All systems go for home automation product sales

Marie Parry, Scolmore Group Marketing Director looks at the growing home automation market, what’s driving consumer demand and how wholesalers are in a prime position to educate and advise their customers.

The growth of home automation continues to be driven by the rapid advance in technology which is bringing intelligent automation systems to a growing number of homes and work places, allowing control of everything from lighting to communications and entertainment.

Home automation technology has been available for many years but demand for systems in the UK has until recently been largely limited to luxury homes and specialist projects. However, with declining costs and complexity, plus greater awareness of system benefits, industry experts predict that home automation is set to become one of the fastest growing markets in the UK.

Forecasts indicate that the pace of growth will increase over the next few years as the UK home automation market becomes more established. This can be partly attributed to growing concerns about energy efficiency and the environment and technological developments that will make home automation system products cheaper and easier to use.

No longer the preserve of the rich and famous, the smart home is becoming accessible to us all and consumers are looking to the technology as a means of enhancing their lives. They are looking at how they can add security and energy-saving features to their properties, whilst at the same time bringing a bit of luxury with automatic control.

By intelligent controlling of the lighting and heating throughout a home it is possible to make significant cost and energy savings. For instance central heating systems, rather than heating the whole house, can be split into different zones so that rooms or areas are warmed as and when they are required. In the same way lighting systems can be controlled so that the right light output is delivered when and where it is needed.

Security systems

Security is another important area of concern for consumers. CCTV cameras and alarm systems can now be easily programmed and connected to a smartphone or tablet, with alerts sent to a device if there is an issue, allowing access and viewing of the cameras positioned at the premises, from any location using Wi-Fi or 4G connection.

Door entry systems are also benefitting from the latest technology. Scolmore Group company, ESP, has recently introduced a WiFi door station. It allows you to view and talk to visitors at your home whether you are on the premises or on the other side of the world.

From a smart phone or tablet and using the free ESP app, property owners can easily see who is at the door or gate, engage in two-way communication and allow remote access if desired. The WiFi Door Station comes in a kit form containing everything required for the installer to quickly and simply get the system up and running.

Whilst the evolution of smart home automation will bring significant business opportunities for switched on electrical contractors and wholesalers, there is a reluctance on the part of some installers to fully embrace this new technology as it is deemed too complicated to install and they are therefore unwilling to upsell to customers.

Homeowners may be concerned that they have to go with a system that will require them to cut into plastered walls for cabling. This isn’t always the case. By explaining how they can start small and simple and build up to a more complicated system if required, contractors can reassure people and showcase a range of solutions suitable for different budgets and applications. This is where wholesalers should be seizing the opportunity, by becoming experts in the various home automation products and systems available. There is no shortage of information and training opportunities out there.

The largest sector for home automation is now retro-fit, where wireless security and energy saving features can be added to a home without having to alter their wiring or disrupt the decor. At Scolmore we have stripped our home automation offer right back to basics to offer a simple system that has at its core, accessibility and simplicity, both for the installer and the end user.

Quick and easy

The Click Smart Home Automation range aims to provide a system that makes it easy, quick and relatively inexpensive to adapt and update a home to provide extra security, energy saving, comfort and control for homeowners and other occupants. It is suitable for both refurbishment and new build projects and can be used to update an existing wiring system.

Utilising a range of wireless transmitters and receivers Click Smart can provide a solution from something as simple as switching a light on and off through to complex scene setting and automation. It can offer complete control of the lighting, shutters, blinds, gates, garage doors and appliances – all achievable without the need for additional cabling or cutting into walls. Receivers are simply fitted behind the light fittings or into suitable installation boxes and the transmitters are powered by battery so require no additional power supply.

Once a decision has been made on which features are to be controlled, the system can be installed and up and running in a very short space of time. Switching, dimming, control of shutters, window and door opening can all be quickly and easily set and adjusted. Daily and weekly switching programmes can be set and it is also possible set to simulate occupancy when a house is empty – setting the lights to come on and curtains to close in the evenings, for example – giving total peace of mind.

Simple and flexible installation, significant energy savings and easy programming are the key attributes of the Click Smart system, and the unique one touch centralised control panel means that everything can be easily set and adjusted from this one single control panel. Because of its flexibility it can be easily installed into any property. This makes it a very attractive proposition for electrical installers, who can offer it to their clients as an entry level smart home automation solution, and an easy system for wholesalers to get to grips with and recommend to their customers.

The advance in smart technology will continue to affect the way products are specified, installed, commissioned and maintained. Ultimately this is all good news as it puts electrical contractors in prime position to diversify their offerings and add further revenue streams to their business. Electrical wholesalers too can reap the benefits. By taking advantage of the comprehensive training opportunities that manufacturers are providing, as well as taking part in the seminars and electrical events available, they can become experts in their own right.

Wholesalers should look to have an ambassador for home automation on every counter, to ensure the key messages get out there – that home automation doesn’t have to be overly complicated.