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09.12.12

Sunday Times

We’re building a new house and are looking for dimmable lights that give the same"warmth” as halogen bulbs, whilst also being Part L compliant. Can you help?

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Ask The Experts

The building regulations Part L covers the requirements relating to the conservation of fuel and power in building projects. You will be required to adhere to its guidelines as part of the planning process. 

The common complaint  with low energy lamps, including LED and fluorescent bulbs, are that the light is “cold”, they’re not bright enough, we can’t be dimmed properly and they flicker. Not all LED fittings are Part L approved, so you will need to make sure that whichever ones you buy comply. Crestron has recently introduced a range of LED fittings that fit your needs (from £65, 0845 873 8787, www.crestron.co.uk) if you already have the fittings but would want to replace the halogen bulbs, try Lightfoot LED for dimmable lamps that are compatible with standard fittings (from £15, 0800 955 0194, www.lightfootled.com).

Read the article on the Sunday Times Website

 

Iain Brown is the co-founder of Kensington Home Technology; www.k-ht.co.uk.

 

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20.09.12

Sunday Times

Ask The Experts

Is a circuit-breaker expensive/difficult to install? We are getting elderly and find it harder to climb to the fuse box.

If you are still using wired fuses, then your electrical system is out of date. Wire-based fuses no longer conform to UK regulations, so, if you make any changes to your system, you will be obliged to upgrade to mechanical circuit breakers (MCBs). I would get a qualified electrical contractor to inspect your electrics and ensure that your system is safe.

Simply replacing wired fuses with MCBs is not time-consuming or difficult; changing over to a 12-circuit system would cost about £500. Contact NICEIC  (0870 013 0382, niceic.com) to find a suitable contractor.

Email your questions to propertyexperts@sunday-times.co.uk

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20.09.12

Sunday Times

Ask The Experts

I want to treat myself to a great turntable system and state-of-the-art speakers - what do you suggest?

Style-conscious vinyl fans should take a look at Linn’s Sondek LP12 turntable (from £1,830), which has an incredibly smooth motion and comes in a variety of wood or bespoke finishes.

Today’s floorstanding loudspeakers double as objets d’art: Linn’s Klimax 350 models come in more than 200 high-gloss colour options (from £19,900 for a pair; linn.co.uk).

Or, for the ultimate sound experience, try Bowers & Wilkins: its 800 Series Diamond set (£18,500 a pair) is used at Abbey Road Studios, while the stunning Nautilus loudspeaker, allows you to hear music exactly as recorded, unhindered by distortion or diffraction (£55,000 a pair; bowers-wilkins.com). The firms will give specialist advice on setup and positioning.


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10.09.12

Sunday Times

Ask The Experts

I  would like to get a CCTV security system installed, as well as an intruder alarm. What do you suggest?

For security systems in the south of England, I always recommend MRFS (0500 288 999, mrfsgroup.com), which sells Avigilon high-surveillance systems. The cameras start at about £500 each, but have sophisticated lenses and software that allow for high-definition playback and provide different views from the same camera, thus providing great coverage. A burglar alarm is always a good idea — a good-quality insurance-rated alarm for your house, professionally installed, will cost at least £2,000. As well as electronic security, some physical security is advised if you have the budget. The National Security Inspectorate’s website,nsi.org.uk, has a good index of approved installers. .

Email your questions to propertyexperts@sunday-times.co.uk

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27.05.12

Sunday Times

Ask The Experts

What’s the best way to control my home A/V system with an iPad?

A N

Loewe has a free app that lets you control its latest televisions and other AV products from your iPad. A TV with a control system starts at £1300 (Loewe-UK.com). If you want to control a range of brands, Bitwisecontrols( bitwisecontrols.com) has an app and interfaces that can do this, although you will needed dealer to help setting up. Assistance starts at £3000. 

The whole house iPad control, covering lighting, heating, air conditioning and AV hardware, Savant( SavantSystems.com) supplies powerful systems based on Apple technology. Prices started £3000, and you will need a dealer to install it: try RGB Communications (0148873366, www.RGBcomms.co.uk).

Ian Brown is co-founder of the custom installation company Kensington Home Technology; www.K-HT.co.uk

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03.09.11

Sunday Times

Ask The Experts

Following the London riots, how can I increase the security of my home?

Home security should be a balance of the physical (locks, security doors, grilles) and the electronic (alarms, CCTV, door entry systems).

In riots, physical is preferable. Absolute Security Shutters (absolute-shutters.co.uk) start at about £500; Lincoln Security has steel doors from £1500 (lincolnsecurity.co.uk). Banham (banham.co.uk) sells monitored alarms from £1500 and CCTV from about £2,600, for four cameras and a Panasonic 1Tb DVR recorder. Security guards start at £9.50 an hour (fortussecurity.com). Or get advice from the National Security Inspectorate (nsi.org.uk)

Email your questions to propertyexperts@sunday-times.co.uk

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05.08.11

Sunday Times

Ask The Experts

I am thinking of switching from DVD to Blu-ray. Is this a good idea, and how can I watch films on all the TVs in our home?

Blu-ray Disc is an optical disc format that is rapidly replacing DVD. It allows recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD) and offers more than five times the storage capacity of DVDs. An HDMI distribution amplifier will allow you to send Blu-ray movies from your player to multiple televisions via HD signal. Gefen has some good products for about £350 (futureshop.co.uk), but setting up is complex: use an AV professional (01480 213744, cedia.co.uk). Another option is to use a Kaleidescape movie server, which stores your films centrally in a digital library, and allows you to view them on various televisions: the content is streamed around the network using high speed data cables. But be warned: prices for the server start at about £10,000 (01344 317970, kaleidescape.com).

Email your questions to propertyexperts@sunday-times.co.uk

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13.06.11

Sunday Times

Ask The Experts

We are looking for a big television that hangs from the ceiling, having been inspired by a Home article (Beyond the Brochure,)

The television you are referring to is actually a projector screen on a drop-down mechanism.  You can get lifts for the projector that come out of the ceiling.  That said, hiding a large TV inside the ceiling can be tricky.

Future Automation (futureautomation.co,uk) makes these specialised products.  It has horizontal ceiling hinges and telescope lift mechanisms for a 50in TV (£8,225) and a 65in TV (£14,000) for a device that fits. Add Panasonic televisions for £1,195 and £4,295 respectively.

For a standalone mega TV, I always recommend Panasonic.  Its 103in costs about £50,000.  Visit cedia.co.uk to find a reputable installation company.

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12.05.11

Sunday Times

Ask The Experts

Our home is collecting more and more remote controls, which are ugly, confusing and clutter up the living room. Is there a cost-effective way of replacing them?

Some TV remotes allow you to control other devices, such as Blu-ray or DVD players, but usually only if they are from the same manufacturer. To control all your gadgets from one handset, there are several options. Logitech offers a range of controllers, starting at about £30. While these can be programmed using a computer, they have only infra red and radio frequency capabilities (logitech.com). Control4 is a more complex control system, based on a central processor and wireless remote. Prices start at about £1,200, depending on the programming requirements; this should be done by a specialist, as there are multiple connectivity options (Control4.com).

A Crestron touch panel can control almost everything inside a house, and can be connected to the heating, air conditioning, lighting, security and CCTV systems. The cost depends on the complexity of the installation; a single-room setup starts at about £2,000 (crestron.eu).

Email your questions to propertyexperts@sunday-times.co.uk

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