Savant’s Canadian Experience Center
Aside from curbside appeal, the entrance to a new home is the first thing potential homebuyers are going to see. Not only does it need to look pretty, it should be functional too. There are plenty of opportunities to show off a home’s high-tech performance from the front door alone, like security and comfort features. Let’s take a tour of both practical and posh features homebuyers will enjoy in their entryways.
For Safety's Sake
Video Surveillance and Intercoms
Before a guest can reach the front door, a homeowner has the option to see who they are via surveillance cameras. But it means so much more than that. Homeowners can make sure their child gets home from school safely and check in on the house while away. Surveillance cameras provide peace of mind. They can also be integrated with other home automation features. But more on that later.
Security-based systems like electronic door locks and security-focused home automation systems are consumers’ second most-wanted feature in a home, according to a 2013 study from Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).
Nearly one in five online households (19 percent) have a monitored security system. More than a fourth (26 percent) of those surveyed by CEA plan to have one by 2015. Monitored systems are more desirable than unmonitored security systems, as only 8 percent have them and 17 percent want them. Nine percent of online households own a video surveillance system, with 25 percent intending to get one a year from now.
HD surveillance provides exceptional clarity, resolution and detail to ensure that faces and license plates can be recognized at all hours of the day. IP cameras that conform to the HDTV standard have a wide range of uses, especially when you consider that HDTV 720p and 1080p cameras offer three and six times the resolution, respectively, of analog cameras. The Lorex package shown above offers a four-camera system for $1,300, but there are also packages that will let you put cameras wherever you want—inside and outside the home.
If there is someone at the door whom homeowners do not recognize, this is where video intercoms can come in handy. In addition to asking who the visitor is, they can now make a judgement call on how shifty they look. Siedle, left, offers such a product starting at $4,008 that also releases the door lock if residents want to let someone in.
The first thing typical homeowners do when they get to the front door is reach for their keys. While this remains a viable option, homebuilders can (ahem) unlock front door potential with electronic and programmable offerings. While electronic or programmable locks were not the most desired of security features last year, 23 percent of homeowners intend to own them by 2015.
These days, there is a variety of electric and programmable locks to choose from. You can stick to using a key or go key-free. You can also program locks to open whenever you want. There are even some locks that use your fingerprint to grant you access. SimpliciKey, shown on the right, has smart home features for KeyCloud, the company’s mobile web application and compatible home lock that allows users to lock and unlock a home from anywhere in the world. Schlage’s programmable locks allow users to control access by time and date. Yale locks feature sleek touchscreens that disappear when not in use. And Kwikset’s SmartCode deadbolt with Home Connect Technology featuring wireless ZigBee technology enables the lock to wirelessly communicate with other devices in the home. Imagine a homeowner walking into the perfect temperature, relaxing music and ample lighting upon unlocking the door after a stressful day at work.
Control at an Arm's Length Away
Finally, you are home. It’s time to power down after hours of work and a scream-inducing commute. If you have a home automation and control system, you can come home to all your favorite presets, like a 70 degree temperature, dim lighting and smooth jazz. If you’d rather liven things up, you can stroll over to that home control panel and kick it down 5 degrees, brighten the lights and rock out. And don't forget to arm the alarm system before you go to bed.
Lennar Homes is incorporating high-end Savant Systems. Savant’s patented TrueImage Control Technology, left, is available for iPad and iPod devices and allows homeowners to easily and quickly initiate commands throughout their home, by touching the corresponding image on the screen. These devices can be docked in a receded space in the wall, giving the homeowner easy access to the TrueImage interface as soon as they walk in the door. Residents can even interact with the intelligent systems in their home as soon as they pull into the driveway using their smartphone. The TrueImage technology also enables users to retain the same automation and control capabilities of other Savant interfaces.
“For example, imagine arriving through your front door with armfuls of groceries, luggage or family items and being able to immediately turn on lights in rooms throughout your house, from a single interface just steps away from your front door,” says Amy Shirk, public relations account supervisor at Fleishman-Hillard. “This technology delivers a peace of mind, a sense of security and safety.”
Other Functional Options
On an individual basis, there are a ton of options. For lighting, companies like YLighting have a lot of eye-catching pieces of art such as the one shown here. Whether you choose wall sconces or chandeliers, you can get switches and controls to dim the lights, program them to go on or off as you wish or activate motion sensors. Use LEDs for maximum energy efficiency. Controllable lighting should also be included outside the doorway so homeowners don't have to fumble around, looking for their house key.
Honeywell’s Z-Wave enabled thermostats, left, can automatically adjust every time the security system is armed or disarmed. Scheduling can be customized and controlled via smartphones. Minimum and maximum temperature settings can be set as well. This is something my father would have loved while I was living at home, as I was prone to inching the thermostat up whenever he wasn’t looking.
Power2Save, shown here on the right, has a line of energy management monitors you can check out. The wireless Elite monitor, for example, will display a homes’ electricity consumption instantly so users can see the impact of turning a light on or off and using appliances. Along with the instantaneous feedback, the device has a memory function that shows how much energy was used during a specific time period. The clip-on sensors and transmitter are installed at the electrical panel to wirelessly send information about the amount of electricity the home is using to the display monitor. This information gives the user control to make consumption changes.
Other technologies to consider for foyers and entryways:
- Under and above-ground sensors to report guests at gates, in driveways or walkways.
- Automated scenes to welcome guests inside and out with pathway lighting and music.
- iPod or other docks for listening to your favorite tunes—or you guests’.
- Bluetooth sensor for wireless music streaming from a mobile device.
- Inconspicuous in-ceiling speakers.
Eye-catching and functional design options:
- Varying hook heights so kids and adults alike can hang their belongings.
- Storage cubbies for those gloves, sunglasses, umbrellas and other grab-and-go items.
- Benches to give homeowners and visitors a place to take off and put on their shoes.
- Visual focus point that allows homeowners to extend the decoration flow throughout the house.