Sunday, September 20, 2020
 Tech on the Farm 

Afarmhouse in Bedminster, N.J. dating back to the 1700s posed an unusual challenge for the Paramus, N.J.-based technology integration firm Restrepo Innovations. The clients wanted the optimum in audio, video and automation both inside and outdoors on this eight-acre property, plus top-notch Wi-Fi performance, all with this caveat: do nothing to unduly alter the historic look of the main home, which had been added to years earlier, and of its barn. “We needed to figure out everything without touching anything,” said Michael Restrepo, whose team then set to brainstorming how to create 21st-Century communications and entertainment convenience within the confines of these requests. “Their concern was not losing the ‘feel’ of the home. How do you put tech into an older home without it losing its luster? The owners had worked so hard at making sure everything was of the time period, down to the forks. And they didn’t want to see any of the equipment, so we had to try to use the least amount of gear.”

Strategies included using the splice area of the original home and the addition – where the two structures connected – as a means to snake wires through, and to open up only those wall areas that had new Sheetrock. Crestron’s NVX system was employed for its ability to handle signal distribution in the home and in two separate outdoor areas.

This choice, Restrepo said, took care of any audio latency and timing issues outdoors that might have arisen. “If they [the outdoor areas] were both playing, you didn’t want to hear an echo; they had to hit simultaneously. With Crestron NVX, we were able to send audio to the pool while still having it play in unison elsewhere.

“Where we couldn’t run all kinds of wires everywhere, we ran fiber optic,” he said. In fact, the outdoor system was decoupled from the home via fiber, enabling shorter, reliable runs and serving to protect the indoor system from any outdoor issues, according to him. “And the last thing we wanted to do was dig up this beautiful yard. So the fiber worked out as awesome.” Using fiber also enabled all areas of the property to benefit from full-blown Wi-Fi – which had been an issue earlier, due to the building’s stonework. Ruckus gear helped to solve that problem neatly, and was particularly effective when the home was being used for large-group entertaining, where “there could be 200 people jumping on a network in one day,” Restrepo said. “We dropped six different access points throughout the home and into some outdoor areas as well, with the idea being perfect Wi-Fi no matter where they walked, inside or out.”

The team also came up with a novel approach to equipment rack placement that kept the gear unobtrusive in the basement but also safe from any possible water damage; it was mounted from the ceiling three feet above the floor.

For outdoor audio, Coastal Source’s robust speaker lines were chosen. “They are rock solid and we could use a minimal amount while providing full sound,” said Restrepo. Inside, for the basement, Origin Acoustics in-ceiling three-way speakers were the solution, for what Restrepo said was their excellent coverage, great sound – and the fact that there were no back boxes, which suited the limitations placed on construction. “We put just two speakers in that space, and the whole room sings! It sounds like a club in there,” he said. SnapAV’s Episode box speakers were employed in the dining area for their sound quality and reasonable size.

Crestron wireless touchscreens are available throughout for simplified control, and site management software and power management at every TV location was deployed to ensure that the home would be up and running at all times, said Restrepo. “The system is designed to work flawlessly every time the owners are there – even if they arrive at 10 at night,” Restrepo says.

Working hand in hand with his team were other parties to whom Restrepo gave a nod of acknowledgement. These included project partners Esposito and Sons, the contractor, who “was amazing at matching up new woodwork to the original,” and Elite Electric, the electrical contractor who was extremely cooperative in adding grounding inside the equipment racks for added protection.

Restrepo’s crew also thought ahead, pre-wiring the premises as far as they could, to make future additions to this stellar installation easier. “The homeowners can keep adding to their heart’s content, without doing any real destruction,” Restrepo said.

  • Equipment List
  • Araknis Networks Wireless
  • Coastal Source 10.0 Ellipse Bollards
  • Crestron CP3N Control System
  • Crestron NVX System
  • Crestron TST-902 Wireless Touchscreens
  • Origin Acoustics D86 Speakers
  • QMotion Wireless Shades
  • Ruckus Wireless System
  • SnapAV Episode ES-700 Speakers