WHEN MOST PEOPLE hire someone to install surveillance cameras into their home, they do it mainly for security purposes. Whether the cameras will be used to keep tabs on the residence while the family is on vacation or as a way to know when someone steps onto the property, they provide the valuable peace of mind that every homeowner craves.
Systems & Equipment
- Control: Savant
- Lighting Control: Lutron
- Motorized Shades: Lutron
- TVs: Samsung, Seura
- Whole-House A/V: Savant
- Speakers: Bowers & Wilkins, JBL, Leon Speakers, Rockustics, Sonance, Triad
- Surveillance Cameras: IC Realtime
- Security: Elk
- Remotes: URC
- Networking: Cisco, Pakedge, Ruckus
Twenty-nine surveillance cameras capture images of wildlife around the property—and also provide security
Elegant colored lighting accentuates the architectural centerpiece of the home
Commercial-grade systems unite with residential systems for uber-smart automation effects
While a sophisticated setup of high-end surveillance cameras was just one of many high-tech accouterments in Electronic House magazine’s 2015 Gold award-winning home, the 29 IC Realtime cameras provided the owners of the 14,000-square-foot home in Orange County, N.Y., with much more than a sense of security. Thanks to the meticulous engineering and design skills of the home systems integrators at Innerspace Electronics, Inc. (IEI), of Port Chester, N.Y., the home’s surveillance cameras are able to function also as “virtual binoculars,” capturing real-time, full-color, high-res outdoor images to display on the many wall-mounted iPads and TVs located throughout the house.
Explains IEI owner and president Barry Reiner: Each camera was strategically positioned to snap footage of the wildlife that frequents the two ponds in the backyard and the nature preserve along the perimeter of the 142-acre property. When an animal passes by a camera, its built-in motion sensor signals the home’s Savant automation system to activate every TV in the residence (eight total). The TVs tune automatically to a preset “wildlife station,” giving the owner a close-up view of the many deer, birds, squirrels, and other creatures that stop by for a visit. If the owners happen to be already watching TV, the camera footage pops up in a picture-in-picture window.
Scoping Out Beaver Island
Most of the cameras (shown right) are able to be panned, tilted, and zoomed in for a better look, and this happens remotely from commands issued by the owners from a Savant control app that IEI downloaded onto the homeowners’ many tablets and smartphones. One camera in particular, which is mounted on a 30-foot pole on what the homeowners refer to as Beaver Island can spin on command from the Savant system to about a dozen different preset positions, which were identified by the homeowner and the IEI pros during the design of the home and its electronic systems.
Clean Water Act
To ensure that the water in the two ponds on their property would stay as fresh and clean as possible, the owners equipped each with an aeration system. This system circulates the water to promote the diffusion of oxygen—an important element for healthy plants and fish. On some days, the wind can feed oxygen to the ponds but, when the weather is hot and humid, and the wind is still, the supplementary aerators are necessary to circulate the water. And, thanks to the integration of a Davis Instruments weather station with the Savant automation system, this happens automatically based on the weather conditions. If the wind speed is above 10 miles per hour, the aerators turn off; if the wind speed drops below 10 miles per hour, they turn on. The owners also have the ability to control the aerators at any time, regardless of the wind speed, by pressing buttons on a Savant control app on their iPhones and iPads.
When the cameras aren’t capturing high-res images of wildlife, they keep watch over the property, signaling the Savant system to notify the homeowners with a text message that a car has pulled into the driveway, a package was delivered at the front door, or when someone is strolling down a hallway. If the owners can’t get to the camera vide right away, the footage is recorded automatically to a DVR for viewing later. “This has become his favorite mode of entertainment,” says Reiner. “He’ll sit back and watch what’s happening around the property for the sheer enjoyment of it.”
The double-duty surveillance cameras are just one example of the high level of customization that took place during the design and construction of this elegantly tailored home. Each piece of technology recommended to the homeowners by IEI would be uniquely designed with features that catered precisely to their interests, hobbies, and lifestyle. “One of the things that sets us apart from other home systems integration firms is how much we enjoy the challenge of creating custom programming solutions,” Reiner says. “This project wasn’t our first stab at over-the-top customization, but it was definitely one of the most extensive and challenging.” It also helped that the homeowner was “extremely technical, curious, and innovative,” Reiner continues. “He wanted to do some really fun and challenging things with the Savant control system.”
