In 2018, Brazilian developer Porte Construtora tasked Z-Wave Alliance member Flex Automation to add smart automation to a new apartment building dubbed Helen Altos do Tatuapé. The developer and Flex Automation were longstanding partners of 12 years, since Flex introduced Porte to Z-Wave technology’s benefits, and Flex had become the sole automation provider for all of Porte’s residential and commercial projects going forward.
For this project, Porte knew that in order to fill the multiple deluxe residences of the building with tenants, they needed to install amenities that would attract a very exclusive and high-end market. Since at that time, Brazil had just endured the worst economic crisis its real estate/construction market had ever seen, cost savings were a paramount concern in making the project feasible.
Jean Pascal Nathan De Simone, Director, Flex Automation, provided details to Connected Design about his involvement in the project, the performance advantages that Z-Wave afforded the developers, and how it was completed to the satisfaction of all.
“Porte had already been delivering high-end, fully automated apartments when we approached them for business back in 2008,” De Simone explains, “but they were using exclusively wired solutions which required heavy and expensive hybrid infrastructure: the normal electrical cabling, suitable for conventional lighting, as well as an infrastructure for centralized wired home automation systems. With the only wireless solution available on the bid, we had to be 50 percent cheaper, simpler (90 percent cheaper infrastructure), retrofittable and faster in deployment…. We also had only six months to install a model house with a whole system working for approval. We have always delivered the state-of-the-art solutions to Porte and kept a 24/7 support team to attend the thousands of homeowners. Our goal is avoiding the developer having to deal with customers’ demands. After all, an automation company needs to be a facilitator and an enabler. We don’t want customers bothering the builder.”
De Simone cites Z-Wave’s performance and cost advantages. “We brought Z-Wave technology to Brazil in 2003, earlier than any other wireless mesh technology… It was very difficult [then] to convince developers and system integrators to rely on wireless solutions for whole-home automation solutions… on the other hand, price has always been an issue in Brazil due to very high import duties and taxes as well as exchange rates. So the attractiveness of a solution at least 50 percent cheaper and faster eventually proved to be worth taking the chance.”
De Simone added that in the early days, communicating Z-Wave’s benefits was a challenge due to design and aesthetics concerns among local interior designers, architects and lighting designers. “Most interior designers, architects and lighting designers don’t accept the ‘multi-ganging’ approach. Those 4×8”, 4×10” J-boxes are not even available in local market.
“By 2008,” he continues, “we realized that, and launched a whole family of multichannel touch switches from one to eight channels per device. In a double-gang box (4×4”), we can fit up to six dimmer switches plus a five-scene keypad. In a triple-gang box (4”x6”), we can fit eight channels among dimmers and relays as well as a five-scene keypad and digital clock. All touch, no mechanical switches. Each Scene button can be programmed to control other devices like drapes or trigger macros like ‘Welcome’ that activates whole-house lighting in a desired preset, turns off the alarm, sets air conditioning to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, open the shades at 47 percent, plays your favorite music and sends you a push notification. All in one touch.”
Explaining Z-Wave to Clients
Getting clients on board with the technology has become simpler, he says, as “people are getting more familiar with tech terms like “’wireless,’ ‘data bandwidth,’ ‘mesh,’ etc. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were designed for high data rates such as audio and video streaming, internet browsing and so, they were not optimized for home automation, especially regarding battery-operated devices. How to convince homeowners to replace a couple of 3V Lithium batteries every three months for each of their Wi-Fi door or motion sensors? On the contrary, there are plenty of Z-Wave sensors whose battery lasts for at least three years. Some can even last for 10 years.”
The Successful Outcome
In deploying Z-Wave solutions for this project, Helen Altos do Tatuapé is now fully automated with over 2,250 Z-Wave devices comprising lighting, climate, access control, shades and entertainment. For security purposes, there is a Flex Automation pin keypad on each door to control the door strikes and doorbell.
As further testament to the successful completion of this project, De Simone says, his firm is now ramping up and “getting ready to install Porte’s latest project, named ‘Figueira,’ a landmark in Sao Paulo. It is the tallest residential building with 50 very exclusive apartments, one per floor, fully automated with Flex. We are now negotiating almost 1,000 new units, from small studios to large penthouses.”
Z-Wave Devices Included in Project
- FXA3000D 6 pin pad: main and service door
- FXA0600 6 dimmers 4 scenes: Living + Dinning + HT
- FXA0400 4 dimmers 4 scenes: Balcony+ Barbecue
- FXA5029 2 dimmers+2 ONOFFs+1 scene: Master Suite
- FXR5013 3xONOFF relay switch: 2nd Suite
- FX-D211 micro module dimmer: 3rd and 4th suites , Atrium
- FX-R211 micro module relay: hallway, laundry
- FX-C212 micromodule combo relay: all WCs, laundry and kitchen
- FCH Flex Cloud Hub: Z-Wave Gateway
- FXV Flex VRF Aircon Interface: 10 zones
Flex Automation, Perdize, Brazil | Director: Jean P. N De Simone | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Nancy is a contributing editor for Connected Design