Savant Taps Internet of Things for Mainstream Lighting Control and Home Automation
Known for high-end Apple-based home automation systems, Savant is releasing standalone SmartLighting Wi-Fi switches and keypads employing the Internet of Things for iOS devices.
Unlike other devices in the Savant ecosystem, these multipurpose dimmers and switches need not be integrated into a complete (pricey) Savant system. Users (via professional installers) can simply swap out their dimmers and switches, replace them with one- to six-button Wi-Fi keypads, and launch the free SavantLighting App.
The product line includes both one- and two-gang keypads, retailing for $215 and $430, respectively, including factory engraving.
“Count the number of loads you want to control, multiply by $215, and you’re off to the races,” says Tim McInerney, director of product marketing for Savant.
The double-gangs feature their own on-board processors so they can serve as a system-wide control hub. As long as you have one of them in a system, you don’t need some other central processor (a “host” in Savant parlance) to link together a wide range of devices controlled by multiple keypads – lights, motorized shades, fireplaces and anything else that can be dimmed or switched.
These devices can then be incorporated into scenes via the SavantLighting app. For example, you can trigger a ROMANCE scene that dims the lights and turns on the electronic fireplace. Or you launch a LATE-NIGHT-MUNCHIE scene that lights up a pathway from the bedroom to the kitchen.
Keypad buttons are engraved by the factory.
To get the full Savant experience – two-way monitoring and control of audio, video, lighting, thermostats, security and the like—you’ll still need a host controller, but you can always start with a few keypads now and upgrade to the whole shebang later.
Scenes can be created using multiple keypads, as long as one of them is a two-gang model. No Savant Host controller is required. Interactivity is provided through the free SavantLighting iOS app. Android may not be far behind.
So without a full-blown Savant system, how do you commission SmartLighting into the network and the home automation system?
Not a problem. Just plug one of Savant’s SmartConnect cables into a MicroUSB port on the switch, located just behind the faceplate.
“Plug the cable into an iPad and it basically becomes the screen for that keypad,” says McInerney,
From there, integrators can enroll the devices into the system, select the network, configure static or dynamic IP addresses, and perform other networking tasks.
“That’s always been a problem with Wi-Fi,” McInerney notes.
As a bonus, the two-gang controllers feature built-in wireless access points to create ad-hoc networks where existing networks don’t reach.
McInerney suggests, for example, a conference room or cabana removed from the main network might be good candidates for local control.
And here’s another goodie: The keypads deliver real-time energy-usage data, so users can track energy consumption (and savings) and change their lighting behaviors to maximize efficiency.
Not DIY ... Yet
At launch in October of this year, the SmartLighting Wi-Fi products will be sold only through authorized Savant dealers.
Later, however, distribution could be opened to other channels, especially ones already served by LiteTouch, the lighting control company acquired from Nortek in 20012.
And McInerney does not deny that the product could have DIY implications at some point.
Currently, though, the system is not even configurable by anyone but the installer. Pro-only LiteWare software is required for programming.
Even so, the launch of a more mainstream product is a sea change for the elite Savant brand – as big a change as it would be for the company to launch an Android-friendly product. Oh yeah, we should see that soon, as well.
Savant’s two-gang SmartLighting Wi-Fi keypads/dimmers include processors that eliminate the need for external controllers. These units can be combined with any other SmartLighting keypads/dimmers to create scenes such as “Good Night” that might turn off all of the lights in the home except for the bathrooms, turn off the fireplace and drop the motorized shades.
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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. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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