One of the most challenging aspects of this project, says Reiner, was the integration of an extensive heating and cooling system, which combines forced air cooling with radiant floor heating into 15 independently controlled zones. To maximize the efficiency of these systems, IEI employed a communications protocol, BACnet, which is commonly used to monitor and control heating and cooling systems in large commercial settings. Through special programming and engineering, IEI was able to integrate the building management system into the Savant operating system. This means that the family is able to monitor the current temperature in every zone in the house and make adjustments as necessary—without ever having to tinker with a thermostat.
When it comes to tinkering with their extensive music collection, however, the homeowners are completely on board—despite the fact that not a single speaker can be seen. Forty-eight Triad DesignerSeries speakers and four Bowers & Wilkins subwoofers—enough to create 32 distinct listening zones—blend invisibly into the walls. Not even the speaker grilles are detectable, as these speakers are designed to be skimmed over with drywall compound. However, there’s no mistaking that the residence is musically inclined. A tap of a few buttons on the Savant app activates the Fusion Ovation music system, cues the chosen music source, delivers the tunes to the selected audio zones, and sets the volume to a predetermined level. The owners can easily activate additional zones or turn them all on at the same time, and choose different sources of music to play in different zones as they wander the house and property.
IEI installed several Ruckus wireless access points outdoors so that no matter where the homeowners roam, signals from the Savant smartphone or tablet app get to its companion processor, located in a specially constructed mechanical room, without a hitch. A solid, reliable wireless network was also crucial for streaming music directly from the owners’ iTunes library to the three Sonance Soniscape Landscape Series speaker systems outside. Guests are free to stream music stored on their smartphones through the speakers, as well. “It’s a convenient and fun way to get a party started,” Reiner says.
The Rainbow Connection
It’s just as easy to prepare the home’s extravagant lighting system for a special event. And again, the team at IEI went the extra mile by seamlessly meshing a commercial lighting communications protocol with the residential Savant automation system. The integration of a DMX commercial lighting system would enable the owners to launch elaborate displays of colored lighting without having to fiddle around with switches and dials on a commercial-style lighting console. Instead, they use a simple, straightforward menu presented to them by the Savant control app on the screens of their mobile devices or on the five iPads that IEI mounted permanently to the walls in the kitchen, master bedroom, master bathroom, guest bedroom, and exercise room. They can chose from a rainbow of colors, illuminate certain areas of the house, adjust the brightness of a single light or a huge group of lights, and watch the magic happen instantly. A “silo,” which was built as the centerpiece of the home, showcases the decorative impact of lighting. Here, more than 66,000 fiber-optic lights embedded in the concrete of a stone wall come alive with color. Blue, pink, orange, yellow, or any hue in between can be chosen from the Savant app to alter the ambiance instantly.
Windows & Doors
Forty-one motorized Lutron Sivoia QS roller shades contribute to the home’s high style and efficient operation. Whether the homeowners are hosting a dinner party, relaxing with a book, listening to music, sleeping, or anything else, the window shades—like the lights—are always set perfectly and with hardly any effort from the homeowners. Swiping a finger across the screen of a nearby wall-mounted iPad or handy mobile device brings them to a specially configured “dashboard” where they can view the current positions of all the shades and adjust them on a whim. They can be controlled individually or in groups, or a housewide sweep can be initiated so that every window shade lowers at once. As the shades settle into position, the homeowners can monitor the conditions and control all other products and systems that IEI tied to Savant control ecosystem. Any garage door that may have been left open can be promptly closed, any exterior door that’s unlocked can be secured—even a generator that stores electricity for the home to use in case of a power outage feeds status reports to the Savant automation system. A quick glance at the Savant smartphone app shows them the current fuel level of the generator. The Savant system also pushes notifications to the homeowners’ smartphones to let them know when the generator has turned on. Ditto when a door has been left unlocked—a feature that’s particularly helpful when the homeowners are traveling.
Masterful Integration & Automation
Useful information, simple control, and innovative integration—it all comes together beautifully in this high-tech home thanks to IEI’s masterful customization and installation of a Savant home automation system. The homeowners can use the system to actively monitor and control every aspect of the home environment or, even better, sit back and let the automation system handle it all on its own. Commercial-grade lighting, heating and cooling, and networking system unite with residential electronic door locks, audio and video components, surveillance cameras, motorized shading and more, to deliver unparalleled convenience, efficiency, enjoyment—and let’s not forget, a priceless sense of security. EH
PHOTOGRAPHY: Olson Photographic SYSTEMS DESIGN & INSTALLATION: Innerspace Electronics, Port Chester, N.Y.