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
Source: Home Cinema Choice Magazine October 2017
Highly Commended: Cyberhomes
This cinema room previously featured in HCC #274, but it’s just one part of a whole-house project from Cyberhomes that has earned the company a Best Integrated Home commendation.
The room itself features an in-wall/on-wall 5.1.4 speaker system using Definitive Technology models, Epson projector, and Integra power and processing hardware. There’s seating for seven, but we’d make a beeline for the front row of chaise longues.
The rest of the property is as smart as they come, offering 15 separate audio zones with in-ceiling speakers, a video matrix to shunt content around multiple TVs, and Lutron control over 76 lighting circuits—all integrated into a Control4 system.
Source: Home Cinema Choice Magazine July 2017
Plush furnishings, a 3m-wide projector screen, star ceiling and 5.1.4 speaker setup make this a cinema room we’d love to kick back in
THIS CAVERNOUS HOME cinema was designed and installed as part of a whole-house project undertaken by UK company Cyberhomes.
The rest of the property has been kitted out with flatscreen displays, distributed video, a games room and no fewer than 15 audio zones—yet it’s this movie den that gets our attention.
Feeling like a crossover between traditional home cinema and a regular living space, it’s dominated by the 3m-wide projector screen that takes up almost an entire wall. This is currently used in conjunction with an Epson Full HD projector and sources ranging from Kaleidescape to Sky Q. Ceiling-mounting means upgrading the projector to 4K in the future is a simple task.
One upgrade that occurred midway through the project concerns audio – the proposed surround sound speaker system was boosted to a Dolby Atmos installation, using four in-ceiling speakers. These join with in-wall and behind-the-screen LCR models, plus an in-wall sub (all from Definitive Technology) to create a discreet 5.1.4 setup.
Integration with Control4, the system used through the rest of the house, ensures easy operation of the cinema hardware and lighting. Automated control also extends to the black-out blind n
- SCREEN INTERNATIONAL: 3m (wide) 16:9 ratio Cinesound Screen with velvet frame
- EPSON: EH-TW9200W Full HD projector
- DEFINITIVE TECHNOLOGY: 3 x DT8LCR in-wall speakers; 4 x DT6.5R in-ceiling speakers; 1 x IW Sub 10/10 in-wall subwoofer; 2 x UIW RSS II in-wall surround speakers; SubAmp 600 (600W rack amplifier)
- INTEGRA: DTR-60.6 AV receiver; DBS-30.3 Blu-ray player
- KALEIDESCAPE: KVAULT-DV700; Strato player
- CONTROL4: SR260 remote control
- APPLE: Apple TV
- SKY: Sky Q
- SEATING: Owner’s own
Source: Mail on Sunday 28 May 2017
There was a time when a remote control was only used for flicking through TV channels. But these days—often via a mobile phone—it can control your entire home and help shave hundreds of pounds a year off the household bills.
Here, The Mail on Sunday picks through the high-tech maze to explore some of the ways you can make savings, looking at everything from entertainment to energy—and even feeding the cat.
Ion Smith, co-founder of home cinema installation firm Cyberhomes in Thame, Oxfordshire, believes systems can transform the home.
He says: ‘Only your imagination needs hold you back. The best time to install a music system for the entire home is often when you are doing renovations as this enables any unsightly wires to be hidden away out of view.
‘Consider hiring a consultant to discuss what you want because at the same time you can also look at home cinema, heating, lighting controls and security systems.’ He suggests using a member of the trade body Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association, whose members sign up to a high standard of service and care for its customers.
How to stay switched on to the TV revolution: Get a greater choice of free TV
Anyone wanting to watch TV in several rooms and perhaps include a surround sound system to give the feeling of being in a cinema, should consider using a professional installer to ensure that no unsightly cables are left lying around the home.
Ion Smith, of Cyberhomes, says: ‘Be future ready. For example, the latest technology is 4K—ultra-high definition TV. Make sure any wiring is ready for this as in a few years it could be the norm.‘
To read the full article, visit: http://bit.ly/2rPKc9a
Source: House Beautiful magazine April 2017
The latest in clever home technology and the most stylish gadgets around
Find out what’s new in home security technology with this insight from Andy Mack, director of Cyberhomes.
Consider the options
Simple battery-powered smart doorbells can be screwed onto your door or gatepost and connected to your Wi-Fi. More complex video intercoms have to be inset into the wall, programmed and integrated into the rest of your home system by a specialist such as a CEDIA (cedia.org) member. Standalone doorbells start about £100, while a fully integrated video intercom can cost up to £1,000.
Sound and vision
Camera-based doorbells allow you to check ID before you open the door, while those with the option to record video footage let you see who rang the bell while you were out. As they can’t see you, callers won’t know your house is unoccupied. Internet-based designs link to an app on your smartphone or tablet to alert you when someone is at your door—you can then speak to the caller even if you aren’t at home.
A smart doorbell linked to a home network can include:
- Motion detectors that turn on the lights at the front of the house as someone approaches.
