DOCKSIDE MAGAZINE SPRING 2016: SIMPLE TECH
Cottage automation made simple
It’s a term that excites some and concerns others… often within the same household. “We see it so often: one family member is very tech-savvy, while others can be much more hesitant,” says Dave Fast, owner of Fast Homes. Too often that leads to frustration for owners who don’t know how to leverage today’s technology to enhance their cottage experience. “The entire family shouldn’t have to depend on one family member to be able to control the TV, lighting or anything else that’s automated,” says Dave. “It should be so simple and intuitive so that everyone can use it.” Simple control options The truth is all of us already use automation in our homes, from the timer on the coffee maker, to the remote on our garage door, or the motionsensor lights at the front door. “It’s the more high-tech integrated automation systems that have got a bad rap over the years for being complicated, unreliable and expensive,” says Dave.
If you’re up at the cottage, the last thing you need is for the system to not work. “You are only there for a small window of time, so your experience should be 100 per cent enjoyable,” says Dave. “My approach to automation is making it simple for you. Today, there is an app for everything. We can make it so that you can operate your thermostat from one, turn off your lights and lower the blinds with another, and use another to control your music,” says Dave. “Why not use these great apps to your advantage? All of this can be done on an iPad mini that’s mounted on the wall or removed and carried around. “The wall mount we provide is magnetic and charges the iPad when docked. That way it has a home where it can be easily found and charged between uses,” says Dave. The iPad can also be used in conjunction with wallmounted keypads as well as hand-held remotes to control the lights, blinds, HVAC, fireplace, water, home cinema, audio systems and TVs. “It can be customized however you’d like it,” says Dave. “In some homes, we set up a keypad next to the front door that has an ‘Home’ and an ‘Away’ button. When you leave the cottage, the ‘Away’ button ensures all the lights are shut off, all blinds are lowered, motorized windows are closed, the water is shut off and heat is turned down. It’s that simple.” Family focus “The goal is to create a better, more entertaining cottage experience for you to enjoy with your family,” Dave says.
Dave and his wife Lisa have been coming to north to Muskoka from Toronto with their family for over 15 years. “We love the area and know what our client’s desires are: they want to make the most of their time here and create a space that can be enjoyed by their children and guests.” This mindset helps them use home automation to make the most of the areas where family gathers, like great rooms, Muskoka rooms and home cinemas. “We can design the lights on a walkway so they come on as you walk down to the fire pit,” says Lisa. “Then the lights can be dimmed so you can see the stars.” A similar process applies with outdoor speakers, which can be focused toward the family gathering areas and away from neighbours. Outfit or update Whether you’re looking to set up a new automation system for your home or cottage, or modify a system that’s already in place, Dave says there’s never a wrong time to have it installed. A one-touch solution for home and away is an amazing time saver, which translates to more Muskoka time. “The best time to consider automation is during your initial construction phase; I like to give the client as many options as I can.
By designing the right system and installing the right wiring and conduits you can take advantage of future upgrades in technology. That doesn’t mean your cottage can’t be equipped after it’s already been built, though. We can work with the existing wiring as there are some amazing wireless retrofit solutions for lighting control and shades,” says Dave. “If you are thinking of building a new cottage or retrofitting an existing one I’m happy to come out and meet with you and give you recommendations and a complimentary quote.”