Smart Farm

13/06/2019

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Nestled away in rural Bedfordshire, for all intents and purposes Pedley Farm appears to be the quintessential historic farmhouse. However, within the 300-year old shell lies a smart home firmly routed in the 21st century.

Despite its rustic exterior, Pedley Farm is very much the modern home. Purchased by Neil Badcock, owner and director of JetSet Home Automation, in 2017, the inside of the farmhouse was completely stripped back before a new layout optimised for home automation was designed and built.

Neil’s expertise in the design and installation of home automation systems was central to the finished property; and his experience of living in the house upon completion has given him a deep understanding of how to really live in a connected home – something which he has in turn applied to his own customer installations.

“When you’re actually living in a property and using the systems you install for customers every day, you really get a much greater insight as to the functionality and capacity of a system, above and beyond what you may take from a brochure,” begins Neil. “From both an installer and an end user perspective, you quickly begin to learn how to tailor each system to the room in question – rather than having an ‘always on’ approach to functionality, which can sometimes detract from the end user benefit.”

A Classe apart

Pedley Farm is equipped with a host of home automation technology. The property can be accessed via a keyless Bticino touch pad, while the Bticino Classe 300X touch screen video internal unit with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity provides an intelligent door entry system. This can be controlled via the screen or the dedicated Legrand Door Entry app. Requiring a simple 2 wire installation, the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity meant no additional wiring was required. Unlike many other products on the market, the Classe 300X self-configures to the domestic Wi-Fi via a simple ‘search and connect’ function. On a practical level, the Wi-Fi connectivity avoids any extra expense stemming from complex wiring and ethernet configuration.

Moving further inside the property, 12 4.3” Equinox keypads and two Equinox 73 LCD touch screens from Legrand’s Vantage home automation range are installed throughout the house, each powered by a single RJ45 (PoE) connection. The Active Matrix Colour LCD keypads are able to control a host of different functions via different user interface widgets, ranging from lighting and climate control, through to multi-room home audio and video systems.

As well as the interactive keypads located throughout the property, all widgets on the touch screen can be accessed on the family’s smart devices via the Equinox app. This provides the exact same level of control as the wall-mounted keypad, but from remote locations both in the home, and when away from the property.

Neil continues: “In essence, the whole house can be configured from a central control panel. For example, if we are out but the cleaner is due to visit, a button can be pressed that will light-up all the rooms that need to be cleaned that day. Once the cleaner has finished, the same button can be pressed and the rooms will be switched off.

“Likewise, when we’re on holiday the house is configured to mirror and replay lighting functions to give the impression of normal occupancy. The program can of course be remotely tailored via the app as well. This function is a particularly useful selling point for my own security-conscious customers who do not want to advertise that their property is vacant.”

Complete control

The ability to replay lighting sequences is by no means the only intelligent lighting control function Vantage can facilitate. In theory, a light switch need not ever be pressed at all, as the farmhouse’s latitude and longitude details have been inputted into the system, meaning lights can be programmed to switch off or on to coincide with sunrise and sunset. The house can then adapt throughout the year to mirror the changing seasons.

The farmhouse’s lighting control system is also complemented by a range of wiring accessories from Legrand’s Arteor range to match the sleek aesthetic finish of the Vantage Equinox touch screens located throughout the property.

The entire lighting control system – 70 circuits in total – feeds into a central lighting board installed in the farmhouse’s loft space. The Vantage InFusion DIN II controller offers increased processing speed, RAM and flash memory to deliver delay free control to large systems. What’s more, it also gives Neil and his family scope to easily add further lighting circuits to the property if required.

Connected climate control is also achieved through the Vantage InFusion Comfort operating system, comprising of the Vantage Communicating Thermostat and Remote Temperature Sensor. Not only does this offer potential energy savings, but it allows Neil to schedule and control set temperature points. Easy to install, the WireLink Thermostat Interface provides bi-directional communication between the Vantage InFusion devices and the Communicating Programmable Thermostat connected the farmhouse’s central heating system. The whole network can be easily configured via the InFusion Design Center software and requires no additional programming. Due to the flexibility of the InFusion system bus architecture, the network can be expanded to include multiple thermostats throughout the property if desired.

Life lessons

Having lived in Pedley Farm for over six months, Neil has garnered an in-depth understanding of how to fine-tune the home automation system to best complement everyday living. He concludes: “Ultimately the biggest challenge installers face is getting potential customers to overcome the ‘fear factor’ that is sometimes associated with home automation systems. To generate real buy-in, the technology must be easy to use and enhance rather than hinder everyday life. As both a home automation installer and user, I can safely say the Vantage range from Legrand is both straightforward to install and highly intuitive to use. Ultimately, I wouldn’t want to sell a system to customers that I wouldn’t be comfortable to use in my own home. It has helped breathe fresh life into a 300-year old farm house, so the possibilities really are endless.”