- An intercom that can call multiple touch screens and mobile devices within the home.
- The option to open the gate or unlock the front door remotely.
- The ability to briefly pause music or TV you are listening to/watching when a doorbell ‘chime’ (or any chosen audio track) alerts you.
- PIN codes or fingerprint access for family members and trusted guests.
- Notifications on your phone for different events—every time the bell rings or the front gate is opened/closed, for example.
If you have a doorbell connected only via Wi-Fi and your connection is unreliable, you may miss calls. Make sure you change a default password to a secure one to minimise the risk of it being a target for hackers. If the doorbell also has the ability to unlock the door, ensure it’s well installed—it could reduce your security if someone could pull it off the wall and ‘short together’ wires to unlock the door. High-end products will have an encrypted relay module to prevent this.
Source: Art of Design online magazine November 2016
Technology Integrated into Design
Luxury Homes Demand Integrated Automation and AV Home technology always evolves at a fast pace; and the last few years have been no exception. For luxury homes it is no longer acceptable to have separate systems for lighting, heating, security and entertainment/AV. Homeowners are demanding the ease of use that comes from having all the different technology controlled through a single easy-to-use interface; and this integration also opens the door to home automation. Cyberhomes has been integrating home technology for over ten years and designed and installed a number of award winning solutions.
Fully integrated home automation is growing in popularity and it is important for designers and specifiers to understand the opportunities, as well as how to accommodate it within building design. Andy Mack, Director of smart homes technology specialists Cyberhomes, explains. Homeowners seek a flexible, user-friendly approach to control provided by the latest intuitive software, operated by touch-screen controllers and occupiers’ smart phones.
Discreet ceiling speakers in any rooms and external speakers can be organised into audio zones, each providing music and sound selected from the central AV system.
Similarly, video content from multiple, centralised sources—such as Sky, Virgin TiVo and Apple TV boxes, Blu-ray discs and movie servers—can be distributed to TVs located anywhere in the house. Systems can include a music player for each individual member of the family to enjoy their specific music collection and streaming services in any room.
Home Cinemas and Media Rooms
While dedicated cinema rooms are still called for in larger homes, very often a single room has to work both as a living space and a high-specification home cinema with immersive sound.
Here, at the touch of a button, a projector can descend from the ceiling, a screen lowers in front of the TV, the lights dim and blinds close, creating the ultimate home cinema experience with stunning picture quality and surround sound. Speakers can be in-wall or hidden behind ‘acoustically-transparent’ fabric panels and most of the equipment located in a plant room away from the living spaces, to minimise the impact on interior design.
Every light in and around a house can be dimmed or switched on and off with these devices, and using discreet wall panels replacing conventional switches. Unlike traditional wiring, each circuit is wired back to the dimmer pack, with a separate cable for controls. Pre-set scenes can be created, perhaps involving automated blinds or curtains, and the latest LED lighting enables a greater use of colour whilst making significant energy savings. Additionally, all the lights in a house can be turned off with a single button or holiday mode selected, creating the impression that the house is occupied.
Smart technology allows discreet CCTV cameras and door or gate entry systems to display on any of the control panels throughout the house or on smart phones including when away from home. Owners can also check and adjust heating, lighting and other functions remotely. Intruder alarm systems can be integrated with home automation, allowing additional actions to be triggered automatically. For example, by arming the intruder alarm, lights can automatically turn off, vacation mode occupancy simulation started and heating reduced. When the alarm is disarmed, an entry lighting scene automatically activates and the heating returns to comfort levels. Whilst the system is unarmed, security sensors can be used as occupancy detectors, for example turning lights off and reducing heating levels if rooms are unoccupied for a length of time.
Today’s clients are keen to maximise the opportunities presented by new smart homes technology but often with as little on show as possible, minimising ‘wall clutter’. Close liaison with interior designers and architects is therefore key to optimising best performance and visual design. And smart homes specialists should be involved in building projects from the start, working alongside architects, developers, interior designers and M&E consultants to integrate the system with the overall building design and performance. This will also ensure that accommodation of the extensive cabling needed, provision of a suitable plant room and minimisation of visual impact from equipment are all effectively catered for.
Reliability and Long-term Performance
Wireless networks for fixed equipment are generally not reliable or fast enough, and suffer from ’dead spots’ as well as interference from other electrical items and the foil backing now common on plasterboard. Wireless is recommended only for devices that need to be handheld or portable such as remote controls, smart phones and tablets. A structured cabling infrastructure based on ‘star wiring’ layouts—as opposed to ‘daisy chaining’—is key to consistent quality, flexibility and future-proofing of home automation systems. For reliability and long-term performance the necessary racks of AV equipment should be built and tested, and all the wiring looms created in a controlled environment off-site.
As well as providing a consistent user interface across all systems, integrating technology also allows new automation features to be offered. For example, the windows sensors for the intruder alarm can also be used to detect if a window is opened by the homeowner, and automatically turn down the heating in that room. With the range of sensors and actuators now available, the automation that can be programmed into a system is often limited only by imagination!
