Step Four: The Control System
A home electronics system is only as smart and flexible as the system that controls it all! In our experience, nothing is better for controlling home electronics equipment than Crestron. As a Crestron Dealer with a Certified Programmer on-staff, we are in a unique position to help you create almost anything you can think of! Would you like to have a color touch screen in your kitchen area so you can see the front door camera? How about your iPhone – would you like to control the master bedroom TV with that? Perhaps you’re in the backyard and want to use your iPad to turn on some music while you BBQ. With Crestron, you can do that, and we can make it all happen!
Here are some other systems in the home that can be controlled:
- HVAC – heating and cooling
- Sprinkler Systems
- Lighting – indoor and outdoor
- Pool Pumps
- Security Systems
- Home Theater
- Music Systems
- Garage Doors
Especially convenient are automated functions where several things happen with the touch of a single button. For example your lights dim or turn off, garage door closes (if not closed already) and security system arms.
iPhone and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.
Step Three: Networking
We’ve discussed the growing importance of a properly designed network. With laptops, smart phones, tablets, online streaming services, Wi-Fi and cabled networking are becoming a requirement in daily life.
While many homes are fine with a basic network setup, adding a control system or automation into the mix means the network product and design has to be robust in order to handle many more tasks. We used a mix of Apple Airports and Pakedge networking gear in this system. The Apple Airport Express is used as an AirPlay device, allowing anyone with iTunes, an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to play music wirelessly!
Pakedge is another Made In The USA company that offers a variety of different network routers, switches and Wi-Fi access points depending on the needs. We chose a Pakedge router, two switches and two in-ceiling Wi-Fi pieces for this system. This network keeps the audio/video gear communicating, while also allowing iTunes to play music, Netflix to stream a movie and internet research for homework – all at once!
Airport Express, AirPlay, iTunes, iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.
Step Two: Power Protection
Often overlooked, proper power protection for your home electronics is essential for keeping your equipment safe and operating at their best! Of course this means not only being protected from lightning strikes, but also “cleaning” the electricity before it gets to your equipment. We chose SurgeX, which is a Made In The USA brand, due to the excellent build quality and circuitry involved – instead of being designed to sacrifice itself and blow up from a surge, the SurgeX simply absorbs any nasty power and filters it away, keeping your toys safe and happy! For the most important pieces, like a main house controller and networking, we use a battery-backup system. In the event that your home loses power, you can still operate the necessary functions like lights, gas-fired heat, things like that. You can also safely turn non-essential systems off, extending the backup battery.
What does it really take to build a “do everything” home system? It depends on what you want to achieve! Let’s say you want music in a few rooms of your home, 3 or 4 TVs that share cable boxes, Blu-ray players and an AppleTV, cameras for the front door and backyard. Naturally you have an iPhone and an iPad throw into the mix! You want everything to be easy to use, bulletproof and of course things have to look and sound great! We’re going to give you a photo tour of some products and the process as we go through the assembly and installation of a system! Comments are always welcome and we hope you enjoy watching the process as much as we do!
Step One – The Rack
We start by designing one place for your equipment to live. In this type of system, we were tasked with hiding the electronics as much as possible. We built an audio/video distribution system, which means all the music parts and cable boxes, etc go into a rack out of sight; this way your room has a TV, a remote and some speakers – that’s it! To pick the correct rack, we use an engineering program that allows us to enter all the client’s equipment to assign proper weight support, ventilation and electricity requirements. You can read a previous blog post about remote locating equipment here.
When you relocate your receiver, amplifiers, cable or satellite box, Blu-ray player, gaming system, etc into a remote location like a closet you should consider:
- Ventilation. Home theater equipment generates heat and needs to have good airflow around each piece as well as moving cool air into the area. This is also especially true for cabinets – leave ample room. Equipment that gets too hot will degrade faster over time or just quit on you.
- Use a reliable RF remote control system. Because remotes that come with typical home theater equipment are IR based and need line-of-sight to operate the piece, a good RF remote will allow you to have one remote that can be used without pointing it at your gear.
- Have your electrician install a dedicated circuit (or two) to your equipment room. Electronics and amplifiers draw a lot of power and having inefficient supply really hurts performance and lifespan. It also saves you the grief of having equipment shut down unexpectedly when someone runs the vacuum!