With its warm woods and decadent finishes, this upscale residence offers proof that a high-tech home needn't be sterile to get its groove on. The ideal home-automation system is so seamless that it's nearly invisible, and can happily coexist with any style of interior design, including one that harks back to a rich past. In the InSync Home, Cat-5e structured wiring by Honeywell is woven through an open web truss system, serving up broadband access to nearly every room in the house. Strategically stationed wireless access points turn the entire residence into a hot spot.
The ultimate tie that binds is an integrated technology network by manufacturer Colorado vNet—a secret ingredient that makes life's little luxuries taste sweeter and life's many chores more palatable. Wall-mounted touchscreens are strategically interspersed throughout the floor plan and always within reach. These LCD panels can be accessed to control and activate a variety of subsystems, including landscape lighting, home security, HVAC, window coverings, retractable screens, ceiling fans, and outdoor water features. Touchpads also connect to a 10-zone distributed audio system, complete with an integrated music server channeling an AM/FM tuner, multiple iPod docks, and satellite radio. The touchscreen interface is intuitive and puts tech support contact information for both the manufacturer (Colorado vNet) and integrator/ installer (Wilson Technologies) at the homeowner's fingertips, 24/7.
Supreme lighting controls are another fine feature. With labeled dimmer panels in every room, it's easy to toggle just the right mood from a host of recessed and hanging lights, including incandescent, low-voltage, and halogen bulbs. Select lighting systems in walk-in closets and pantries are activated by motion sensors for convenience. (No need to worry about hitting the switch when your arms are full of groceries or dry cleaning.)
All that, and the home-automation system also has diagnostic capabilities to boot. Electrical consumption can be tracked over time, and lighting controls can be calibrated for energy efficiency. “If one of the dimmer modules is set to run a load of lights to maximum brightness, we can reprogram the threshold to max out at 75 percent to 80 percent. The difference will be virtually indiscernible to the eye, but you'll see it on your utility bill,” says Dave Wilson, president of Wilson Technologies, the technology integrator on the project. Special lighting modes can also be programmed and activated for parties, seasonal shifts in natural light, or times when the owners are away on vacation.
The home-automation network is self-regulating and modular, meaning the entire system won't go down if one component goes bad. “There is not one central point of power, so there's never any instance when the homeowner would need to have analog control,” explains Wilson. “The system architecture is similar to what you'd find in a Mercedes. If one keypad goes out, it can be swapped out and replaced, at which point the system intuitively reconfigures it to sync back up with the network. In the interim, the homeowner can control the system via one of the home's other touchscreens. There is no reprogramming required by the end user.” Back-up generators ensure that the system remains operational even in the event of a power failure.
HOME RUN You would expect a technology-focused house to be loaded with a sophisticated lineup of home-automation features. This is certainly true for the InSync Home, which goes even further with products and features that are a step above your average digital home.
The design team wanted a tech package that makes life easier for builders as well as buyers, so they chose Colorado vNet for a variety of products, including lighting controls, touchscreens, and audio servers and controls.
Many companies offer integrated home-automation products, but Colorado vNet differentiates itself “through ease of use, reduced number of SKUs for the integrator, and reduced installation time for the builder,” says Dave Wilson, president of tech integrator Wilson Technologies. “It's also easy for the builder to integrate.”
Lighting is one area of differentiation. Instead of a main, centrally located panel, the home features 23 small dimming modules that are strategically placed in an upstairs mechanical room and in the garage; each controls an individual lighting scene.
Because the modules are split between two locations in the house, the shorter runs reduce installation costs by cutting down on the amount of copper wiring that would be used in a traditional installation. The modules make installation easier because the integrator has to fish less wire. Additionally, the modules have embedded self-diagnostic script for remote error reporting. “The modules are monitored constantly by Colorado vNet to check if a [key]pad is functioning,” Wilson says.
The house features a variety of other products, too. There are three types of audio and lighting controls: touchpads that adjust backlight and LED intensity to match room levels; five- and eight-button labeled keypads that are easy to understand; and 10 touchscreen amplifiers that control digital audio sources—such as iPods and DVDs. Bezels come in black or white or can be painted. An audio server stores up to 1,250 CDs in uncompressed WAV format and delivers six unique digital audio streams simultaneously over Internet protocol. (It can accept an optional AM/FM tuner as well.)
The Colorado vNet system, says Wilson, allows the builder to provide a system that easily integrates with the design of the home, making the process painless. www.coloradovnet.com.
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