Installing security contractors can offer residential customers plug-in modules that can quickly be added to help control electronics, appliances and table lamps.
Today, many security dealers are searching for all-encompassing systems that can expand much further than a standard security panel. For these installers, the home automation system with a security backbone has proven to be the best solution for growth. Dealers can now utilize the experience they have installing security systems to increase their income without a significant education hurdle or an unbearable installation time.
More often, dealers are receiving requests for features not typically seen during a home security install, such as setting interior lights to flash during every emergency, or preventing the air conditioning unit from operating during a fire, slowing the spread of smoke and fire. Most especially, homeowners are requesting the ability to remotely check up on their home and express the desire to adjust as many home settings as possible from their smartphone, regardless of their current location. But that’s not enough. They also want the system to contact them via telephone or email telling them about a water leak, a child arriving home from school, or a glass break sensor going off.
Homeowners are starting to see national commercials and advertisements about home control or home automation, and they’re not entirely sure what it entails. They can, however, easily visualize some of the benefits including increased peace of mind, reduced energy expenses, and increased comfort. Incorporating more technology into a home does not have to be a challenge for security dealers. In fact, with a little training, it can be a boost to their business.
A home automation system can begin with security as its basis, which is a great solution for those already familiar with tucking a standard security panel into a closet and wiring up a security keypad at the main points of entrance/exit. Some automation systems feature built-in UL listed, CP-01 compliant security and fire systems to detect intrusion, smoke and fire, carbon monoxide (CO), water and other hazards.
Other systems allow you to tie into a third-party security system. In addition to automating the house based on time and date, wireless security sensors are used as the eyes and ears of the home to initiate automation functions such as lighting scenes or audio/video changes based on motion, door opening, or alarm.
Adding Wireless to Your Portfolio
One great commercial product that’s now making its way into home installations is the wireless driveway sensor or vehicle detection device. Installers simply hook up a wireless receiver to the automation controller and mount the detection device near the driveway. Now, when a vehicle is detected using earth’s magnetic field, the automation system can automatically activate lighting, video surveillance or an alarm. That automation was simple and required no digging or extreme wire runs.
Another wireless security product that has really taken off within the past few years is the GSM cell backup device. Many installers are already using these in place of a typical phone line for emergency communications with monitoring stations. Other installers are using it as a backup in case something was to disable the regular landline. Regardless, the solution is easy to install and gives the customer additional reassurance that their property is secure.
Security installers are getting their first taste of ZigBee mesh networking thanks to wireless locks manufactured by Schlage, Yale, and Kwikset/Black & Decker. Homeowners now can unlock the front door from their cell phone or iPad, allowing housekeepers or emergency personnel access to the home at their discretion. Automating these locks means that every door can be secured immediately upon arming the alarm or at a certain time of night.
The ZigBee home automation profile establishes a standard approach for wireless products worldwide, eliminating the need for proprietary technology and allowing home automation controllers to easily integrate with third-party products. Home automation profile solutions can take advantage of consistent wireless communication technology which offers unprecedented benefits in operational reliability, control, convenience, and security.
Reliability is enhanced because the components can form a “mesh network” to wirelessly relay signals from one to another, increasing the network range thanks to two-way radio links. Incorporating a ZigBee lock into a home automation project isn’t difficult for installers. The actual lock itself doesn’t require anything special beyond a few AA batteries and connecting it to the system is a breeze. In fact, there are coordinators that automatically search the network and assist with set up and installation of the wireless systems.
Providing Customers Energy Cost-Savings
Many homeowners, especially those in larger or older homes, are searching for ways to save money. The U.S. Department of Energy states that heating and cooling accounts for over 56% of consumption within the home. Water heaters are consuming 14%, appliances and electronics are consuming 15%, and lighting is also consuming 15%. Now that the dealer has successfully installed the ZigBee mesh network for the front door, back door, and garage exit, he can also incorporate energy saving devices just as easily.
Obviously, the installer must focus on attacking the devices consuming the most energy on a daily basis in order to have the best return on investment for the homeowner. Many times, especially in retrofit situations, this means using one device to control the air conditioning compressor and another device to control the water heater.
Focusing on these two devices, as opposed to dozens of light switches and appliances/electronics, will mean reduced installation times yet still provide monitoring and control of 70% or more of the home’s energy consumption. Plug-in modules can quickly be added to help control electronics, appliances and table lamps. Often, ZigBee-enabled light switches can be swapped out to help control the remaining 15% of energy expenditures, if desired.
Depending on regulations and the installer’s ability, he could either install the low-voltage equipment himself or hire a sub-contractor/partner to handle this portion of the installation. The ZigBee energy management products can ensure energy savings in new construction and retrofit, controlling lights, lamps, fans, shades, pumps, and more with an optimum range of 200 feet.