Photos by Jonathan Kull
Home automation allows new ease with the touch of a button
When a longtime Semiahmoo customer approached Darrel Mendelsohn of Audio Video Excellence in Bellingham about constructing her dream home, she knew she could trust him with the design and implementation of the home automation systems.
“I’d worked with Darrel a few years ago when he installed a television with surround sound system in my living room,” says the homeowner, “and I learned early on that his main focus was to get me the system I really wanted for a price I could afford rather than simply selling me something I didn’t need. Darrel continued to provide quality service on my original system and I knew I wanted to have that level of service for the systems in my new home. It’s so convenient to have someone who installed the system be available to provide help and answer questions into the future.”
For Mendelsohn, his approach is more about collaboration than a sales pitch. “My first priority is to spend quality time with the homeowner and discover what’s on their wish list, but more importantly I want to know how they see themselves using their home. What are the main concerns? Security, lighting, a quality audio experience throughout, the ability to run the home from a smartphone or tablet?”
After their initial meeting it was clear to Mendelsohn that the Semiahmoo homeowner’s priorities were an integrated home control system that was easy to understand and use and provided convenient features. Touch panels give the homeowner the ability to control subsystems such as the whole-house audio and window shades, and eventually the lighting, security and HVAC controls when she was ready to add them at a later date. Another priority of the homeowner was resale of the home in the future and ensuring that the home had features that will almost certainly become “must haves” for future buyers.
Privacy was a big concern. An open floor plan with large windows overlooking neighbor’s properties made automated shades a number-one priority. “The shades are a common dilemma,” says Mendelsohn, “There was a beautiful view of the yard and the trees that she didn’t want to block out but it was also imperative to have the option of total privacy. So we designed a dual shade system with sheer roll up shades that allow viewing outside while secondary blackout shades could come down separately when privacy is needed. All of this is controlled by silent electric motors hidden beneath custom soffits and are controlled by the touch of a button on her smartphone or the touch panel on the wall.”
Once the project got rolling the homeowner realized many of the possibilities the automation allowed. “I had given plenty of thought to energy savings and it’s one of my concerns but I didn’t realize until I talked to Darrel how many of my goals could be reached with a well-planned system.”
“Most people assume that an automated system is expensive,” says Mendelsohn, “but technology is changing and has become much
more affordable for the average person. With that fact, and an experienced designer and installer, the homeowner can achieve significant savings to offset some of the initial costs.
“The simple task of task of programming the automated lighting in a specific way will save on electricity costs over the long haul and with the ability to control heating and cooling systems remotely many of our customers see additional energy savings through more efficient management of their home’s temperature.”
The Semiahmoo homeowner couldn’t be more pleased with the end result of the project. Her requests for an easy to use system that added value and beauty to her home exceeded her expectations.
“The end result is amazing. I love coming home after a long day to the comfort and ease of being able to control everything, my music, the window shades, the heat – everything – with the touch of a button.”