The Benefits of Whole Home Control & How to Profit Off Them

With the 3G sunset quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to give your customer’s home controls interface a makeover. Find out what the latest control panels have to offer and more.

The Benefits of Whole Home Control & How to Profit Off Them

Today’s consumers want the latest and greatest convenience technologies in their homes. Integrators want technology they can install easily and efficiently. Fortunately for both parties, today’s home controls are feature-packed and installation-friendly.

In the past, security control panels and sensors were ugly plastic boxes that required cable to be pulled and holes to be drilled. Today, security solutions manufacturers are taking design cues from companies like Apple and creating sleek, modern-looking wireless control panels that are attractive, but unobtrusive.

Features such as “photo gallery” modes make it even less obvious you are staring at a control panel. But don’t be mistaken — just because these panels are pretty doesn’t mean they can’t get down and dirty when it comes to security and automation functions.

Below, we’ll take a look at what the latest and greatest user interfaces for today’s smart home have to offer, including user features, security and automation functions, ease of installation and more.

Bringing Together the Smart Home

As smart home devices become more and more popular, security integrators must expand their offerings to include such products. Security solutions are valuable, but home automation can help open up a whole new avenue for dealers. Fortunately, the latest control panels can handle both security and home automation functions.

Nortek Security & Control Vice President of Product Marketing, Quinto Petrucci, says his customers purchase a 2GIG smart home security system for its reliable sensors and controller that alert them of break-ins and fire or CO2 alarms — but it’s the home automation features that really add value to the system.

“Of course, the first priority in a security system is to give peace-of-mind. However, what really cements consumer loyalty in our systems is the additional automation features we provide — the capability to adjust their lights and thermostat anytime, anywhere,” explains Petrucci. “So, if at midnight a customer’s garage door is still open, offering that connected home automation allows them to close the garage door as well as lock their doors. Not only does this give a person security peace-of-mind, but also an enhanced sense of comfort and convenience.”

The 2GIG eSeries, the company’s latest security and control ecosystem, includes the GC2e and GC3e panels. Compatible encrypted 2GIG sensors include the standard door/window sensor, motion sensor, glass break sensor, key fob sensor and recessed D/W sensor.

The two panels also support all traditional 2GIG sensors and other legacy 345MHz sensors for system upgrades. The GC2e panel includes a 5-inch capacitive touchscreen, while the GC3e features a 7-inch touchscreen. Both panels have two-way audio and front-firing speakers.

Additionally, the GC3e panel exclusively includes the 2GIG Smart Areas feature, enabling security partitioning to set up independently protected areas in the home.

Many end users may desire new smart home products or already own multiple devices from different manufacturers. While they can remotely control or schedule their devices through the devices’ respective apps, control panels offer the convenience of being able to do those actions in a single place.

“There are a lot of consumers out there who are experiencing app fatigue. I’ve got an app for my smart lightbulb, I have an app for my smart thermostat, I’ve got an app for my security system and an app for another thing. You know, we believe that putting it all into one unit, one ecosystem, one app, one panel, lends itself to a far superior home security and smart home experience. Right from the same touchscreen panel,” says Jeremy McLerran, senior director, global security & smart product marketing at Qolsys.

The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus has seven different wireless radios built in, allowing it to tie together multiple ecosystems. It supports Dual SRF featuring PowerG’s range, remote programming and encryption with a radio compatible with Qolsys S-Line encrypted sensors and other legacy sensors that utilize the 319.5MHz protocol.

Features include an install wizard, live view, the ability to view Alarm.com video cameras on the screen and live answer, giving end users the ability to answer their SkyBell Video Doorbell from the IQ Panel’s interface inside the home. A built-in 5MP camera can take pictures of whoever enters a disarm code and send it as an alert to the user.

Qolsys looks at control panels from a software perspective rather than a hardware perspective, allowing it to release major software updates several times a year with new features.

Create Value to Create RMR

All of the smart home services a customer desires can quickly add up to potential recurring monthly revenue (RMR). However, it is important to demonstrate how those services can offer value. They need to do more than be able to turn their lights on or off from across the country.

“Consumers only have so much disposable income and they need to see value in every dollar they spend. This also applies to their perceived value in a monthly subscription. Even if they live in a neighborhood where they feel safe, they still want to protect their home, their property and their pets. But, if a monthly subscription can deliver other value or solve a problem such as monitoring a smoke or fire alarm or provide flood detection, then I believe a consumer will feel these extra things are worth the money and gladly pay for a monthly subscription,” says Petrucci.

Another path to smart home RMR is offering support services. Not everyone is technically adept, even if they hate to admit it. DMP lets dealers customize the interface of its touch-screen controllers and Virtual Keypad app. This gives the solutions a custom feel and allows the dealer to truly act as a service provider.

DMP’s Virtual Keypad app gives users the ability to control everything from their security system to their thermostat and lights.

“Now the dealer can go and log in and we have what we call a concierge mode, and use the system as an end user so they can log in and walk [the customer] through some training, or set the system up for them if the customer or the end user wants to pay for that or that’s the type of service that you want to offer. We have that all built in so the dealer can administer everything fairly easily and quickly and do everything the consumer wants,” explains Mark Hillenburg, executive director of marketing for DMP.

DMP’s all-in-one XTLtouch wireless control panel comes standard with 99 zones of DMP’s 900MHz two-way wireless, LTE and WiFi communication, built-in Z-Wave support for up to 140 Z-Wave Plus devices and remote control via DMP’s Virtual Keypad app or VirtualKeypad.com.

The Virtual Keypad app acts as an extension of DMP’s control panels and adds even more functionality for dealers and end users. For example, integrations with video surveillance providers such as Digital Watchdog and Ring make it possible for users to pull up live video feeds on their smartphones or Internet browser regardless of their location.

Ease of Installation

Integrators know that when it comes to doing a job, time is money. Short installations mean techs will spend less time turning screws and more time interacting with customers and building relationships. Today’s control panels are easier than ever to get up and running.

“I’ve seen installs happen as quick as 11 minutes where literally you’re pulling the panel out of the box, plugging in the power, plugging into the wall … then they’ll walk around and using the onscreen wizard will open and close the door. The panel automatically detects it, recognizes it as a door and you can give it a custom name. You hit save and go on to the next one,” says McLerran.

With the industry approaching the 3G sunset, upgrading panels to LTE is a top priority. Many control panels contain multiple radios, ensuring for an easy system upgrade or takeover. Honeywell’s Tuxedo control panel will be receiving a refresh this month, featuring an improved user interface, higher screen resolution and additional features.

“This touchscreen can be added to these systems by taking the old keypad off and putting this one in. It’s the same four-wire connector and you don’t have to change a thing, which really makes it simple for the dealer,” says Resideo Senior Channel Marketing Manager George Janelis. “Think about a dealer that has to go replace a 3G radio. Rather than make it a cost-center, they can make it profitable and go to the customer … and upgrade that radio to an LTE communicator, now they can also change that keypad to a new touchscreen and now provide all the home controls features that people are looking for. And that will probably increase the longevity of that customer, maybe keep them more sticky so you’re lowering attrition.”

Whether it’s to improve installation time or offer customers more value, there’s no shortage of feature-packed control panels out there to upgrade to. By harnessing the power of smart home devices, you can use these panels to combine security and home automation into a unified ecosystem and enjoy recurring revenue while your customers enjoy a more convenient lifestyle.

About the Author

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Steven A. Karantzoulidis is the Web Editor for Security Sales & Integration. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Communication and has a background in Film, A/V and Social Media.

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