Tech Talk: It’s Time to Ride Z-Wave

After many years, promises and false starts, the lofty vision of home automation technology is coming to fruition. Although it has gotten to where automation is almost a bad word, often replaced with controls, there are a number of newer technologies and associated products opening up exciting opportunities for security contractors willing to give it a go.

<p>InControl home automation software can be downloaded online to achieve capabilities that include: controlling lights and other Z-Wave devices from an Android or iPhone, setting up scenes, programming events, and more.</p>Tech Talk Tool Tip

Want to get your feet wet with controlling Z-Wave devices at little cost? I have selected the InControl FREE mobile Z-Wave Controller App. The InControl Console is an application that runs on your PC. It allows you to use your iPhone and Android application to control Z-Wave devices from anywhere with Internet access. You will need to get the ThinkStick Z-Wave USB adapter and ThinkEssentials software to make this app configuration work. Read further in the ControlThink forums at


Study Identifies Energy Management Market Challenges

In an effort to better understand the challenges of residential automated home energy management (AHEM), the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Building America AHEM Strategical Technical Committee conducted a trade survey (see table) and put together its Strategic Plan, v22011c February 2012. The survey collectively identified barriers to achieving widespread energy savings (see the full report at The organization thusly addressed the four top ranked barriers:

 1. Energy savings / ROI insufficiently quantified — People can use AHEM to reduce energy consumption and costs, but need reasonably predictable energy cost savings to make a cost-benefit calculation. For many AHEM product classes, rigorous studies of their energy savings potential are lacking.

 2. Lack of consumer awareness and interest in AHEM systems — Most consumers are not aware AHEM systems exist, and even fewer people are aware of the full range of products available. The relatively immature state of the AHEM market and relatively common “vaporware” create market confusion for interested consumers.

 3. Low interest in managing energy use — A large portion of households have a very limited interest in managing their energy costs, even if they like the idea of reducing energy use. AHEM technology that provides relevant, personalized and actionable information can help bridge this gap.

 4. Complexity of AHEM use and deployment — The complexity of AHEM systems and/or their installation and use impedes their acceptance and effective use by consumers due to: 1) deployment complexity; 2) complexity of use; and 3) complexity of information presented.

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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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