Full system control for smart ‘forever home’ in Scotland

In the heart of the Scottish countryside, Anna Mitchell finds a remarkable smart home installation that provides its owners with a system that delivers on comfort, efficiency, and personalisation.

With a shared desire for an innovative and interconnected home, the homeowners of this self-build, five-bedroom property set out to create a living space where technology seamlessly integrates with their daily lives. The pair acted as project managers on the build and turned to smart home experts Function Control for design and supply of control, automation, AV, WiFi, data, security and lighting technology to transform their home into a hub of convenience, comfort and adaptability.

Central to their vision was the ability to effortlessly control all aspects of their dwelling from a single interface. Function Control answered the brief with a KNX system and Control4 and Gira control systems.

“We’d worked with the client before,” says Mark Hardie, system integrator at Function Control. “Our client liked the idea of everything being centralised so he could have control over the whole house. This was going to be his forever home, so he wanted something more in depth that offered deep control.”

Alongside delivering control over all aspects of the technology, automation plays a big role in the home with presence detection and Theben PIR motion sensors fitted throughout the property. “There’s a lot of automated control throughout circulation areas so corridor lighting, bathroom nightlights and scene setting in various zones,” says Hardie. “For example, at night the lights will come on lower when you are walking through the corridors or in the bathrooms.”

Control of individual heat zones was also important for the homeowners who can control the temperature by area throughout the home instead of building-wide timers. They also have timer control of a water feature in the garden and electric motorised window control.

To access control functions, the client requested an app that built on the touchscreen control he’d had in his previous property. “We were able to deliver on that request with the Control4 and Gira systems,” says Hardie.

Seamless tech integration

To deliver on the desire for centralised control, Function Control implemented a central AV rack and network rack. At the heart of the system, control processing is handled by Control4 five zone and single zone controllers (EA-5 and EA-1).

It also houses equipment to power the four media zones found in the drawing room, study, kitchen and dining room and lounge. Two Sky boxes, an Anthem MRX540 AV receiver and a Sony UBPX800M2 Bluray player are all installed within the rack. Video is distributed in 4K to each display and Control4 universal remotes were provided for control of the media zones.

Multi-room audio that can be controlled centrally is delivered throughout the property via in-ceiling speakers and on-wall subwoofers with the rack containing Pulse8 audio matrix, amplifier and HDBaseT matrix. The homeowners wanted as little technology clutter throughout the open plan shared areas of the home to assist movement for their daughter who is in a wheelchair. “Part of the remit was no floorstanding speakers or trailing cables,” notes Nick Laing, director of Function Control.

AV distribution throughout the home is over Ethernet and Function Control integrated a whole-home network powered by Araknis. The homeowners can access WiFi with Ubiquiti UniFi NanoHD WiFi access points, while a UniFi AC Outdoor Mesh Pro covers the garden.

A Pakedge Powerpak8I PDU also housed in the AV rack ensures equipment is turned on and off in the right sequence. This came into its own after the homeowner experienced issues following a power cut and Function Control was able to ensure the devices came back online in a certain order to avoid any future problems.

Throughout the home 31 Gira custom-inscribed pushbutton switches and sensors plug into the KNX system. KNX also handles all the lighting and temperature control with Theben actuators used to control lighting dimming and switching, BMS, heating and blinds.    

Theben PIRs are used through most of the house, but Hardie points out that they were able to add other sensors into the system to meet specific needs. “Normally we have one type of PIR around the whole house, however in the bathrooms we needed a PIR to measure the temperature and the one we normally use doesn’t do heat sensing. That’s the advantage of KNX. You can mix and match and you know it’s all going to work. Or if a company goes bust in 10 years’ time we can swap the kit out with another manufacturer and it will still work.”

Function Control installed an LG OLED65GX6LA 65-in TV in the lounge accompanied by Episode Signature 7-in in-wall speakers. For bass, it turned to Gallo Acoustics for an on-wall subwoofer to deliver a deep, resonating low-end.

Moving on to the kitchen and dining area, another LG OLED65GX6LA television is paired with four Triad IC83 in-ceiling speakers and a Gallo Acoustics on wall subwoofer.

In the drawing room, the homeowners opted for the Sony KD-85XH9505, an 85-in television and Episode Signature 7 in-wall speakers complemented by Episode Signature 5 in-ceiling speakers and a Gallo Acoustics on-wall subwoofer. In the study, a slightly smaller LG OLED48CX5LC 48-in television sits alongside Triad IC83DT in-ceiling speakers. Audio extends into the master bedroom and ensuite with two Triad IC83 and an IC83DT in-ceiling speakers.

Audio coverage in the homeowners’ daughter’s bedroom is provided by two Triad IC83DT in-ceiling Speakers. This space was designed with features to support her individual needs and Function Control was able to make suggestions here about how technology could be used to increase comfort and help make the spaces more usable.

“We implemented directional, glare-free lighting in the daughter’s room and her ensuite,” says Hardie. “She’s in bed quite a lot so we were able to design the lighting so there are no spotlights pointing down at her eyes and all the lights are dimmable. We’ve also given her handheld [Gira] remote controls so she’s in full control of the blinds and lights, and there’s [Amazon Alexa] voice control in her room as well.”

