In the palm of your hand: Home systems delight

A new day dawns for the residential systems market

According to McCarthy, video has seen much interest in the residential market. “A lot of dealers are earning RMR with video,” he said. “It’s a great management tool and allows for visual mobile access to the user’s system.”

Overall, the emphasis by the systems integrator should be on the full solution, which adds value for the integrator and their customer, according to Rich Matthews, marketing director for Lutron Electronics Co. Inc., Coopersburg, Pa.

“Right now it’s time for integrators to look at the existing construction market,” Matthews continued. “For every one home constructed, there are 12 existing ones bought and sold. Integrators need to focus on existing homes and a vast majority of products are ideal for retrofit.” He added that Lutron has developed new wireless technologies, controls and devices that are robust and more reliable than ever and fit perfectly with new demand for energy management and overall system control.

Homeowners are driving demand and much of it is centered on achieving energy-related savings through managing the environment with lighting and automation controls, as well as occupancy sensors, according to Matthews.

“There’s definitely thirst from integrators in the field to learn how to sell to existing homes now that new construction is gone,” Matthews added. “Security dealers are already a trusted entity in the home and they want to sell more products on the same job which makes perfect sense.

They have fewer jobs so they want to sell more on every job.”
Matthews said that energy savings, energy management, monitoring and lighting are part of the total solutions customers seek. “Lighting control as a systems installation category is a significant part of the business,” he said. “One of the other fastest growing segments is automated shades, which can save up to 10 percent in energy costs. Energy management and monitoring may be the growth market similar to what the home theatre was 20 years ago,”

Brad Smith, president of Audio Video Design, with offices in Newton, Osterville and Nantucket, Mass., epitomizes the changing face of the home systems integrator. In fact, his company was a traditional security alarm company that moved into the audio-video space, no regrets.

“Everything has changed with the ‘great recession’ we are in,” said Smith. “What people want and what they’ll get are very different, probably for the foreseeable future. People want consumer electronics (a/v) more than they want building electronics (automation). Who doesn’t want consumer electronics? However, building electronics were making a strong move prior to the recession. The desire is still there, it’s just a question of affordability. HVAC, lighting and shade control are the prime movers. In high-end homes, media traffic control has been a big draw. It’s easy to get lots of free media at a computer, but not so easy (or inexpensive) to route it around the house in high def.”

Audio Video Design is a CEDIA award winner and has garnered numerous installation accolades, including most recently two awards from the local builders association. “Technology just keeps changing and more or less improving and until it slows down, everything we do will keep changing and avoid standardization, which is bad,” said Smith. “POTS are history and I wouldn’t be so foolish as to predict which current technology will be the standard bearer in 20 years but fiber optic is clearly (pun intended) the leader for long distance communication and HDMI is taking a dominant position in video.”

Greg Simmons, vice president of Eagle Sentry in Las Vegas also made the move from a traditional security company into the realm of full solutions provider specializing in audio-video, energy management and automation in addition to security.

“It makes so much sense; why should we be selling security only?” Simmons queried. “We are moving away from that. You have to be a full solutions provider to succeed in this market and we have to provide solutions that are reliable and can’t be interrupted.”

Security doesn’t lead the dance