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Water and Light

Audio Command Systems Fulfills Two Wishes For a Family in the Hamptons

They are two of lifes little luxuries: an immediate and seemingly unending supply of hot water for a morning shower and the ability to vary the ambiance with lighting. The desire for both topped the wish list for a Huntington, Long Island, client building a new, 12-000-square-foot brick home for his family of five.

Audio Command Systems, based in Westbury, New York, fulfilled both desires with a $500,000 project that garnered Crestrons 2006 award for Best Engineered Home Solution. ACS, an integrator since 1976, also has offices in Florida and California as well as a recently opened satellite office in Westhampton Beach, New York.

The Town of Huntington client had really done his homework, said ACS vice president and partner John Clancy. He was already sold on Crestron, and he knew what he wanted, and he wanted a one-company solution for his integration needs. He chose us after a lengthy bidding process.

The two-story home, with 16 touch panels and 48 keypads, features six processors including two PRO2s for AV and automation, and a CP2E to handle the 14 zones of HVAC with customized Crestron thermostats, each with nine user-adjustable scheduled events. The system also controls security, computer networking, shade control, lighting, and amenities such as three gas fireplaces with automatic start and shutoff timers.

The equipment room is located in the unfinished basement, the space for a future home theater. The project was programmed by Clancy and by ACS programmer Michael Sloane.

Some 32 audio zones, including one in the garage, are driven by Crestron CNX-BIPAD8s, with six audio sources and three Audio ReQuest servers. B&W in-wall and in-ceiling speakers were chosen for their reliability and performance, Clancy said.

Sixteen video zones, six of them bidirectional, are viewable and controllable from any local video system. A Video ReQuest DVD management system is shared throughout the house. The source list features five user-defined high-definition cable boxes with built-in DVR players in family living spaces. Each video system has its own slave control processor.

A 200-sensor-point security system has the ability to initiate events based on sensor status. Surveillance cameras are distributed to all video-capable touch panels and TVs via a Crestron C2N-IVDS video switcher.

Whole-House Apps
For the exterior, ACS placed a variety of outdoor speakers near various zones such as a fitness deck and patios. Some speakers are hidden in eaves and balconies, Clancy said. A widows walk above the attic has speakers and a keypad. Its a place the client can go to get away from it all.

Wireless Internet is provided throughout the home, and several locations have Media Center PCs controlled through the Crestron system. Wireless keyboards are dedicated to three localesthe family room, den, and master bedroom. An enormous dining room has two keypads for audio and lights, one with 12 buttons, six per column. With Crestron, its easy to have multiple function keypads, Clancy said. And we spent a lot of time designing GUIs with the client, scanning in his wallpaper for background on touch panels in key areas that had other than white walls.

An office near the side entrance has a Samsung LCD computer monitor doubling as a TV, and the client utilizes XPanel control so the PC acts as a touch panel. Each child has an application on his or her computer allowing them to control their own spaces. Tablet PCs are utilized as well throughout the home running Crestron XPanel applications to control things.

In the master bath, Sonance Extreme speakers provide music, and may be turned on via a bedside button pad in the master bedroom. An adjacent fitness room has speakers, two sets of wireless headphones, and a plasma display.
There are no iPod docks, but the ReQuest system is married to the childrens iTunes music collections, so if they create or add to a play list, it carries over to the Audio ReQuest system.

It Must Be the Water
The piece de resistance in the project is the hot water re-circulation system providing instant hot water at peak hours, between 6 and 9 a.m., which is available via a touch panel in the master bedroom. The childrens bathrooms also have the feature. By pressing a button, the hot water recirculator provides instant hot water in all of the family bathrooms, outside the 6 to 9 a.m. window.

Serving the Hamptons
ACS currently is designing and installing projects of equal or greater scope for several homes in the Hamptons, Clancy said. Our satellite office is a place to stage some equipment and to have service techs on hand on weekends and evenings.

There are distinct differences, he says, between systems for his New York City customers and those in the Hamptons. In the city, its about how small and concise it can be because theres limited physical space. In the Hamptons and in the typical Long Island home, theres a big electrical closet or a basement.

In the Hamptons beach areas, reliability is everything. Clients are out there with a lot of weekend guests, and they want it all to work, Clancy noted. All the bang and whiz may be secondary to system reliability.

The vacation home mindset is different, he added. Its all about entertainment; home theaters and AV. They want automation, remote access, and PC control from outside. We do a lot of outdoor speaker systems; we have one project with 30 external speakers so theres great sound everywhere, even on the tennis courts.

Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado.