Options exist when structured wiring is not a viable option

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Thursday, May 1, 2003

While the structured wiring environment and its related home automation services are based firmly on a new home construction model, players in the home management and security markets said there are options for those with existing homes.

Arthur Van Ahnen, president of ConnectiveHome.com, Brookhaven, Pa., said although much of his business today is focused on working with builders and new construction, “I’m starting to understand how retrofit fits in.”

He said many newer control panels have the ability to add on desirable features such as lighting controls and HVAC options.

“There’s a process for introducing this lifestyle to the public,” Van Ahnen said. He is using a showroom, much along the lines of those used by kitchen designers and tile companies, to show how home automation and security can be integrated into new or existing homes.

For those building new homes or updating older ones, “it becomes a piece of the homework,” Van Ahnen said. “You can make it as sophisticated as you like.”

The advent of wireless products has also allowed those with existing homes and systems to add on home automation features to their security system control panels, noted Dave Mayne, vice president-residential dealer marketing for GE Interlogix Security and Life Safety Group, North St. Paul, Minn.

He said GE offers products with differing degrees of automation. The trend, he said, is to build in features and interconnectivity. Wireless options can range from wireless sensors and lighting to a wireless phone connection and thermostat.

Wireless, he said, “opens up the doors (to other options) and can be retrofit.”

That’s important, he said, “because you are going to have to be able to provide these systems in existing homes.”

Brian Storrie, structured cabling product manager for Concord, Ontario-based Digital Security Controls Ltd., also pointed to wireless as a “solution to maximize the ease of installation.”

However, Bill Graham, senior vice president-sales and marketing for Guardian Protection, Pittsburgh, said for the time being the structured wiring market, at least, will be focused on new construction because of the cost prohibitive nature of retrofitting an existing home.

More than half the new homes today, he said, are adding high-speed wiring and nearly 80 percent of those are seeking a security option with their home automation system, he said.

“So why focus on it (retrofitting) when there’s the new home market to be tapped? There’s a great opportunity for companies in the security industry to be this (structured wiring) provider,” he said.