Thanks to the introduction of mobile apps, cloud computing and the HomeKit and Nest platforms, home automation has secured a stronger foothold in mainstream home-building.
With consumer awareness on the up and up, traditional custom installers and their builder partners are enjoying a larger share of the pie.
“In the DIY market, homeowners have been willing to buy products around security, whole-house music and energy management,” said Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research. “This has opened the market up for the custom builders and the CEDIA installers as the market has grown.”
ABI reports that last year, sales of wireless embedded smart home monitoring devices, including contact and motion sensors, smart thermostats and smart plugs, grew to 17.2 million, almost double the shipments of the year before.
Builders are catching on. Earlier this year, leading home builder Toll Brothers signed an agreement with home automation company Control 4 to let home buyers choose from a series of preconfigured options in their homes. The packages feature high-performance automation controllers, intelligent lighting, thermostats, smart locks, multiroom audio/video and accessibility to smartphones and tablets.
Home control has been available on Apple and Android devices for several years, but now the technology has improved to the point where longtime industry players can deliver it in much more affordable packages.
One good example is Crestron’s home automation app Pyng, which offers control over lights and dimmers, locks, shades and a thermostat in a tablet app.
Delia Hansen, solutions manager for residential control systems at Crestron, says packages for one or two rooms of lights, shades and climate control range from $5,000 to $10,000.
Along with more mobile apps for smart-phones and tablets, the home automation market has also seen players offer cloud-based home control systems.
Itai Ben-Gal, CEO and co-founder of On Controls, said his company takes the cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) technologies pioneered by Amazon Web Services and Google and brings them to home automation.
Steve Zurier is a freelance technology writer based in Columbia, Maryland.
Products take a bow at PDIS
The ProDealer Industry Summit is the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association’s annual Super Bowl — a national event combining advocacy, networking and education. If you’re in the business of moving building products, this is the conference for you — by definition, and by design.
[Full disclosure: The Summit is co-hosted by the NLBMDA and Home Channel News. Supplemental disclosure: The 2015 Summit is slated for Oct. 28-30 at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.]
In San Diego, top-level executives came face-to-face with suppliers and peers and more than a few building materials. Here are some of the new and time-tested product highlights from the Golden State event.
1. USG Geometrix 3-Dimensional Metal Ceiling Panels
USG broke the fourth wall of ceiling panels by creating the Geometrix collection, a line of panels one can play with to achieve a custom 3-D look using varying angles and dimensions. (usg.com)
2. CertainTeed Restoration Millwork
CertainTeed chalks one up for uniformity with Restoration Millwork, a cellular PVC trim that promises consistency in ways that wood can’t. Beyond being a hardier alternative, it’s also more wallet- and maintenance-friendly. (certainteed.com)
3. LP TopNotch Sub-Flooring
Chalking up another one for team moisture-resistance is LP’s TopNotch Sub-Flooring, built for strength anddryness via LP’s RainChannel notch system, which helps prevent moisture absorption and edge swell. (lpcorp.com)
4. Boise VERSA-LAM Beams & Headers
Boise Cascade brings defensive design to the table in the form of its VERSA-LAM line, a collection of laminated veneer beams and headers that feature no camber — and therefore no top or bottom side — for flatter, quieter floors. (bc.com)
5. Owens Corning Devonshire Shingles
For a slate look without the cost, Owens Corning has developed the Devonshire collection, a cost-effective slate alternative with low-maintenance upkeep. (owenscorning.com)
6. Style Crest HOMEX Siding
HOMEX isn’t your typical suburban vinyl siding prototype. Its many style-conscious design profiles run the gamut from coastal, vertically oriented siding to riffs on log cabin exteriors. (stylecrestinc.com)
7. Metrie Fashion Forward Collection
Metrie has solidified a reputation for delivering style-conscious molding products, at the height of which is its Fashion Forward Collection, a series of doors, moldings and other trim products featuring exaggerated curves. (metrie.com)
8. Simpson Strong-Tie Strong Frame Moment Frame
Simpson Strong-Tie has given builders a reason to forgo site-built moment frames. The Strong Frame is not only less work to install — it can also be repaired in the wake of an earthquake and eliminates the need for welding thanks to its bolted connections. (strongtie.com)
9. Masonite Mondrian Patio Glass
From Masonite’s Belleville line comes the Mondrian collection, a series of modernist glass designs built with a light ceramic coating and Masonite’s SpectraWeld technology. (masonite.com)
10. Weyerhaeuser Parallam PSL Beams
Having been engineered to support heavy loads across long distances, Parallam’s main selling point is its robust strength. It’s also not so bad on the eyes, either, as it can be used in exposed applications. (woodbywy.com)
11. NyloBoard NyloSheet
You saw NyloBoard and NyloDeck. Now, get acquainted with NyloSheet, a composite building panel that’s moisture-resistant and made of the same 100% recycled carpet fiber material. (nyloboard.com)
12. Roxul Comfortboard
Roxul Comfortboard sets the bar high for its mineral wool insulation, which can resist fire and water in addition to absorbing sound. (roxul.com)
13. Therma-Tru Fiber-Classic Hinged Patio Doors
Therma-Tru broke some ground in the industry with the release of this pioneering fiberglass hinged patio door, effectively setting the standard for the creation of its successors, according to the company. (thermatru.com)
14. Johns Manville Corbond MCS Spray Foam
Johns Manville steps in where moisture-resistance counts most with its Corbond Multi-Climate Solution (MCS) Spray Foam, which boasts a maximum lift thickness of 2 inches per pass. (jm.com)
At Ace event, a Shark Tank reunion
ORLANDO, FLORIDA — They swam with the sharks and lived to tell about it.
Ten contestants from the hit TV show “Shark Tank” gathered here at the Ace Hardware convention’s New Vendor Market area, bringing their hot products seen by 7 million weekly viewers.
“The traffic is coming to us,” said Marc Newburger, one of the inventors of the Stop Drop gap filler for cars, a foam tube that blocks objects from falling into the cracks of your car seat. “Everyone of these guys is a master marketer,” he added, referring to the “Shark Tank” alumni in the crowded aisle.
“The retailers are giving us star status,” said the Wall Doctor himself, Jim Lewis, maker of a drywall repair kit called Wall Rx. “I don’t deserve it, but they’re giving it to us. If this is as successful as what we’re seeing today, I’m sure we’ll be back.”
The Shark Tank show of force was arranged by Lori Greiner, the celebrity investor with a reputed golden touch for developing home improvement products. It was the first such gathering of the “Shark Tank” stars.
Byron Young is a “Shark Tank” star who almost gave up because the lines were too long at the casting call. Luckily, a show producer overheard him describing his CordaRoy Sleeper, a chair-to-bed transformer, and whisked Young to the front of the line.
“This is our first show,” he said. “It’s really cool for us, because we’re all together and we get to share stories.“