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Modern Three-Bedroom Home with Philips Dynalite Lighting and Opus Technologies Distributed AV (4/4/2011)
Karen Flear, a property developer from Manchester, UK, has recently completed her own stunning three-bedroom detached home on the site of an on old coach house in a leafy location a couple of miles south of the city centre.
Featured on the ITV TV programme 'May the Best House Win', this architect-designed property has been meticulously finished by Karen and her builders Cateaton Ltd, in conjunction with Smart Home technology specialist Morban Ltd, to create a bright, energy-efficient, contemporary living experience. It includes a Philips Dynalite lighting control system to ensure that the mood is always right, a centralised Opus Technologies entertainment hub that distributes TV and audiophile quality sound around the home, and a custom-installed Morban Duet heating interface that helps to keep energy consumption under control whilst keeping the home cosy and comfortable.
The unswerving modernity of the house contrasts dramatically with the late Victorian mansions that surround the property, yet it sits comfortably on its mature plot.
The ground floor space is built around a courtyard garden, allowing Karen's office, kitchen and lounge areas all to benefit from an almost al fresco ambience by day, and a subtly-lit garden environment at night. A wonderful flow has been created, allowing the front door and entry into Karen's office to be almost self contained from the private area of the home. Yet the open plan design makes this an equally welcoming and hospitable residence. Decorated in an eclectic style that very much reflects Karen's personality and taste for splashes of vibrant colour, the house is very much a home. But what of the technology behind it?
Karen's key objectives were to have a practical yet relaxing space, incorporating the latest technology, whilst keeping the home energy efficient. The building management system was to be as discreet as possible, providing little touches of luxury and lifestyle enhancement without needing a technology expert in order to run it.
We listened carefully and came back with a lighting design and Philips Dynalite control infrastructure that wasn't overpowering with a whole lot of flashy equipment that Karen didn't require, but did give the convenient, labour-saving control over the house that she wanted. Everything is simple, with a single point to operate all the lights from, so Karen can select exactly the right mood for working or entertaining.
We provided the lighting design and fitting procurement, and a schematics service to Karen's own electrician, who we subsequently trained. We also supplied our own Morban Duet solution to integrate heating control with the lighting system.
Using the Duet underfloor heating system control means that instead of having separate thermostats in every room, small thimble sensors are connected to the Dynalite wallpanels in each room, so heating, lighting and A/V control all come from a single controller. It also means that there are fewer unsightly bits and pieces invading the open space of the walls.
Karen's was the first house to have the Morban Duet heating control system installed, and it passed its winter run-in period with flying colours (and what a winter to test it out!)
We developed the Duet control interface to help further micro-manage the already-efficient, solar-powered underfloor heating system. When the water in the system nears the set point temperature, fast-acting solenoid valves immediately slow or stop the flow of hot water to that zone. The benefit of having solenoid rather than the traditional viscous valves means that the software-controlled valves react much quicker when signals are sent to them. This saves energy from the overheating and overpumping that occurs in a traditional system.
All these small gains add up. The high level of heat retention in new houses, and advanced control technologies incorporated into our Duet solution, allow us to reduce thermal waste from the heating system by maintaining a steady, even, micro-controlled temperature throughout the day. This means that for much of the year, the underfloor heating system can be run purely from hot water generated by the solar panels on the roof, and stored in the high-tech Thermastore hot water tank.
Similarly, lighting control that dims the lights, both lengthens the life of the bulb, and reduces the energy each dimmed bulb consumes, which provides additional consumable savings over the standard economies that a client implements.
The Philips Dynalite system which not only controls the dimming and scene setting for our lighting design of over 150 lights throughout the house, but the heating via the Morban Duet interface, is all wired back to a single point of control and integration in a utility area next to the kitchen. The overall control of the house can also be operated from this point via the flush-fitting DTP100 colour touchscreen.
We have also installed the Opus 300 series audio distribution system, based on commonly-available CAT5 and coaxial cabling. The CAT5 cable delivers music, power and control commands to each zone, so no additional power supply is required. Although not used in this installation, there is even a 'keypad-free' option available thanks to the remote-controlled AMR650 active in-ceiling speaker.
In every room, easy-to-use keypads and remote controls provide intuitive yet sophisticated control over the system, and sleek in-ceiling speakers guarantee punchy stereo reproduction.
The Opus MCU300 hub is located in a rack, enabling a combination of existing and new source components to be shared around the home. The MCU300 serves eight rooms, comprising four main zones and four sub-zones. Six sources, including Apple TV, are connected to enable each room to enjoy different audio content such as music from a media server, Internet radio, TV audio from the TV that is local to that room, DVD/CD and other source media. Additionally, personal iPod/MP3 players can be plugged into the system from local inputs in the bedrooms and kitchen.
Experience from the project
We've noticed that once people get used to having a dimming system, they use it more and more - often asking us to further reduce light levels for relaxing or viewing TV, whenever we make a service call. When LED lighting is added into the equation the energy savings can be pretty substantial.
We have identified the similarities in the control opportunities of these diverse systems and have designed and software-engineered our Duet interface to combine all these different levels of control into a single integrated system based around the Philips Dynalite control infrastructure.
The final word goes to Karen. As she puts it, "The installation has been a great success and I certainly plan to put the system in all future developments. It's what the modern home owner is looking for, and I'm the envy of all my friends!"
Lighting and Heating
AV Comms/Home Network
Programmable Remote control
Door Entry System
Morban designs and installs integrated intelligent living systems, and provides design services for architects and building developers, as well as training and business development programmes for electricians and installers.
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