The differing home control options on the market today make for great variety in the function and types of installations. Selecting a home control option is as personal a decision for homeowners as the type of car they drive.

You don’t have to be a technologically-oriented person to handle a home control system, but if your customer is, he or she may be interested in a different level of home control and a whole different set of capabilities than another customer. Here are a few examples of the possibilities available for different types of customers.

The latest amenities such as home theaters are included in the The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay, a luxury 1,400-home real estate development on the Delaware coast.


When Odyssey Development in a joint venture with L.M. Sander and Sons began planning The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay, a luxury 1,400-home real estate development on the Delaware coast, the company wanted to ensure a high level of security and convenience for residents.

The developer enlisted systems integrator Advantech Inc., Dover, Del., to help in designing and installing a community-wide system including home automation with security.

Many homes in the community and every unit at Eighteenth on the Bay, a cluster of 14 condominium buildings within the development, have built-in structured wiring. Additionally, every unit at Eighteenth on the Bay is planned to include a four-port router and what developers are calling a community Web portal — an intelligent touch-screen from Honeywell that can provide always-on access to a community-wide information and security network.

Homeowners in other areas of the development can purchase the touch-screen portal for approximately an extra $1,500 and can add a router, which enables multiple devices in the home to share a broadband connection, for about $150.

As Advantech president Eric Schaeffer explains, “The touch screen is always on. Depending on the capabilities of the community Web site, it can display information from the community Web site, such as golf, swimming, tennis events or clubhouse dinners.” It also may give residents the ability to register for meals, golf or tennis depending on what the final capabilities of the community Web site are, he adds.

Residents can use the portal to register expected visitors so that guards will let the visitors through the exterior gate without having to check with the resident first. “The developer is pushing the community intranet and the ability to use the convenience and amenities of the community through the interface,” notes Schaeffer.

Homeowners can select a range of upgrades to enable the touch-screen portal to control lighting, home entertainment, security or heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC).

Eric Schaeffer’s company Advantech Inc., Dover, Del., of which he is president, was enlisted to help in designing and installing a community-wide system including home automation with security at The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay.

Separate functions can be integrated so that if, for example, a smoke alarm is triggered, the HVAC system can be shut off. Another option might be for the foyer lighting to come on at 50-percent brightness when a resident enters the front door. 

System components can be controlled through the touch-screen or remotely via a high-speed data connection. The remote capability is particularly appealing to homeowners who use their residence only on weekends or during vacation. 

The community-wide security network connects every location — including all the commercial buildings, such as the fitness center — via fiber optics. As Schaeffer explains, “It’s one comprehensive system with one database, and people have different authorization levels.

“The security management system provides community-wide access control, digital video monitoring, intrusion detection, visitor management and ID badging,” he continues. “This includes smart card control of the community gate operators, personnel gates and doors to the commercial buildings.

“It is a comprehensive, integrated security management system (SMS),” Schaeffer notes. “It controls access by user and by door/gate and is partitioned to allow unique control of each facility as well as gate operators and tennis courts.

“The SMS resides on a dedicated fiber optic network consisting of network switches, fiber optic transceivers, servers, workstations, an ID badging station and storage arrays,” he relates. “The database also keeps track of which residents have paid supplemental fees for tennis courts or the golf course, and that information feeds into the access system to control which residents can get into those areas of the community.”

Security cameras within the community also are connected to the network, and several of them can be viewed on residents’ television screens by turning to a dedicated channel.

Jeff Roberts, principal of HomeLink Technologies, Land O’ Lakes, Fla., uses his own home as a showcase to demonstrate what his company can offer.


HomeLink Technologies, Land O’ Lakes, Fla., specializes in pre-wiring homes for real estate developers and also installs home automation and security systems for buyers who purchase upgrades.

“The number-one thing you have to understand about home automation is that it has to be incredibly simple to use and has to be reliable,” notes HomeLink principal Jeff Roberts. Roberts uses his own home as a showcase to demonstrate what his company can offer. The system is based on equipment from Control4, Salt Lake City, that uses wireless Zigbee technology to control home entertainment, lighting and security system functionality.

