Smart Home Systems of Costa Mesa, Calif., is enlisted to wire a new home for lighting and temperatur
Long hours at the office. Getting stuck in traffic jams. Waiting in long lines. Being put on hold. Juggling personal and professional obligations. Such are the typical, stressful demands placed upon most of us daily.
“Hold on!” you say. “Wait just a minute! For heaven’s sake, this is the 21st century. Isn’t there something that can be done to make life at least a little bit easier?” The answer is yes; the answer is home automation.
While we can do little to change the external world, homeowners are discovering how electronically automating and enhancing their homes can help them create a sanctuary to better cope with the hassles and hardships that exist beyond the scope of a remote control. Advancements in technology are allowing these homeowners to have all of their safety, entertainment, communications and information needs satisfied by integrated home automation systems.
That’s the mode of thinking that led to a Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., family of five hiring Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Smart Home Systems to wire the new 6,000-square-foot home they were having built to handle an array of electronic features.
With an emphasis on functionality rather than “bells and whistles,” the residence was equipped with a home management system – featuring controllable thermostats and lighting – as well as whole-house audio, home theater and voicemail-enabled telephone systems. In addition, the house was wired to facilitate future expansion and upgrades.
Dealer Satisfies Customer, Contractor
Smart Home Systems got its opportunity to land the job the way most dealers prefer to get their leads—an unsolicited phone call in September 1999.
While the yard sign had gotten the company’s foot in the door, it still had to win the client over in their face-to-face consultation.
Francisco’s positive attitude and personal interest in the family played a significant role in sealing the deal.
Homeowner Helps Shape System Design
Felix went to great lengths to determine precisely what capabilities the Smiths desired in their new home. He began the process by having them fill out a 10-page questionnaire dealing with lighting, motorized drapes, computers, phones, security and more. Based on their answers, Felix then asked the couple how they would like the systems to respond under various circumstances.
The planning phase, which lasted about a month, was eased by the client’s genuine desire to learn all about the products and their functionality. This allowed them to convey what they wanted very specifically to the installer with minimal chance of miscommunication.
Job Includes Lighting, Audio/Video and Phones
The installation got under way in November 1999. It took about 10 days to prewire the home, a week to install and program the automation system and another 10 days to install the phone and audio/video systems. A total of 435 man-hours and $35,000 was billed to the client, covering the initial consultation through conclusion of the installation.
The job included an OnQ Home Management System with controllable thermostats and ALC lighting control, Panasonic telephone system with voicemail, home theater system, whole-house audio system, and security system, which was subcontracted out to a local alarm company. Specific goals of the installation included networking three Macintosh computers, a PC and a laptop, and running Cat-5 cabling.
Four controllable thermostats were deployed to divide the house into four separate zones. Each 1,500-square-foot zone has its own schedule for temperature control and all four units have temperature control modes for day, night and away.
The most difficult aspect of the installation, according to Felix, was integrating the Litetouch multibutton scene switches with the lighting control system, which can be triggered by motion sensors located in the hallways, galleries and outside of the house.
All of the computers were placed in one room so that the couple can more easily monitor their children’s computer use. However, each bedroom is equipped with the necessary wiring and connections to hook computers up there as well. Felix took care during the installation to ensure the aesthetic integrity of the new home, keeping many of the components and wiring completely out of view.
Client Learns System, Enjoys Benefits
The Smiths moved into their new house in June 2000 and began a three-month process of being trained on the operation and capabilities of the systems, and having them fine-tuned to best suit their lifestyle.
For example, they would tell Felix they wanted certain lights to automatically illuminate at 30 percent rather than 65 percent at night. He would then walk them through the steps of reprogramming those lights to correspond with their desires.
The client has been particularly thrilled with the automated lighting system. The lighting and phone systems have provided some unforeseen benefits as well. For example, if a light is triggered unexpectedly in the middle of the night, the parents know one of their children is up. Similarly, they can tell if one of them is using the phone because it lights up.
System Set to Handle Family’s Future Needs
The Smiths, who intend to remain in their new home at least until all of their children grow up and go on to college, in 15 years or so, made it clear to Felix that they wanted the house wired for technology today as well as tomorrow.
The homeowners have already added a few things since moving in about a year ago. Due to the rolling blackouts anticipated in Southern California this summer, they say they plan on installing both surge protectors and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). In addition, caller ID and an entry keypad are to be installed on the side door of the garage to allow the kids access to the house should they forget their keys when going out to play.Additional reporting by Security Sales Managing Editor Patrick Brady.
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