Home Networking is King in 2021

May 13, 2021
Residential security integrators should find opportunities by capitalizing on the convergence of security and smart home technologies
This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, few could have predicted how it would impact the home technology market. As people transitioned their lives to accommodate everything from home – school, work, socialization – security integrators were holding their breath, bracing for impact. Would people really need a security system for their home if they never left the house?

Instead, the pandemic has ushered in an evolution for the residential security industry, opening new opportunities for homeowners to interact with their security systems – and this is only the beginning.

Security integrators now have the technology to whet the appetite of homeowners who may not have considered how security solutions could be used while at home. For example, a video doorbell camera can let parents answer the door from their home office, or they can use a smart door lock to let in a babysitter or family member while on a conference call without interruption.

Instead of checking that the door is locked and the garage is closed while at the office, homeowners want access to everything at their home to manage their new schedule. While managing security from a distance may be less of a need for their personal homes, families who need to monitor elderly loved ones from afar want sensors, lights, and door locks installed, so they can stay connected when face-to-face check-ins are not possible.

Smart Technology Boom an Obvious Opportunity

PowerHouse Alliance vendors and distributors surveyed in a recently released whitepaper, “A Landscape of Change: Charting New Territory in the Custom Installation Industry,” rated security as one of the top five selling categories in Q2 of 2020, but by Q4 of 2020, it had dropped out of the top five.  

Throughout 2020, homeowner demands and needs changed. The PowerHouse Alliance distributor members predict changes to the top categories in 2021: Networking and TV/displays will trend upward, while audio, and security systems are expected to level out.

Just like homeowners have gotten a taste of what security systems can do, residential security integrators have begun to dip their toes into the whole smart home space. It is the convergence we have been talking about for years, and it could spell big profit opportunities.

Research from Parks Associates found that 63% of security system owners plan to purchase a smart home device over the next 12 months. Residential security integrators are already seen as the technology expert to homeowners, so they are uniquely positioned to provide guidance on those new purchases.

Networking Products Lead the Way

What categories are going to lead the way in 2021? According to the PowerHouse Alliance whitepaper data, 61% named networking
as the top technology to impact the industry in 2021, with 5G and 8K displays tied for second place.

Many of the predicted popular products for 2021 will be installed in home offices, living rooms, and home theaters – but the backbone to any system is the home network, so it is not surprising to see that members predict this category will continue to grow. Security integrators who are not prepared to make home networking part of their portfolio are leaving money on the table; in fact, the survey reported more than 200% growth in networking sales through 2020 – demand obviously bolstered by working, learning, and entertaining from home.

Beyond immediate demand due to the pandemic, the number of devices sitting on a given home network has proliferated from smart watches to tablets to streaming devices like Roku, as well as phones and laptops, as well as security devices like video surveillance cameras. When homeowners count the number of devices on the home network, the number will be shocking, and a home network can only accommodate so many devices before connectivity begins to suffer.

With a quality network in place, homeowners will not have to worry about their favorite Netflix series buffering, leading the way for higher quality content on displays that are stretching to 8K and beyond.

Throughout the past year, we have seen an uptick in the desire to make home upgrades, and it is a desire that is easy for residential security integrators to capitalize on – especially through networking systems. With so many people quarantining at home, it was no wonder that 76% of vendors and members surveyed cite TV/displays as the top-selling category at the end of 2020, and that they would remain at the top as we enter Q1 and Q2 2021.

Displays are an area of the technology market that is seeing near constant improvement – recent developments include massive advancements to resolution. A few years ago, a 60-inch 4K display may have been wildly out of budget, but as 8K and better options become available, incredibly high-quality 4K options become obtainable at a much lower price point – driving up demand even further.

Homeowners are expanding these entertainment systems beyond their homes and into the backyard, meaning again they will need more robust networking systems. Outdoor technology systems have been on the rise in recent years, and they took off during the spring of 2020, as homeowners sought alternatives to their regular exercise routines and social activities. From audio systems to lighting and even outdoor displays built to withstand the elements, there are plenty of options to suggest to homeowners to make their backyard the neighborhood destination.

If integrators are not prepared to begin specifying networking projects today, there are plenty of online training options available through CEDIA and many manufacturers that will help them get up to speed on configuring and deploying a robust home network.

Capitalizing on this security and smart home convergence is the play for security pros in 2021. From entertainment systems to networking and outdoor technology, integrators can scratch the surface of the many ways they can be the de-facto technology pro for their clients.

Dennis Holzer is Executive Director of the PowerHouse Alliance, a national consortium of regional wholesale distributors. To request more info about Powerhouse, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/12084590.