Handling security are four Luma 410 series IP cameras and a Gira audio intercom/access system. There is also motion activated outdoor lighting and dusk-to-dawn lighting control which adds to the security features of the house, while creating a usable space for the family.

Function Control also supplied lighting fittings from SG Armaturen to deliver warm downlights, directional downlights and external lighting as well as LED tape details and low-level lighting on stairs/bathrooms from Egoluce.

The systems that Function Control delivered contribute to the already impressive environmental credentials of a house that has solar panels, Tesla batteries, an air source heat pump and Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) system.

Laing says: “Our systems are integrated with the MVHR which helps it run more efficiently as we are getting data back from that that can be analysed. The motorised windows provide an option for overheating control so if glazed areas are getting too hot then the windows can operate as a heat dump. The zoned heating system is more economical and PIRs help with turning lights on and off efficiently and there are on/off buttons to turn the whole house off when the family leaves.”

Control geek

Centralised control is core to many smart home projects but where this one differed was the client’s request for a deeper level of access than most homeowners want. The draw of smart home technology is usually to have systems that work seamlessly, at the touch of a button or even automated, without the resident ever thinking about the technology or programming behind that. But this homeowner, a tech enthusiast with a penchant for tinkering, wanted something else.

Laing says: “He wanted a deep level of access including accessing the settings to change how his PIRs behave, setting up individual timers for every heat zone, scene settings. That’s quite unusual for a client to request that level of control. But, because of the way KNX system is put together, we were able to do that for him.”

One thing that Function Control did have to be mindful of was the tight integration of AV technology and the whole-home control running on the KNX system provided a plethora of control apps and interfaces to choose from.

Laing says: “There was a danger of having too many options for controlling the house. We had to make sure we kept things clean and clear for what we were handing over to the client at the end. We didn’t want to have an overwhelming jumble of different technology going on.”

This mix of uncluttered but elevated control access empowers the client to make real-time adjustments, creating tailored experiences that accommodate his family's preferences and lifestyle changes.

From the ground up

“We were in at a very early design stage and we worked collaboratively with the homeowners to design exactly what they wanted,” says Laing. “We had time to spend on the discovery phase and got right into the fine detail and covered everything.”

Hardie adds: “We were able to design everything down to the electrical point locations and the electrical installation team were really good so things ran smoothly. If anything came up, they were quick to get back to us and check what should be happening.”

This process paid off when a plumbing issue arose: the loop for the towel rails had been omitted and had to be run very late in the build stages. “Where we were originally going to control it from wasn’t possible,” says Hardie. “The advantage with KNX is it was just on the bus line so, for us, it was just adding another device in our panel and wiring it in. Similarly when we were asked to add extra WiFi points in the garden we had extra cables in the attic so we’d planned for extra eventualities and had room to expand. It also means future expansion is possible and easy.”

With the installation complete Function Control has a service agreement with the client and is on hand for maintenance and support.

Hardie says: “One advantage of the networked technologies that we’ve used is remote access and control. I get fault notifications and can make quick changes or check the status of any issues without embarking on a three-hour round trip to visit the property.”

“All singing-all dancing” was the request from the client and the home he’s created with the support of Function Control delivers. The multimedia rooms and lighting design stand out, but centralised control was the linchpin of this self-build project with advanced automation simplifying daily routines, enhancing energy efficiency and delivering multiroom AV experiences.


Amazon Alexa POE Wall mount

Anthem MRX540 AV receiver

Araknis 210 16 Port Switch

Araknis 310 Dual WAN Router

Araknis 210 16 Port POE Switch

Araknis 310 24 port Switch

Control4 EA-5 Processor

Control4 EA-1 Processor 

Control4 Halo Remotes

Egoluce Lighting

Episode Signature 7 In-wall Speakers

Episode Signature 5 In-ceiling Speakers

Fakro Interface for Electric Windows

Gallo Acoustics On-wall Subwoofers

Gira KNX Pushbutton 3 Switches/Sensors

Gira X1 Visualisation Server

Gira S1 Remote Access & Voice Control Module

Gira KNX RF Remote to control blinds & lights

Gira Audio Intercom/Access system 



Luma 410 Series IP Cameras

Pakedge Powerpak8I PDU

Pulse8 16x16 Audio Matrix

Pulse8 ProAmp 8 Audio Amplifier

Pulse8 Neo 4x4 HDBaseT Matrix

SG Armaturen Lighting

Sony UBPX800M2 Bluray Player

Sony KD-85XH9505 – 85-in TV

Steinel SensIQ External PIRs

Theben DM8-2T 8-channel Dimming Actuators

Theben RM16 16-channel Switching Actuators for lighting control

Theben RM4U 4-channel Switching Actuators for BMS/plant control

Theben HMT12S 12-channel Heating Manifold Controllers

Theben JMG4T 4-channel Blind Actuators

Theben theRonda S360 internal PIRs

Triad IC83 In-ceiling Speakers

Triad IC83DT In-ceiling Speakers

Ubiquiti Unifi Nano HDs

Ubiquiti Unifi UAP Mesh ACs - External WiFi

Zehnder ComfoConnect KNX interface for MVHR

Zennio Flat Sensato Temperature Sensors

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