1920s Lake Michigan Home Gets a Little Smarter with Whole House Control

Mounted flush into the wall, an Elan touchpanel provides this homeowner with access to and control of lighting, thermostats, and a whole-house music system.


Known as the “Gold Coast of the Midwest,” the western shores of Lake Michigan have become favorite summertime vacation destinations, and the location of choice for many Chicago residents for leisurely weekend retreats.

Just a 90 minute drive away from the southwest tip of the lake, it’s a great spot to invest in a second home … also in smart home technology.

As home systems integrator Ed Buday, owner of Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Buday’s Home Electronics Simplified, attests, it doesn’t matter if the beachfront residence is a mega-mansion or a quaint cottage—certain systems can enhance the laid back lifestyle that everyone craves as they escape the hectic pace of the city.

Leaving a Smart Home Legacy

Mounted flush into the wall, an Elan touchpanel provides the homeowner with access to and control of lighting, thermostats and a whole-house music system.

Nobody knows this better than the Chicago-based entrepreneur and owner of a 1920s Lake Michigan cottage. The Elan control system that Buday and his team of installers fished into the structure of the 900-square-foot cottage, as well as into two additional structures on the property, actually makes time spent on the lake even simpler and more entertaining for the owner, his children, and his grandchildren.

“His objective was to create something that would be a legacy for his family,” Buday says. “He knew advanced smart home technologies would be important especially to the younger generations that would be enjoying the property in the years to come and decided the best time to do it was during the renovation and construction of several buildings on the property.”

Music from the Beach to the Pool

A system that could deliver multiple streams of music simultaneously to Paradigm speakers in the cottage, main house, and large bunkhouse was an absolute must, as it would allow the grandchildren to hear their favorite tunes in one area of the property while the adults enjoy something completely different in another area.

Buday divided the Elan whole-house audio system into 16 independent listening zones—plenty for weekends when it’s common for the owner to host two dozen or more house guests at a time.

Weather-hardy Paradigm speakers were strategically positioned throughout the Lake Michigan beach property to deliver music wherever the family roams.

Paradigm speakers mounted flush with the woodwork found in the bunkhouse.

Also providing guests with ample music-listening options is an Autonomic media server. Connected to the Elan audio distribution system, it provides friends and family with access to Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and other popular streaming services. An AM tuner was also added to the mix, as the owner’s go-to component to broadcast Chicago Cubs baseball games on any and all Paradigm speakers that were positioned strategically inside and outside the three separate houses.

Reliable Network Ensures Leisurely Lifestyle

Choosing a song and a spot to listen to it is as easy as tapping a few buttons on a smartphone or tablet, and everyone is privy to the entertainment. The owner made sure of that—requesting that Buday enable the smartphone of every family member to provide unlimited access to and control over the Elan whole-house music system.

Because the commands issued from smartphones and tablets travel wirelessly to Elan music distribution and automation processors, a strong, reliable, and robust Wi-Fi network was critical to the functionality and enjoyment of streaming music and other high-tech features.

“The network was a big deal. Kids, parents, grandkids—they are all streaming at the same time,” says Buday. “The wireless network from Pakedge needed to have the bandwidth to support heavy traffic and use.”

An enterprise-grade router and several wireless access points—both indoors and outdoors—ensure that no matter if the command comes from the beach, the patio, or the bunkhouse the signal reaches its destination without a hitch.

Remote Fix-its Foster Complete Relaxation

As another preventative measure against system snafus, Buday and his team installed a Panamax power conditioner withBlueBOLT remote power management technology. Pop-up thunderstorms are common on the lake, and the power conditioner protects the home’s smart systems from surges, spikes, and other potentially harmful electrical anomalies.

Plus, should any electronic component in the house experience difficulty, the BlueBolt technology allows the technicians to diagnose the problem remotely and typically fix it with a simple reboot. “When the Internet went down recently, we did a remote reboot and within a few seconds the network was back up and running, well before the homeowner had arrived,” Buday says.

PHOTOS: Check Out the Tech in This Lake Michigan Home

Music distribution and a solid Internet access may have been the homeowner’s biggest tech priorities for his beach retreat, but as the renovation was underway, Buday and his team made sure to tie Lutron light switches and thermostats to the Elan control system.

From any smartphone, tablet, or an Elan touchpanel that’s mounted to the wall in each of the three buildings the owner and his family can set the lights and temperature for their arrival and departure—or for any activity that’s happening at the cottage.

“It’s a quick and easy way to prepare the house for the homeowner,” says Buday. Technology may often be associated with a fast-paced lifestyle, but in this case, it has fostered complete and total relaxation—everything that the owner of this Lake Michigan residence had hoped to accomplish during the renovation of this beachside retreat.

About the Author

Lisa Montgomery:

Lisa Montgomery has been a member of the CE Pro and Electronic House editorial teams for nearly 20 years; most of that time as the Editor of Electronic House. With a knack for explaining complex high-tech topics in terms that average consumers can understand, her style of writing resonates with people who are interested in adding electronic systems to their homes, but are unsure of the steps involved and the solutions available. From basic lighting control systems to full-blown automation systems, Lisa understands the home electronics market well, and is able to point consumers in the right direction on their quest for a smarter, more convenient, efficient and enjoyable home.

Over the years, she has developed close relationships with key manufacturers and seasoned custom electronics professionals, giving her a keen sense of what home technologies are hot now and what is on the horizon. She shares this wisdom regularly through feature stories, product roundups, case studies technology spotlights and comprehensive guides and books.


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