09.04.19

The Smart 27 – try before you buy

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On Friday April 5, I went to York to stay in an Airbnb for the night. But this wasn’t any old Airbnb, it was an Airbnb fitted with a Loxone system to create a smart home.

Tapping in a code, the door unlocked and I walked in. The house, which is called The Smart 27, looks like a normal house both inside and outside which makes you realise any home can be automated. 

The Loxone system works with three-points of interaction: presence, switches and an app. Covering the presence interaction, this house had sensors in every room apart from the bedrooms. The sensors detect your presence in the room and the lights turn on, the heating is set to your desired temperature, your favourite music starts playing through the in-ceiling speakers, and the blinds adjust according to your chosen setting or the time of day. 

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A Loxone switch in the kitchen

The second interaction point within the Loxone system are switches; every room has a five-point switch that gives the homeowner control over the room. If there is no sensor, homeowners can touch the middle of the switch to turn the room on. They can then keep pressing the middle button to flick through different lighting scenes that have been created for that room. 

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The Loxone switch explained for guests

Users can control the audio with the right-hand side of the switch and the left-hand side controls the blinds. Volume can be controlled by tapping the top and bottom right-hand corners and a track can be skipped by double tapping the top right corner. If the homeowner wants to turn the music off, they can simply double tap the bottom right corner. 

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The kitchen with controllable lighting 

The left-hand side of the switch controls the blinds by simply tapping the top left-hand corner for the blinds to open and bottom left-hand corner for them to close. To turn the room off, users double tap the middle button, or the room will turn itself off after a certain length of time where it has not detected movement. 

The third point of interaction is through the app which can be used on a smartphone or a tablet. This isn’t a necessity for the system to work, but it’s a nice addition to be able to control the home from a central point, when away from home, or from the comfort of the sofa. The app gives homeowners the status of every room in the house, including whether the burglar alarm is activated and if the fire and water systems are all functioning correctly. The Smart 27 had an iPad on the wall in the lounge as its central control. 

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A Loxone motion sensor on the ceiling upstairs

Having not used a smart home system before, it took a while to get used to it, but it was fairly straightforward to use after a while. There was even a switch embedded behind the tiles in the shower to control the lights, audio and shower. 

Potes Smart Home, owners of The Smart 27, integrated the Loxone system into the house. Christian Pote, director of Potes Smart Home, said: “The retail price of the Loxone products in The Smart 27 was approximately £6,500. The parts that made up the system that are not Loxone products such as the light fixtures, smoke alarms (which are also connected), and speakers plus other things such as fuses, outside lights, sockets, etc, cost around £1,000.”

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The automated shower

The Loxone system has a much lower price point than some other control systems making it much more affordable in every day homes. The system is housed in a rack and uses minimal cabling. Pote continues: “The wiring of this system took 10 days, though this was quite spread out on this project with other works going on. If we were to do the same house but with the retrofit wireless system by Loxone, the cost of the product would be very similar and the time to fit it would be no more than three days.”

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The projector in the living room rolls down out of the ceiling and projector switches on

The Smart 27 had a projector with a screen that rolls into the ceiling when not in use. Using the system, scenes can be set for different things. For example, with a tap of the switch, the projector will turn on, the screen will lower from the ceiling, the blinds will close, and the lights will dim and change to a suitable colour. These scenes are completely customisable for each room. 

Lighting is something that is used heavily for scene setting and moods throughout the house. There are even lights embedded in the wall as you walk up the stairs. Users are also able to change the colour of the lights throughout the house. 

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The rack containing the Loxone system

The system controlled everything from the front door to the outdoor AV, to different scenes indoors. The Smart 27 is a very new install so it is still being adjusted slightly as people are beginning to stay there and use it. Therefore, I had a slight issue with controlling the shower temperature but that could be more down to the fact that I was not used to the system. Loxone is also the only system that allows control of a shower, making it quite a unique feature. 

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The switch embedded into the tiles in the shower

The only other issue was the doorbell being slightly oversensitive as it went off a couple of times in the morning, an issue that has also now been adjusted by Potes Smart Homes. This shows the technical support available from Potes to get installations right for the customer. 

Overall, this house is a great way to show off the technology to customers and gives them a chance to try a system before committing to having it in their home.