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CEA: Home Technology Outlook Mixed For Custom Installers

Factory-level sales of home technology products will rise 8 percent to $2.34 billion in 2008 and post year-over-year gains through 2012, when volume will hit $4.17 billion, but some segments of the industry won’t do nearly as well, statistics from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) show.

Sales of multi-room-A/V infrastructure products and integrated whole-house control systems sold by installers are under severe pressure because of the crash in housing starts, but on the plus side for installers, sales of structured-wiring solutions will continue to grow through 2012, CEA forecast.

Lighting controls will grow at a robust rate, but the growth will be split between the do-it-yourself market and the custom market, CEA noted. “The impact of rising energy costs may be fueling opportunity in climate and lighting controls as homeowners seek to maximize efficiencies related to energy use in the home,” CEA said, but custom installers won’t enjoy all of that growth. The opportunity in lighting controls, whose sales far exceed climate-control sales, “is spread between the DIY channel, selling basic switches and dimmers, and the custom-installer channel equipping homes with sophisticated lighting-control systems,” CEA noted.

Whatever the channel or segment, CEA forecast total home-technology sales will jump 16 percent each year from 2009 through 2010 and jump another 14 percent in 2012 to $4.17 billion. Here’s how the various segments will fare:

Multi-room A/V (MRAV): Sales of multi-room infrastructure products, such as controllers and in-wall keypads, will slip 8 percent to $150 in 2008 and dip slightly to $149 million in 2009 before resuming very low single-digit growth in the next three years. Those gains, however, depend on the “revitalization of the U.S. housing market, which is partially dependent on resolving the current credit crunch,” CEA said. In the meantime, however, “retrofit and aftermarket solutions for MRAV and home automation seem worthy enterprises until the new home market returns.”

In 2007, volume controls accounted for the highest number of unit MRAV shipments, followed by keypads and touchscreens, multizone controllers, multizone amps, local-zone amps, and network servers and clients. The statistics do not include custom-installed or in-room speakers, A/V receivers or other electronics and sources that connect to MRAV systems.

Whole-house control systems: This segment, also under pressure because of declining new-home sales, will fall an estimated 18 percent this year to $350 million, but sales will resume growth from 2009 through 2012, starting with a 5 percent gain in 2009. Sales include hardware- and software-based control systems, touchscreens and keypads, and remotes.

Structured wiring: Though not offering the margins of MRAV systems, structured wiring will gain 14 percent in dollar shipments this year to $702 million and continue growing at mid- to upper-teen percentage rates through 2012, CEA says. The largest segments of the market are video-distribution modules and router/Ethernet modules, with passive audio-distribution modules accounting for a tiny percentage of sales.

Lighting-control systems: Shipments are expected to double between 2008 and 2012 to $1.82 billion following growth of 25 percent in 2008 to $935 million, 24 percent in 2009, 18 percent in 2010, 17 percent in 2011 and 14 percent in 2012. Centralized controllers will gain through 2012 to become the second-largest lighting segment, at $432 million, after dimmers, which will account for $693 million in volume but are often sold through DIY channels. Switches will account for $432 million in 2012 sales.

Climate systems: The segment is small, accounting for only $205 million in estimated 2008 sales, which will be up only 1 percent, but percent growth will pick up modestly to 3 percent in 2009 before hitting double-digit rates for the following three years. Sales will hit $338 million in 2012.

Such products as communicating thermostats “show promising growth, transforming from a $10 million market [in 2008] to a $131 million market by 2012.” The climate-system category also consists of programmable thermostats and humidity controls.

CEA’s Home Technology Sales Forecasts

(Dollar shipments to dealers, in millions) (includes DIY products)