Most integrators will say that retrofits are much more challenging than new builds. However, a centuries-old, 7,500-square-foot, Victorian home in Plymouth, Mass., presented even more hurdles than typical as the home underwent its first extensive remodeling.
Working together, home technology integration firm Boston Automations, along with industry distributor Blackwire Designs, the builder and electricians designed the lighting layout, networking, plan and wire for shades and controls, and integrated audio systems without taking away from the charm of the historic home.
The project, which included both new and reclaimed materials, presented numerous challenges, especially since Wi-Fi signals don’t travel as well through older infrastructures as opposed to more modern, open-space designs.
That meant Boston Automations had to nail the project from a Wi-Fi perspective and ensure that the perfect amount of access points facilitate robust connectivity throughout the home. The home was completely gutted to be restored, which made nailing the Wi-Fi design even more important so as to prevent delays.
Integrator Boston Automations Gets Assist from Blackwire
Luckily, Boston Automations founder and CEO Adam Zell was familiar with Blackwire, having sourced Ruckus access points from the distributor for several years. Zell was also familiar with the company’s Network Design Assistance and Predictive Wi-Fi Heatmap service, which essentially creates a network plan for integrators to deploy. All it took was sending the project blueprints and details online, and within a week, Blackwire’s engineers sent back a comprehensive report and recommended a network of routers and switches.
In addition, the plan suggested the ideal number and placement of access points on a series of heatmaps.
Seeking to understand the report in more detail, Zell messaged Blackwire to request a virtual meeting. In just a few days, he was on a Zoom call with a network expert, meticulously going through each page, and within 45 minutes, he had gained a much clearer grasp of the information.
“What struck me was the efficiency and willingness — it was as simple as asking for help and scheduling a chat just a couple of days later,” says Zell.
Since the heatmap was so easy to understand, Boston Automations’ presentation of the 36-by-24-inch plotter printout provided helped the builder and client understand the necessity of the network design.
The document demonstrated coverage gaps and highlighted areas with compromised connectivity due to the home’s architecture, including radiant flooring, cast iron pipes and brick chimneys. This helped justify the need for multiple access points from specific vendors installed in specific areas of the home.
This detailed visualization of the Wi-Fi project became the tipping point for the client, who quickly became convinced to make the necessary technology investment, according to Blackwire.
The network design included a variety of products carried by Blackwire, such as firewall routers, NETGEAR PoE switches, and Ruckus access points. The project also included an in-ceiling enclosure from Clear-Clouds, which blends into the ceiling while ensuring proper signal strength and placement.
Now, Boston Automations sends all blueprints to Blackwire early in the construction process to help streamline the network design process and equipment purchasing, enabling the company to contribute its expertise early in the construction process and secure projects and partner with luxury builders.
The Plymouth home is set to be featured in the New England Home Magazine and another publication, helping to showcase how smart home technology and innovative solutions can be integrated into historical renovations.
“Blackwire has been transformative for much of our operations, particularly in the realm of networking. While I have a networking background, I’ve reached a point where I can’t keep up with every single detail, especially regarding the intricacies of heatmapping for large-scale homes,” says Zell.
“After speaking with other integrators at events, I know that not enough companies are tapping into these design resources that Blackwire offers. It truly is a game-changer, and more individuals should take advantage of it.”
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