Automation By: System Integrator The Den, Mumbai
Designed By: Interior Designer Ali Baldiwala at Baldiwala Edge
The pandemic brought with it many changes. One notable amongst them is the fact that we began to look at homes not just as spaces to relax or entertain, but as sanctuaries. Comfort and convenience became more valuable than ever, causing homeowners to embrace the ease of automation with greater zeal than ever before. Voice and app control for multiple devices, automated curtains and blinds, temperature control, and a host of other automation features moved from the ‘want’ category to the ‘need’ category.
With a wide variety of retrofit and modular solutions available, residential and commercial users can now opt for Raylogic automation systems without having to renovate or re-wire their space. Having a smart home has never been simpler. This chic, contemporary home designed for a young couple, is built with an equal emphasis on aesthetics and smart home technology.
The Scope of Work
Located at Altamount Road, Mumbai, the ‘Eye in the Sky’ was a residential project conceptualized to meet the needs of a young couple who entertain often but prefer not to have staff underfoot all the time. The design brief was set to create a contemporary home that uses technology to automate day-to-day tasks, eliminating repetitive jobs that can simply be handled by a good home automation system.
The Client’s Vision
In this case, the clients had a clear idea of their requirements. They did not want large switch plates on their walls. They did not want multiple remotes to operate their air-conditioners, audio-visual equipment, and curtain motors. They also hated the idea of running out of batteries for an assortment of remotes. On account of their penchant for entertaining, they wanted to have the flexibility to use the same space for different tasks throughout the day. That meant creating a different ambiance within the same space, ranging from everyday meals to relaxing in the evening and catering for parties with friends (with lights at a low intensity) to having family get-togethers where the space is well lit. A shared love for music was well defined at the onset too, with the requirement of having an easy-to-use, high-quality audio system that could be controlled from anywhere in the house.
To address the client’s needs, it was clear that the home automation system chosen would have to provide good dimming with an ample number of scenes, apart from integration with a host of other HVAC and AV products.
Motorized curtains were also part of the requirement. The living room itself had more than 4 curtains that needed a simultaneous operation, while the west-facing blinds needed to be drawn every afternoon, to prevent the furniture from deteriorating due to excessive exposure to sunlight. An automated schedule was the solution, where the blinds and curtains would close at 2 pm and open again at 6 pm.
Additionally, the client’s wish list included the ability to control different areas of the house without going physically to that specific room. For instance, a ‘Goodnight’ scene that switched off all the lights across the home, leaving only a limited number of night lights on, simultaneously closing the curtains in the bedroom while opening the curtains in the living room — all without getting out of bed. App and voice control were other expected features of the automation system, apart from the ability to control the system remotely when required, even while traveling out of the city.
Another perennial problem outlined, that needed resolution, was the tendency to leave the geyser on. An automated solution was to turn the geyser off automatically after 45 minutes of being switched on. With both residents returning late from work, the aversion to coming home to a dark space was also mentioned. A simple solution was to schedule the lights to turn on in the living and dining room at 6.30 pm daily.
Despite their clear desire for automation, the clients were concerned about the robustness of available systems. They wanted a brand that was time-tested and required virtually no maintenance post-installation. In the unlikely event of a problem, they wanted a product that was locally serviceable too.
Taking all these requirements and parameters into consideration, the system that was chosen was from Raylogic Control Systems. This system offered centralized control, where all the lights, fans, and curtain motors are connected to the modules housed in a panel. From the panel, data cables connect them to the different keypads, which are freely programmable, with 12 buttons in a small size of approximately 90 mm x 90 mm. These keypads work like switches and can be used to recall pre-set scenes, which include a combination of lights at different intensities, fan speed, open or close a curtain motor, and many more options. The buttons can also be used for direct controls like setting the speed of the fan, or opening or closing a curtain.
The dimming type used was leading-edge, phase-cut dimming, as this required no additional control cables from the dimmer panel to the lights. This also made it easy for future maintenance, as lights or drivers can be replaced with similar ones and will not need to be re-programmed.
Integration was provided using the Raylogic TC-1 controller, which has the facility to control multiple devices on the lighting control system (including lights, fans, and curtains), as well as controls of AC and AV equipment — all from a dedicated GO app on the personal mobile phones of the users. Timers, schedules as well as voice control solutions were all part of this package, resolving all the listed concerns of the homeowners and preempting their needs, to deliver more than expected.
The Raylogic range is made in India, keeping the prevalent temperature, humidity, and power conditions in mind. The system is built up of independent modules, each having its controller and power supply, hence there is high redundancy and no single point of dependency. In the unlikely case of failure, only the particular module will cease to work, while the rest of the system remains unaffected.
With a large scene memory of 60 scenes, the system allowed for ample flexibility. It is a robust system, manufactured in Mumbai by a company with a 20-year track record, with over 25,000 products working across the country in residential and commercial spaces.
Apart from automation, audio was a large feature in this smart home integration project. Being a young couple, the homeowners enjoyed listening to music throughout the day. Entertaining and watching movies was a priority. With floor-to-ceiling windows on one side of the house and room entrances/exits on two sides, there was a requirement for speakers that fit into the false ceiling.
The solution provided included invisible speakers and subwoofers from Stealth Acoustics, which would have the least impact on the design and aesthetic of the interiors, without compromising on sound quality. The same brand was used across the entire house, to maintain a similar tonal quality in all areas. Anthem multi-channel amplifiers were used for the distributed audio, which has fantastic room correction software and a dedicated subwoofer for each zone. Finally, Sonos was used for the source — being one of the easiest and most user-friendly ways to interact with music all over the house, especially using AirPlay 2.
Easily integrated to talk to the automation system as well, the result was seamless audio all over the house, with a system that was extremely user-friendly and had zero aesthetic impact on the high-end, contemporary interiors of the home.
With a robust made-in-India automation system and smart integration choices, the interior designer and system integrator was able to work in tandem to deliver to the clients the home of their dreams. A space that is as beautiful as it is functional — designed for joy.