Karen Flear, a property developer from Manchester, has recently completed her own stunning three bedroom detached home on the site of an on old coach house in a leafy location a couple of miles south of the City Centre. Recently featured on ITV’s May the Best House Win, this architect designed property has been meticulously finished by Karen and her builders Cateaton Ltd, in conjunction with Smart Home technology specialists Morban Ltd, to create a bright, energy efficient, contemporary living experience that is enhanced by a Philips Dynalite lighting control system that ensures the mood is always right, a central, Opus Technologies entertainments hub that distributes TV and audiophile quality sounds around the home, and a custom installed Morban Duet heating interface that helps to keep energy consumption under control whilst keeping the place cosy and comfortable.
"Karen explains, “In designing my own house, my key objectives were to have a practical yet relaxing space, incorporating the latest technology whilst keeping the home energy efficient”.
The unswerving modernity of the house contrasts dramatically with the late Victorian mansions that surround the property, yet it sits comfortably on its mature plot.
The ground floor space is built around a courtyard garden, allowing Karen’s office, kitchen and lounge areas all to benefit from an almost al fresco ambience by day, and a subtly lit garden environment at night. A wonderful flow has been created, allowing the front door and entry into Karen’s office to be almost self contained from the private area of the home. Yet the open plan design makes this an equally welcoming and hospitable residence. Decorated in an eclectic style that very much reflects Karen’s personality and taste for splashes of vibrant colour, the house is very much a home. But what of the technology behind it?
“I wanted the building management system to be as discreet as possible, providing little touches of luxury and lifestyle enhancement without needing a technology expert in order to run it.” Explains Karen, “And that’s where Morban helped hugely. They listened carefully to what I wanted, and came back with a lighting design and Philips Dynalite control infrastructure that wasn’t overpowering with a whole lot of flashy equipment that I didn’t require – but did give the convenient, laboursaving control over the house that I felt I wanted. Everything is now so simple, a single point to operate all the lights from, so I can select exactly the right mood for working or entertaining. The Morban Duet underfloor heating system control is great, instead of having separate thermostats in every room we use small thimble sensors that are connected to the Dynalite wall panels in each room, so heating, lighting and A/V control all come from a single source. It means there are fewer unsightly bits and pieces invading the open space of the walls.”
The two column Philips Dynalite Revolution wall panel incorporates an OLED display which can tell the temperature as well as which lighting mood or function that has been selected. The lights and functions are controlled on the left hand gang of buttons, whilst on the right hand side temperature in each zone can easily be controlled up or down, or switched over to Air Conditioning if required.
Karen’s was the first house to have the Morban Duet heating control solution installed, and it passed it’s winter run-in period with flying colours – and what a winter to test it out!
Morban developed the Duet control interface to help further micro-manage the already efficient, solar powered underfloor heating system. When the water in the system nears the set point temperature, fast acting solenoid valves immediately slow or stop the flow of hot water to that zone. The benefit of having solenoid rather than the traditional viscous valves means that the software controlled valves react much quicker when signals are sent to them. This saves energy from the overheating and over pumping that occurs in a traditional system.
“All these small gains add up”. explains Morban MD Geoff Banks, “The high level of heat retention in new houses, and advanced control technologies incorporated into our Duet solution allow us to reduce thermal waste from the heating system by maintaining a steady, even, micro-controlled temperature throughout the day. This means that for much of the year the underfloor heating system can be run purely from hot water generated by the solar panels on the roof, and stored in the hi-tech Thermastore hot water tank.” Banks continues, ”Similarly a lighting control system, like Philips Dynalite, that dims the lights, both lengthens the life of the bulb, and reduces the energy each dimmed bulb consumes which provides additional consumable savings over the standard economies that a client implements. We’ve noticed that once people get used to having a dimming system – they use it more and more – often asking us to further reduce light levels for relaxing or viewing TV, each time we make a service call. When LED lighting is added into the equation the energy savings can be pretty substantial. We have identified the similarities in the control opportunities of these diverse systems and have designed and software engineered our unique Duet interface to combine all these different levels of control into a single integrated system based around the Philips Dynalite control infrastructure.”
The Morban pulse flow heating controller minimises bounce
The Philips Dynalite system which controls the dimming and scene setting of over Morban’s lighting design of over 150 lights throughout the house, as well as control the heating through the Morban Duet interface, is all wired back to a single point of control and integration in a hi tech utility area next to the kitchen. The overall control of the house can also be operated from this point via the flush fitting DTP 100 colour touch screen.
Morban have also installed the Opus 300 series audio distribution system, based on commonly available Cat5 and coaxial cabling delivering high quality audio throughout the home from a central hub. The MCU300 (hub) is located in the Morban Rack enabling a combination of existing and new source components to be shared across Karens home.
In every room easy to use keypads and remote controls provide intuitive yet sophisticated control over the system and sleek in-ceiling speakers guarantee punchy stereo reproduction. Opus 300 delivers new standards at a more affordable price than ever before using low-cost Cat5 cable to deliver music, power and control commands to each keypad. As such, no additional power supply is required. Though not used in this installation, there’s even a ‘keypadfree’ option available thanks to the revolutionary remote controlled AMR650 active in-ceiling speaker. The Opus 300 master control unit (MCU300) serves eight zones or rooms, four main zones and four sub-zones. Six sources including Apple TV are connected to enable each room to enjoy different audio content such as music from a media server, Internet radio, TV audio from the TV local to that room, DVD/CD and other source media. Additionally personal ipod/MP3 players can be plugged into the system from local inputs in the bedrooms and kitchen.
The final word goes to Karen… “The installation has been a great success and I certainly plan to put the system in all future developments. It’s what the modern home owner is looking for and I’m the envy of all my friends!"