Because Zigbee communication does not require line of sight, system functionality can be controlled from dedicated keypads, the company’s touchscreens or its Zigbee remote control throughout the home. 

As Roberts explains, this type of system “has all the high-end features you would see in more expensive equipment.” For example, he says, users can control the percentage of power delivered to the lights, how long it takes a device to turn on or off and how long the device stays on.

“I don’t have an alarm clock,” notes Roberts. Instead, his home automation system is set up to play two specific songs at 6:28 a.m., while at the same time turning up lights in the hallway and bedroom. Other family members can use the system to provide a different choice of wake-up music at different times of the morning. Systems can start as low as $900 to configure a family room, Roberts says, adding that “in a typical 3,000-square-foot home, you could do a terrific lighting and music system for somewhere in the range of $3,500 to $5,000.” 

At the heart of the home entertainment system is a Control4 media controller, which can be used with DVD players, MP3 storage units, satellite receivers and other devices from a range of manufacturers.

The controller is programmed for the communications formats utilized by what Roberts calls the legacy infrared remote controls that are traditionally used with each of these devices.

Using the appropriate communications format, the controller communicates with each entertainment device over an infrared link, thereby controlling functions traditionally handled by the legacy remotes.

The Control4 equipment also is compatible with alarm equipment from several manufacturers. By interconnecting the alarm system with the home automation system, Roberts is able to obtain integrated functionality.

For example, when residents trigger the front entryway, the system realizes that someone came home and can turn on a variety of lights, turn the television on to a specific channel or play specific music.

When HomeLink installs an automation system for a homeowner, technicians program the system to let it know the manufacturer of each device that will be used. They also set up the specific functionality the customer requests.

End users can control some system functionality, such as music or video selections, via software installed on their personal computers.

Although the doctor and his wife who own this new home on one of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York are not technical people, Custom Alarms, Jamesville, N.Y., convinced them not only to install a full-perimeter alarm system with smoke detectors, but also a home automation system that provides more sophisticated home entertainment control than the security and single-room audio system they had installed in the couple’s previous residence 12 years earlier.


When a doctor and his wife had a new home built on one of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, they contacted Custom Alarms, Jamesville, N.Y. The company had installed a security and single-room audio system in the couple’s previous residence 12 years earlier. 

“These people are not tech-y,” comments Custom Alarms president Warren Frank. Noting that the couple leads a very active lifestyle involving biking, kayaking and other sports, he adds, “Their life does not revolve around the TV set.”

Nevertheless, Frank was able to convince his clients not only to install a full-perimeter alarm system with smoke detectors, but also a home automation system that provides more sophisticated home entertainment control than they had in their previous home.

“I showed them the convenience that a modern multi-room sound system has to offer — the ability to select a different sound source in each area and the ability to change the volume in one room without affecting the volume in another,” he explains.

The couple was not interested in a media server. Instead, their Russound system enables them to choose FM or AM radio or television sound to play through speakers installed in any of several different areas in and outside of the home.

In the exercise room, the satellite receiver is waiting for a cabinet housing.

For example, in the exercise room, the sound from the TV is routed back to the controller and is heard as one of the possible sound sources via the in-wall speakers. Users can listen to that television through the audio system as one of six possible sources in any of the different areas with speakers.

Functioning of the audio system is controlled by small keypads throughout the home that are installed in single gang boxes or from a wireless remote control in the great room.

Frank also was able to provide his clients with automated lighting control. This was achieved through interfaces built into the Elk Products alarm panel installed in the home. Technicians replaced traditional light switches with UPB devices, which communicate with the alarm panel via existing electrical wiring in the home. 

“A motion detector in the master bathroom turns on the lights in the bathroom when you walk in and it’s dark out,” explains Frank. The system knows whether it is dark outside through intelligence built into the control panel that knows when the sun rises and sets each day based on latitude and longitude.

