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Glenmont House

West Orange, NJ

Llewellyn Park, located in West Orange, New Jersey, was the first planned residential community in the United States. Developed in 1850 on 350 acres of land, the community grew to over 700 acres by 1870. Constructed in 1882, the Glenmont Estate spans across 13.5 acres within Llewellyn Park.

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This estate boasts the Glenmont House, the 23-room historical Queen Anne mansion that inventor Thomas Alva Edison called home. Purchased in 1886 as a wedding gift for his wife, the Glenmont House, in addition to Edison’s laboratories is known today as the Edison National Historic Site.

The National Park Service and the Thomas A. Edison Preservation Foundation partnered in 2003 to begin the renovation and restoration of the Edison National Historic Site. One of the main goals of the renovation was to improve the overall preservation environment, to keep precious artifacts in mint condition by controlling air flow and humidity through building automation.

When encountered with the challenge of updating the HVAC controls of this famous site, the National Park Service enlisted the services of Encon Mechanical Corporation, a KMC authorized representative. Encon customized the building controls using a full line of KMDigital® products.

“Through the use of products from KMC Controls we were able to offer an affordable solution to the HVAC control system,” stated David Indursky, President of Encon Mechanical. He continues, “The challenge for the installation being that as a historical renovation all surroundings needed to be well-protected and preserved.”

The HVAC installation included a 12-well geothermal system with boiler backup. The ultimate goal of these systems was to become virtually invisible. The design required contractors to bury the geothermal wells in a pit 300 yards from the house. Geothermal heating and cooling offered the most efficient way to provide the historical home with a controlled interior climate that could help prohibit the deterioration of valuable artifacts on display.

To protect the site, contractors carefully lifted individual air handling units through a well-protected opening into the Glenmont attic. These AHU’s serve reheat coils located throughout the home and are joined together and connected to equipment in the basement.

Encon designed and installed the requested system using KMC WinControl® software and several Tier 1 and Tier 2 KMDigital programmable controllers. These controls monitor and respond to outside climate changes, and maintain consistently comfortable temperatures throughout the building. WinControl integrates the different HVAC units into one common user interface, and allows for full HVAC control from a central computer. The program includes trend logging, system history, current events, timing capabilities, and alarm features.

In addition, KMC MEP Series actuators control the air dampers, while other products critical to the completion of this project were duct and room temperature sensors along with duct mounted humidity transmitters. These KMC transmitters are specifically designed for hospitals, museums, or other facilities requiring accurate relative humidity measurement.

The red-brick Glenmont house has been standing since the late 1800’s without adequate fire protection. The currently installed HVAC control system includes KMC CAE-series duct smoke detectors which are vital to the protection of the items on display in the historical home. They provide early detection of smoke and products of combustion present in air moving through the HVAC ducts. The detectors are also designed to aid in the prevention of smoke recirculation by the air handling systems.

“The challenges of working within the historic structure and the protection of the wide spectrum of historic fabric were critical to the successful completion of the project,” stated Charlie Magale, Facility Manager of the Edison National Historic Site. He continues, “The crew who worked on the installation did a very professional and safe job of ensuring the historic fabric was not negatively impacted during this milestone HVAC system installation.”

Between 1895 and 1940 visitors to the Glenmont house included Helen Keller, Henry Ford, and Orville Wright; visitors today will see Thomas Edison’s home as the afore mentioned historical figures, thanks for preservation efforts of the National Park Service, Encon Mechanical, and KMC Controls.