Want to learn more about integrating home technology?
A BIID and RIBA accredited CPD ‘Designing Integrated Future-Ready Homes’ is available that covers the concepts of smart home technologies and highlights some of the potential pitfalls, which Cyberhomes presents on behalf of the trade body CEDIA. If you’re looking to install integrated technology into your latest luxury home project call Jim at Cyberhomes on 0333 344 3718 and take a look at some of our other projects at www.cyberhomes.co.uk/our-projects/.
Source: Hidden Wires November 2016
Cyberhomes Builds an Evocative Home Cinema
One homeowner’s dream became a reality when Oxfordshire-based CEDIA member, Cyberhomes created a luxurious home theatre that mirrors his childhood trips to the cinema. Having exceeded the client’s expectations, Cyberhomes was rewarded for its work at the CEDIA Awards 2016, where it scooped first place in the Best Home Cinema Over £100,000 category.
The owner wanted a movie room that closely resembled the vintage cinemas he frequented as a child. This classic home cinema would also double as a bar area for entertaining, as well as a play-house-style theatre for his young children to use as a stage when performing plays for their parents.
Whilst this fun room needed to be both aesthetically in tune with the homeowner’s reveries and would function suitably for his children’s shows, it was also essential that this cinema had the most up to date audio and visual technology. This included the integration of a Dolby Atmos set up and 4K Ultra HD capabilities.
To kick start this major project, Cyberhomes set about composing a selection of mood boards and concept visuals to establish the overall look and feel of the cinema room. These boards were then transformed into 3D rendered animations to provide an insight into what the completed area would look like, allowing the client to visualise the finished product.
Bespoke faux lime lights have been positioned in front of the small stage to uphold a theatrical ambience. This lighting set up is part of a wider scheme throughout the cinema, controlled by a Lutron lighting control system. Multiple lighting circuits are integrated within the room for a succession of lighting scenes to be quickly and easily selected. These scenes can be selected depending on the activity within the room at the time, be it for entertaining, live theatre action or in movie mode, where the lights automatically brighten if the movie is paused or stopped.
Adding to the dramatic design of this home cinema, automated front curtains open when the movie begins; the weighted material ensures these curtains sway as they open and close for a realistic and classic theatre prop.
These initial design steps were integral to the overall success of this project, as only when the interior design had been established could the construction and specification of technologies ensue.
The client was specific with his requests for only the best technologies to be chosen. One of the main features included in the brief was to enlist the largest screen possible. However, viewing distance calculations indicated a slightly smaller screen would be optimal.
As a solution, a 130in. Screen Innovations 2.35:1 acoustically transparent screen was selected, which also allowed the LCR speakers to sit in the ideal position behind the screen. To satisfy any doubt of a fully optimised screen, a Lumagen scaler was ISF calibrated by a certified professional to ensure the premium image quality and colour accuracy for all video sources projected onto the screen.
Motorised masking allows the correct screen ratio to be selected whether the homeowner is watching 4K streaming of Netflix and Amazon Prime video content—made possible by a Roku media player, or the very latest movies available on Kaleidescape’s Strato 4K movie player. This system also allows the selected Sony 4K projector to play movies at UHD resolution.
The Sony projector is housed in a custom-built bulkhead with an anamorphic lens and projector glass mounted at THX specified angles. Leaving no room for error, Cyberhomes ensured the IR sync signal for 3D glasses was clear at all times, regardless of the seating positions. To achieve this, an additional IR sender was mounted behind the projector glass.
Next, Cyberhomes focussed on the sound quality for this luxury home cinema. Specifying Procella Audio amplifiers and Triad speakers, a 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos set up was established within the acoustically-treated room. For this homeowner, a thorough and robust acoustic treatment was paramount, not only in the cinema room, but also in the plant room which was also located within the home cinema space.
Stud walls were isolated using isolation rubbers to prevent vibrations and Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV), ROCKWOOL and acoustic plasterboard were used where necessary to control sound reflections and stop sound transference to and from other rooms in the home. For the plant room, additional silencers are fitted to venting inlets and outlets to further reduce ambient noise. Acoustically-transparent fabrics were used to camouflage the speakers and acoustic panels.
Bringing together all of the carefully considered design and technology elements within the room, the entire cinema has been programmed to be controlled via a Savant Pro control system. This smart system controls the AV, lighting, security and heating in the home cinema and throughout the rest of the home. There is a wall-mounted iPad on the exterior of the cinema before the entrance, which enables pre-selection of the use of the room. Once in the room, the whole system can be controlled from iPads or from the homeowner’s own smartphones.
As a result, Cyberhomes has achieved the classic and luxurious look of a vintage home cinema whilst integrating market-leading technologies for this stunning set up. A multi-functional space which is practical and intuitive for all family members to enjoy has been successfully achieved.