WHOLE-HOUSE CONTROL: Project Is a Showcase for Dealers Expertise
April 1, 2008
Some security companies might find a one-and-a-half-year installation of a complete home control system in a single-family home daunting, but it is the most satisfying work for Harold Sowell, owner of Pioneer Communications, Cookeville, Tenn.
“We cover from spec homes all the way up to the high-end homes in our area,” Sowell reports. “We’ve stayed busiest in the high-end market. We have found that’s where we can utilize our expertise to get our most satisfied customers.
“We find it challenging, but those are the most satisfying for us – and we’ve been doing it long enough where we know what to expect going in, and what we need to do to make sure it works out on the end of the job,” he continues.
“We’re in a rural area between Nashville and Knoxville, so we have survived by diversifying, just getting good at what we do and not sticking to just one thing,” Sowell asserts. “If we just installed burglar alarms, we wouldn’t survive, but the fact that we offer several different things keeps us going.”
A blend of residential and commercial security, fire and home control work keeps Sowell’s business healthy. “Most of my work comes from word-of-mouth,” he relates.
“We started with security, then added telephone systems, networks and then into audio and home theater,” he relates. “Now we’re offering our customers all those integrated in one package.”
One particular job was in a 13,000-sq.-ft. home, containing five bedrooms and six bathrooms, in Cookeville, Tenn. The project spanned a year-and-a-half because of the elaborate nature of both the home and the system.
“Integrating the different pieces of equipment together and making them work over the entire network and the Internet were the two things the customer wanted,” he notes, and it was a challenge.
For security, a Gemini 9600 panel from Napco Security Systems, Amityville, N.Y., was used with a full array of point identification glass breakage, panic and smoke detectors, as well as motion detectors. All exterior windows and doors were protected. The panel has a home automation chip and Ethernet module called Quickloader.
This gives the customer total control of the system via the home network or Internet connection. Users can view logs, change codes, and arm or disarm the system from anywhere through Quickloader.
“We’re trying to get Netstreams and Napco to work on a patch so we can pull up their security keypad on their touch panel,” Sowell reveals. He adds that Netstreams LLC, Austin Texas, a manufacturer of IP-based home control systems, hopefully will design an application programming interface (API) for the Napco panel within the next year.
“Netstreams has to design an API so that when you pull up their touch panel, it sees Napco and knows what codes to send Napco to arm and disarm the panel,” Sowell explains. “I’m doing that through Quickloader now. Netstreams has been pretty good about working with companies developing packages for their equipment.”
In the event of an alarm, the systems turn on outside lights. Six exterior security cameras are connected to a 160-GB DVR that records 24/7. The trick was to link the cameras to a DVR and put the camera views on the network.
“We looked at the IP-based camera, but we couldn’t really split the signal like we wanted,” Sowell concedes. “Netstreams works plug-and-play with IP cameras, but there are not many IP-based DVRs on the market. If you want a DVR, then most all of them are analog.
“So to get the individual cameras to show up on the touch screens, you have to split that out and set each camera up on its own IP address, and that’s one of the biggest challenges we had,” he maintains. “We had to take the analog camera signal and put an IP converter on that and write a patch through Netstreams so it would recognize the IP converter and distribute it over the network. That took a little bit of doing. We had to assign an IP address to each camera so it can be viewed like that.”
The analog signal was split between the DVR and cable modulator so camera views can be seen on all platforms, including televisions in the house, the computer network and the Internet.
A router combines a cable modem and DSL in one network. All systems can be controlled through the dedicated media server with a secure log-in using a remote desktop connection. With this connection, the customer can access and control the system and Pioneer Communications can perform maintenance, as well.
“I can do diagnostics for the whole system by logging in through that server probably a couple times a week to make sure everything is working like we want it to,” Sowell reports. “If I see something wrong, I can notify the customer before they even realize there’s something wrong.”
His company has been installing Napco products regularly for 25 years. Currently, his company is working two condominium projects for two different builders. One job for 36 condos uses Napco Gemini 816 control panels, Signature keypads with all windows and door contacts, and Napco motion detectors.
The second job for 16 condos uses the new Napco structured wiring cabinet with specially mounted Gemini 816 panels, with Signature keypads and contacts on all windows and door, as well as Napco motion detectors with telephone/data/TV modules for whole-house distribution of network, telephone and television.
In the latest whole-house system currently being wired, which is scheduled for completion this summer, Pioneer Communications is using a Napco Gemini 9600 with an automation chip, a new Ethernet module, four Signature display keypads, four eight-zone expanders and Napco motion detectors. Additionally, two separate areas are set up for a mother-in-law suite for independent arming.
“One builder has got whole neighborhoods that we’ve put Napco systems in every house,” he estimates.
PROJECTS in the NewsThe Buffalo Athletic Clubs (BAC) are using IP video management software from Milestone with Axis network cameras for seven fitness centers in Buffalo and the Rochester Athletic Clubs (RAC), a chain of five locations in Rochester, N.Y. With multiple sites and a central downtown location for the headquarters, this chain had experienced break-ins, theft (both external and internal), and vandalism. Personnel and membership safety issues from possible operational injuries are also in focus. Their solution is Milestone XProtect Enterprise IP video software that manages multiple Axis network cameras at each club, scheduling the recording, archiving the images to the database for easy searching and export of evidence. The software user interface also provides live viewing of any location locally or remotely, including control of the pan/tilt/zoom functionality to zoom in and check out more details. The central administration of the system makes efficient use of BAC’s IT infrastructure, and the ability to easily add new network cameras any time gives the scalability they need as a growing business.
â– â– â–
The City of Milwaukee chose Wi4Net for the provisioning and deployment of wireless surveillance cameras and a network monitoring facility. The solution features Pivot3’s storage system. The first phase of the project includes a wireless 4.9 GHz-based backhaul network throughout the city’s 97 square miles. Initially connecting 15 cameras, the network is designed to scale to more than 100 cameras in the future. Video is streamed to a centralized monitoring center, including a scalable storage solution from Pivot3 equipped with 18 terabytes of raw storage capacity. The system leverages Wi4Net’s FlexiRadio wireless platform for backhaul communications, camera connectivity and localized mobile access. The FlexiVideo product suite provides for battery backup of the wireless cameras, which streams real-time high resolution (4CIF) video to a centralized monitoring system where the video is securely maintained on the Pivot3 high-definition storage system.
â– â– â–
Martin Sullivan-Royall and Gary Wollen of Lounge Lizards have completed a custom install for a new condo in Surrey that features all of the AV components housed in the study, separate from the living room of the house. All of the components needed to power and distribute audio as well as video to the entire home are located in two Middle Atlantic Products AXS enclosures. The enclosures are built into a customized bookcase that Lounge Lizards designed and had crafted specifically for this project. The Middle Atlantic Products racks are encased in oak veneer â€” a material durable enough to handle both the weight and heat generated by the electrical components enclosed while keeping with the stylish look of the rest of the room. To further cool the enclosure, the Lounge Lizards team installed Middle Atlantic Products’ fan panels to vent heat into an adjoining room.