A tee-rific smart home

This home has everything you could want for later life in Finland – a cinema, whole home audio, a pool and spa, and even a golf simulator for a big golf fan. Amy Wallington investigates how it all came together.

Some homes are designed to make the technology a visible focal point while some hide it away completely. Others find a way of marrying the two together to create a synergy between stunning interior design and aesthetics and high-end technology and automation. This house does just that.

This sleek and stylish, fully automated home belongs to a partially retired couple living in Finland. The secluded property was designed for a more relaxed way of life with their love of golf at the heart of it.

An expert in this field is smart home installer, Digisähkö, who started the three-year project in 2016, completing in 2019. Based on a KNX and Control4 combined system, the integrator was recommended for this project by a local Control4 Finnish distributor, who knew that Digisähkö is a KNX partner organisation with plenty of experience in KNX Control4 integrations.

All new

A new build home, the process began with the client giving the installer a general idea of what they wanted out of their new home.

“They hadn’t had automation or AV multiroom systems before, but they wanted the ability to listen to music throughout the house,” explains Jani Hirvonen, founder and CEO of Digisähkö. “They also wanted to be able to watch golf in HD on every TV, as well as personalised TV recordings from their set top box and home videos on all TVs. A surveillance system was also required with remote access for them to monitor while away from home.”

As the property was a new build, there was no existing infrastructure or systems to contend with and the integrator was able to design a system totally dedicated to the user’s needs. Even in new builds, there can sometimes be infrastructure to deal with due to the interior designer’s and architect’s plans for the property. However, this was not the case on this project.

“The Light Cognitive Big Skylight Window can simulate daylight rotation or specific daylight.”

“Luckily, we were able to be part of the design and development process from the very early stages of development, so we were involved in designing the entire system integration and what spaces were required for installation,” says Hirvonen. “For example, we were able to specify a suitable equipment room that was big enough to house everything, as well as ensuring it was temperature controlled. This doesn’t always happen and then we have to be creative.”

This was also useful as the integrator was able to recommend certain KNX components to the electrician that would work well in this project.

After establishing the brief, the integrator was able to go into more detail to determine the level of automation that the client wanted as well as the quality level for AV equipment such as TVs and speakers. Hirvonen adds: “We discussed TV models and what size and colours they wanted as well as the ideal place for them to be installed. We also looked at media sources which met their needs, such as having HD golf channels on every television. Looking at music, we asked where they want to be able to listen to music, how loud they would want it and what quality level they were hoping for. We also had to think about the design of the speakers and how visible they were. On this, the client decided to have them as invisible as possible while retaining sound quality. These discussions led us to specifying equipment and making detailed plans.”

Tech walkthrough

With 1GB fibre internet, Digisähkö realised they would need a proper firewall with router functionality. “We chose a powerful Pakedge K60D for that job, along with Pakedge S3L switches for its distribution so that we don’t have bottlenecks in the network. For the wireless network we chose Pakedge WK-2 series access points with central management via Pakedge NK-1.”

A security system was a must for this secluded property, and the integrator decided to install a system from MERIT LILIN “for their excellent reliability and picture quality,” as Hirvonen says. “It also works really well with Control4.”

Multiroom audio and video was a big part of this project, with the client wanting high-quality, easy to use AV distributed throughout the house. Hirvonen explains: “The customer liked the sound of Monitor Audio and Origin Acoustics speakers. We chose the models and placement of the speakers based on what space we had available in the ceilings after suspended ceilings were built.

“Together with local distributor, Concept Hifi, we specified Monitor Audio IA Series power amplifiers and AudioControl Director Series power amplifiers for their sound quality, DSP functionality to tweak the sound in the room, and their energy efficiency.”

In terms of distributed video, the main requirement was to be able to watch personalised TV recordings on a set top box, home videos and most importantly, HD golf on every TV throughout the house seamlessly. The integrator used a WyreStorm NHD400 Series network based video matrix to achieve this. He continues: “Every user has their own VU+ Ultimo 4K set top box for their own TV recordings and favourite channels. TV recordings are stored in a NETGEAR NAS expanded storage and sharing device, which also stores any home videos that can be enjoyed via the set top boxes.”

Home entertainment

For true home entertainment, the house has a pool and spa, as well as a dedicated home cinema and a golf simulator. The home cinema is used by the couple when they want to sit down and relax in front of a film or for when they have family and friends visiting. An Xbox One S is also set up in the room for a high-performance gaming experience for the grandchildren.

“We were involved in designing the entire system integration and what spaces were required for installation.”

