Main Line Mansion
Apple Lovers Choose Crestron For Award-Winning Home
Remodeled home in Pennsylvania uses iPad interface from Crestron for HVAC, security, lighting, shading, and AV controls
Sometimes you have to take a long and frustrating detour to arrive at a great destination.
That was the case for Jason Hendrie, Managing Partner at WeeBee Audio & Video of King of Prussia, PA, while working with a new client last year. He recommended using Crestron technology for a very large and sophisticated home automation system, but the client thought he knew better. “Please use this other system,” the client had said. “I’ve heard it’s the best for Apple users.”
The owner of this Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania mansion purchased the early 20th Century home and quickly started a remodel to add modern technologies. “It was an opportunity to build a really great automation system, working from the ground up in a beautiful home,” Hendrie explains.
The clients had a number of requests. They are art collectors, so they needed the automation system to control a commercial-grade heating and cooling system that would keep the temperature and humidity constant throughout the 15,000 square foot home.
The homeowner also desired a convenient whole house audio and video distribution solution to access television shows, movies, and an extensive music collection from anywhere in the house. Additionally, they needed an intuitive interface for the complex lighting and motorized shading system, which was designed to highlight the artwork, as well as provide greater home security.
But the most important feature to the family was that all this technology be controllable from their favorite personal devices, the iPad and iPhone®. “All the members of this family are heavy Apple users,” says Hendrie. “If they download music or movies, it’s from iTunes®. If they stream a television show, they use Apple TV®. As we learned more about the requirements of the system, and as the homeowners grew more comfortable with us, we knew we would have to sit down with them and talk about the differences between Crestron and this other vendor.”
Hendrie had five concerns with the solution the client requested. “The first was simply that it is a closed system. The company decides which components they will interface with. If you need to control something different, you have to ask them to create the needed modules, and you have to wait.” Crestron, on the other hand, is very open to customization by integrators. “If the device has any kind of control port, you can normally tie it in,” Hendrie explains.
The ability to custom-program the automation system was of particular concern with the heating and air conditioning. “This was going to be a commercialquality HVAC system using BACnet™ protocols for the control interface,” Hendrie explains. “We were not sure the other company was going to be able to handle it, whereas Crestron already had BACnet protocols built into their MC3 control systems.”
Hendrie was also concerned about how easy the other system was going to be to set up. “For us, Crestron actually is the simpler solution,” he says. “The other product is supposed to be faster and easier to work with, but in practice we have found Crestron programming is much more straightforward.”
Setting up the home audio and video distribution systems would also be easier with Crestron. WeeBee Audio & Video used Crestron DigitalMedia™ high-definition video networking and switching technology throughout the home, as well as Crestron Cat5 audio distribution technology. The other system did not offer a distribution solution with comparable performance or flexibility.
“The biggest reason for us, and the one that won the homeowner over in the end, was the level of support we receive from Crestron. First, I explained that Crestron products work flawlessly with the iPad and all the Apple technology the family loves. Then I explained that the delivery times, support, and any necessary service would be vastly superior with Crestron. We were simply not going to be able to support the homeowner in the way they wanted us to without the Crestron team behind us. The clients understood all the benefits and agreed Crestron was the best solution for their new home.”
The Finished Result
The remodeled home is truly stunning. While the architects and contractors carefully restored the home’s traditional Main Line stone exterior, they created bright contemporary interiors that complement the family’s beautiful painting and sculpture collection.
To keep energy costs to a minimum, the contractors used a geothermal heating and cooling system, using the constant 50-degree temperature of the ground beneath the home to help preheat outside air in the winter and cool it in the summer. The new Crestron technology controls this system (which includes 18 zones of forced air and 11 radiant heat zones) and allows the family to monitor its performance on any of their iPads.
