Lee’s Summit ‘smart home’ open for tours

rpulley@lsjournal.comApril 25, 2014 

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    To see Odell’s smart home in action, you can visit the house at 2804 NW Thoreau Drive which will be open to the public for visits during the Kansas City National Association of Remodeling homes tour this weekend.

    That event is Saturday and Sunday April 26-27 at 22 homes in the Kansas City area.

    Tour details and list of the homes also can be found at www.remodelingkc.com. Tickets are $10 a person, with part of the proceeds going to the Children’s Place.

David Odell brought home his work. He turned his Lee’s Summit house into a “smart home” showcasing the features he can add to client’s houses by networking everything from window shades, to the garage door, thermostats and security systems.

If someone goes with luxury appliances, they could even have the oven preheating as they leave work at the end of a day.

“Anything that can be turned on or off, you can control through the automated system,” Odell said.

Odell is owner of Summit Computer Solutions, a Lee’s Summit business that for 12 years has offered networking and other business computer services. Two years ago the firm began expanding into the smart home market.

He said for some people it becomes a “lifestyle” as they find convenience of automation. In the last year he’s worked on about 20 houses.

“Some are simple, some are over-the-top like the model house,” Odell said. He said expects the market to be expanding as building continues to increase and as prices for technology come down and smart features are offered on a wider price range of appliances. He said one drag on growth is that builders and consumers often are thinking of the automated systems as after-market product, when it would be to their advantage to make it a basic part of the home design.

A system can be built so a cascade of events happen throughout the smart home once it’s activated.

For example, when Odell’s children leave for school in the morning, they could tap a button on the way out which: starts a sequence to lock doors behind them, shut off the lights, adjusts the thermostats because no own is home and takes a picture of them walking out the door. The system then sends a text and a picture to Odell at his office, so he knows they are getting on the bus on time and the house is secure.

The possibilities are wide open, depending on the client’s desires.

Odell said that while there are do-it-yourself options for individual appliances or security systems, but consumers can find themselves using seven or eight different apps. Firms like his can offer a fully integrated system that works from a simple menu on your devices.

Many variations are possible with the one system.

For example, automated locks on the doors can be unlocked with a key, a touchpad, on a timer or from your phone. And it can be worked manually if desired. An automated home can provide peace of mind, Odell said.

Say you go on vacation and hire a dog walker. The doors can be set to allow access only during certain period in the morning. The person you hire can’t come over later that night to use your home theater.

Or say you have a strict morning routine. The smart home can make it easier.

A homeowner with a definite routine can automatically have a series of soft music come on at 6 a.m., grow in volume, and lights gradually illuminate the room. The temperatures are adjusted for the heating and air system, and the coffee pot turns on.

The system can play an individuals’ choice of music in different zones of the house, with a touch of a button on the light switch, or controlled from a menu displayed on a television. Odell said it’s really a good idea to consult an expert in networking and electronics if you want to go the full-mile in automating a home. He said a successful system depends on integrating the computer processor, amplifiers, receivers, televisions, audio and other electronics.

He said he saw a business opportunity because often vendors of security systems and audio/visual systems generally didn’t have the networking expertise to make a fully automated home work flawlessly.

He said its best to involve a company like his early in the process of remodeling or building new construction with automation, because there will be specific needs for electrical outlets and wiring and computer cabling.

When he bought his new home, the basement was left unfinished, although the upstairs had the cabling for networking, and Odell was still working on the design of the basement. He said he couldn’t really offer the full home experience from a showroom at his office, so he outfitted his residence to show clients.

Frank Kent, owner of Quality Home Concepts, who finished Odell’s basement, said communication is key so contractors understand the extra demands the automated system adds to basic electrical systems.

Odell said he offers a full service, from designing the system, retailing the hardware, such as televisions and security cameras, electronic locks whatever, and does the installation at the appropriate times during construction.

A basic set up could start at about $5,000.

Odell’s system at home cost about $150,000, but it’s overloaded, because he invites clients over to see the many different options.

He said if he had built the system for only his family, it probably would have included about 80 percent of the stuff.

In the pool and recreation room, for example, there are three wall-mounted televisions, along with the wet bar, and in the next room a home theater.

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