Case Study: Integrator Expands Lutron Control to Lighthouse Using D-Tools Software
Lagrange, KY-based Haas Design has a long-time systems integration client in southern Indiana that enjoys enhancing his home with unique features and technology. For instance, one ceiling fan in his 12,000-square-foot residence is a propeller from a 1930s biplane. His driveway also features multistage sensors that are tied to a Lutron Homeworks system to activate the home’s lights and play an announcement “tune” for arriving guests, and his RTI XP system gives him advanced control over the lighting, security, TVs, Blu-ray, AppleTV, and other entertainment options. Each year he adds other new features to his three-year-old home, such as a swimming pool, a tennis court, and most recently a lighthouse.
Tim Haas (inset) figured out a way to use a 10-watt long-range transmitter/receiver system in a way that would allow his client’s house-wide Lutron system to issue an “on” command to the transmitter that would then send it to the receiver located inside the lighthouse, 800 yards away.
The lighthouse, which is 60 feet tall and is actually an un-used steel gasoline tank turned on its end, sits on the shore of a man-made lake built to provide recreation for his family and friends and to serve as the energy source for his geothermal heating and cooling system. The cupola at the top of the structure is custom built, and there is a circular stairwell inside that allows guests to climb to the top and enjoy the view.
After he’d added the lighthouse, the homeowner asked 20-year systems integration industry veteran Tim Haas, owner and founder of Haas Design, to discuss ways of controlling its 4 x 50-watt LED flood lights via the main house’s Lutron Homeworks system 800 yards away. One concern was finding out whether or not an RF signal would be strong enough to not only cover that distance, but penetrate the quarter-inch sold steel walls of the lighthouse where the receiver was located. The user experience had to remain consistent and seamless with the rest of the home’s lighting control system. Even though the lighthouse is remote, it had to be controlled with time clock schedules, Lutron keypads, and a custom RTI iPad interface.
Ultimately, Haas figured out a way to use a 10-watt long-range transmitter/receiver system in a way that would allow the Lutron system to issue an “on” command to the transmitter that would then send it to the receiver located inside the lighthouse. The only remaining challenge was when the transmitter would send its pulsed output to trigger the lighthouse lights. It was so powerful that it was triggering the driveway annunciators. As a solution, Haas Design programmed the RTI processor to ignore the sensors during the time the transmitters activated.
Haas credits D-Tools software for helping him design projects like this one and manage all of the change orders that have occurred around the home over the past three years.
“D-Tools’ solution really helps us with the perpetual changes going on at this property because we can try a number of different iterations and design ideas inside Visio and push a button and generate line drawings and proposals that are then easily discussed and reviewed with the homeowner, ultimately giving him exactly what he wants,” he said.
Jeremy J. Glowacki is editorial director of Residential Systems.