BY CLAIRE SWEDBERG FOCUS | ON THE MARKET
A FEW DECADES AGO, the term “smart home” was regarded as science fiction and used to describe
automation that few homes actually used. However, with the advent of the Internet of Things (Io T), the smart home is
emerging for a consumer base that always has smartphones in hand and high expectations in mind.
Home Io T deployments are still measured and tend to occur in high-value
homes. While middle-class homeowners have yet to fully embrace it, the
market is poised for contractors to pick up the emerging technologies and
Neil Strother, Navigant Research’s energy practice principal research
analyst, said Io T hasn’t made its way out of the hype phase. He said it is
hard to predict which new technologies will have legs. Energy management
is a dependable driver, but the problem is the lack of standard solutions.
“A lot of specific, siloed industries are starting,” Strother said.
Doors, for instance, could tie into energy management. If a security
system were to detect that a front door were open, it could alert the home-
owner and adjust the thermostat to save energy until the door is closed.
“Higher end homes are starting to see [technology] convergence in
early stages,” Strother said.
But these early stages are expected to lead to mature solutions. According
to Navigant, global revenue attributed to residential Io T devices is expected
to grow from $7.3 billion this year to $67.7 billion in 2025.
An international study anticipated similar trends. Global revenues from
smart-home-automation systems will grow at 21 percent between 2015
and 2020, according to ABI Research. Followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific,
North America will account for the bulk of the smart-home-automation
system sales in 2020, representing 46 percent of all revenues.
Wireless technologies from Bosch Security, Honeywell and United Tech-
nologies are dominating. However, at the forefront of more universal home
automation are some corporate giants—Google, which has owned the
Nest brand since 2014, and a more recent response, the Apple Homekit.
Nest Labs began with a smart thermostat and the Nest Protect smoke
and carbon monoxide detector. Homekit is built into Apple’s iOS and in-
tended to enable voice assistant Siri to accomplish such tasks as dimming
lights or raising the thermostat.
Nest’s own term—the “thoughtful home”—indicates the home can
capture and send information, and it can take the next step to modify
operations, such as heating or security systems, based on the data it
collects. The biggest challenge for companies such as Nest is educating
homeowners, builders and contractors about the technology, said Gene
LaNois, Nest professional channel general manager.
In that effort, Nest offers “Pro Events,” which help electrical and other
contractors understand the basics. The intention is to make these contrac-
tors brand representatives for home builders.
Electrical contractor roles blur
In the meantime, the roles of subcontractors are getting hazy, and many
electrical contractors (ECs) face decisions about meeting future needs of
more intelligent homes. Heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC)
could be a contractor’s