Control & Automation

How to Automate a 10,000 Square Foot Home for Less Than $20,000

Parade home features nearly 4,000 feet of wire, Elan g! home automation, a Fusion Research music server, and Honeywell security within a budget.


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Billings is a place where big skies and year-round sun commingle to create breathtaking views, and where life moves at a slower pace than in other parts of the country. This city, the largest in Montana, is still relatively small, with only 165,000 residents calling it home. Likewise, technology plays catch-up here, with many outlying areas still slow to connect to modern tech.

To showcase all the benefits of an automated lifestyle, Comtech Audio Theater Security, Billings, Mont., created a custom solution for a pre-sold home as part of a local Parade of Homes event. Builder Yellowstone Basin Construction, Billings, Mont., designed this country manor to be modern but cozy, while maximizing the views of Big Sky Country.

Featuring six bedrooms, three fireplaces, an all-season porch, a children’s playroom and a large kitchen attached to a dramatic great room with 20-foot ceilings, this home exemplifies gracious country living. However, because it is a Parade Home, impressive design alone isn’t enough for it to impress discerning potential homeowners. According to Comtech, a “big splash” was needed, and the integrated systems deliver with total home control plus future upgradability.

So how did Comtech manage to fully automate this 10,000-square-foot home for less than $20,000? For one, the company negotiated equipment pricing.

“As an advocate for the customer, Comtech continuously negotiates product pricing with suppliers,” says president Oli Tripp. “The result was an estimated 20 percent decrease in equipment costs to Comtech and the homeowner.”

Related: Making Smart Home History in a Colonial Cabin

Comtech also pays very close attention to the economy, which is not only growing in Billings, but traditionally more stable than the rest of the country. Farming, ranching, the Bakken oil play and Billings’ status as a regional hub all combine to make it an incredible place to do business.

“This gives us the opportunity to grow a customer base as long as we are willing to place our services at a price everyone can afford,” says Tripp. “We do not oversell our customers. Many integrators will turn down smaller projects, but we believe our systems, including the brass ring of home automation, can be affordable in any home.”

For this project, Comtech installed more than 13 football fields’ worth of wiring to keep the future owners well connected, along with a Honeywell security system that includes two keypads and eight points of protection. A Fusion Ovation music server and Elan M86A multiroom/multisource controller support streaming audio throughout the home, keeping the homeowners not only connected but completely entertained. The homeowners can store and listen to music from this server or through iTunes, Shoutcast, Pandora and other streaming services.

“For some integrators, the idea of a project under $20k with security, networking, distributed audio, multiple media rooms and control with a music server may sound unreal,” says Tripp. “However, we refuse to target one-time expensive projects. We design for each customer’s individual tastes and budget and truly look to build a loyal and trusting relationship with our customers so each time they have a new need, we are the first company they look to.”

Since a home theater is definitely in this home’s future, this is certainly a good thing, both for installer and homeowner.

Elan g! Automation: Affordable and Upgradeable

According to Comtech, installing the Elan g! home automation system was a major factor in controlling the cost of the project. “The Elan g! system is nonproprietary and compatible with a large variety of other components from many different manufacturers,” says Comtech’s Oli Tripp. “As a result, the customer can wire for upgrades later, without worrying whether future components will be compatible.”

Related: Surf’s Up: Inside a Fully Automated $20 Million Beach House

By using Elan, Comtech was able to free up funds for other areas of the home, like the distributed audio system and family media room. Because control can be handled via smart devices, Comtech saved about $4,500 on the cost of traditional in-wall touchpanels. Elan’s fast and efficient programming capabilities also mean money saved on labor costs, which is passed on to the homeowner.

iTach relays allow the Elan g! system to control the home’s three fireplaces, in addition to the TVs mounted above them. This includes the outdoor porch and media room—a great retreat in winter, with views of sandstone cliffs the locals affectionately call “the Rims.”

Product List

ALARM:
Honeywell Genesis 22/4 prewire. Locations include 2 keypads, 6 doors, 2 motions, smoke detectors, siren, and panel
1 - Honeywell Vista128 BPT Control Panel. Up to 128 Points of Protection, Compatible with Elan, Total Connect 2.0 and Tuxedo
2 - Honeywell Aurora PIR Motion Detector, Pet Immune to 40lbs, 35’ Range
2 - Honeywell 6160 Keypad
1 - Honeywell WAVE2 indoor 2-tone siren
1 - Ultratech 12V 4.5AMP Battery
1 - Honeywell 4100SM Serial Interface Module

TV/COMMUNICATIONS:
6 - Honeywell Genesis Cat5e Data/Phone
6 - Honeywell Genesis RG-6U Single TV/Cable Drop
1 - Honeywell VA-QND88PB 18” Low Voltage Enclosure with 8x8 Coax/Telephone Module



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