May 03, 2010
by Lisa Montgomery
They say a little information goes a long way. That couldn’t be truer in this 5,800-square-foot quad-level. Numerous Crestron home control touchscreens show the owners which electronic systems are in use, where they’re being used and how they’re being used.
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The only missing piece of data is who’s using them; although that could be easily surmised by peering at the floorplan on the screen. A red flag in the playroom, for example, could indicate that the kids are watching a movie.
“If the owners see that, they know to choose a program from a different DVR if they want to watch something else in a different room,” says Max Angst, systems engineer at Maxsystems in Van Nuys, Calif. Or, they could use the phone system to call the kids to the kitchen table to finish their homework.
This degree of “system feedback” isn’t for everyone, admits Angst. It can be a bit overwhelming to see the status of every security sensor on the first floor of your house, for example. But in this case, the owner was comfortable with the technology and felt that the more information he had about his house, and at his fingertips, the better he’d be able to manage and enjoy it.
By knowing that the shades are up in the family room, for instance, the owners can determine if the lights in that room should be switched off - and make the change from anywhere in the house. They can also figure out if a window has been left open before leaving for work by viewing the security page on any touchscreen. And there’s no way someone might accidentally interrupt an important football game by blasting tunes from the whole-house audio system. The system “locks” out music in any area where a TV is in use.
For the most part, system feedback helps the family react to certain conditions, but there are some alterations that occur automatically based on data gathered by the system. Like the motorized shades that raise and lower based on the room temperature. And the lights that switch on and off while the owners are away to make the empty house look occupied.
Many of these schedules were programmed into the Crestron system by Maxsystems. But the owners are free to set up and tweak the routines as they see fit. “They’ve adjusted the levels of the lights in some of the pre-programmed scenes and created a few scenes of their own,” says Angst.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.