*Editor’s note: This project is one of many that will be featured a special digital issue of Electronic House available soon to honor the winners of our annual Home of the Year contest. Inside you’ll tour beautiful and brainy smart homes, amazing home theaters, awesomely automated outdoor entertainment spaces, and more. Keep your eyes peeled for our special Home of the Year Gold Awards issue. Here’s the low-down on our Gold Winning Integrated Smart Home (less than $150,000 in equipment).
When your custom-built home is planted on a prime piece of property that overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway in sunny southwest Florida, huge, scaling, floor-to-ceiling windows are an absolute must. They deliver phenomenal views, of course — but also allow in excessive heat from the sun. Consequently, the builder of our award-winning smart home, Voigt Brothers, makes sure to outfit every residence he builds with Lutron motorized shading. Lighting control from Lutron is also a standard feature to provide an eye-pleasing aesthetic, as is the handiwork of a reputable home systems integrator to tailor the technologies to the unique needs of the owners of each residence.
Windows to a World of High-Tech Options
Explains Mark Bolduc from Sarasota-based Wicked Smart Homes, the integration firm contracted by the builder and recipient of our Gold Smart Home of the Year ($150,00 and less in equipment)award, “This particular architect and builder team preps their clients on the practicality of having shading and lighting control, and we follow up by presenting them with how we can customize the systems further to meet their needs and introduce them to other options.” In this case, these needs revolved mainly around the fact that the homeowners would be staying at their new 5,000-square-foot waterfront residence only part time. Functioning as a vacation home, it would need a home automation system that would help the owners monitor it from afar and enable it to function autonomously.
- Automated shades lower and rise on command or at certain times of the day
- Surveillance cameras can be set to create virtual boundaries
- Whole-house audio system designed specifically for two people’s preferences
Per the homeowners’ request, the smart home technologies chosen by Bolduc should permit them to operate the Lutron motorized shades and dimmable lights, as well as a DSC security system, Carrier heating and cooling system, and Yale electronic door locks as easily from thousands of miles away as they can while on the premises. Bolduc selected a Crestron control system as the overarching home management platform, and loaded the Crestron mobile control app on the owners’ smartphones and tablets.
SPF for a Sun-Soaked House
Conveniently from the app, which communicates directly with the home-based Crestron CP3-N processor, the owners can check out real-time weather conditions in Sarasota, and adjust the shades and HVAC system if necessary, which based on the brutal afternoon sun that hits this house, happens frequently. “The entire west side of the home that faces the water is made of 12-foot-tall glass walls,” says Bolduc. “So the home benefits greatly from having Lutron motorized shades to minimize solar gain and protect the furnishings from fading.”
Even if the owners aren’t on the app, the Crestron system handles the shade adjustments for them automatically. An astronomical timeclock built into the control processor triggers the shades to lower in unison in the afternoon. It’s an effect that not only shields the interior from heat and UV light, but makes the unoccupied home appear as if someone is at home.
While the homeowners are closing the shades — or leaving the task to the Crestron system — they can peek in on their waterfront property. Wicked Smart Homes positioned four Visualint IP cameras strategically to capture all of the goings-on — be it at the front door or the back yard by the boat dock. These are no ordinary, run-of-the-mill surveillance cameras, according to Bolduc. “Built into the cameras is a special analytics feature that allowed us to set specific boundaries for each camera to monitor.” This is particularly helpful for securing the rear of the home, which butts up against the waterway.
“We set a virtual barrier that sets off the camera should anyone enter the back yard from the water,” Bolduc explains. Should anyone cross over the water line, the camera triggers a notification to the homeowners via text message. These cameras maintain their vigil, however, only during certain times of the day and only when the homeowners are away. “This way, the groundskeepers won’t set off the alarm and the homeowners can enjoy their back yard without worrying about the cameras,” Bolduc says. Wicked Smart Homes set up the time-of-day parameters for the cameras to follow while they were installing the technology into the home, so there’s no need for the homeowner to tinker with the settings; it all happens automatically.
Audio Adds to the Allure
Free to enjoy the lush back yard — as well as the beautiful interior — the homeowners can grab a tablet or phone to fill the property with music. A Crestron whole-house audio system transmits tunes from an Autonomic music server that’s tucked away in a specially built utility room with the rest of the electronic gear. Music goes to eight listening zones equipped with Paradigm in-ceiling speakers inside and three zones equipped with Terra landscape speakers outdoors. The music also plays through the surround-sound system in a family room where a 65-inch TV gets its video content from a cable box located in the equipment room. Four other cable boxes reside in this room, each wired to its own TV. Bolduc says it’s a simple setup that maintains a clean aesthetic and suits the entertainment needs of the homeowners perfectly.
“They aren’t big TV watchers, so having a slew of video sources wasn’t necessary.” And neither was loading up the equipment rack with several audio components. The Autonomic server streams all the popular Internet music services, and support two simultaneous streams so that she can listen to a certain music station in one room while he listens to something different in another room. “It’s just the two of them who live in the house, so two streams and Internet radio was sufficient for their listening pleasure,” Bolduc says.
Lighting the Way to Full Control
Whole-house music is often what inspires homeowners to branch out into complete home automation; in this case, sunshine was the impetus. After understanding the benefits of lighting and shading control to the efficiency and beauty of their home, the owners of this stunning Sarasota abode added a bevy of other high-tech amenities, including whole-house audio, to create a living environment that suits their tastes, schedule and needs as part-time Floridians. They can control every aspect of the home with a simple tap of a smartphone, whether they’re soaking in the sun outdoors, hosting a party, or staying at their main residence in Europe.