The WeeBee Audio & Video team tied the security system into the Crestron controls as well, allowing family members to arm or disarm the system from the iPhone as they leave or return home. The family can also check the security system’s status from anywhere in the world (with an Internet connection). WeeBee Audio & Video created simplified lighting controls so when the family members select a room or series of rooms on the onscreen floor plan, they can choose a lighting/shading scene to create the right effect for reading, working, watching TV, or entertaining.
WeeBee Audio & Video installed a 21-zone audio system which allows family members to choose their own music for any area inside or outside the home. They also installed a seven-zone distributed video system with flat panel TVs in the family room, second-floor common area, master bedroom, office, kitchen, guest room, and basement media room.
While homes of this size and caliber normally include a number of dedicated Crestron touch screens, WeeBee Audio & Video deployed eight dedicated iPads instead. Numerous iPads are mounted in Crestron in-wall docking stations and others are placed on tabletop stands. Each room with a TV includes a Crestron handheld remote that can change channels, select video sources, control volume, and allow users to adjust the lights, shades, and temperature.
“The homeowners are ecstatic with the new system,” Hendrie says. “It does everything they asked for plus quite a lot more. Best of all, it works beautifully with their Apple devices, using a far more robust platform than the system they had originally asked for.”
Crestron products work flawlessly with the iPad and all the Apple technology the family loves, and delivery times, support, and any necessary service would be vastly superior with Crestron.”
- Jason Hendrie, WeeBee Audio & Video
Rittenhouse Square Street
Philadelphia Condo Features Built-In Smart Home To Fit Homeowner's Lifestyle
1706 Rittenhouse Square Street, a high style, high-rise condominium building in one of Philadelphia’s upscale neighborhoods boasts the finest in design and amenities. Located on a quiet cobbled street, 1706 offers homeowners luxury and convenience. Each residence spans more than 4,000 square feet and occupies an entire floor, complete with private elevator access, providing the ultimate feeling of privacy in a multifamily setting.
WeeBee Audio & Video to the homeowner to discuss the project and his needs. Jason Hendrie, WeeBee Audio & Video Project Manager, helped educate the client on the value of Crestron automation and what it could provide for him. The rest is history.
“Building my new residence from scratch provided the opportunity to ‘build in’ smart home capabilities from the start,” said homeowner, Craig Rogerson.
In the initial meeting, the homeowner, designer and systems integrator reviewed the floor plans to discuss the AV sources and their control locations. WeeBee Audio & Video recommended a distributed AV system, which would overcome space limitations. The objective was to install a whole-home system that would be easy to use and maximize the space’s footprint without imposing on the luxury interior design.
Crestron DigitalMediaTM manages, controls and distributes video sources to all displays in the residence at 1080P resolutions. DigitalMedia seamlessly handles true highdefinition signal routing, switching and long distance distribution of all analog and uncompressed HD digital signals, and manages embedded data such as HDCP, EDID and CEC.
Systems at a Glance
WeeBee Audio & Video installed and programmed a centralized system utilizing Crestron home technology as the control center. The residence incorporates automated shade control to protect hard wood finishes and fabrics from damaging sunlight. Lighting and dimming control enhances the natural features of the space, and provides the ideal ambiance for every occasion.
A Crestron AV2 control system enables a fully-integrated home control solution to the condo. Every audio, video, and environmental element of the home becomes integrated and accessible through the AV2 control system.
DigitalMedia, in conjunction with a Crestron BIPAD8 audio distribution processor, distributes seven zones of audio, including three zones of digital audio for rooms with surround sound systems, and seven zones of video. A Crestron CEN-IDOCV Interface for Apple iPod® enables audio and video sharing from any iPod, iPod Touch® and iPhone® throughout the home’s multi-room audio system. Occupants simply drop their iPod into the IDOCV and their personal music and movie playlists can be shared throughout the home.
An array of Crestron touch screens and remotes can be found throughout the home, giving occupants control of any system from any room. ML-600 handhelds and wireless and in-wall touch screens (TPS-6L, TPS-6X, TPMC-8L) are located in the living room, foyers, kitchen, bedrooms, office, workout room and wet bar.
