Irish integration firm, Lifestyle Electronics, has spent the past 18 months playing its part in the renovation of a country estate in Waterford in the Republic of Ireland.
Bernard Casey from the company, explains: “We’ve been around for 16 or 17 years now, operating across Europe. We tend to be involved in the higher end renovation projects, integrating digital home entertainment solutions to meet multi-media audio visual needs. We often work with country buildings, where there’s a special kind of structure with different techniques required. You can’t just put TVs or screens up anywhere, there are many considerations to take into account.
“Just because a building is listed does not mean that the families who live in them cannot benefit from the latest technologies and that is where we come in. It’s fantastic to see these houses being able to accommodate modern families in comfort, whilst still maintaining all of the cultural and historic aspects of a building.
“In this day and age, we rely a lot on modern comforts and good entertainment systems, and we bring all of these services, to make it comfortable for the next generation to live in, whilst preserving the history. We do also work with contemporary buildings and very often our clients have a variety of buildings.”
Bernard explains how the project came about: “The new owner came over here to trace his Irish ancestry and he simply fell in love with the house and what it had to offer.
“The previous owner was a friend of ours and so he passed on our details, so it was simple word of mouth. The original brief was to get a solid, robust Wi-Fi setup in the house and a basic TV system. This evolved considerably over time, involving more components and also expanding to the cottages on the site for guests.
“The new owners wanted to keep the building as close as possible to its original character while still providing all the comforts of a modern home. This includes high definition TV with satellite and online movie services, music in a number of rooms, high speed Wi-Fi in the house and estate cottages and an up to date building management system.
Bernard explains that the estate has a number of guest and gate lodges and the client wanted to link these together with a view to sharing services such as telephone, Wi-Fi and TV.
The team installed a fibre optic network linking all the cottages and farm buildings to the main house network, these buildings are also connected to the main building management system.
From the main house or abroad the client to switch on heat or lights in any of the buildings in preparation for guests.
Part of the network infrastructure, the team called on products from Pakedge, specialists brand in networking and now part of the Control4 family to boot.
Bernard says: “As part of the project, we upgraded the property’s Internet connectivity to a point to point service which is linked directly to the Atlantic cables. This direct connectivity in conjunction with the Pakedge router has enabled us to provide a stable and robust network, capable of providing unparalleled performance.
Building the project from the ground up, Bernard explains: “In order to first establish a solid network, we immediately thought of Pakedge. When we first came across the company, we instantly appreciated what they could do in terms of making things easy for an AV network.
“Wi-Fi has become critical and with network traffic increasing exponentially, the quality of product needs to be higher. This is very much the case with Pakedge and we have also found the technical support to be excellent through their distributor. We chose to use the K60D router, which was a good fit for the task at hand, able to handle large home networks with ease.”
If any part of the network fails, custom alerts via SMS, email or through Pakedge’s BakPak App can notify the owner or installer, allowing network problems to be addressed.
The K60D Pakedge router was chosen for a big role here designed as it is for large home networks as well as small businesses.
The router comes equipped with built in security functions to protect data and has an advanced firewall as well as threat protection.
Coupled with the ASIC chipset, offering high speeds and performance, this router offered the power the install team were looking for.
The Pakedge router also worked in conjunction with the SX range of Pakedge switches, meaning that network traffic can be prioritised to optimise performance.
Bernard says: “Pakedge products have allowed us to do so much more with a lot less hassle and a lot less cabling. Integration with the KNX and Savant based home automation system was simple and the products offer fantastic reliability which is great for me and my client.”
With the client not being present at the property all the time, other challenges needed to be overcome by Lifestyle Electronics.
Bernard explains: “The system allows the client to maintain a certain level of heat and light. This is very useful as they do not live there year-round. The system can also turn on sections of heat and light, so for example they are able to turn the heating on in cottages prior to their guests’ arrival.
“These are completely independent, so these can all be turned on depending on whether they are required or not. The owner may also require one part of the house to be heated, while the other is merely kept to a minimum temperature. This can all be adjusted remotely via the iPad App, so it can be changed whenever it is required, giving him the control that he needs.
“The owner can also view the many CCTV cameras that we have set up around the property. This can be from within the house or while he is abroad and he would like to see how the house looks.”
The BMS system also makes it easy to ensure that lights and heat costs can be monitored and controlled.
While the solution is high tech, its operation is low key. All the light switches are toggle type switches in-keeping with the décor of the interiors, whilst small interfaces behind the fittings provide the intelligence.
The system was also about offering fun.
Bernard says: “With the entertainment side of things, we started off by installing a couple of TVs on site. We later installed a home cinema, and setup the possibility to stream content to any room with a display in it.
“Music can also be played in a range of rooms, including the drawing room and the kitchen. Towards the end of the project we linked the cottages into the network system. Everything is linked to the system, from the intercom, to the gates, to the alarm, to the CCTV system.”
The home also needed to be a business hub so the team set up a conference centre, which has been used to host about 20 or 30 managers, all using the Wi-Fi in that zone of the hose.
Projects of this size always present some tricky technical challenges and this property was no different.
Bernard says: “We had some issues with the thickness of the walls hindering the Wi-Fi signal, which is a common problem with older properties. To overcome this we used Pakedge’s W6 access points, which provide great signal strength. We were able to install these in hidden positions using the array of product mounts available, so as not spoil the appearance of the property.”
So now its all un and running, what is Bernard’s favourite part? “I personally really like the network side of things, because it links everything together and enables us to do much more than previously, with less cabling and less hassle.
“Being able to monitor the system remotely is also a huge asset with something of this scale. I’m able to sit in my office and provide assistance. It really does make such a difference and allows us to narrow down any issues before going on-site, saving considerable time and effort on projects of this scale.
“I’ve heard that the client loves that he can be sat on a bench somewhere, and can turn the lights on anywhere in his house from his iPad; I think he gets a kick out of it! He is certainly not a technophobe, and I think he really appreciates the fact that he has a really high level of control over everything and he’s able to leave for work and know that everything is safe and under control and keep an eye on things from a distance.”
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