The sound system in the theatre uses a 7.4.2 Atmos set up using MK Sound S300 series speakers and Artcoustic subwoofers, again specified together with Concept Hifi. An Integra DRC R-1.1 preamp and Emotiva power amps were used to drive the MK Sound speakers. “We chose a DreamVision Siglos Ultra 4K HDR projector for its outstanding picture quality and a 135-in acoustically transparent fixed frame screen from Elite Screens so that we could mount the front speakers behind for good directional audio,” says Hirvonen.

Although not automated into the house system, a golf simulator was installed into a large room as part of the entertainment spaces on the ground floor. This allows the customer to tee off from the green whenever he likes.

The spa area is made up of a swimming pool, a sauna, a relaxation area, and a gym. When asked if there was anything unusual installed here, Hirvonen replied: “That is a good question… What is unusual these days?”

We had to agree that a huge skylight, more or less the same length and width of the pool, that was installed overhead was fairly unusual. It is designed to bring more light into the pool area while also creating a biophilic effect to give a more natural feel. Hirvonen reveals: “The Light Cognitive Big Skylight Window can simulate daylight rotation or specific daylight, like a beautiful morning, a clear sky, or a stunning sunrise for example. Light is also a direct stimulant, especially in winter months in Nordic countries. It can energise the client’s morning and bring a relaxing warm light in the evening. It can be used as a virtual window that creates dynamic daylight conditions in any space.

“It is made up of multiple LED modules behind a screen. The company is based in Helsinki and the product is all made here in Finland. It can be controlled via DMX from the Control4 interface and we have set eight different scenes for the client to choose from.”

Integrating

The whole home is based on a KNX and Control4 integration. Control4 interfaces are used around the house as the main user interfaces and the client can use that to control the home’s main functions, such as lights, HVAC, sound and video. They also receive messages via email if any of the technology or part of the system needs any maintenance, for example if the HVAC system needs a filter change. “We also have active power control via Pakedge for all AV components in the system, so that if they do not respond to or from the network, we can reboot the devices automatically or remotely.

“Loosely translated from Finnish, our motto is ‘Learn one time, always have the know how’. We like to keep things simple. If something can be operated via one button, it is always better to use that approach than having five buttons for example.”

Each user interface has more or less the same level of control and functionality. Guests can view exactly the same as the homeowners. However, some functions are hidden behind pin codes for extra protection. “We did create a ‘cleaning mode’ for the KNX controls in the house, which operates lights and curtains and the AV. This feature doubles as a child lock for when the grandchildren visit, so they can’t play with the buttons.”

Technical support and maintenance is carried out by the integrator, who checks the system two to four times a year both remotely and through on-site visits, depending on what needs doing. They also ensure any critical updates are actioned for AV and network devices.

Costing around €250,000, this couple have certainly scored a hole in one with their Finnish smart home.

Tech Spec

Apple TV

Artcoustic Subwoofers

AudioControl Director Series Power Amplifiers

Control4 C4-DS2 Door Stations

Control4 C4-EA1 Controllers

Control4 C4-EA3 Controller for Home Theatre

Control4 C4-EA5 Controller

Control4 C4-IO Extender

Control4 T3 Series 7-in In-Wall Touchscreens

Control4 T3 Series 10-in In-Wall Touchscreens

Control4 SR-260 Remote Controls

DreamVision Siglos Ultra 4K HDR Projector

Elite Screens 135-in Acoustically Transparent Fixed Frame Screen

Emotiva Power Amps

Fusion Research Duet Music Servers

Integra DRC-R1.1 AV Preamp

Light Cognitive Big Sky Custom Skylight, controlled via DMX

MERIT LILIN MR Series & ZR Series Cameras

MERIT LILIN NVR400L Network Video Recorder

Microsoft Xbox Series S

MK Sound S300 Series Speakers

Monitor Audio IA Series Power Amplifiers

Monitor Audio C200 Series Speakers

Monitor Audio Controlled Performance Series Speakers

NETGEAR NAS Storage

Origin Acoustics Director 6 & 8 Series Speakers

Origin Acoustics Seasons Outdoor Series Speakers

Pakedge K60D

Pakedge NK-1-CP Wireless Controller

Pakedge PI-8E

Pakedge S3L-24P Managed Switches

Pakedge SX-8-EP Switch

Pakedge WK-1-0 Wireless APs

Pakedge WK-2-1 Wireless APs

Schneider Wiser for KNX Modules for KNX Integration with Control4

Sony 49-in BRAVIA 4K HDR Professional TVs

Sony 65-in BRAVIA 4K HDR Professional TV

Sony UBP-X1000ES 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player

Triad TS-AMS24 Audio Matrix Switch

VU+ Ultimo TV Boxes

WyreStorm NetworkHD 400 Series 9x6 Video Matrix