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Home-Control Systems Play To Broader Base

DENVER – Home-automation sales are on the upswing, thanks to a newer generation of easier-to-use systems and growing consumer awareness driven by Nest, Apple and other mass-market brands, marketers told TWICE.

To take advantage of the growth, companies such as Elan are flying to the CEDIA Expo with lower priced systems intended to broaden their customer base, and others are adopting wireless technology to expand the addressable market. URC, for example, is launching its first wireless light bulbs, and it’s launched a separate two-way wireless lightingcontrol system. Pro Control is also going wireless, and startup WigWag is bringing smart bulbs to the show as well.

Here’s what you’ll find from these and other suppliers:

Elan: The brand is unveiling the more affordable Elan g1 entertainment and control system. It’s designed for media rooms, smaller projects, secondary homes, and production builder packages, and it can be used as a universal remote alternative.

The lower-point-of-entry controller and OSD extender ships in September for the residential and light-commercial markets.

It features three IR outputs, one IR input, one bi-directional RS-232 input, one sensor, one HDMI output, and one audio output. Via built-in Wi-Fi, its functions are IP-controlled. It also features PoE (Power over Ethernet).

The g1 features up to 16 zones of security and control of two door locks, a home theater system, lighting (24 devices), three thermostats, three IP cameras, and irrigation (16 groups and 256 zones). An unlimited number of Elan and Core Brands products can also be attached.

“With the new Elan g1, Core Brands is offering dealers a full-featured, yet very affordably priced entertainment and control system that delivers more performance and greater value than is offered by competitors in similarly priced systems,” asserted Joe Lautner, director of control at Core Brands.

Monoprice: The consumer-direct seller of electronics, based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has expanded into home theater and home automation products. It’s bringing to the show a new sound bar, powered subwoofer and Bluetooth amplifier as well as a new line of home automation components.

Those products are Z-Wave-equipped and consist of a dimming plug-in switch, door and window sensor, glass shock sensor, door lock, smoke detector and garage-door sensor.

Pro Control: Two new products include the Pro.zwi Z-Wave interface, which is the company’s first wireless Z-Wave device. The other new product is the Pro.rfz ZigBee-range extender for to extend the range of the ZigBee-equipped Pro24.z remote control.

The Pro.rfz extends wireless ZigBee communication range up to 70 feet between the $449 Pro24.z remote control and the the $449-suggested ProLink.z home-control processor. For increased range, up to four Pro.rfz modules can be installed. They plug into a standard electrical outlet for power.

The remote controls the ProLink.z processor, which provides control and monitoring of devices via IR, IP, RS-232, and relays. Unified control is also available through an iOS device running the ProPanel app, which costs around $159.

The new Pro.zwi adds Z-Wave to the ProLink.z home-control processor to control Z-Wave devices from the Pro24.z remote, ProPanel app, and the $149 iPro.8, which is a handheld remote intended for use alongside the app.

The $149 Pro.rfz is now shipping, and the Pro.zwi ships in the fourth quarter at a price that wasn’t available.

RTI: Four new home-automation products consist of the T3X handheld remote, KX3 in-wall touchpanel keypad, WK2 water-resistant in-wall keypad and XP control processor.

The TX3 remote control features 3.5-inch color LCD touchscreen with haptic feedback, programmable “soft touch” hard buttons for quick access to common functions, and four buttons with interchangeable keycaps. The edge-to-edge touchscreen delivers improved screen swiping. An integrated grip sensor keeps the T3X awake during use, and an accelerometer delivers instant-on control and control via movements. A built-in camera and microphone deliver intercom capability.

The controller features 433MHz RF for one-way control and 2.4GHz ZigBee for bidirectional communication with RTI processors and supported third-party electronics. It also features 802.11b/g Wi-Fi for enhanced two-way control, IPcamera viewing and displaying wireless program updates.

The KX3 in-wall touchpanel/keypad combines the capabilities of a touchscreen controller and an advanced control processor into a single unit. The KX3 can be used as an all-inone stand-alone solution for providing home-system control or used as an in-wall touchpanel within a larger RTI control system.

The KX3 features 3.5-inch color LCD display, five customizable hard buttons, and all the features of an XP series processor, including two-way control via IP and RS-232. Built-in 2.4GHz ZigBee connects wirelessly to RTI wireless remotes.

Other capabilities include six voltage-sense ports with sense-event capabilities, four relays for control via contact closure, an integrated camera and microphone, proximity and ambient light sensors, and Wi-Fi.

The WK2 water-resistant in-wall keypad is intended for bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor areas.

The latest addition to the XP line of control processors is the XP-4, which offers HDMI video output and two inputs to deliver an onscreen UI to TVs. The XP-4 also provides bi-directional communication with third-party electronics via wireless 4GHz ZigBee transceiver and two bi-directional RS-232 ports. An Ethernet connection allows for software downloads and IP control.

WigWag: The start-up will bring what it calls inexpensive smart LED light bulbs with a broader range of colors and brightness, and a longer lifespan compared to other smart LED bulbs.

Although the bulbs don’t require professional installation, “A/V retailers will be able to use the bulbs though to accomplish cool lighting environments in the home,” a spokesperson said.

The price points are targeted to households that will be able to afford multiple lighting groups.

The bulbs, which will be sold in kits and individually, talk to a WigWag brain, which lets consumers use apps to create home-automation rules that are automatically executed if one of eight environmental sensors are triggered. The sensors include motion, light and sound to humidity, temperature and a tripwire sensor.

The brain will also control Belkin WeMo outlets, Phillips Hue smart bulbs, Insteon and LifX bulbs and more.

The company raised a half-million dollars through a Kickstarter campaign.