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Study Finds High Demand For Low-Cost Home Control

More than a half of online households are interested in home-control systems costing less than $200, and many households are interested even if the systems are priced up to $400, according to The Diffusion Group research.

About 30 percent of the surveyed households are interested if the price is between $200-$400, and 20 percent are interested in systems priced at more than $400.

The survey also determined that 7.2 percent of Internet-connected homes already have home automation systems.

The findings will be of interest to manufacturers interested in entering the low end of the home-control marketplace, where no-new-wires technologies such as wireless ZigBee or powerline-carrier control technologies are likely to predominate, the company said.

At above $400, however, systems could include pricey custom-installed systems as well as no-new-wires systems for do-it-yourselfers.

“A number of players want to understand the market as they get into it,” said VP Andy Tarczon. Many companies interested in entering the market hail from the PC-network industry, he noted.

The online questionnaire defined home-control solutions as systems that permit control over lighting, HVAC, security and other home systems from inside the home via a remote control or from outside the home via the Internet.

“The cost to purchase and install home-control solutions has historically been prohibitive to mainstream consumers, often costing several thousand dollars for an entry-level package,” said research director Dale Gilliam. “The most pressing challenge facing the home-control industry today is not one of innovation or technology but one of pricing: that is, reducing the cost of such systems to a point where a critical mass of consumers will actually purchase the products.”

Nonetheless, “innovations in automation technology, combined with the diffusion of home networks, have helped to bring the cost of home-control functionality down to a level where consumers are more likely to be interested in connecting and automating systems in their homes,” the company said.

In other findings, 62 percent of people who own or are interested in owning home-control systems are comfortable using a PC as the central component in their home entertainment system, and they’re three times as likely to be interested in buying media extenders that distribute PC content to A/V systems.

For the online survey, more than 2,200 households responded, mainly via broadband modem. Among the 170 who currently own a home-control system, 40 percent had it professionally installed, and 37 percent did it themselves. Ten percent had a friend do it, and 5.4 percent had the store do it.

Ownership, Interest In Home-Control Systems

(By percent of households)