Control & Automation

CE Pro 100 Top 5 Home Automation Brands: Control4 is #1 For First Time

Evaluating the CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis for home automation: For the first time ever, Control4 barely beats Crestron; Nortek’s Elan makes comeback; Savant dips.


CE Pro 100 Top 5 Home Automation Brands: Control4 is #1 For First Time
Control4 barely edges out Crestron this year in the Top 5 home automation brands among CE Pro 100 dealers. Download the 2015 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis here
Julie Jacobson · June 2, 2015

Control4 (Nasdaq: CTRL) is now the top home automation provider for CE Pro 100 dealers – the nation’s largest designers and installers of smart-home systems, including audio, video, lighting controls, whole-house controls, security systems, motorized shades and other electronic devices.

Released today, the 2015 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis (covering the 2014 calendar year) indicates 63% of leading home systems integrators use Control4 for automation, compared to 61% who use Crestron. (Figures exceed 100% because integrators could name up to three vendors).

Last year, Crestron claimed 59% of leading CE Pros and Control4 claimed 50%.

Savant, the newest player to hit the CE Pro charts landed 46% and 43% of CE Pro 100 dealers in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Elan Home Systems is back in the game, with 18% of CE Pro 100 dealers indicating they use the brand, which is the flagship home control system for Nortek’s Core Brands of audio, video and control solutions.

Elan had dropped out of the top 5 last year, bested by URC, which claimed 9% of CE Pro 100 dealers as customers for its Total Control line of whole-house systems. (URC did take the top slot for universal remotes this year, with a 68% share, beating Control4 by 32 percentage points.)

AMX, which was acquired by Harman in 2014, rounds out the top 5 this year, with 13% mindshare. Even though AMX focuses primarily on commercial markets, the 33-year-old company continues to enjoy a strong legacy in the residential channel.

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Below is the complete list of 2015 CE Pro 100 home automation vendors:

Control4: 63%
Crestron: 61
Savant: 43
Elan: 18
AMX: 13
URC: 10
RTI: 10
Lutron: 6
Leviton Security & Automation (HAI): 5
2Gig by Nortek Security & Control: 3
Alarm.com: 1
Qolsys: 1
ProControl: 1
Vantage: 1

Do These Numbers Really Matter?

There are some 15,000 home systems integration companies out there. This Brand Analysis covers only 100 of them. Granted, as the top movers in the industry, these dealers are influential, and their product selections do make a statement across the entire population of dealers.

Ultimately, the CE Pro 100 is simply a nice barometer for the industry: which manufacturers seem to be gaining steam, which appear to be losing ground and which may be showing some promise. For those outside of the home systems integration business, the analysis provides a solid framework for understanding who the key vendors are in this channel.

With that in mind, here are some caveats about the CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis:

  1. Dealers were allowed to select up to three preferred brands in each category, in no particular order. Their selections were not weighted, so a company could be using one brand for 90% of their jobs, and other brands for the remaining 10%. Or they could be splitting their business 50/50.
  2. The 2015 survey was completed in March 2015, with information concerning the 2014 calendar year. It is quite possible that some dealers who brought on new vendors this year included them among their top three brands. Likewise, dealers who parted ways with certain vendors this year might have excluded those manufacturers from their 2014 brand preferences.
  3. We have not cross-tabulated the brands by volume of installations. For example, #2 in the CE Pro 100 list, Vivint, installed 143,000 systems in 2014, most of them 2Gig by Nortek Security & Control. But 2Gig gets only one “point” for that – the same number of points given to Savant and Crestron each for #84, Twilight Solutions, which performs only 30 installations per year. Thus, the CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis says little about the volume of sales for any given vendor.
  4. Of all of the 46 categories studied for the Brand Analysis, whole-house control is the trickiest because it encompasses so many other categories. So, when examining the top home automation brands among the CE Pro 100, readers also should look at complementary categories, including security (Honeywell and Interlogix win), HVAC controls (Control4), lighting control (Lutron) and universal remotes (URC).

