house music system to play a curated list of his favorite songs and at the perfect volume level through the home’s multiple built-in speakers from Niles Audio and Klipsch.
“Keeping it simple to control the lights, shades, and music was imperative,” says Bolduc. “He didn’t want to have to relearn how to use the system every time he visited.” Bolduc programmed “scenes” into the Crestron system that would allow one command issued from either a mobile app on an iPhone or tablet, or from one of three wall-mounted touchpanels, to sweep through the house arranging the environment perfectly for whatever the occasion may be.
In some cases, the owner doesn’t even need to touch a button to make things happen. Per another rule programmed into the Crestron system by Bolduc, the Crestron motorized shades automatically lower over the windows four hours before sunset. This helps protect the condo’s furnishings from the harsh westerly exposure to the sun.
This ability to create instant ambiance appeals to the homeowner not only on a personal level, but also serves as an effective business tool. The condo functions as a model home of sorts, where the homeowner takes potential clients to see the automation system in action. He plans to offer a basic Crestron automation package to each buyer in the luxury 8-unit condo project he is building next door.
“Being able to stroll throughout the condo with an iPad in hand and alter the environment really showcases the capability of the Crestron system and the benefits of home automation,” says Bolduc.
The technology is impressive enough that the homeowner elected to prominently display the rack of processors, amplifiers, switchers, and other equipment in a three-sided glass enclosure in the living room. “It’s the showpiece of the room,” says Bolduc, who also went to great lengths to install several flat-panel Samsung TVs, seven pairs of speakers, and Crestron motorized shading hardware in a way that wouldn’t steal any visual attention away from the gorgeous view of the Sarasota Bay. “There are huge windows throughout the condo, so we had to get creative with our placement of the TVs, and due to limited space above the ceiling—typical in a condo—we had to build a soffit on the ceiling to give us the room we needed to recess the speakers. To keep the windows completely unobstructed—“he wanted no fascias or soffits covering any part of the windows,” says Bolduc—Wicked Smart Homes worked with the general contractor to create recessed shade pockets in the ceiling into which the motorized hardware could be tucked up and out of the way of the glass.
Thanks to an automation system that responds quickly, the beauty of this condo is easy to behold. There’s no waiting for the shades to open to reveal the amazing view, no time wasted as the lights set themselves to the precise intensity level, and no fiddling with A/V gear to find the perfect piece of music to play. It all just happens as the homeowner walks through the door. EH