This archetypal semi-detached house just outside of Reading in Berkshire may look just like any other UK home from the outside, but inside it’s another matter entirely.
A key emphasis for this project was Smart Home technology improving everyday life by taking the fuss out of day-to-day tasks. So the pair give Loxone some of the more onerous household tasks such as checking for open windows and turning off lights before leaving the house. High energy costs mean that efficiency was also a key factor. That’s why their zoned heating control is in place. They also rely on the Miniserver to add a little bit of wow factor to their home with some clever little touches… Like how they’ve set up a moving painting to cover up their TV when they’re not watching it!
Light up your life
To save time and thought, we’ve set up series of lighting scenes in different rooms for different occasions. Take our kitchen, for instance. In the morning, the ‘Breakfast’ setting gives us a gentle light over the breakfast bar. So we can read the newspaper and eat our Corn Flakes without being half blinded! In the evening, our ‘Cooking’ scene features bright lighting around the cooker and hobs. Then once dinner is served, our ‘Dining’ scene has dimmed lighting in the cooking area, but the dining table lit up.
Lights out – Night mode
My wife likes lots of mood lighting and table lamps dotted about the place. Turning them on was one thing, but running around at bedtime and turning everything off individually became a real chore. I can now shut off all lights with one swipe of my smartphone, just before setting the alarm for the morning.
Modes – Always in control
With ‘modes’ we can tell our house what we are up to and make sure it adjusts accordingly. So, if we ever find ourselves rushing out of the door on a Friday evening for a few days away, the pre-set ‘Weekend Away’ mode saves a lot of time and stress. In seconds we can:
– Set the burglar alarm
– Enable the fire alarm
– Ensure power to all heat-based appliances is killed
– Check all windows are shut
– Turn down/off the heating
And on Sunday afternoon, when we’re driving home, we can kick the heating back in from my iPhone or my wife’s Android so it’s nice and warm on our return.
With room-by-room heating control, we save so much more money now. Every room is set to exactly the temperature we want, when we want it. We never unnecessarily heat parts of the house that we‘re not using.
Two ways of saving money on heating – Don’t heat or only heat what you need. Since we’re not eskimos we like our home nice and warm. But instead of heating the whole house and controlling it from a single thermostat in the hall, the Miniserver allows us to set heating schedules for each room from our smartphones. This means our Lounge and Study are never heated in the morning, but other rooms like the bathroom and kitchen are.
Working from home – We don’t have an override button that turns the heating up in the whole house if one of us is working from home. Instead we can just quickly enable our ‘Working from Home’ mode, which again only heats rooms that we actually use.
A warming feeling
Our living room wood burner has a back boiler which allows it to heat the rest of the house when it’s blazing. We’ve integrated it into our heating system so that when the logs are in there burning, a temperature sensor picks up on it and the central heating boiler automatically turns off. So we can have a toasty evening in front of the fire that will also heat the rest of the house and is entirely cost effective.
Ooops! Left a window open – Leaving a window open is an easy mistake to make – especially in a bedroom or bathroom. With Loxone we never need to frantically run around the place checking if we’ve remembered to shut all the doors and windows before we go out. The answer’s always in the palms of our hands…
When we enable the ‘Going Out’ function (by double pressing the switch by our front door or through the apps on our phone), the Miniserver does a quick check of all window sensors and sends us a text if any have been left open.
Our lights know what we want to do. For instance: When one of us needs to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night all bleary-eyed, we don’t want to be blinded with the room’s bright light. And we’re not, because when the sensor is activated at night, dimmed lighting in the ensuite bathroom automatically comes on and then goes off again once we’ve gone back to bed. Depending on the time of day the motion sensor in our bathroom enables different lighting scenes.
- Morning – If we walk into the bathroom between 6:30am and 7:30am the PIR will automatically enable the getting ready scene, with lights by the mirror and the shower.
- Evening – Once it is dark outside the motion sensor automatically brings on our evening preset.
- Night – After pressing the good night button the motion sensors will only bring on minimal lights so we can find our way around but not get blinded.
- Fancy a bath? – Of course we can still use the light switch to override the automatic lights, so if someone wants a relaxing bath the lights get dimmed and the bathroom fan is switched off.
Declutter the coffee table
It used to be a bit of a nightmare trying to remember which one the seemingly hundreds of remote controls to use for which device and what HDMI inputs needed to be set for simply watching a film. Now there’s only one control in our living room – our iPad! When we fancy a film, we just select the ‘Watch Movie’ scene. It automatically turns all the equipment on, selects the right channels and starts to play the DVD. It could even turn on a popcorn machine (if we had one!).
Waking up – gently
We grew pretty tired of the intrusively loud bleeping noise of our alarm clock and the vibrating of the phone on the bedside table and decided to set our bedroom up to act as our alarm clock instead. So now, every morning, we both wake up to the lights very slowly coming on and our favourite radio station fading up to a comfortable volume. What a perfectly peaceful way to wake up!
Music to your ears
This really is a home that’s wired for sound! Not in an in-your-face way but in a subtle way. We’ve integrated multi-room audio into our set-up and, as with everything else, we can control it from our phones or iPad. We can play music throughout the whole house, or separate it into rooms. Without the need of an extra button, a double click on one of the light switches neatly hides a pause function for turning music off quickly if the telephone rings or there’s someone at the door.
Scare them away!
We’ve also incorporated security into our home’s central controls. When we’re away the motion detectors serve as alarm sensors. If anyone enters, all the lights come on at full brightness and music blasts out at full volume. A short sharp shock of heavy metal and intense light we’d hope would be enough to scare away any unwanted intruders! If it were to happen (God forbid), we’d also get a call to one of our mobile phones to alert us with a pre-recorded message.
Peace of mind
Ever wonder if you’ve left the iron or a pair of hair straighteners on once you’ve left the house? We used to. All the time! Now we don’t have to drive back home to check or spend all day worrying about it. It’s just one or two touches of the iPhone and we’ve got total peace of mind.
Home Automation can encompass so many different things. For us it was the flexibility of the Miniserver that made us choose Loxone. We’re quite conscious of energy prices and having an efficient heating system was very important to us. In our busy lives we also love the fact that we can control our home and check up on it wherever we are, in seconds. However it’s not all serious, there are lots of fun things you can do with home automation as well that can give you the ‘James Bond’ factor, like hiding TVs behind pictures! 🙂
- Loxone Caller Service
- 1-wire sensors for measuring temperatures in each room
- Reed switches on all windows and doors for heating and security
- All lights and switches are connected to the Loxone Miniserver for total control
- 3 button GET switchplates
- Sonos multiroom audio system (controlled via LAN)
- Control of Yamaha AV Receiver and Bluray Player via LAN
- Control of NAS via WoL
- 1 Miniserver
- 3 Extensions
- 5 Dimmer Extensions
- 1 1-Wire Extension
- 1 DMX Extension
- 2 PWM Dimmers
- 10m RGB LED strips
For more information visit www.loxone.com