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Of the New Lower-Cost Home Automation Controllers at CEDIA, Elan Takes the Cake

Debuting at CEDIA Expo 2014, turnkey Elan G1 with remote ‘retails’ for $799, packs features like OSD that the other home automation hubs do not.


Elan G1 home automation controller debuts at CEDIA Expo 2014
Julie Jacobson · September 11, 2014

Elan Home Systems has long hit in mid-market for home automation with its G! control platform (and predecessors). The professionally installed system offers a clean interface and a rich platform for integrating lighting controls, energy management, audio, video and all of the other important subsystems in a smart home.

But there is room for Elan to push even further into the mainstream market, and that’s exactly what the company is doing with the new G1 controller, introduced today at CEDIA Expo 2014.

“Getting control into more homes is what we’ve been working at,” says Joe Lautner, director of controls for Core Brands, the Nortek (Nasdaq: NTK) group that includes Elan, SpeakerCraft, Niles, Xantech and other important custom-oriented brands.

Lautner shared with me a confidential chart comparing G1 with its competitors and Elan does come out on top when you consider pricing and feature sets.

The G1 hub, sold only through authorized dealers, “retails” for $799. Among its onboard features that don’t come standard with competitive products is an on-screen display (OSD) for controlling the system through a TV display.

Also, the G1 comes with a “very simple IR remote,” as Lautner calls it, which is sold separately with some competitive products.

Despite its one-way IR communications, the remote does provide “high-level functions” with “special buttons” preprogrammed to do such things as turning all lights off and “getting media turned on in an elegant way,” according to Lautner.

For richer two-way integration, consumers can use iOS or Android devices. Those mobile interfaces can do more than some competitive products, such as controlling an on-screen display.

Elan’s step-up remote, the two-way Wi-Fi HR2, is a “much better remote” than the other guys’, according to Lautner. But that’s not just him talking. Elan dealers would concur.

Beyond these perks, G1 has a “very powerful processor for really crisp response,” Lautner says.

He also notes that Elan’s viewer apps can be used concurrently, so users can have two simultaneous connections. Through additional licenses, customers can enjoy up to 30 simultaneous connections.

ELAN TAKES THE CAKE
Celebrate Elan’s 25-year anniversary at CEDIA Expo with The Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, who will present a custom-made Elan cake for the celebration on Friday, Sept. 12 at the Core Brands booth #350

And one more thing: There’s an audio output for personal music.

The G1 is primarily meant for single-room applications, where lighting, temperature and A/V control are required.

For larger jobs, dealers would use one of Elan’s S-series controllers, the SC2 or SC10, with the G1 serving as a room extender.

Compared to the SC models, the G1allows fewer security partitions, security zones, door locks, lighting loads, thermostats, and IP CCTV streams, but it does include on-board support for an OSD, which the SC controllers do not (feature set below).

What’s Missing and Why

Here is what you won’t get with G1.

First, you won’t get native support for online music services through G1. Why should Elan go there when virtually any attached A/V product already provides it?

Lautner says Elan has “started to leverage cloud content” of third-party receivers, beginning with Yamaha.

“We take cloud sources from the AVR and distribute them throughout the house,” he says. “Enough people already integrate cloud services, why do it ourselves?”

What you also can’t expect from G1 is native Z-Wave (or ZigBee) support. Instead, Elan has partnered with Powerline Control Systems (PCS) to offer powerline-based (UPB) dimmers, appliance modules and other electronic gear. By all accounts, PCS’s technology is rock-solid.

In the future, Elan will enable Z-Wave support through the ZIPR, a Z-Wave-to-IP adapter from sister company Linear.

Some integrators wonder why Elan is putting effort into its own powerline-based lighting products, but Lautner has a reasonable answer to that:

“It helps dealers go in with packages. It helps with builders.”

Lautner says it’s more compelling to approach builders with a full suite of Elan-branded products, rather than a mix of products with dubious integration capabilities.

By having its own lighting and related devices, “we can put some special sauce into the connectivity, which you can’t do with third-party devices,” says Lautner. “Now you can get customers to go all in with you.”

Elan G1 Features

  • Ethernet/PoE
  • Wi-Fi
  • Energy efficient (5W or less)
  • 3 IR outputs
  • 1 IR input
  • 1 bi-directional RS-232 input
  • 1 sensor
  • 1 HDMI output (720p/1080p)
  • 1 MP3 audio stream.
  • 16 zones (1 partition) of security
  • Media control for 1 AVR, 32 displays, unlimited number of Elan zones
  • Lighting controls (24 devices and up to 24 custom g! keypads)
  • Climate (3 thermostats)
  • Video (3 IP cameras)
  • Irrigation (16 groups, 256 zones)
  • IR remote
  • OSD
  • iOS, Android apps
  • Supports unlimited number of Elan attachments
  • MSRP: $700

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JULIE JACOBSON bio/articles: cepro.com/jj
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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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