Will DIY Security Overtake Professionally Installed Systems?

Selling professionally monitored security systems direct-to-consumers has been a fruitful business model for many companies.

CES 2015 shed some major light on the future of professionally monitored security and home automation systems: They’re heading to DIY land.

Selling professionally monitored systems direct-to-consumers has been a fruitful business model for many companies such as LifeShield (now owned by DirecTV), FrontPoint and Protect America. Customers configure their systems online, and the dealer ships out a pre-programmed solution for self-installation. The dealer enjoys the recurring revenue with nary a truck roll.

At CES, we saw several pro-oriented companies come out with new products at the show that could fit this model well. Also new business models for security monitoring were revealed.

From Pro to DIY Security & Home Automation

Let’s start with Honeywell. The company rolled out its Lyric brand of DIY smart thermostats last year and just shored up the line at CES with a complete security and home automation system that has the look and feel of retail. While Honeywell didn’t come out and say it was positioned for the do-it-yourselfer, it would certainly make sense for that market.

ADT also showed a more installer-friendly (user-friendly) solution for its Pulse system, powered by Icontrol. In the past, the system comprised three separate pieces including a standalone full-featured security panel, a hub and a bridge for keypads and other security devices. The new Total Security system has all of the security, Z-Wave automation and Internet connectivity in one handy panel.

The company stopped short of saying it would offer the system to customers for sell-installation, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to surmise that model. It’s so easy to install, in fact, that sensors come pre-labeled and barcoded. This door contact, seen at the booth, was labeled “Back Dr.”

Interlogix, owned by United Technologies Corp. (UTC), shared a booth at CES with sister companies Kidde and Carrier. Interlogix highlighted the low-cost (no touchscreen) ZeroWire self-contained system with Z-Wave, IP and cellular communications inside. Carrier demonstrated the new Cor Wi-Fi smart learning thermostat that is apparently smarter than the rest because it monitors how your home heats and cools so it knows just what time to kick on the system before you get home from work. It is out-of-the-box compatible with ZeroWire and will have an open API.

Also at the UTC booth, Kidde showcased a new $100 RemoteLync device that monitors dumb smoke and CO detectors by listening for their standard frequencies and pinging the homeowner with alerts. There were roughly a dozen of these listening devices at CES, including First Alert, which showcased a new OneLink platform including a similar listening device and a complete home automation/security system.

Finally, Nortek Security & Control (formerly Linear), which makes the 2Gig GoControl system for professional installation (mostly), shared its booth with Nortek partners including Elan Home Systems and Broan, among others. The company launched a new line of consumer devices under the GoControl brand, including four thermostats and some sensors. The new GC3 panel, expected to launch in the first half of the year, has two-way IP communications. As such, it could be integrated with third-party control systems, like Elan’s G product line.

From DIY to Pro

While these pro-oriented companies are going decidedly down-market. Vera by MiOS is going upscale with its DIY-friendly automation systems. The new Vera Secure kit has everything you would want in a professional security system, including a 24-hour backup battery, but not the UL certification. Professional monitoring will cost less than most and there are no contracts required.

Speaking of no contract, Swann, the maker of all those products you find when you Google CCTV, is launching the SwannOne security/home automation system, featuring a central monitoring service the customer can turn on and off at their whim, for example, paying only when they travel. Swann also has one of those smoke-alarm listeners (and Belkin Wemo and several others).

SecureNet, a SHaaS (smart home as a service) provider showed a similar device, bundling it with a water sensor, freeze detector and IP hub for a new system called GuruAlert. The simple solution will be DIY-installed and professionally monitored for a fairly low cost. The hope is to target insurance companies with the kit and provide an upgrade path for a full Helix security and control system from Resolution Products.

About the Author

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Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration.

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