Further Analysis for Home Automation Category

With mass-market home automation coming on strong last year, it’s not surprising that Control4 thrived vis-à-vis its historically higher-end competitors.

In fact, Control4’s mindshare among the CE Pro 100 has steadily climbed over the past five years as the industry in general has seen a shift to more affordable systems.

Control4’s (and Crestron’s) dip in 2014 was largely due to the establishment of URC in the whole-home automation category in 2013, after years of being known for its namesake universal remote controls.

URC’s new whole-house solution Total Control began shipping in 2011, with aggressive sales and training beginning in 2012. So 2013 would have been the year that a noticeable numbers of dealers adopted URC for home control.

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Download the 2015 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis

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URC barely missed the Top 5 in the 2015 list, coming in at 10%, tied with RTI. Like URC, RTI has a legacy as a remote-control manufacturer but is gaining traction as a whole-house automation system among the CE Pro 100. RTI could be a special case because some dealers might have included its sister company Pro Control under the RTI umbrella. Pro Control, which enjoys wider distribution than RTI, offers a less expensive solution with a more limited feature set.

So where did Elan go in 2014? Considering the 2014 figures represent 2013 brand usage, we can understand why Elan slipped during that year: Parent company Nortek (Nasdaq: NTK), and particularly the Core Brands audio/video/control group of which Elan is a part, endured some major reorganizations and suffered significant logistical setbacks.

Long-time Elan leader and brand champion Paul Starkey left the company that year, frustrating Elan’s dealer base and sales force. At the same time, Core Brands restructured its independent rep network, consolidating the force down to 28 from a high of 44 across all Core brands.

2014, the year on which the 2015 Brand Analysis is based, saw a period of relative stability for Elan, despite the departure of former Core Brands president Bill Pollock, who was replaced by former VP Joe Roberts.

After the last few years of growing momentum, Savant dipped this year among Top 100 dealers. It’s no surprise. The company was so quiet in 2014 that I speculated an IPO was in the offing. As it turns out, the company was simply hard at work building its new lower-cost home automation platform and raising capital. In September, KKR plunked down $90M for a 35% stake in the company.

It is curious that AMX still finds itself in the top 5 home automation brands among the CE Pro 100. As mentioned earlier, AMX has a long legacy in the category with a reputation for solid products, even though the company’s focus remains on the commercial market.

I suspect if we were to cross-tabulate manufacturers with the number of years dealers have been in business, we’d find a strong correlation between AMX usage and dealer longevity.

2016 Could Be Disruptive

For the past several years, Control4 has owned the mid-market category, but competitive manufacturers are catching up.

This year, all of the top home systems vendors (with the exception of AMX) shipped new systems that are less expensive and easier to program than earlier models. Crestron introduced Pyng; Elan launched g1; Savant created the Single App Home platform.

We got more of the same from runners-up in the whole-house control category: Clare Controls gave us Cliq.lite; RTI invested heavily in its Pro Control brand for the broad market; and URC launched a light version of Total Control, called ccGEN2, for sale through distribution.

This year, URC eliminated ccGEN2 but will sell Total Control through distribution, opening the flood gates to a much larger dealer network. Furthermore, URC announced this year lowest-cost home automation hub to date, the $599 MRX-8.

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Download the 2015 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis

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Meanwhile, lighting behemoth Lutron launched the low-cost, mass-market Caseta line with an IP gateway called Smart Bridge that integrates with Lutron’s own lighting controls, motorized shades (Serena) and thermostats, as well as several third-party smart devices via the cloud. Electricians and other integrators seeking a simple, low-cost solution are starting to embrace the new platform.

All of these initiatives – along with Control4’s new Composer Express platform for much faster installations – will be reflected in the 2016 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis.

We might also see an uptick from Leviton Security & Automation (formerly HAI), which acquired BitWise in 2014. The acquisition gives Leviton everything it needs now to integrate security with home automation with audio/video control.

We also expect software-based solutions such as On Controls (iRule) and Simple Control (Roomie Remote) to break into the CE Pro 100.
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JULIE JACOBSON
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2015 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis here" />
  About the Author

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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