Another building called the barn includes in-the-wall speakers and a swimming pool.

Several other lights, including those in the garage, can be triggered by alarm system sensors. Additionally, the system can control how brightly a light comes on. 

Custom Alarms also installed a video camera at the side door of the house, which is the one typically used by visitors. When a visitor pushes the doorbell, the system speaks “Side doorbell” and switches on the television set to display the view from the side-door camera. 

Another convenient device installed in the home is a doorbell intercom from DoorbellFon. The device, which Frank says costs about $400 to install, rings home phones with a distinctive sound when someone comes to the door. The homeowners then can pick up any phone in the home and talk to the person at the door.

“It’s a very sane system,” Frank notes. “It’s not gilding the lily. They could have spent easily three times as much, but for their lifestyle, it wouldn’t have made a difference.”

Sidebar: Equipment List

For the master system:
  • Honeywell ProWatch security management system software
  • Honeywell LobbyWorks visitor management software
  • Honeywell HVMS digital video management software
  • HP ProWatch server
  • HP Security work stations
  • HP ID badging work station
  • HP 100MB network switches
  • Nisca PR-5300 ID badging printer
  • DoorKing 6300 swing gate operators
  • DoorKing 1601 barrier gate operators
  • DoorKing 1837 telephone entry system
  • Honeywell Omni Class smart card readers
  • DoorKing vehicle access transmitters
  • Honeywell KD6i PTZ cameras and HD3VC4HR high-resolution color cameras
  • Honeywell HFDVR Fusion digital video recorder/servers
  • Honeywell IFP addressable fire alarm systems
At each residence:

Equipment provided at each residence varies depending on which of three builders is involved. The following is a list of equipment provided by Shell Brothers, Rehoboth Beach, Del. The others offer a similar selection.
  • Honeywell Future Smart structured wiring solution
  • Honeywell Internet connection module (ICM) touch screen Web portal (standard at Eighteenth on the Bay, optional for other units)
  • Honeywell VA-MDERN100 four-port DSL/cable router (standard at Eighteenth on the Bay, optional for other units)
Optional home entertainment upgrade:
  • Sony CD/DVD WallStation “all-in-one” unit or
  • Sony New Home Solution (NHS) 1010 rack system bundled with one of 11 Sony televisions
Optional security upgrade:
  • Honeywell Vista series alarm control panel
  • Peripheral devices (such as passive infrared detectors, smoke detectors, door contacts) as appropriate for each installation
Optional HVAC upgrade:
  • 1 Honeywell T8635L communicating thermostat
  • Optional light control upgrade
  • Lutron RadioRa with Ra 120 interface module

Sidebar: Equipment List

  • Control4 Media Controller
  • Control4 16-channel amplifier
  • Control4 LCD keypad
  • Control4 Mini Touch keypad
  • Control4 wireless dimmers
  • Control4 wireless three-button keypads
  • Control4 wireless six-button keypads
  • Control4 system remote
  • Onkyo TXSR803B
  • Onkyo 702 six-DVD changer
  • GE connection center (two panels, one for video, one for phone and data)
  • GE NetworX 8E Version 2 security panel with RS232 interface
  • GE sensors, motion detectors and glass break sensors
  • GE NX-148E keypads

Sidebar: Equipment List

  • Russound CAA66 multi-room/multi-source control amplifier
  • Russound RSKP6 keypads
  • Russound RSSP-C650 in-wall speakers
  • Russound RSSP C823 round speakers
  • Proficient PFAW650 speakers
  • Elk Products M-1 alarm and automation control
  • Elk Products M1XSP serial port expander and UPB power line interface
  • Simply Automated US-240 addressable lighting switches
  • Elk Products ELKM1ZTS zone temperature sensor
  • Bosch O850 motion detectors
  • System Sensor smoke detectors
  • Door and window contacts from Tane Alarm
  • Doorbell Fon doorbell intercom
  • Pencil-style color video camera