Residential security update from CEDIA

As I walked the floor of the 2009 CEDIA Expo this week in Atlanta, Ga., it became apparent to me that home automation and remote access capabilities are now a necessity for vendors who want to stay competitive in the residential security market.

Though the market by all accounts has taken a pounding during the recession, it remains a viable one, especially for those dealers who work in the high-end segment.

Schlage, known traditionally for its residential locks and other access control products, unveiled its new LiNK home automation solution at the show. The solution works as a bridge that plugs into a wireless router, which gives end users control over their door locks, thermostat, lights, as well as CCTV cameras via a Web base.

“We got into (home automation) from a necessity standpoint. Home automation is part of the future for (residential security),” said Darrell Bartlett, southeast regional sales manager for Schlage.

LiNK works on the Z-Wave RF frequency and up to 232 Z-Wave enabled devices can be hooked into a single LiNK system, according to Bartlett. For those unfamiliar with wireless home networking technology, Z-Wave is one of two main RF frequencies that are battling for supremacy in the space, along with ZigBee. The key difference between the two is that Z-Wave is a proprietary RF wireless communications technology, while ZigBee is a wireless global standard.

The LiNK startup kit, which comes with the LiNK bridge, a lockset and light module, is currently available at select Lowe’s stores for $299. Bartlett said that they are trying to get the word out to dealers and integrators about the solution, who can then subsequently offer the solution to their customers.

Another residential security vendor, Kwikset, a subsidiary of Black & Decker, was also on hand at CEDIA to show off its new line of wireless door locks.

Though they made their debut at ISC West earlier this year, the new Kwikset SmartCode with HomeConnect technology locks are now shipping. The model currently shipping works on the ZigBee RF protocol. The same model, which works on the Z-Wave protocol, will ship next month. In addition, the company’s high-end Baldwin line of wireless locks will begin shipping in quarter one of next year.

According to Dave Albert, vice president of brand marketing and business development for Black & Decker, the company is working on integrating its wireless deadbolts directly with security systems. The locks can currently be interfaced with either a GE or DSC alarm system using a hub from such companies as iControl or Xanboo.

Albert said that one of the main things they wanted to do in designing the locks was to simplify the installation process.

“We want to make (locks) as easy as possible for dealers to install,” he said.

Dealers should also like the SmartKey feature on the new locks, which allows users to rekey their current Kwikset home keys to fit the new lock.

Suggested retail price for the new Kwikset locks is $349 per unit. Dealers can expect to pay around $227 per unit, according to Albert.

Giving homeowners mobile access to their home security and other systems is another technology that it is on the rise in the residential space.

The new eKeypad solution allows end users who have ELK Products’ M1 panels to control all of their systems remotely via an iPhone or iTouch.

According to Jayson Callaway, of eKeypad, the solution should help integrators, as well as end users.

“My goal is to provide (integrators) with a solution to help them sell more panels and make it easier for their customers to use,” he said.

The eKeypad solution is available from the Apple App Store in three different versions. eK Alarm, which costs $10, allows users to arm and disarm an ELK alarm system. eK M1 costs $45 and gives users full control of everything on an ELK M1 panel, while eK Pro, which costs $99 to download, supports multiple M1 panels simultaneously and also provides support for IP cameras.