Security top concern for consumers interested in home automation

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Sixty-two percent of consumers interested in learning more about home automation said security was their primary motivation, with 67 percent preferring professional installation over do-it-yourself systems when making a purchase, according to new research by the Consumer Electronics Association.

The report, “Consumer Perspective on Home Automation,” found that 49 percent of consumers are familiar with systems that allow them to remotely monitor or control one or more technology features in their homes. The research also showed that safety and security should be the building blocks of automation packages offered by the industry.

“Consumers consider these to be the critical components of a home automation system if they were to purchase one,” said Laura Hubbard, spokeswoman for the Arlington, Va.-based CEA. “Included in these features are alerts, video surveillance and being able to lock and unlock doors when away from home. Other components such as climate control, energy management, lighting control and appliance control were more likely to be viewed by consumers as ‘very desirable’ features versus critical ones.”

More than half of consumers said they are interested in the following security features: receiving alerts if smoke detectors go off (59 percent); receiving alerts if someone enters or exits the home (55 percent); remotely viewing someone at the front door (58 percent); and being able to adjust the lights while away (52 percent).

While DIY products like Lowe’s Iris have been gaining attention in the marketplace, only 27 percent of consumers said they would go that route instead of having a system professionally installed. Seventy-five percent of those interested in professional installation said it was “very important” for the installer to be certified, the CEA reported.

Hubbard said a lack of awareness and the perceived expense of home automation systems have limited adoption by American consumers. Just 1.7 million households reported having an automation system, according to the CEA study.

“Even though these systems have been in the marketplace for a while there’s a cost barrier associated with them, but now we’re seeing more scalable options and DIY options,” Hubbard told Security Systems News. “As people see that they have the ability to check on their homes, to turn lights on and off, and to arm or disarm their security systems remotely [with cellphones and mobile devices], I think you’ll see more widespread adoption.”

Hubbard said integrators and installers could take advantage of that growth by looking beyond what might be their traditional business models.

“If there is a security dealer or seller who is not currently working with a big-name company, they should look at reaching out to some home automation manufacturers—lighting control and other products,” she said. “By partnering up and meeting those people in their communities, both sides would probably see different business opportunities.”