Smart Homes: Experts Predict a Blend of DIY Products and Professionally Installed Systems – Electronic House

Twice a year the Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA), a national association of specialty retailers and home systems integrators, holds a conference for its members. During its Fall conference held recently in Chicago, members expressed excitement over several key developments in the industry and shared insights on how the smart home market is evolving to become an even greater asset to consumers who are building or renovating their homes. Also discussed were the types of products and services that have and will become essential to offer their customers—in other words, you, Mr. or Mrs. Homeowner.

Systems for Smaller Homes

Baby boomers are embracing retirement by selling their large family homes and moving into smaller condominiums, townhomes, and apartment dwellings. You can expect both manufacturers of home systems and the professionals who install these systems to offer solutions that are sized (and priced) just right for homes of modest square footage. Downsizing often involves moving into a dwelling that has already been built, so finding an integrator who specializes in retrofit installations will be important. This shouldn’t be too difficult, as professional integrators are recognizing the market shift. “Some of our best jobs have been retrofits,” said Navot Shoresh from Spire Integrated Systems, of Troy, Mich. “It’s something we enjoy doing and will continue to focus on.”

Voice Control on Steroids

In most cases, retrofit projects are best served by systems that can be integrated into a home without the addition of new wiring. Revered for their ease of installation, wireless systems are becoming the go-to solution of integrators and homeowners. Manufacturers, too, are continuing to enhance the functionality of their wireless offerings; one of the biggest game-changers could be wireless products and systems that can be operated via voice commands. “Voice control is already bringing awareness to the smart home market in the short term; it will be a shaping influence in the long term,” said Bryce Judd, senior vice president of sales at Control4.

There are already scads of voice-controllable product on the market, and these are largely designed for installation by a do-it-yourselfer, but you’ll also be able to hire a home systems integrator to set up a more comprehensive whole-house system, and this is when you’ll start to see voice control become an even more natural and fluid way to interact with smart devices in your home. Instead of having to address each product individually, a simple “I’m home” command will be able to adjust multiple devices at once. This will require the programming skills of a trained home systems integrator, but for many homeowners will be the golden ticket to voice control.

The Birth of the “Do It With Me” Homeowner

This all begs the question: Should you install smart home products yourself or hire a professional? For some homeowners it may be tough to decide how to handle the job, so why not choose both approaches? Doing some of the work yourself and hiring a professional to put the finishing touches on it is a tactic that has given life to a new demographic of smart home enthusiasts called the “Do It With Me” market.  It’s a great option for people who feel confident setting up a basic system, but later might want to enhance its functionality but aren’t sure how do it on their own.

A blend between “Do it Yourself (DIY)” and “Do It For Me,” the “Do It With Me” market will likely incite professional integrators to offer helpful “enhancement” services to this new breed of smart home consumer. “Post-installation service will become the biggest component of our marketing and business livelihood,” commented Franklin Karp, from Audio Video Systems, of Plainview, N.Y. “We are moving away from the business of selling hardware to one of selling service,” added Tim McInerney, director of product management at Savant.

Popularity of Post-Installation Services

Monitoring contracts will likely become popular offering from home systems integrators, including contracts that will help maintain the integrity of your home’s Internet service—increasingly important as more and more IoT (Internet of Things) devices continue to populate homes. If there’s a problem with a device linking to the Internet, your home systems integrator will know it (maybe even before you realize it). Using special monitoring technology, he will be able to analyze the problem and possibly fix the problem remotely (again, all before you know there’s a problem). Joey Kolchinsky, from OneVison Resources shared the various levels of post-installation service his company offers to its clients—everything from free to around $200 a month. It’s something you should request of your home systems integrator.

Home Systems Integrators—In Tune With Your Needs

It’s clear that home systems integrators are committed to not only keeping up with changes in technology, but also changes in the consumer marketplace. They continue to refine their business models to meet the new demands and expectations of an increasingly tech-savvy consumer. Whether it’s interesting applications of voice control or a comprehensive post-installation service plan … or maybe a willingness to partner with you on your own home improvement projects, the home systems integrator remains an important piece of the smart home puzzle.

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