Geeking the New House

Much to our own surprise, last August my wife and I decided to buy our first new “new” house in the Desert RIdge area of Phoenix. The closest I’ve ever come to having a house built was helping build a house. Needless to say, this was a perfect opportunity to get my geek on. I could tell you all the wonderful things about the place like our cabinet and counter selections, tile and carpet, or number of rooms. But let’s be honest, if you’re reading this blog you won’t be interested in any of that stuff. I barely am, and I’m paying for most of it. Here’s the good stuff. On the electrical front I got to design the lighting and even the circuits. We put in dedicated circuits behind the TV, in the garage (for the power tools), and in the server closet. Yep, I get an office with a server closet (air conditioned, of course, although that was just blind luck). We also put an outlet at eye-level behind the TV for the wall mount flat panel, and a floor outlet in the office. Thanks to a mistake by the installer, there are eye-mount level panels to run wires down to floor-level for any wall mount TVs. The entire house is wired with Cat6 and coax. Even the phone lines are just Cat6 lines. Every room has at least one Cat6 and one coax line, but usually more. Behind the TV area we doubled up on everything, with enough coax lines to run 4 channels of high definition satellite signals (for the TiVo, of course, pre-wired to the South facing side of the house). All the lines run to a central panel in the… you guessed it… server closet. I can mix and match anything without having to run new lines. But even Cat6 won’t last forever, so we ran conduit to all the bedrooms, the family/TV room, and another general room upstairs. Fiber? No prob, unless it’s fatter than 1.5 inches. For audio we put ceiling speakers in the living/dining room and out on the patio, all running to the TV area where the stereo will sit. We also put in overhead rear-surround speakers, which can double up as general stereo speakers. It’s not whole-home, but I don’t think we really need that. There’s crawl space access upstairs and even between floors if we need it. If I want to shoot audio upstairs I’ll just go wireless. We did a slight upgrade on the security panel and added a serial interface. I run Insteon home automation off a Mac Mini, and I’ll be able to interface directly with the alarm. That will let us do all sorts of cool stuff like turn off the lights when we activate the alarm, or get a nice web display of all open doors/windows. For security reasons we added a door sensor to a deck door on the second floor, a glass break detector in the back of the house, and a smoke detector. It seems weird to me that while we got integrated smoke detectors throughout the house, none of them connect to the alarm panel to call the fire department. The firefighter in me also sprung for the residential sprinkler system. If we ever have kids, and they ever set it off, I’m going to kill them. While I made a serious bid for a secret passage disguised behind a bookcase, that was a definite no go. Last week we got our close date- June 19. Less than 2 months until I’m living in gig-ethe et heaven… (…anyone want to buy a condo in downtown Boulder, CO?) Share:

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