We’re almost there and we can’t wait. In just another couple of hours we’ll arrive at our vacation home and be ready to hit the slopes in the morning. It may be snowing outside, but our mountain home will be warm, the heated driveway free of snow, with just enough lights on outside and in to welcome us. Even the stereo is playing.

Do we have live in help or a vacation home service? NO! We have a Vantage Smart Home System!

Let me take you back through my Friday so you can see how simple My System is to operate. This morning, after arriving at the office and having my first cup of coffee, I sent an e-mail (or I could have sent a text message or made a simple phone call) to My System at my vacation home in Mammoth Lakes, California. We plan to arrive around 7 in the evening, so we want everything ready by the time we arrive. The e-mail message, in a few keystrokes, has turned on the snow melting system in the driveway, so there’s no more shoveling snow, just to get to the house. Of course I receive confirmation from My System that the snow melting system on.

Our getaway house is around 4,000 square feet, with a great room, kitchen, 4 bedrooms and 4 baths. Central air and heat, large picture windows, whole house audio, and game room with the requisite plasma TV.

When we are there, the house is operated locally or remotely by My System. In addition to the lighting, which is controlled by individual single-gang, 8 button switches, the air conditioning and heating, motorized drapes, audio & video, and Jacuzzi are easily controlled by My System.

When we are about 3 hours from our destination, I text the house (send a text message to My System from my cell phone–my daughters taught me how to text message), saying ‘ON OUR WAY’ (in plain English). The message tells the thermostats (there are 3), to jump from 55º to 72º in the great room and game room, and 68º in the bedrooms. No more coming into a cold home and waiting all night for it to heat up.

My System is actually set up to sense the inside temperature and outside temperature and adjusts the heating when we are not there, to a temperature that will keep the pipes in the house from freezing, and not waste resources.

This text message also tells the house to put on the exterior driveway lights at sunset (as determined by the built in astronomical clock), the front porch lights about 15 minutes later, and the inside entry lights to a dim scene, so we won’t come into a dark home.

When we arrive we press the ‘Home’ button on the entry keypad (8-button switch), and the house comes alive. The great room lighting comes on to a preset level, game room does the same, and the hall lights to the bedrooms come on. It also automatically starts the ‘We Are Here’ events.

After unloading the car, we congregate in the kitchen. Pressing one button on the Touch Screen, sends the house into music mode. We choose either our stored CD’s or my wife’s I-Pod (we have an in-wall dock), and music resonates throughout the house. If we want to watch a movie, we can select the movie by viewing its DVD jacket (downloaded from the internet) on our Color LCD Touch Screen. We can again press a button on the Touch Screen and send the movie to either the game room plasma or master bedroom LCD TV. The music also shuts off in the appropriate room.

When we go to sleep, I touch a single button at my bedside, which shuts all lights in the house, except for my wife’s reading lights (it seems she never sleeps), lowers the bedroom shades, and also puts the exterior porch light into dim mode until dawn.

My System automatically lowers all thermostats to 68º at around 11:30PM.

At around 5:30AM the thermostats turn to morning mode, raising the bedroom and kitchen temperatures, and getting us ready for the days skiing and snowboarding. Soon after, the shades open, lights automatically go on slowly to about 30% to wake us, ‘like sunrise’.

I like my boots warm when I get into them, so we hooked up some heating elements to go on for about ½ hour to heat my boots for me before we leave for the slopes. My System at work for me.

When we leave, My System senses that we are gone for the day, lowers the temperature to 68º until we return. (“We Are Here” button “ON”, no motion and ‘knowing’ that the door opened and then remained closed.) Upon our return it senses the door opens again, but with motion in the house it raises the temperature to “We Are Here” or “Home” status.

I can bore you with my skiing prowess, but I am actually better at the fireplace in the lodge.

Then, the best part: After skiing, on our way back to the house, I again text My System to ‘PUT SPA ON’. This automatically turns the Jacuzzi motor on and the temperature to 102º, just how we like it. We can just jump in when we get home, no waiting!

Sunday, when we leave, with a simple press of the “We Are Not Here” button on the Touch Screen, and My System sends our home back to sleep. (It also locks out the snow melting equipment, Jacuzzi, motorized shades, etc., so they cannot operate when we are not there.)

As we get busier and busier at work and just living our lives, simple conveniences cannot be taken for granted.

I only wish My System could drive us home.

If you have any questions or comments about home automation, about My System, (the new Vantage Infusion System), please feel free to e-mail me at the address below.

Westco Smart Homes

Jack Goldberg, president of Westco Smart Homes, with offices in Los Angeles and Lake Arrowhead, California, is an electrical contractor specializing in the sale and installation of Vantage Home Automation and Dimming Systems. He is ranked at #8 of over 850 Vantage dealers in the US. He is a registered Professional Electrical Engineer active in the industry for over 30 years. His projects have included special residences spanning from the New York Olympic Tower penthouse of Adnan Kashoggi (the richest man in the world), to Villas in Phuket, to huge estates for the highly discriminating West Coast entertainment and sports industry elite. Many of these projects are highly visible and have been profiled in Architectural Digest, and various other periodicals. He has also had the pleasure of working with many architects and designers of world renown on award-winning commercial buildings. A native New Yorker, he thrills to the challenge of concepts, applications and installations that others say “can’t be done”.