36,000-Square-Foot South Africa Residence Receives Smart Home Treatment with ELAN Control and Niles Audio

With 31 zones of audio, 33 zones of security, 12 TVs and 15 wireless access points, this home installation rivals commercial automation systems.

When a high net worth CEO builds a 36,000-square-foot home, one of the first realizations is that such a large home can be very difficult to manage and maintain. That’s why this successful South African businessman asked the technology integration experts at Cinema Synergy to design and install a home automation system that simplifies all the core processes of the house, from security and lighting to multi-room audio. With ease-of-use and audio quality being top concerns, the ELAN Control System and Niles speakers were the obvious choices, according to Jonathan Clarke of Cinema Synergy.

“In our first meeting with this client, he made it clear that simplicity was the top priority for a full automation system,” Clarke said. “Since guests and young children will be using the system, it had to be intuitive for first-time users. Once he saw how easy-to-use the ELAN interface is, and how it’s the same on all devices, he was sold. Being a music lover with eclectic tastes, he also wanted speakers in every room, and already knew several leading brands of speakers. We agreed that Niles’ nearly invisible in-ceiling and outdoor speakers were hands-down the best choice.”

When all the plans had been set, the full scope of the project became clear. Cinema Synergy installed a single ELAN gSC10 Controller to act as the brain for the smart home system, with four ELAN S1616A amplifiers to route power to all 31 audio zones and more than 65 Niles.

In nearly every room and outdoor area, the family and guests have complete control over their music through the ELAN mobile app and four strategically-placed ELAN gTP7 seven-inch in-wall touch panels.

“When we installed the first turntable, he played Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, and Michael Jackson throughout different rooms,” Clarke continued. “It’s amazing to see someone’s eyes light up when they find how easy it is to control music in every room of their home. We wanted to make sure it was always that simple to use, so we recommended several in-wall touchpanels to be included – in the master bedroom, the study, the main hallway and near a favorite outdoor area. This way, there is no worry that a mobile device will break or get lost; there is always an ELAN interface powered on and ready to use at a moment’s notice. The touchpanels also provide a bonus in the form of video intercoms throughout the home, which link to the front door camera for easy vetting of guests and deliveries.”

Security and surveillance were next on the list of priorities, with this home containing no less than 33 zones of security and using 30 exterior cameras to provide 360-degree views and recordings of the property. The home’s driveway gate is also tied to the system, so when a visitor rings the gate bell, a camera activates and video of the guest is displayed on all ELAN touchpanels and in the ELAN Mobile app. The homeowners can then open the gate through the app, and can even let the guest in the home, thanks to the integrated electronic lock installed in the front door. That door lock can be controlled through a keypad at the door or through the ELAN app, and the system keeps a log of every time the door is opened, including who opened it if they choose to set unique door codes for each resident.

“The security system is fantastic, but the backup power system may be even more important,” Clarke said. “South Africa has a fairly unreliable electrical grid, so power spikes and outages are expected. To manage this, we installed Furman surge protectors and Uninterruptible Power Supplies to provide backup and ensure power is never abruptly cut. The home is connected to a 250 amp diesel generator that can power the entire residence, and all the power demands switch over to the generator automatically in the event of a blackout. Because it’s Furman, we can even monitor the home’s energy usage and statistics from our office using BlueBOLT remote energy management. This can allow us to sort out small problems very quickly without having to visit the home.”

During the installation, the team faced one major building issue that isn’t normally encountered in homes: providing reliable WiFi through a 36,000-square-foot home with slab concrete floors. South Africa’s building codes are much different than North America and Europe, and as such, Cinema Synergy needed to use 15 enterprise-grade Pakedge wireless access points to cover every inch of the home. A normal home this size would need only four wireless access points, the company says.

Cinema Synergy also integrated a major lighting system in this home, with dozens of lighting loads providing opportunity for advanced scheduling. “This ended up being a major concern as well, because it is incredibly difficult to control energy usage in such a large building,” Clarke said. “It would take more than an hour just to walk to each room and turn off the lights! Through the ELAN Mobile app, the homeowners can shut down the house at night quickly and easily without even getting out of bed.”

Cinema Synergy is now working with the owners to monitor their lighting habits and develop schedules that can help facilitate their daily lives, such as one button that turns on a set series of lights for first thing in the morning, or different dimming settings that are automatically applied during different times of day to match ambient sunlight. Scheduling may also include the audio and video systems, with speakers and TVs turning on or off at specific times in specific rooms.

“This project is proof that any size home can be completely controlled, and since ELAN is so easy to use, any homeowner can dive into automation,” Clarke concluded. “While there were a few on-site challenges, this was a great endeavor that turned out amazing and left the homeowner eager for more. We will be back in the next year to add even more audio zones and additional features including scheduled automation. With how easy and useful the ELAN system is, I believe this project earned us a lifelong client.”

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