Source: Professional Housebuilder and Property Developer (PHPD) Magazine January 2018 (Cover Feature)
With an increasing emphasis on including the latest technologies and controls in new homes, Billy Hilton, Senior Engineer at Cyberhomes, reveals how one luxury new home in Lutterworth was fitted with the latest home automation and AV capabilities.
Buyers of bespoke or luxury homes are increasingly demanding that their new property has the latest home automation and audiovisual (AV) capabilities. Many potential buyers will already have experience of an integrated smart home system in their current home and, depending on the quality of installation, will have a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ relationship with a particular solution. Clearly developers need to offer a feature-rich control and automation system in new homes, but how do you ensure buyers are going to love it?
A recent project Cyberhomes was involved with saw a modest bungalow in Lutterworth being replaced with a new two-storey house that spanned three sides of a courtyard. Although the client was a property developer, this project was his own home. With a keen eye for interior design it was essential that as much of the technology as possible was hidden out of sight and what could be seen should blend seamlessly into the room design.
Lighting has a dramatic impact on the feel of a room and the ability to easily change lighting levels of different circuits allows all the different living spaces to be optimised for different activities. At the outset we brought in lighting designer Richard Voller to work closely with the client and their interior designer.
Richard’s lighting plan dictated the number of lighting circuits required in each room so we could specify the lighting control system (a total of 76 dimmable circuits). A Lutron Homeworks QS lighting system was selected as it is extremely reliable and also integrates well with other manufacturers’ control systems, giving the owner the flexibility to change control system in the future should they wish to.
With such a large property, zoned heating control was essential in order not to waste energy heating rooms that aren’t in use. The use of smart thermostats in every room (19 zones) provides local control but also send temperature data back to the main control system to allow automated control of heating for maximum efficiency. Heating can be automatically turned down in rooms that aren’t occupied or if, for example, a window is open.
“With a keen eye for interior design it was essential that as much of the technology as possible was hidden out of sight and what could be seen should blend seamlessly into the room design.”
The intruder alarm and CCTV cameras are all integrated allowing the owner to ensure the house is secure whether they are at home or away. The system is constantly recording how lights are used and this can then be replayed when ‘holiday mode’ is selected.
The cameras, recorded footage and alarm status can be viewed on the owner’s smartphone anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. Access to the property is controlled with electric gates and a video intercom. Family members carry RFID key fobs so there is no messing around entering PIN codes.
One of the owner’s main objectives was for his family to be able to enjoy video and music all around the home. The entertainment system features seven televisions including an eye-catching 80-inch TV inset into a stone wall in the family room.
A video matrix distributes 4K resolution content to the TVs from a range of source options— except for the TVs in the children’s bedrooms, which can only access restricted-channel Sky boxes and local games consoles. All the rooms have discreet in-ceiling speakers that can access multiple local and streamed music sources.
A dedicated home cinema room meets the demands of movie night and major sporting events. Tiered seating and a Dolby Atmos surround sound system ensure everyone has an immersive experience.
Selecting products for the lighting, heating, security and AV that we know have good control integration capabilities gives us the flexibility to choose from a number of different control and automation systems. The preferred solution then came down to the user interface. Cyberhomes demonstrated different options and the client selected Control4 as their preference which also suited their budget.
With all the product decisions made, we could design the whole system, provide cable schedules for the electrician to work to and drawings for all the in-room equipment housings.
We added a wired and WiFi data network for internet access throughout the home. Remote network monitoring provides us with notifications of any issues with equipment. We can remotely reboot or reconfigure devices providing the homeowner with continuous system performance and minimising disruption. All equipment that is in a fixed location is hard-wired via Ethernet to the network, reducing Wi-Fi traffic to just mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones.
The main equipment racks were built and tested in our workshop. Heat output calculations were done and airflow through the rack managed accordingly to ensure nothing will overheat. Once all the infrastructure cabling had been tested and certified and the site was clean and dust free, the equipment racks were installed and final commissioning undertaken. Meticulous attention to cable management ensures future servicing and upgrades can be performed efficiently.
Our attention to detail in design and installation was recognised recently when this project received ‘highly commended’ status at this year’s CEDIA awards in the Best Integrated Home £120,000 and Under category.
How To Get Started
The key to success is getting the cable infrastructure right during the build and really understanding the client’s needs when it comes to configuration and programming. That means ensuring that all the necessary data and audio/video cables are run during first-fix electrics and that they terminate in a dedicated plant room where all the necessary equipment can be located. Getting an automation specialist involved in the project as early as possible is essential in order to design the system and generate the necessary cable schedules. Identifying a CEDIA member company with the right experience is a good way to start.
Want to Know More?
Billy Hilton is a Senior Engineer at Cyberhomes. Cyberhomes is an award-winning technology company that designs and installs high-end home automation and AV systems. For more information visit www.cyberhomes.co.uk