Control & Automation

Great News for Pros: Home Automation is More Confusing than Ever

Home automation, networking and security have never been more confusing, thanks to an onslaught of DIY products like Ring Protect, Nest Secure, Amazon Echo Plus and Google Home. That's great news for smart-home pros.

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5 Comments
Posted by John Nemesh on October 20, 2017

This situation reminds me of this classic XKCD comic:  https://xkcd.com/927/

Posted by slobob on October 21, 2017

Love XKCD.  On a related note, we are becoming the modern “Plumbers”.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that now we can charge $150 an hour to fix consumer stuff that costs $50 or is free with certain purchases (Echo’s, dots, etc..).... And I’ll take those weekend calls for double time!

Posted by Bruno Napoli on October 21, 2017

Of course, Guidance and service are the kind opportunities those so call DIY gears will gives our industry. The BIG question now is: Will custom installer will be bold enough to change their business model from making marge on the service instead of making margin on expensive box.

Posted by pebaugh on October 22, 2017

Good article Julie.  As a co-owner of a Custom Integration company, I have had a passing interest in how the low end and DIY products might impact our future business.  We focus on the mid-high to high end of the market where we have clients who are willing to shell out $5K to $150K for well designed and installed systems that are guaranteed to work.  They also are willing to pay for a well-trained professional company who can maintain and support their systems over time.  Many of these companies are lured into the lower tiers of the marketplace which has primarily been sought after by the shrink wrapped and on-line DIY companies.  I see many of these fall by the wayside only to find another pop up to replace it.  I firmly believe that as a professional, there will always be a strong market for our products and services.  The issue with the low end products is that the homeowners find themselves forced into being their own support staff.  I have seen Nest products, skybells, Ring and the like work for a year and then fail or mis-behave and the customers do not have anywhere to go and call us to pull these out and replace them with products that work and are supported.  I had to recently talk down a client who insisted she wanted a fully wireless camera system installed outside of the house.  She did not think through the eventuality that she would have to go out on a ladder every six months up 10 feet or so to remove each of 6 cameras, bring them in, recharge them and then re-install in the cold Michigan winters.  A professional looks at the client ‘s situation holistically and gives them the best product to meet their needs.  I occasionally peruse the forums on the low end products and generally find that ~50% of consumers are somewhat happy with their purchase even though not everything works yet , ~25% are not satisfied yet keep working on it and the last ~25% have severe issues and/or cannot get it to work at all.  This last group tries to return it or since it might be only a few hundred dollars, they abandon it.  Your article points out many of the issues homeowners can encounter, not the least of is the myriad of network related issues which is far far beyond the capability of most.

Posted by Steve Hoge on October 24, 2017

“not all Alexa devices have [ESP capability] either” - unless you stick with the Alexa-enabled devices made by Amazon, which all silently received the firmware update for this functionality last year.  Personally, I’d stay away from 3rd-party devices with embedded with “Alexa technology” and only use Amazon’s devices for the voice control portion of an Alexa-enabled home-automation system.  I really don’t trust a smaller company with fewer resources than Google or Amazon to get this kind of thing right and keep it that way.

5 Comments
Posted by Steve Hoge on October 24, 2017

“not all Alexa devices have [ESP capability] either” - unless you stick with the Alexa-enabled devices made by Amazon, which all silently received the firmware update for this functionality last year.  Personally, I’d stay away from 3rd-party devices with embedded with “Alexa technology” and only use Amazon’s devices for the voice control portion of an Alexa-enabled home-automation system.  I really don’t trust a smaller company with fewer resources than Google or Amazon to get this kind of thing right and keep it that way.

Posted by pebaugh on October 22, 2017

Good article Julie.  As a co-owner of a Custom Integration company, I have had a passing interest in how the low end and DIY products might impact our future business.  We focus on the mid-high to high end of the market where we have clients who are willing to shell out $5K to $150K for well designed and installed systems that are guaranteed to work.  They also are willing to pay for a well-trained professional company who can maintain and support their systems over time.  Many of these companies are lured into the lower tiers of the marketplace which has primarily been sought after by the shrink wrapped and on-line DIY companies.  I see many of these fall by the wayside only to find another pop up to replace it.  I firmly believe that as a professional, there will always be a strong market for our products and services.  The issue with the low end products is that the homeowners find themselves forced into being their own support staff.  I have seen Nest products, skybells, Ring and the like work for a year and then fail or mis-behave and the customers do not have anywhere to go and call us to pull these out and replace them with products that work and are supported.  I had to recently talk down a client who insisted she wanted a fully wireless camera system installed outside of the house.  She did not think through the eventuality that she would have to go out on a ladder every six months up 10 feet or so to remove each of 6 cameras, bring them in, recharge them and then re-install in the cold Michigan winters.  A professional looks at the client ‘s situation holistically and gives them the best product to meet their needs.  I occasionally peruse the forums on the low end products and generally find that ~50% of consumers are somewhat happy with their purchase even though not everything works yet , ~25% are not satisfied yet keep working on it and the last ~25% have severe issues and/or cannot get it to work at all.  This last group tries to return it or since it might be only a few hundred dollars, they abandon it.  Your article points out many of the issues homeowners can encounter, not the least of is the myriad of network related issues which is far far beyond the capability of most.

Posted by Bruno Napoli on October 21, 2017

Of course, Guidance and service are the kind opportunities those so call DIY gears will gives our industry. The BIG question now is: Will custom installer will be bold enough to change their business model from making marge on the service instead of making margin on expensive box.

Posted by slobob on October 21, 2017

Love XKCD.  On a related note, we are becoming the modern “Plumbers”.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that now we can charge $150 an hour to fix consumer stuff that costs $50 or is free with certain purchases (Echo’s, dots, etc..).... And I’ll take those weekend calls for double time!

Posted by John Nemesh on October 20, 2017

This situation reminds me of this classic XKCD comic:  https://xkcd.com/927/