Lutron Enters Cloud with Home Control+ App
New Lutron Home Control+ app allows integrators to create a secure cloud-based home control solution without the time and cost of setting up a VPN.
Jason Knott · March 5, 2013
Lutron Electronics has launched a new remote access cloud-based home control system that enables integrators to deliver two-way automation without having to learn and spend time setting up a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN).
The system, dubbed Lutron Home Control+, also eliminates the need for expensive routers and servers while giving end users the ability to control and monitor shades, lights, HVAC, energy and appliances for an annual fee of $59.95.
The Home Control+ app creates a secure connection for the end user to the cloud. It allows the homeowner to not only remotely adjust scenes and control shades, thermostat and lights, but also monitor the home. For instance, if a light is turned on or off in the home, there is an indication on the interface.
“Consumers want app-driven solutions and they expect to have remote control. Cloud-based solutions are only in their infancy, but will continue to grow,” says Chris Sobolewski, product manager for RadioRa2 and HomeWorks QS. “It’s been a long time coming and an uphill battle to get affordable intelligent home control. Apps are bringing home automation to the mainstream because end users are so comfortable with them.”
For the dealer, the upgrade is simple for new and existing clients. In a new install, the integrator does standard programming for RadioRa2 or HomeWorks QS, enabling the systems to use the app on Wi-Fi in the home. When the homeowner connects for the first time, he or she is asked to enable remote access, plugs in an email and password, and presses “OK.”
For existing systems, the integrator needs to update the client’s software to the latest version of RadioRa2 (6.0) or HomeWorks QS (5.0) and then advise the customer to download the latest version of the app from either iTunes or the Android store. The app scales based on the job from a simple RadioRa2 system with just a few devices all the way up to a large HomeWorks QS system with 10,000 devices, according to Sobolewski.
Reduces Time, Cost and Requisite Technical Expertise
Sobolewski says the new app will aid dealers on three fronts: knowledge, time and cost.
“Not every dealer has the knowledge base to be able to set up a VPN. It takes a lot of training and understanding. For some integrators, it can take a few hours of work to set up a secure VPN. Also, there is no need for a commercial grade router that can cost $200 to $1,000. And there is no special DNS server necessary. Instead, it literally takes just a few minutes and the press of a few buttons,” he notes.
Why will consumers want to download the app? “The need for some apps is obscure, but people ‘get it’ when it comes to controlling your HVAC, lights, shades and energy remotely,” notes Sobolewski.
Because the system is cloud-based, there are costs associated. Just as clients are becoming more accustomed to paying $30/year for iCloud storage from Apple, Lutron’s Home Control+ requires an annual $59.99 fee from each client, in addition to the one-time $20 charge to download the app. Lutron is offering a free trial of the app until Sept. 30, 2013. After a year, the customer will be directly notified for renewal.
Because the costs are transparent and it is a direct transaction with the client, there is no opportunity for CE pros to mark up that annual fee to create a recurring revenue source, according to Sobolewski. However, dealers with technophobe clients will likely download Home Control+ for those customers and charge them.
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Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org
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