ESI Malta - Intelligent Smart Home, Systems Integration
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Portomaso Home Automation
06 April 2015
 
 
 
 
Client:
 
Upon purchasing this exclusive property, a Penthouse at Portomaso, St. Julian’s, Malta the client approached a design team made up of architects, interior designers and building services engineers.
ESI were brought on board at an early stage along with the design team in order to meet the needs of the project and be clear on what was required. The client briefed the team, emphasising that he wanted to implement a technological system that would control all systems and services within the residence and it was of paramount importance that these could all be easily controlled from one, mobile based, simple and intuitive, control interface. The client was after an application that allowed total control of all lighting, blinds, curtains, sunshades and awnings, air-conditioning, under-floor heating, security and safety, irrigation and mechanical systems, including water flooding alarms; all via a single, web-based, graphical user interface. Along with a number of specific requests, the client also wished to have a multi-zone distributed music system, based on Airplay technology. It was important the system ensured the best management of energy being consumed. The lighting, cooling and heating loads had to be properly managed to ensure that loads were enabled only when and as required. In addition, everything had to be installed as discreetly as possible with a simple to use control system, providing a comfortable, stylish, secure and safe experience.
 
Solution:
 
The Niagara framework and the JACE controller were identified as the technological solution for this application. This solution would allow seamless integration between the diverse systems of the property and to host the web based graphical user interface.
System features
 
Lighting – Control hardware by Helvar was selected due to its modularity. These control multiple channels of dimming circuits for LED lighting, together with On-off functional lighting channels. The lighting system integrated into the central control system via TCP/IP utilising the Helvar 910 Router. Manual override controls could also be done through a combination of the wall mounted modular panels.
 
Blinds, curtains, sunshades and awnings –As for the lighting system, the Helvar blind control modules were selected. The blind control modules also have a manual override via the same wall mounted modular panels used for the lighting.
 
Air-Conditioning and under-floor heating - The largest electrical loads within the property are the air-conditioning and the heating. The air-conditioning was provided through a VRF system from Sanyo with multiple indoor units. These had to be individually integrated into the control systems and controlled through the user interface. ESI's software team developed a bespoke driver to have two way communication with the air-conditioning system selected by the client. Through this integration all control parameters for the air-conditioning system where brought on to the central controller. Besides air-conditioning, the property have under floor heating installed. The central controller collects temperatures from different zones, compares them to a user defined set point value and regulates the amount of hot water going through the under floor heating of a particular zone. Automatic time schedulers to all air-conditioned or under floor heated zones is also possible.
 
Using energy conservation control loops running in the background by the application, the air-conditioning and heating set point values are being ‘compensated’ using the outdoor temperature reference (thus avoiding over cooled or over heated conditions). Smart interlocks are set in order to ensure that the air-conditioning system could not be set to ‘Cooling’ when the underfloor heating system was enabled.
 
Security and safety – These were a high priority item on the clients’ brief. As per the other systems and services, these systems had to be seamlessly integrated with the central controller. The installed system included AXIS IP cameras with an NVR recording system, a Honeywell Galaxy intruder alarm system and multiple smoke and heat detection units. The level of integration achieved allows the user to monitor all security and safety elements from the graphical user interface from any web device, anywhere in the world. Any alarms and messages from the safety and security system are transmitted via SMS and/or email to ensure that the client is aware of any alarms in real time, even when he is away from the property. Through this inter system integration, ESI manages to use signals from one system to command other system elements. Upon detection of an Intrusion alarm, all lighting would turn on, in order to allow the CCTV cameras to capture a better picture quality. Having seamless integration with the CCTV cameras, these send events to the control system intelligently. Such events are then used to trigger other security sequences.
Also by this inter system cause and effect facility, upon enabling the security system (before exiting the property) all lighting, air-conditioning and heating will be automatically switched off or off-set without delays, ensuring optimum energy conversation. This same feature in turn, provides the possibility of, upon dis-arming the alarm system, the control system immediately sets the ‘Welcome Home’ scene to the occupant once returning home.
 
Irrigation and mechanical systems - The outside areas and terraces are equipped with a drip irrigation system which is controlled by the same system. The user can allow irrigation zones valves to be controlled via user defined time schedulers, compensated by outside weather conditions.
 
Water flooding alarm - Being a Penthouse, the client had serious concerns of water flooding from a failure in the plumbing system. Since he is often abroad, a water flood would not only cause serious damages to his property but also to the other tenant’s properties residing on the lower levels. We installed water leak detectors strategically around the residence, identifying the possible point of failures of the plumbing system. Should the system detects an alarm from any of the water detectors, it would automatically shut-off the water supply by closing the mains water valve and immediately send a message to client informing him about the incident. This solution would control the water leakage immediately avoiding and repercussions.
 
Distributed Audio– An IP based system using the Airplay technology was implemented within the property. This feature allows the client to listen to his favourite music which resides centrally or even locally on his mobile devices. This clever feature also allows the guests to listen to ‘their’ favourite playlists very easily, directly from their mobile devices, without interfering with the local music library. PolkAudio speakers were selected for the indoor and outdoor spaces.
 
Graphical User Interface - Since all the system control logic, integration and GUI were created by ESI's development team, it allowed the client to have a completely bespoke and tailor-made solution.
Although the client emphasised that the system should be operable via IOs devices, ESI developed a ‘cross-platform’ solution based on HTML5 and CSS3 which would provide more flexibility. An innovative aspect introduced onto the user interface is the User Adjustable Marcos.
 
The Marcos allow the user and the system to ‘execute’ events when hitting a particular icon or when a specific event occurs. The user could create or modify the ‘Welcome Home’ feature and define the output of the lighting, the positions of the blinds and curtains, switching of Air conditioning and when the ‘Unset’ event occurs on the Security system. The concept of Macros was implemented to allow the user to interact with the system, allowing the user to make the most of all the integrated components controlled by the Smart Home application.
 
Benefits
 
This system allowed the user to integrate comfort, security, safety and convenience and an easy occupant experience at all times. In house experience and a tailor made solution service was needed, and available at ESI. The system was integrated smoothly with both the interior design concept and technically with the systems components selected. By working closely with the project team during the execution of the project, it was ensured that everything was technically compliant, within budget and timeline.
The remote connectivity feature also allows the user to monitor the home even when abroad. Esi also offered a very efficient support service. The creation of ‘user defined macros’ simplified the use of the system and gave the user the facility to adjust the system modes, matching the style of living. The client was “very pleased with the solution delivered by ESI, as this managed to transform my house into a Smart Home.”
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