“Designing and accomplishing the system as I wanted it enables me to efficiently use and enjoy all rooms in my residence, as well enjoying the same music/program at any location within my home,” noted Rogerson.
A Crestron PAC2M control system handles the lighting control throughout the home. Custom programming provided by WeeBee Audio & Video gave the client the exact presets he wanted. When the homeowner exits the elevator and arrives at home, he is welcomed by a dimly lit sconce in the foyer, accented by the blue light from the double-sided saltwater aquarium that allows him to see through into the living room. The homeowner can select multiple “HOME” buttons to create the desired mood as he walks through the door into the sprawling residence. For late nights, subtle lighting accents the hallways. During the day, lights are set to a more vibrant scene.
The Crestron system keeps track of shade positions based on the “HOME” or “AWAY” status controlled from the lighting keypad near the elevator. If the homeowner is home during the day, the shades will open and close based on the sun exposure, utilizing the Crestron astronomical time clock.
The homeowner has the ability to manually control the shades from any touch panel to deactivate the automated feature. When leaving the residence, the owner simply presses the “AWAY” button, and all lights turn off except for the dim foyer lights. At this time the solar shades are set to the closed position. When arriving home, the owner simply presses one of the “HOME” buttons to turn the lights on in specific areas and the shades are set to the desired position depending on the time of day.
“The most beneficial part of the project was having the opportunity to work with the WeeBee Audio & Video professionals from the start,” said Rogerson. “They provided thoughtful insight on all of my options, even providing options that I never would have thought of, all while designing a Crestron system that met all of my needs,” added Rogerson.
Designing and accomplishing the system as I wanted it enables me to efficiently use and enjoy all rooms in my residence, as well enjoying the same music/program at any location within my home.
- Craig Rogerson, Homeowner
Keeping Things Simple
Integration Award winner simplifies control in a large estate with the help of Crestron
You might not guess it from the size of their house or the sophistication of their home systems, but the owners of this magnificent Wayne, Pennsylvania residence have simple tastes. According to Harry Blanchard, Chief Systems Integrator for WeeBee Audio & Video, who designed the home automation systems, they are passionate about just three things:
- They love children and wanted a home where their large family could thrive.
- They love art and wanted a place where they could house and show their beautiful and extensive art collection.
- They are dedicated to personal fitness and healthy living and wanted a place where they could work out daily and grow their own food.
These guiding principles helped build a dream home that is truly an education in what is possible with today’s technology. Still, Blanchard says it took some convincing to install the advanced control technology needed to make their new home practical, energy-efficient, safe, and comfortable.
Designing the Extraordinary
“It’s almost a paradox, but the homeowners really did not understand the need for home automation technology, and so we had to explain it to them carefully,” Blanchard recalls.
Blanchard says he has worked hand-in-hand for almost 20 years with architect John Toates and builder Griffiths Construction. They suggested the homeowner bring Elite Home Technologies into the project. They were designing a house that would include a huge, climate-controlled art gallery, a two-lane, 25-meter indoor swimming pool, beautiful grounds with extensive gardens, and a number of large but practical areas for use by the family and their guests.
Because oversized homes are not common in the Pennsylvania town where they would be building, the homeowners asked that much of this residence be underground. “There’s a large, but not extraordinarily large main house, a barn with an upstairs office, and a potting shed maybe 200 feet back behind the barn, equipped with grow-lights so they can start their tomato plants from seeds,” Blanchard explains.
“In a lot of the bigger houses we work in there are rooms that you look at and ask, ‘I wonder if anyone will ever use this?’ That’s not the case here. Not at all,” Blanchard explains. The art gallery, for example, doubles as a home theater. The family uses the pool, spa and fitness center every day. There’s a rec room above the garage, where the kids can play, watch TV, play video games and make a mess without having to worry about their parents getting upset. “We also helped create a homework room right off the kitchen where the kids can do their schoolwork,” Blanchard adds. “They wanted the best in computing and printing equipment, and we supplied that – but all of these rooms are filled with things that the parents or children wanted and would actually use.”
