NXT AV is a custom systems integrator based out of Southern California, creating residential and commercial automation, audio visual, lighting, and other systems for clients in Orange County, California. They focus on unique, complex system builds that go beyond just homes to include luxury yachts. NXT AV prides itself on a fully custom approach for their clients, designing customized systems, and installing automation, distributed audio, lighting control, networking, and home theater systems.
When a long-standing client acquired a 100-foot yacht, NXT AV was given carte blanche to outfit it with a technology system that would work both on land and on sea.
Smart Home Living, in Choppy Conditions
The yacht was packed with luxury experiences, like high-end finishes, furniture, jet skis, and more. The smart system would need to match, and the NXT AV team specified a massive system, including automation from Savant, complete with enterprise-grade networking, distributed audio, lighting control, security cameras, among many other customized upgrades. It would span the living areas, estate rooms, dining areas, and the deck, to give the client and their guests complete control.
With experience integrating in yachts, the team had to plan carefully to account for the extremely temperamental conditions and sometimes unpredictability of being out on the water. An installation of this size would be a big undertaking for a home, but the structure of a yacht presented additional integration challenges. The sleek walls and tight spaces of a yacht leaves little room for error. Wiring and devices must be seamlessly concealed among expensive marine grade wood, leather, and veneers that can’t be cut into or replaced. With no walls that they could punch holes in, NXT AV faced significant wiring challenges.
On top of the wiring challenges, NXT AV also had to manage the unique power environment of the vessel. Any smart home project is at risk of daily spikes, sags, surges, and electrical noise caused by incoming power from the grid, and conditions in the home, like large appliances or the HVAC system. But there’s added complexity on a yacht, where the power source is continuously transferred from shore power to different generator banks. A power loss at each change can disrupt the system and put devices and equipment offline.
In a typical home installation, the NXT AV team is nearby and available to service the system after the installation is completed. But with this system regularly at sea and on charter, access to the yacht is not possible. NXT AV needed to plan for a remote management solution and a power foundation to ensure the installation’s longevity and uptime.
Building a Foundation for Reliability
NXT AV takes a unique approach to ensuring quality installations, whether for homes, custom coaches or yachts. Based in Southern California, their installations aren’t typically at risk of power effects from poor grid quality, compared to other areas in the country that have frequent lightning storms. But nevertheless, they implement a power foundation as a baseline for all of their client projects, having learned the importance of power protection and remote management through experience. “We address the system from the power, and then we discuss what the client wants in their home,” said NXT AV CEO Eli Weinkle. “It takes just one power issue to wreak havoc or destroy a product.”
With the power challenges amplified onboard the yacht, a power foundation was especially critical to protect NXT AV’s work and the equipment. To automate the audio, video and lighting throughout the yacht, NXT AV installed and programmed a Savant automation system, which would also give the client access to 16 zones of audio, eight video zones, and surveillance supported by an enterprise-grade network, fiber, and Cat7.
NXT AV’s custom approach went deeper; they also CNC fabricated custom enclosures for Sonance speakers to provide quality yet discrete audio throughout the yacht. A surge or power loss could cause equipment to fail and require on-site access to the yacht, which isn’t always an option. To protect the custom work and prevent failure, NXT AV implemented an established power foundation they typically use in homes, specially adapted for the yacht environment.
When NXT AV started adding foundations to their projects with a focus on remote management and rebooting capabilities, it took them years to perfect a solution.
Through trial and error over the years, they learned that “not all surge suppressors are created equal,” said Weinkle. Eventually, NXT AV developed a formula for a power foundation that they use on every installation featuring SurgeX equipment. “From real experiences in the field, we realized the difference of SurgeX’s surge elimination technology versus other suppressors in the industry,” he added.
A SurgeX power foundation became NXT AV’s uniform approach to ensure stability, prevent degradation, and allow remote access for all of their installations. A SurgeX PF-420, online dual-conversion UPS, and Power Distribution Unit (PDU) combined provide clean, reliable power, and remote management capability, so the team can manage the home, or in this case the yacht, from anywhere. The foundation was a necessary element of the yacht’s smart system: “Boats are very complicated; you’re in the middle of water so you don’t have a standard power source and data connection,” said Weinkle.
Smooth Sailing. Technology Enhances the Charter Experience
When the owner isn’t enjoying a trip at sea or an afternoon dockside, the yacht is often offered as an auction item for one of their charity foundations. It also hosts celebrities who charter it for vacations and parties, including a certain Canadian pop star who can’t be named.
Yacht guests expect a luxurious and seamless experience, to complement their parties, dinners, or morning workouts. NXT AV prepared the yacht for a full schedule of charters: The automation system brings the yacht to life, from custom Savant DMX tunable lighting to allowing guests to pump their choice of music through every inch, and offering live TV and movies via satellite and Kaleidescape movie server, anywhere in the world – including the open water. The system is seamlessly incorporated throughout the yacht, without a wire or black box in sight, giving guests control of lights, the distributed audio systems, displays, and other features like security cameras. Or, they can kick back and relax, and the Savant automation system automatically handles lighting schedules, temperature adjustments, and music for guests to create ambiance in each area of the ship, whether in an estate room or out on the deck.
“NXT AV benefits from implementing a best practice in their home installations, where a power foundation protects the homeowner’s system. Analyzing the power conditions and installing the necessary protective equipment are important steps to setting a system up for long-term success, and they go the extra mile by also using SurgeX PDUs for remote management,” said Jimmy Paschke, director of sales, SurgeX residential. “NXT AV has gone full speed ahead with the system in this yacht, and their power foundation is beefed up to handle any of the possible power challenges along the way.”
With the SurgeX power foundation, the yacht’s system was prepared to run smoothly even when running on generator power – which can be unstable – at sea or switching into power at docks around the world. The SurgeX PF-420 branch circuit provides clean, conditioned power to all components, and the Power Distribution Unit and UPS work together to protect the system from changes in power and downtime. Guests aren’t disrupted by a device experiencing downtime or a display that was fried during a power surge, because the system is protected. Alternatively, the NXT AV team can intervene, by getting automatic alerts when devices are down and power cycling them via their 24/7 remote concierge support service.
Power is critical on the yacht, and the NXT AV team and the yacht’s owner have peace of mind that there’s a protection plan in place: “Knowing power is so critical, we addressed it with the power foundation so that it won’t ruin the experience or create problems in the system,” said Weinkle.