A smarter home

In a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented transit district in Palo Alto, Calif., Sunset magazine is focusing on design ideas that transform modern living spaces into innovative, automated homes of the future.

The Sunset Smart Homes, a duplex project that has been open for public touring, are "Idea" houses designed to highlight forthcoming high-tech, eco-friendly, and energy-efficiency concepts that might one day become standards of home building. In one of the digital homes, a wall-mounted iPad--accompanied by additional seven-inch touch screens on different floors--is the centerpiece, controlling everything from climate to lighting to home security. Its entertainment center is run via Apple TV.

The Savant Home Automation system is accessible via any Apple iOS device, which means that not only can all the home's functions can be managed via an iPad, they can also be managed from an iPhone anywhere in the house or even remotely.
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Mac Mini-based home management system

The Mac Mini-based home management system is housed under the stairs. Coupled with an Airport and Sonos audio system, it streams music from the Internet, an iPod, or iPhone.
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Electric Fujitsu Inverter heating and cooling

Wall-mounted electric Fujitsu Inverter heating and cooling units are economical to operate and quieter to run than conventional units.
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Savant home management system

The Savant home management system running on the iPad provides a simple interface to adjust fine details of the home's climate and lighting, as well as a way to manage security cameras and operate door locks from the home or remotely from any location.

The Savant TRU lighting interface displays an image of the room, seen here. You can turn lights on and off by simply touching them on the interface. Heating and cooling preset time patterns can be easily configured by dragging and dropping.
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Air circulation

With six inches of insulation and an outer wrapper of polystyrene "outsulation," the home is well protected from temperature changes. The even wrapping ensures an additional degree of sound-proofing from traffic and street noise.

An air circulation system, seen here, cycles fresh, filtered air through the home nine times each day.
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Circulation

In some rooms, such as the bathrooms that get heated due to showering, fans can re-route the air into the home's climate system and use that excess heat to adjust the temperature throughout the house.
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Skylights

Smart skylights are able to sense rain and close automatically.
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3Kw solar-electric heat pump system

The 3Kw photovoltaic solar hot water heat pump system gives the home a net-zero energy footprint.
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Blink wall-mounted electric car chargers

Underneath the living space, a ground-floor garage provides parking for the home. It's outfitted with Blink wall-mounted 240-volt electric car chargers with J1772 plugs, capable of charging a car in four to six hours.
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Greenest mixed-use development in Valley

The two residential units on display will be part of the greenest mixed-use development in Silicon Valley, Sunset says. Sunday is the last day of a public tour of the homes.
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