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Home, Sweet Digital Home

A grand residence in Rustenburg has everything a person could wish for in terms of style, comfort and convenience, and is the first I the country to have a full Crestron Digital Media System

Large and expensive homes are all too often designed and decorated in such a way that they appear impersonal and feel more like hotels than homes.

However, there is one grand house in Rustenburg that has everything a person could wish for in terms of style, comfort and convenience yet remains a family home – albeit a very high tech one. It is the first in the country to have a full Crestron Digital Media System installed by Panavision last year.

The 1000 m2 house comprises three storeys (which meant the installation of a lift), and was designed with comfort in mind. The spacious bedrooms are all en-suite, the dining room has its own patio for “al fresco” meals, he gourmand’s kitchen incorporates a delightful breakfast area, and the utilities room features a special Shute via which dirty linen is swiftly delivered to the laundry.

A large lounge leads onto the main patio and pool area with a separate entertainment/pool room, and there is an in-door braai room, a well-stocked bar, home theatre, a wine cellar and tasting area. Although designed to suit a life of luxury, too much of a good thing can have negative consequences, so there is a gym with sauna and Jacuzzi to keep the residents in shape – and also their guests, who are accommodated in a separate, self-contained suite which has its own kitchen and lounge to provide total privacy and comfort for visitors.


In control

In considering the technology required, the owners wanted only what was appropriate to their needs – a control system that was neither underspecified nor over specified. Panavision, which was involved with the project from the concept stage, was able to guide them regarding what to install based on the design of the house, and to ensure that sufficient conduiting and infra-structure was put in place during construction.

An important aspect was to create an equipment room where racks were installed to carry the array of equipment. This provided a centralized command centre so that in the event of a malfunction in the system, the problem could be easily rectified without interfering with the household.

At the centre of the system are two Crestron processors which communicate over the IP network in the home. All lighting automation is taken care of by a Crestron Din AP2 processor and audio visual control is via a Crestron Adagio AESI control processor.

At fingertip control are five Crestron TPS6L touch panels, all programmed in the same way for user-friendliness. All 15 keypads in the home were installed at eye-level to avoid users having to bend down to check which button to press, and the buttons are out of reach of small children.

The keypads were all programmed differently to cater for the specific functions in the room and to reduce clutter. “There is nothing worse than wall clutter,” said Jaco Potgieter from Panavision. When determining where to place the touchscreens, Panavision established which rooms the owners spend the most time in and fitted those with screens and remote controls. In addition to the keypads and wall mounted touchscreens, there are also four wireless handheld remotes – (TPMC3X) as well as iPad/iPhone control for use anywhere in the home. The entire home can also be controlled via the Crestron X-panel, available from any computer in the home.



Going digital

Panavision advised the owners to have HD throughout the home and with regard to the management of video, the logical choice was DigitalMedia for its unique flexibility, ease of installation, configuration and programming. “With today’s HD technology, the easiest control is DigitalMedia”, said Jaco. DigitalMedia is more than just an HDMI switcher or extender, it is a complete integrated solution that manages, controls and distribute all analogue and uncompressed HD digital content over twisted pair or fibre cable over long distances. “All he sources and panels and HD, so it made sense to use the latest technology available. Over 300 meters of Crestron Digital Media cable was used, “said Jaco.

At the heart of the DigitalMedia system is he DM-MD8x8 with the appropriate input and output cards fitted. There are LD or plasma screens in the main lounge, entertainment/pool room, kitchen, main bedroom and upstairs lounge.

Behind each LCD/plasma screen is a Crestron controller (DM-RMC-100) which distributes a full, high definition video signal to the display and also provides control of the display. The room controllers also provide wired Ethernet capabilities in the room. The video server as well as Blu-Ry DVD playback. The DigitalMedia system supports full matrix capabilities so that anyone can watch their favourite video channel or movie anywhere in the home.


Background music

There are 18 distributed audio zones in the house controlled by the Crestron Adagio entertainment system and two Adagio audio expanders. Audio sources available include multiple DSTV DMX channels, AM/FM tuners, Crestron iPod docking stations and CD playback.


Movies, popcorn … and wine

The 9-seater theatre is mainly used by the owners’ grandchildren who have the added enjoyment of an installed popcorn maker and slush machine. For the adults, there is an adjoining wine cellar and tasting area, so that on rainy days and evenings they can enjoy a movie together with a glass of Cabernet or Pinot Noir.

Control in the cinema is via the Crestron wireless TPMC3X handheld remote. The cinema is fully integrated in the Crestron system, including 7.1 surround sound system, local Blu-Ray / DVD, projection and lighting. All central video sources are available via the DM system.


Security First

Although the owners prefer being at home, they do travel frequently – which makes having their own helicopter and helipad a big bonus in lessening transit times – and even when they are away on long trips, security is maintained as a top priority.

If they leave their property by vehicle, they are able to check the perimeter and the two gates via and LCD screen in the garage. There are also perimeter sensors which automatically switch on after 18:00, and 22 security cameras distributed throughout the property – including at the pool and play areas so that the owners can keep an eye on their grandchildren when they visit.

The cameras are connected via DVR to the Crestron DigitalMedia controller and he live feeds can be viewed on any one of the touchscreens or the LCD/plasma screens located around the house. There is full control via the touchscreens, allowing motion viewing, recording and playback and the entire security system to be armed or disarmed via any one of them. The owners have also added a ‘safe room’ in which they can lock themselves if the security measures in place are breached and their safety is threatened.


Energy efficient

There are many advantages to living in a less urban environment – the view and a neighbouring nature reserve being the highlights – but one disadvantage is an unstable power supply. Because of the voltage variance experienced by the owners, a voltage regulator and an online UPS were installed.

With the enormous energy demands of a house this size, all the electrical, electronic and lighting equipment was carefully chosen with energy efficiency in mind. Geysers are controlled via the Crestron system’s internal load shedding’ programme. In economy mode the geysers take only 45 minutes to heat up and run for a maximum of three hours a day.

In rooms which are not used often, such as store rooms and guest rooms, occupancy sensors have been installed so that the lights only switch on when someone enters the room ad automatically switch off again after a set time. The lighting system has full dimming capabilities, with 58 dimmable channels and 64 switchable channels, and all lighting channels were custom programmed for maximum efficiency. For example, maximum lighting levels are set at 95% which saves not only energy but also lamp life. Specialised light fittings such as LED fixtures, and other energy saving fixtures and lamps were used wherever possible.

In any large home, automated scene and mood lighting is very important, not only aesthetically but also for energy saving purposes. It is easy to forget to turn off a light in a room, but with automated system the owner can switch off all the lights in the house by pressing one button – ‘lights off’.

With an automated system it is possible to program the lights according to day/night scenes or daylight harvesting – using natural light whenever possible to save energy and automatically dusting lighting levels when it becomes lighter or darker.


Living outdoors

The garden is beautiful and complements the surrounding landscape. There 100 uplighters outdoors, all controlled via the Crestron system, and hidden planter speakers produce soothing sounds to add to the ambience as family and friends enjoy sundowners on the wooden deck beside the pool.

The owners love their home, their garden, their views, their privacy and their security. They appreciate that design and technology has added a great deal to their lifestyle, and with all the cutting edge technology in their home, one might think it would be a conversation piece, but the best thing about it, according to the owners, is the ‘all off’ button.