Home improvements

Combining Control4 and KNX has had a positive outcome on this whole home automation project. Amy Wallington looks at how home tech has improved a young couple’s lifestyle.

Following a recent project to design and install electrical and communication systems at his company’s office, this customer decided to look into a similar solution for his family home. With a one-year-old daughter, the young family are keen travellers but also place great value on quality time spent together at home. 

Based in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, the couple decided to build a villa complete with a full home automation system for automated control of the property. Enlisting the expertise of Amavys Project, the integrator that completed his office works, the project began in early 2018 and finally ended in September this year. 

“The invitation to work together on the villa project came naturally,” explains Marian Simtinica, general manager at Amavys. “We knew each other, we had worked together, we had talked over time about smart home concepts. When the client decided to build his new house, he invited us to consult for the project and offer a modern and easy to use solution that would ensure the functionalities that his family needs.

“Working on such a big project, we had to schedule our work in accordance with the other trades involved, such as designers, architects, builders, project managers, etc.”

Not only to be used by the homeowners, the integrator had to keep in mind that the systems they were specifying would also be used by house staff and guests, so they had to be user friendly. Simtinica adds: “The parents of the young couple, who live in other cities, often come to visit and enjoy the home automation systems. They like how everything is intuitive and easy to use. At first, they were a little sceptical, but they quickly adjusted to it and we even found out that they are looking into such functionalities in their own homes.”

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A dedicated space was made to house the technology in the basement

In control
Although the homeowner had no previous experience with home automation technology, he did his research and knew exactly what he wanted from his new family home. The integrator held multiple meetings with the client throughout the design and specification process where they discussed various solutions and how to implement them. 

“The client is an open, communicative person with a modern vision, and is very easy to work with because he always takes into account all the recommendations from specialists but at the same time carefully weighs up the proposed options to choose the optimal solution,” Simtinica says. 

He wanted his newly built home to be modern in design but with integrated home automation that is intrinsically presented. The automation systems were to be implemented in a natural way while transforming the house into a welcoming home. It was important that he have intuitive control over all the functionalities of the house both from home but also remotely as he travels a lot. 

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Simtinica says: “We proposed Control4 because it offers a complete range of automation solutions that increases comfort with low power consumption. Home control and monitoring are easy to do both inside the home and remotely, through the mobile app. The effect is increased quality of life of those who live there and that is exactly what our client wished for.”

Keeping the customer’s needs in mind, Amavys consulted with the technical team from Control4 and Zennio to choose the best options for the project by giving them marketing and video presentation materials as well as case studies to present to the customer. The overall solutions paired Control4 with KNX for best results. 

Coordinating
The integrator also had to work closely alongside the architects and interior designers when specifying and planning the project to ensure that the solutions chosen would fit with the design as well as having the right smart home functionality for the homeowner. In addition to having to work around each other, working with other trades came with other issues too.

Simtinica explains: “The main challenge in the planning process was the correct coordination with the architecture and other installations in the house. Being a complex project with many functionalities implemented, there was a considerable number of cables needed between the field equipment and the technical room in the basement. It was a challenge to find space for these because the false ceilings were almost glued to the concrete slab in the main areas to make the room as big as possible. With most of the functionalities needing to be implemented in these areas, we had to find space and beam crossings to be able to do what we needed to do.”

“At first, [the customer’s parents] were a little sceptical, but they quickly adjusted to it and we even found out that they are looking into such functionalities in their own homes.”

Another issue arose halfway through the install process when the beneficiary decided to change the designer. “It was inconvenient because of course, the new designer had completely different ideas and solutions,” adds Simtinica. “Almost everything had to change. We had already finished the cabling, but we had to reposition the power supplies, commands and control elements, all while trying not to damage the almost finished walls and ceilings. Although inconvenient, thankfully we were able to work it out and everything turned out well in the end.”

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Automated tech 
To match the exquisite architecture, the installed tech had to be high-end with advanced functionality. Covering all areas of the villa, almost everything was automated with the homeowners having full control.

Working with the architects and designers, the lighting was designed to complement the modern architecture of the villa. Using Delta Light Belgium lighting control, spotlights were installed in a DALI configuration as well as trimless spotlights and LED strips. Most of the lighting installed is dimmable and many are part of scenarios programmed into the system. 

Again, matching the modern architecture, dimmable spotlights were installed in a wooden frame in the living room ceiling to generate a special design which involved very detailed assembly. 

Image 6Audio was a large part of this installation, with Triad speakers installed in most parts of the property. “Due to the decorative wooden ceiling and generous glass space in the living room, we decided to install a 66-in custom-made Triad soundbar which is paired with a large Sony TV and two passive Triad subwoofers with the amplifiers installed in the TV cabinet,” defines Simtinica. “The sound is remarkable.” 

The outdoor sound system features eight satellites from Triad and two subwoofers with the amplifiers rack mounted in the tech room in the basement. The client is able to control everything from the garden on a mobile touch panel. 

