There’s loads of talk about home automation impacting on alarm monitoring but when you look at the numbers, do they suggest the impact is significant right now?

There’s a lot of heat around security systems and home automation right now. Old business models are being cast away and everyone is looking for an advantage in a dynamic new market. There are existing players, who have taken their alarm based solutions into the automation space (think DSC, Risco, Bosch, Nortek, and Honeywell) and new players, who have developed product specifically for automation applications. 

The flood of new products in the affordable automation space at ISC West clearly showing that home automation is going to be big, perhaps to the point of subsuming the alarm panel market. In most applications, consumers are going to be won over by solutions that can communicate with them and allow them to interact with their home in real time. There’s also the possibility that cleverly setup, an automation panel might save its cost in energy savings over a number of years. 

But for all the hype and all the new releases, it’s extremely hard to know just what impact home automation is having on the only serious predictor of market position we have – sales. 

According to Gary Meyers of CSD, sales of automation solutions compared with alarm systems as a percentage are difficult to establish. 

“It’s all becoming integrated now… gets difficult to separate the two,” Meyers explains. 

There are levels in the home automation market – a high end which requires serious integration and a more recent lower end which sees systems depending on Wi-Fi or proprietary wireless comms to move video and data around. Which offers greatest potential, in your opinion?

“Obviously the sales to the high end market is driving the market at present but new lower cost products from major suppliers, such as Mobotix, will open new markets and these products will utilise the systems that are already in the home.

According to Honeywell’s Keith Potter there’s growth in the Australian market when it comes to automation. 

“Currently we see the market increasing with more than 15 per cent of current installations now including automation,” he says. 

“Honeywell’s Tuxedo system is perfect for new homes or retrofit opportunities, and offers home owners an affordable automation and security system that can be scaled to meet their needs,” says Potter. 

“With the advantage of Z-wave wireless technology, owners can choose a basic system or expand to a complete home automation solution at anytime without requiring any changes to their standard home construction or electrical wiring.”

According to Neil Morgan at Ness, automation solutions compared with alarm systems as a percentage are now significant. 

“I’d say it’s currently 30 per cent automation but we know with the excitement in the market this will rise dramatically,” Morgan says. 

Which part of the automation market offers greatest potential, in your opinion?

“Like any business, Home Automation is a currently an upper end niche market, so the importance of 2-tier approach is that it allows installers success in both market sectors,” says Morgan.

“Potential in this aspect greatly depends on the product but more so the approach to the market that the product allows. There is a large chunk of the home automation market which cannot be filled with current products – its cost prohibitive. Entering this largely untapped market the potential is enormous – but regardless of the technology used, it’s all about the simple implementation.”

For Nate Wysk at Alarm.com, dividing automation and security is challenging. 

“It depends on how an installer defines automation solutions, since it may include video cameras, Z-wave light, lock, or thermostat devices, or simply involve the use of interactive rules related standard security panels and peripherals that are enabled through Alarm.com’s platform,” Wysk says.

When it comes to which level of the home automation market has the most potential, like the others, Wysk argues that it is the low and mid parts of the market that are growing and that have the most potential from the point of view of installers. 

“High end solutions have been available for a long time but are very expensive and often don’t offer long term flexibility or customization by the end-user,” he says. “Newer technologies, such as those provided by Alarm.com, have made automation features and services affordable to the mass market consumer. 

“In addition to affordability, they have improved consumer usability through intuitive and modern user interfaces.  As a result, these technologies have the greatest and most widespread potential.”
What about the future? It looks bright. A recent report from Transparent Market Research valued the global home automation market at US$4.4 billion in 2014 and predicted it would increase at a compound annual growth rate of 26.3 per cent until 2020, taking the market over $US12 billion.

TMR found trends boosting the market were automated solutions used for lighting, security, monitoring and managing energy usage, entertainment, heating and cooling in part driven by awareness of the need to conserve energy, as well as a high degree of internet connectivity and penetration in developed countries.  

Interestingly, the report segmented the home automation market by networking technology into wired systems, power-line systems, computing networks and wireless systems.
“With the increase in number of products equipped with Wi-Fi technology, the demand for wireless technology enabled home automation solutions are observing substantial growth globally,” says TMR.♦