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How They Did It: The Connected Lodge

CEDIA
Mar 16, 2012

When these homeowners started development on a new project in the rural countryside, they brought St. Louis-based Integration Controls on board to deliver audio, security, and cameras.

The scope ultimately grew to include integrated thermostats, lighting control, automated shades, high-speed Internet, and a control system, all in a location so remote that even electricity is a challenge.

Integration Controls’ solution won the Level III Gold Technical Design award for Integrated Home as well as the Silver Technical Design award for Special Project in CEDIA’s 2011 Electronic Lifestyles® Awards competition.





Client’s Expectations:


The clients wanted a retreat with all the same amenities they had at home. The initial expectations included distributed audio to 12 zones, television-watching capabilities to 10 areas, a security system, and a camera system, with simple, inexpensive controls. As the project continued to evolve, Integration Controls was also charged with delivering integrated thermostats, high-speed Internet, lighting control, and automated shades.

While the core of the Lodge includes a distributed video system, the master wing is somewhat of a dedicated space. The intention was to provide the patriarch of the family his own beautiful space (bathroom mirror TV included) without being tied to the rest of the system.

The entire system had to be simple to use and remotely accessible, which is not easy given that the Lodge is far removed from most services. Originally, Integration Controls specified a control system that integrated well with Sonos for a low-cost alternative to managing the television and Sonos system. With the original control system provider out of business and with the addition of multiple systems, it was time to step up to an AMX system.






Challenges:


The Lodge is located in a huge valley in rural countryside, about 2 1/2 hours away from Integration Controls’ location (and the client’s main living quarters).

Given the topography of the land, the valley created a “black hole” for high-speed Internet, despite the nearby town’s canopy system (point-to-multi-point wireless broadband). Working with the local Internet Service Provider, Integration Controls erected a 40-foot tower that houses a radio, which communicates with the nearby town’s canopy system.

Everything at the tower is solar-powered, designed to capture energy during sunny and cloudy days. From the tower, approximately 900 feet of fiber optics run to the Lodge, where the signal is converted and then managed as any other high-speed Internet signal.  






Integration & Automation Highlights:


Having an AMX platform on board enables lighting, music, television areas, shades, heating/cooling, security, and - when the pool is completed - pool controls, all with one easily managed interface: Apple’s iPad.

TP Control’s licensing enables familiar and comfortable access for the homeowners as they were already Apple fans. With two iPads and a combination of dedicated MIO-R4’s for the television areas, Integration Controls provided a simple, streamlined user-interface the whole family can use.

The electrical wiring for the lights made them highly inefficient and difficult to use. Because of this, Integration Controls provided Lutron’s RadioRA2 system (and coached the installation), which proved invaluable as a convenient way to access lights throughout the house.

The only thing left to address was the desire for remote monitoring. Being located in a remote valley meant access to high-speed Internet was non-existent. The high-speed Internet solution, combined with enterprise-level networking and award-winning BlueBolt technology, allows remote monitoring of the power conditions of the system.

Between the BlueBolt interface, remote access to the AMX, low-voltage switched power conditioners, and power-over-Ethernet devices, Integration Controls can remotely reboot almost any system in the home.






Result:


Given the remote location, a host of change orders, the topology of the land, and the availability of services, Integration Controls faced many challenges with this project – all with a five-hour round-trip distance between it and them.

Overcoming the Internet issue allowed them to provide a “city” system in a “country” setting. Bringing high-speed Internet access to the Lodge offers so many benefits to the homeowners they wouldn’t have otherwise.

The design and implementation surpassed initial expectations, from easy-to-use television areas and distributed audio to a full-blown, integrated home. The clients were thrilled with the end result.

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CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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