Everybody talks about smart houses, but many of us wonder if they really work the way they should and whether we’re tech-savvy enough to live in a home full of widgets and touch screens.
We thought about that while touring the 2017 HGTV Smart Home, recently built near the Boulders in Scottsdale. Until June 2, viewers can enter an HGTV.com sweepstakes giveaway for the house. The winner of the $1.5 million home will be announced this summer. The winner will also be awarded a fortune in spiffy tech devices.
The 3,300 square-foot home was designed by Phoenix area architect, Candelaria Design Associates, and built by Eagle Luxury Properties of Scottsdale. All the smart equipment was chosen by Carley Knobloch, a digital expert with her own HGTV series – “Smart, Simple, Solved.”
Most everyone probably knows a smart home needs a hub or host and a Wi-fi system plus smartphones and tablets. In the HGTV house, all the phone, cable, video, audio and Ethernet wiring is routed back to the special tech closet in the home office. The closet is where a secure rack stores all the smart devices.
One big question that came to mind was: What power shortages or a Wi-fi dead spot somewhere in the house?
Not to worry. A residential power generator from Kohler will keep the house and all devices running in a blackout. High-speed, wireless access points in the master bedroom and the special tech closet automatically provide all smart devices with the strong signals that they need.
Knobloch also assured us: “Nothing in the house relies 100 percent on the apps – the lights can still be turned on with switches even if the Wi-fi is out in the home. The TVs can still be turned on with remotes. Even the locks can be manually unlocked with a key. The tech is meant to add a convenience layer on top, not make you reliant on a smartphone or tablet.”
Security is a big feature in smart homes. Knobloch picked a security system from SimpliSafe because she says its installation can be an easy DIY project for almost anyone. Users peel off labels and stick various sensors in various areas to monitor doors or things like glass breaking in a window. There are peel and stick sensors to monitor leaks from a water pipe. Other possible features in the system are: security cameras, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, entry and motion sensors and more. The system can alert the police station and is managed with touch panels in the home or a smartphone.
August Home smart locks are fastened to the interior of doors so homeowners can still use a key on the outside if they wish. But a phone can be a “smart key” to unlock a door as you walk up or to open the door for someone – like a repair contractor – when you’re away. “I’ve installed a few of these locks myself at this point, and if I can do it, anyone can,” Knobloch said.
That was just the beginning of a long list of digital and remote controlled features, including:
- A Rinnai tankless hot water heater.
- A Savant device to run the TV and audio system and lighting all over the house. (A system like this can actually run many if not all the systems in a house via a phone. In this house, for advertising and promotion purposes, some systems were installed separately.)
- Velux skylights with touchscreen remote controls that open and close shades on the skylights as well as skylights themselves.
- Hunter Douglas window treatments for opening and closing window blinds and shades via smartphone.
- A Samsung Family Hub Smart Refrigerator with a touchscreen where homeowners can write notes. The fridge takes a “photo” every time someone closes the door so that a homeowner can tap on the screen to check on whether to buy milk or butter or whatever without opening the door.
- A “touchless” Kohler kitchen faucet that runs water when someone waves hands under the faucet.
- An induction cooktop that generates heat in a flash for cooking pans with electro-magnetic bottoms.
- A Belkin charging station with multiple USB outlets.
- A Dacor WineStation installed at a wet bar in the great room. It is billed as the first automated, temperature-controlled, four-bottle wine dispensing system. Press a button to get a taste or a half- or a full glass.
- A Kohler digital shower that turns on water at the right temperature with the touch of a finger. There are also special toilets and digital bathtubs from Kohler as well that have other special controls.
- Automated bike lifts in the garage to store bikes at ceiling level. Move them up and down with a smart phone.
- An LG Styler closet unit in the utility room to de-wrinkle, deodorize and sanitize clothes in between dry cleanings.
We could go on, but one very important feature is the Daikin heating and air conditioning system that has five zones for separate control of heat or cooling throughout the house. There are almost no ducts in this HVAC system so no heated or cooled air can leak out into the attic.
Maybe this all sounds a little wild and wonderful, but smart home technology is growing more popular and winning this house would be wild and wonderful, too.
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