2007-02-22De Standaard 22 February 2007

"I just can't miss this anymore''
Home automation gives you the highest comfort

With one touch on a button Alexander changes the mood in his home. Lights are dimmed and soft music plays on a quiet evening. Whene there is a party: spots and party music. One touch on the touchscreen changes the setting. "I would not want to miss this for the world" says the owner

A rebuild farmhouse in a East-Flemish municipality. Alexander has put his heart and soul into the project. The house unifies the historic charisma with the comfort of today. The special brick walls and the joinery in warm afrormosia wood refers to the history of the house. A floating wooden volume is fortunate connection between home and garden with swimming pool.

Central screen

Comfort was an important demand by Alexander. Not only by choosing beautiful materials and high-quality architecture. The icing on the cake is the ingenious home automation system. Home automation is a broad term. In general this concerns a system which controls different functions centrally in your home: lighting, security, roller blinds and curtains, heating and cooling. Even the integration of audio and video are possible.
This is the case for the home of Alexander. He chose to work with design studio Alfa Projects from Destelbergen. Together they selected the elaborate and user-friendly system of the company Duotecno from Bruges. The crucial function is the all-off switch which turns off all functions in part of or the complete home. But the system is much more subtle. The showpiece is located on the work counter of the cooking range. A touchscreen with the dimensions of a large computer screen serves as control panel for the home automation system, as computer screen for mails and internet and as television. You can even take a virtual tour of the home using the touchscreen. A picture of the selected room is shown and by touching certain highlighted points on the screen you can f.e. switch on the lights. Small touchscreens are integrated in the walls at discrete locations throughout the house. A similar screen can be summoned on the tv using the remote control. Certain functions can even be operated by phone. Alexander can see from a remote location who is ringing the door and if he wants to he can even open the door.

Creating moods

The essence of the system is that you can create your own moods. Lighting, heating and audio are programmed to create certain settings in a room. Cocoon, dinner, sleeping time, party, morning, ... everytime a certain combination of lighting, heating and audio is configured to this. With one touch you can change moods. But it goes even further. Wit the touchscreens you can control the hatch of the swimming pool, the entrance gate or the audio and television. On the sleeping floor there are movement sensors installed that register when, day or night, lighting needs to be activated. A bathroom visit at night happens with automatically dimmed lights. By day the lights go fully on, in this way the system also prevents energy waste.

For the choice of the system Alexander was mainly guided by the user-friendly software. It takes a lot of programming time to make full use of the system. Alexander: "It's inevatible to adjust the system from time to time. It's important to me that I can do this myself. Other systems oblige you to call an (expensive) programmer when this occurs. Home automation offers marvellous opportunities but it needs to be tuned to perfection." The comfort created by the system is much appreciated by Alexander. Alexander concludes: "In fact everything in my home works by itself. It's amazing how fast you get used to it, it makes you a bit lazy. But it's so easy and useful that I could not do without it. Some people ask me if I really need it. I reply to them: What do you mean with need? Home automation is expensive but when you have the budget and you choose a system that supports your way of life then it's an unmatched luxury.

Only for radical rebuild

Behind the touchscreens and touch buttons of a home automation system there is an ingenious piece of technique. The nerve centre is located in the technical space. Next to the electrical box you can find the intelligent heart of the home: a box that looks like a large fuse box which controls the system. An extensive cable network starts from that which connects to all devices, touchscreens, movement sensor and buttons. A large home automation system is difficult to integrate in an existing home. This is only a realistic option when radically rebuilding.