There are often issues with acoustics when installing outdoor audio, however a concrete wall helped to disperse the sound. Simtinica reveals: “The sound system for the garden and pool benefitted from the positioning next to a concrete wall that helps reflect the audio to fill the entire garden with strong and clear sound.”

Even the indoor sauna is fully automated with heating, lighting and overall safety control available through the Control4 application. It allows the client to turn the sauna on, set the temperature and monitor any technical alerts coming from the room. 

Solar panels were installed on the roof of the villa and linked to the gas boiler which are both automated and prioritised to serve the outdoor pool and jacuzzi. “This ensures maximum comfort with a minimum consumption of thermic energy,” analyses Simtinica. “Many additional temperature sensors and flow switches had to be installed in order to monitor the parameters of temperature, pressure, and water flow in various segments of the installation so that the automation system can achieve the comfort requirements (temperature, waves, etc) safely and with minimum energy consumption.”

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KNX & Control4 integration
This project is dominated by Control4 and KNX control. Explaining why this pairing works so well for this installation, Simtinica explains: “The KNX Control4 package met all the technical requirements and was the most suitable in terms of aesthetics and adds a lot of value to the project. We have good experience in both systems, and it allowed us to make the most of their functionalities. We feel we have managed to achieve a synergy of capabilities of the two protocols, the result being at a very high performance and price ratio with a high grade of elegance in use.”

KNX is used to cover the basic functions and commands while also directly controlling the lighting, shading, heating and cooling. Control4 is used to control the audio, video and video intercom, while offering a detailed overview of the entire villa through an efficient and modern UI. 

The system is programmed to allow house staff and guests to use it, but this is only at KNX level using mini panels installed in the rooms to control basic features such as light and heating. For now, the homeowners want full control to remain in their hands.

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Exceeding expectations
Enjoying the benefits of home technology, the homeowners have been pleasantly surprised at how much it has improved their lives. Simtinica details: “The client told us his expectations were exceeded. He imagined what it would be like to live in a smart home but following the completion of the project, he realised that it doesn’t just cover his initial requirements; the system offers functionalities that would not have thought of, and really make their lives easier and considerably increases the comfort of every family member and also for the guests and house staff.”

Often working from home, he also enjoys being able to use a mobile seven-inch tabletop touch screen that he keeps on his desk to allow him to access all functions of his house without interrupting his work. 

Currently, there are no additions to be made to the villa. However, this might change as the child grows older. Following the project’s completion, there is now talk of a second job that will take place next year for a fully automated holiday home, as well as another office space. 

Tech Spec
4-Zone Power Amplifier
8-Zone Power Amplifier
24-Source, 24-Zone Audio Matrix Switch
Barthelme LED strips
Basalte Sentido Keypad
Bidirectional Audio Converter with Downmixing
Capacitive Push Button Square TMD 2 / 4 /6 Buttons
Control4 DS2 Mini Door Station
Control4 EA-5 Entertainment and Automation Controller
Control4 Entertainment & Automation Controllers
Control4 OnWall Nano LCR 3.0 (Custom Stretch 44.1-in to 66-in)
Control4 T3 Series 7-in In-Wall Touchscreen
Control4 T3 Series 7-in Tabletop Touchscreen
Delta Light Lighting Control System
IntesisBox Fujitsu AC Indoor Unit KNX Interface
KNX Bus Connector
KNX-DALI Interface for DIN Rail 
KNX Power Supply 320mA plus 29VDC Ancillary 
KNX Power Supply 640mA plus 29VDC Ancillary
LED Dimming 4 Channels and DIN Rail Mounting
MAXinBOX 8 Plus. KNX Multifunction Actuator – 8 Outputs 16A
MAXinBOX 16 Plus. KNX Multifunction Actuator – 16 Outputs 16A
Sony TV
Thermoelectric Actuator Adapter for UPONOR
Thermoelectric Actuator for Distributors, Area Valves / Radiator
Triad Garden Array 10 Subwoofer
Triad Garden Array Above-Ground System
Triad InCeiling R15 OpenRound Speakers
Triad InCeiling R16 OpenRound Speakers
Triad InCeiling R28 OpenRound Speakers
Triad InRoom Bronze SlimSub with RackAmp 300
Triad InRoom OmniSub 8 Subwoofer
Triad OnWall Micro Sat 2.0 Subwoofer
Zennio Capacitive Touch Panel Z35
Zennio Capacitive Touch Panel Z41 Lite
Zennio HeatingBOX 230V 4X. Heating Actuator for up to 4 Outputs 230VAC
Zennio HeatingBOX 230V 8X. Heating Actuator for up to 8 Outputs 230VAC
Zennio IRSC Plus. Infrared Controller for Climate
Zennio KNX Linecoupler
Zennio MAXinBOX 66. KNX Multifunction Actuator – 6 Outputs 16A / 6 Inputs A/D
Zennio MAXinBOX FC 0-10V FAN