As simple as the tastes of the homeowners proved to be, the home presented a number of challenges to its designers and builders.
First, the art collection is large and expensive, and requires its own museum-quality climate system to keep it safe. The pool also requires a specialized “desert air” system to keep the humidity it produces from destroying the home or the artwork. The homeowners were also concerned with energy consumption, not wanting to tax the environment as much as a standard HVAC system would in a building this large.
For all these reasons, the architect specified a commercial heating and cooling system with a geothermal component. The system takes advantage of the earth’s year-round 50-degree underground temperature to cool outside air in the summer and preheat it in the winter. As a result, the load on the HVAC system is drastically reduced.
The art gallery holds valuable pieces of artwork. The homeowners host art shows for friends and business associates, often inviting experts from around the world to lead discussions on the works lining the gallery walls. Because the homeowners rotate pieces in and out of the gallery on a regular basis, the space required a complex lighting installation, with fixtures they can move and reset to fit their changing needs.
The requirement that the gallery double as a home theater did not make things easier. “Of course we put all the lighting scenes on presets that the homeowners could change quickly, but we also needed to be able to hide the theater components and then bring them out at a moment’s notice,” Blanchard notes.
The homeowners love high-end video, so the team used a motorized 204” Stewart Filmscreen® CinemaScope screen and a Wolf Cinema projector hidden in a niche in the wall. To satisfy their love of high-quality audio and ensure a smooth transition from theater to gallery, they created a system where the homeowners could roll the Wilson Audio theater loudspeakers out of the room during an art show.
Peace of mind is always important. The Elite Home team included security features in the pool area so the homeowners can be sure their children are safe. Cameras display images from the pool on Crestron touch screens throughout the house and the system is programmed to detect if the pool cover is open. In addition, if the pool cover is left open too long, the system reminds the homeowners to close it for both safety and to avoid wasting energy.
As part of the whole-house security plan, the team connected a Cartell® driveway sensor to the Crestron system which announces the arrival of visitors to the home. The homeowners can arm and disarm their security system using Crestron touch screens located near each entrance.
Of course the team included a property-wide audio and video distribution system as well, with loudspeakers in almost every room and televisions in many rooms as well. Crestron DigitalMedia and multi-room audio products made that possible. The distances that the signals travel are immense, so Elite Home Technologies installed roughly 15,000 feet of fiber-optic cable to serve the entertainment systems.
“While the homeowners were reluctant to add more technology, we convinced them that these systems would be extremely difficult to use without centralized control.” Blanchard says that he explained that, while he has only two thermostats in his own home, resetting them when he goes on vacation does take a couple of minutes apiece. “I said, you’re going to have 80 thermostats when the house is finished. Do you really want to set each of them by hand?”
Blanchard also explained that the Crestron controls help automate and monitor the climate system, alerting the homeowners and the HVAC contractor immediately if the temperature or humidity vary outside the strict requirements of the gallery and the swimming pool. In addition, the team set up presets for the lighting systems that allow the homeowners to enjoy different lighting scenes, inside and out, which enhance the beauty and functionality of the home while saving on electricity and lamp life. They even put the grow-lights in the potting shed on the system, so that their tomato plants can sprout under optimal conditions.
“Although this would be a very large system, we were confident that Crestron would do the job,” Blanchard adds. “We are very familiar with Crestron products and we have strong connections to the company as a Crestron dealer. It would probably be an understatement to say we use Crestron in 98% of the larger projects we do.”
In the end, it all made sense for the homeowners. Crestron and Elite Home Technologies are known for the power and simplicity of their custom integrated solutions. If you’re going to live a simple life on a grand scale, as this family does, you’re going to need a little help from your friends.
The grand home with simplistic control recently received accolades from Electronic House Magazine in the form of a “Home of the Year” award. The design and execution of this project went flawlessly thanks to the dedicated work of Elite Home Technologies and the support of manufacturers like Crestron.