— The most successful electronic systems contractors (ESCs) have diversified into light- and medium-commercial installation, networking and security.
More are also tackling energy-management jobs, ranging from automatic shade controls and light-control systems to remote monitoring of lights.
But with single-family housing starts and remodeling way off their peak, ESCs have also turned to retrofitting existing homes with multi-room A/V systems and custom-installed home theaters.
Often, installers have retrofitted systems by home-running new wires throughout a house to a central A/V rack.
At the CEDIA Expo, however, multiple suppliers plan to arm ESCs with no-new-wires technologies that send audio and video throughout a house over existing powerlines, via wireless RF, or via unused CAT-5 and coaxial cables dropped behind walls during new-home construction to future-proof a home.
Proponents of the no-new-wires, approach, however, admit ESCs have been slow to embrace the concept to distribute audio and video content, though they have turned to powerline technology and wireless-RF to distribute lighting-control signals around the house. “For installers, retrofit typically means punching holes in walls, pulling wires and patching holes,” said Jeff Kussard, strategic development director of distributor Capitol Sales. “It takes a very strong-willed consumer to subject themselves to that type of project, so the sales opportunity is very small.” With a no-newwires approach, “you can complete the same project in hours or days versus weeks or months.”
“Manufacturers see this as a huge opportunity, but the dealer community hasn’t yet, maybe because no-new-wires technology wasn’t reliable in years past or because there is a fear to embracing this change,” Kussard admitted.
“We made a living off 1 percent of the market for the past 20 years,” Kussard said, citing Census Bureau and market statistics showing that during the housing boom’s peak years, new homes accounted for only as much as 5 percent of total households and that home technology penetrated only 20 percent of those new homes. “If you want the other 95 percent of the market, no-new-wires let’s you address that.”
Here’s what some companies and associations plan to show at the Expo to leverage the no-new-wires approach:
For the first time at a CEDIA Expo, the company will show its $11,900 HDMI UTPro-0808 matrix switcher, which uses Valens Semiconductor’s HDBaseT technology to send uncompressed 1080p video with HDCP copy-control protection, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, control signals, and power over CAT-5 cable from up to eight HDMI display sources to eight displays up to 100 meters away without the need for repeaters. The switcher comes with eight receivers.
A 2.4GHz wireless multizone audio system uses combination LED-light/ speakers that screw into existing recessedlight fixtures in the ceiling.
The system can also be used in a single zone to enhance TV sound.
A Euro series on-wall speaker and an in-ceiling speaker are designed to be at home as much in single-family homes as multiple dwelling units in retrofit and new-construction applications.
The company will demonstrate its ToolBox Extender for HDMI 3DTV, a package of wall-mount senders and receivers that deliver 1080p 3DTV signals over a single CAT-5 cable up to 100 meters. The systems simultaneously distribute multichannel Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio over CAT-5.
The Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), which joined CEDIA, will exhibit at a CEDIA Expo for the first time to extend what it calls its “overwhelming success in the pay TV operator channel” to the installer community.
At press time, the association said it might show some new products or prototypes at the show, but one alliance member, Actiontec, will show its current Ethernet-overcoax network adapter.
The company is adding a second amplifier option to its Renovia powerline-based multi-room audio system. To complement its existing in-wall D2120 amplifier, which gets audio signals over powerlines, the company is launching a freestanding tabletop D460, which comes with adapter to plug into any wall outlet. It’s intended for use with in-room speakers or, if the attic has power outlets, with in-ceiling and in-wall speakers, a spokesperson said.
The new amp ships the week of the CEDIA Expo. NuVo’s Renovia system is controlled from an in-wall control pad, a wireless handheld controller or with the NuVo App on an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. The Apple app requires a Music Port (MPS4) or new Music Port Elite (MPS4-E) to be connected to a Renovia Hub. The Music Port connects to a home’s Ethernet network.
Targeting custom channels for its powerline adapters, which send video, IPTV and Internet access over existing power lines, is part of the company’s strategy. The powerline adapters are called intelligent because they include a processor for network management, configuration, diagnostics, troubleshooting and automatic firmware updates, the company said. The processor enables remote management and configuration through a Plaster Networks service. At the show, the company will offer a starter kit only to custom installers. It consists of a PLN3 sender and one AV200 receiver at $99, down from the usual $129. Additional AV200 adapters can be purchased at $64.95 each.
The 2.4GHz AirFlex wireless audio system is intended for use with surround speakers, powered subwoofers, and second- and third-zone outputs of A/V receivers.
A transmitter connects to an audio source. Receivers feature a built-in 2x50-watt amplifier, a full-range line-level output to drive a powered subwoofer, and a 3.5mm localsource input. One transmitter drives up to two receivers at a range of up to 70 feet.
One transmitter/receiver pair retails for a suggested $400. Additional receivers are $250.
Four user-selectable channels help avoid interference with other wireless devices. An included remote with the AirFlex receiver controls volume, mute and source selection, enabling the receiver to be used as a stand-alone amplifier.
The system is targeted to retrofit installations as well as expanding the customer base to renters who can take their system with them when they move, the SpeakerCraft division said.
The door-hardware company will show its first wireless locking system. It uses either a capacitive touchscreen and pushbutton keypad to send wireless control signals via Z-Wave, or Zigbee technology to deadbolts and lever locks throughout the house.
The system is also compatible with the 2.0 user interface recently launched by Control4 for its home-control systems, which also use Zigbee. Via a Control4 system, consumers create personalized events or scenes triggered by a button press at home or remotely via the Internet.
Two companies will show new products incorporating Z-Wave wireless-control technology. Remotec will show the Z-Extender 300 Z-wave-to-IR extender, said to be 100 percent interoperable with any Z-wave controller and gateway that supports the simple-A/V-command set.
FortrezZ will unveil a water- and freeze-detection sensor in an outdoor-rated enclosure that operates on three AA batteries or a DC power supply. It measures water temperatures and detects water and freeze events. FortrezZ will also show a siren/strobe alarm, which operates with any Z-Wave security component to sound a 117dB siren and light when triggered.