Taking His Work Home - ResidentialSystems.com

Taking His Work Home

Residential Systems writer Todd Anthony Puma isn’t the first custom integrator to turn his home into a showroom and product testing facility.
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Custom Integrator Todd Puma Transforms His NJ House into a Showroom/Product Testing Facility

Todd Puma’s two-story, 3,500-square-foot New Jersey residence includes two entertainment areas. Residential Systems writer Todd Anthony Puma isn’t the first custom integrator to turn his home into a showroom and product testing facility. But Puma’s level of commitment to incorporating the latest technologies into his living space might take the cake. And as long as the systems he installs remain simple enough for his whole family to use, he feels comfortable recommending those same products to his clients.

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Puma is the owner and president of The Source Home Theater, Powered by Fregosa Design, a residential integration firm based in New York City. He says he has found that his clients are happiest if their systems are extremely easy to use. So whenever he and programmer Rich Fregosa develop a new customer interface, he gives it to his three-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son to try. If they have trouble using it, he gives it back to Fregosa to update.

His children were very busy last year as Puma and his wife undertook the building of a new house for their family, a house which would also be used as a product testing facility and a showroom where he could demonstrate home automation systems to clients.

“We don’t like to sell products that we haven’t used in our own homes,” he explained. “Every electronic system in my house has stood up to the use and abuse of my family, and it’s something we would recommend. And because clients see us using it here, they can believe in it.”

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The Puma home has a total of five additional TVs, including this one in the master bath, and a 19-zone audio system, plus automated control of its lighting, climate, and security systems. Puma’s two-story, 3,500-square-foot New Jersey residence includes two entertainment areas, a total of five additional TVs, and a 19-zone audio system, plus automated control of its lighting, climate, and security systems. Everything is controlled with Crestron technology, including the DigitalMedia network and Crestron lighting control products.

A New Construction Retrofit

Although the house the Puma family purchased was brand new, it was nearly finished by the time they saw it, making the technology installation a little more challenging than in a home built to order. While Puma uses wireless systems, he’s a strong believer in hardwired networks as well. “WiFi is only as good as your internet provider, so there are bound to be outages from time to time,” he explained. “There’s a lot to be said for a system that does not go down when the internet is out.”

Puma and his technicians installed a Crestron DigitalMedia network based on Crestron-certified Cat-6 cable, with wires run to every conceivable place he may someday install a video or audio component, a speaker, control screen, or interface.

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Everything in the Puma home is controlled with Crestron technology, including the DigitalMedia network and Crestron lighting control products. He adds that, in negotiating the purchase, the builder expressed reservations about his plans, since the sheetrock was already installed. “But we showed him how we would access the first floor through the basement ceiling and the second floor from the attic. I think he was surprised at how few holes we made as we installed all the wiring.”

Highlights of the Systems

Puma’s design team started with the basics: television, audio, climate, and security. He is a musician, so sound quality was a very high priority. “I have my music on 24/7. It takes away stress and keeps me sane,” he said. While he loves high-performance Paradigm loudspeakers, Puma says he appreciates Crestron audio as well and was surprised to find that the lower-cost Crestron speakers live up to his high standards.

“They sound really, really good. They’re easy to install, and they have a nice aesthetic,” he explained. This summer Puma installed Crestron’s new outdoor speakers in his front entrance and back yard. “I was waiting for something that sounds great yet is small enough to look good outdoors.”

Audio sources include a Crestron CEN-NSP-1 music server, as well as internet radio and docking stations for an iPod. The audio distribution and amplification is handled by a Crestron Sonnex Multiroom Audio System (for up to 24 sources and 24 zones of audio). The team added a home theater setup in the family room and another in his son’s room, both with Blu-ray players, surround sound, video games, and connection to a centralized movie server, as well as cable and online video sources. A DM16X16 switcher makes it possible to route any video source to any TV in the home.

The Lighting Setup

Early on, Puma decided to install centralized Crestron lighting. “We have it in every room, and I have to say that it’s the best part of our home.” A centralized lighting system, he explained, makes it easy to set the mood for any kind of family activity or party by programming the levels of individual lights.

“My son has learned everything he can about this system, and he’s constantly asking us for suggestions, then reprogramming certain scenes.” For example, it’s easy now for Puma to make his way from the master bedroom on the second floor to the kitchen on the first floor in the middle of the night. “I can press one button and certain lights turn on, all at a nice low, comfortable level, so I can go down and get a little midnight snack.”

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To a large degree, the Puma home is a work in progress, changing constantly as new technologies come along and as the family grows. When the family comes home from an evening away, they can press a button on the iPhone to turn on a path of lights from the garage to the kitchen and the main areas of the house.

Puma said that he will often surprise visitors with the variety of items he can operate from his Crestron system. “It was really simple, for example, to open and close the garage doors from my iPhone,” he noted.

Puma recently installed the new door locks Crestron introduced in partnership with Yale Locks. They allow family members to lock the house simply by touching the lockset, and to unlock it using a key, a keycode, or the Crestron iPhone app.

“I like the fact that I can open the door for a friend or a relative, or even for my UPS driver, using my iPhone when I’m away. And I think it’s fantastic that, when my kids are a little older, I’ll be able to track when they’ve been in or out of the house. The system adds an extra level of convenience and security to our lives.”

Puma recently installed the new door locks Crestron introduced in partnership with Yale Locks. They allow family members to lock the house simply by touching the lockset, and to unlock it using a key, a keycode, or the Crestron iPhone app. Convenience and Security

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To a large degree, the Puma home is a work in progress, changing constantly as new technologies come along and as the family grows. Puma says he has been working on the nursery, as the couple just had their third child, a son, in May. “I really haven’t been happy with the baby monitors I’ve been able to find, so we’ve designed our own system with a night vision camera and a better microphone, so we can hear if the baby’s breathing and see if he’s rolled over.”

This kind of flexibility, coupled with the ease of use and reliability of the technology in his home allows Puma to appreciate what a successful installation should feel like for his clients.

“When you come home to a system like this, you feel good. It’s very simple to set up everything in your house just the way you want it–lights, music, temperature, the mood, and the climate. And when you have friends coming over, you know you can show it off, because it’s going to work every time.”

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