CEDIA 2017: What does a compelling smart home solution look like?

by Mitchell Klein, Executive Director, Z-Wave Alliance
We're gearing up for another CEDIA EXPO and the Z-Wave Pavilion will undoubtedly be packed with integrators and dealers along with distributors, manufacturers and press. Our member companies are constantly creating innovative solutions for the home control market and trying to work with the pro market to create value.

If the predictions are true, the sales from smart home products are expected to break $150 billion in just three years with consumers buying thermostats, door locks, security devices and more. With marketing efforts from tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Samsung and the introduction of popular voice control devices, knowledge and awareness of the smart home is at an all-time high.

And that's great! But it comes with some heavy caveats. Many of these devices are billed as "DIY" when we've seen firsthand that consumers want hands-on assistance. Our consumer survey, conducted jointly with PlumChoice, showed that 68% of consumers expect installation support from the brands they buy from. That means close to two thirds of those consumers buying smart home devices want help! That number is an opportunity for those in the custom install business, no matter how many devices are sold at retail as "DIY."
We want to help integrators better understand the market opportunity, and also feel confident if they're going into a home with Z-Wave. We just hit 2100 certified devices in July - that's a huge range of products to be able to choose from, while our certified training program for installers should help them better understand how to successfully deploy a Z-Wave smart home mesh network. On top of that, we've built an installer toolkit (the award-winning CIT) that shows the health of a network and can run diagnostics to make project setup run even smoother while minimizing truck rolls.

We're looking forward to productive conversations at CEDIA this year - from our onsite trainings for integrators to my CEDIA talk; showing off our amazing new Certified Installer Toolkit (CIT); to the awesome product demos running in the Z-Wave Pavilion, it's going to be a great show.

Hope to see you there!
September 1-6, 2017, Berlin, Germany
Member Pavilion sponsored by Z-Wave Europe

September 5-9, 2017, San Diego, CA, USA
Member Pavilion
Use code: ZWave17 for Free Attendee Pass

September 26-28, 2017, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

October 3-6, 2017, Tokyo, Japan

October 23-24, New York City, NY, USA
Discount code: ZWAVE25 for 25% off 

October 25-26, London, UK
Discount code: QSHe2D15 for 15% off

October 31-November 2, 2017, Moscow, Russia
Member Pavilion Sponsored by Z-Wave.Me Russia

October 10-11, 2017, Seattle, WA, USA
Media Partner - Use code ZWAVE to get 25% off tickets

November 16-18, 2017, Bangkok, Thailand

January 9-12, 2018, Las Vegas, NV, USA

CEDIA 2017
Z-Wave Alliance & Members Prepare for CEDIA 2017 

We're looking forward to the CEDIA show starting next week in San Diego, CA. The Z-Wave Pavilion will be full of members and their new products, demonstrations, and exciting conversations. We offer a few member sneak peeks, below. 

Connection Technology Systems (CTS), a 20 year industry veteran will introduce and demonstrate their new IoT solutions including the Z-Wave Plus certified iCPE gateway featuring battery and 3G/4G back-up, anti-theft mechanisms, and API support for multi-service scalability. 

GOAP/Qubino will showcase three new smart home products including the new Smart Plug 16A for household devices up to 16 amps, the Qubino RGB Night Light with sound alerts that visually notifies homeowners with colored blinking or an alarm, and the Z-Wave Qubino 3-Phase Smart Meter that allows for measure and control of energy consumer of 3-phase devices such as heat pumps, induction cookers and heaters or saunas. 

Nexia will offer two courses at the show titled "Diversify your product portfolio & dominate your market" course available on both Thursday, Sept. 7 and Friday, Sept. 8, both from 3:30 - 5 p.m.

Hogar Controls will launch their new 'US compatible Smart Home Products Suite'. On display will be HC Pro Smart Home hub, Z-Wave Smart Touch Switch Panels, Pebble Touch Button, and Video Door Phone. Live demos of all the products, the Hogar App, Alexa, Siri Voice Control and Apple Home Kit enabled hub will be presented.

Eaton will showcase and demonstrate their new home automation hub and Z-Wave wireless collection that includes switches, dimmers, receptacles and scene controllers - all working together with their new hub. 

Be sure to check out all of our members for even more Z-Wave product and solution news in the Z-Wave Pavilion, booth #2620.

Z-Wave Alliance will also be hosting a few training sessions on smart home, as well as a CEDIA Talk from executive director Mitchell Klein at the show. Details are below.

Z-Wave Alliance: Grow Your Projects With Z-Wave! Design, Installation, Maintenance
and Using the Certified Installer Toolkit
  • Wednesday, September 6 -- 3:30 - 5:00 pm 
  • Thursday, September 7 -- 3:30 - 5:00 pm 
  • Friday, September 8 -- 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

  • Friday, September 8 -- 11:30 am

We look forward to seeing all of our members at the show. Follow @ZWave_Alliance on Twitter and Z-Wave Alliance on Facebook for live updates, and tag us in any of your social posts at the show!

Communicating the Benefits of Voice Control to Your Customers

by Alex Gil, Caster Communications

Consumer interest in the smart home is on the rise and with it, voice control is quickly becoming a segway into broader market adoption. A 2017 Parks Associates study found that 55% of U.S. broadband households want to use their voice to control their smart home and entertainment devices. Parks research also found that U.S. households are adapting to digital voice assistants faster than they typically adopter other new consumer electronics - voice assistant market penetration rose from 5% of U.S. broadband households in Q4 2015 to 12% in Q4 2016. Amazon Echo and Google Home currently dominate the voice assistant space. With a rising number of consumers expressing interest in voice control, how should installers be communicating the use cases and addressing the both the benefits and challenges of using voice control in their homes? Through our experience with, we know that simply throwing brands and products at a consumer is not enough to get them to make smart home purchases. Anyone with a consumer touch point needs to clearly articulate and break down the benefits of the smart home experience for consumers by making content easily digestible and visually stimulating.  

To address the voice control trend, created a landing page and downloadable guide for site visitors interested in learning more about using Amazon Echo in their Z-Wave smart home. The concept was to make voice control "come alive" for customers so they could get a sense of the tangible benefits of controlling their home with voice commands.
Feedback from customers on social media and through support channels showed an interest in voice control, but confusion around how to get started in their own homes. The page is easy to navigate with bold, fresh colors and imagery. Strategically placed rollover boxes show example smart home commands that can be used with an Echo and links customers directly to targeted solutions pages that clearly delineate each product a customer needs to get started with the command. Visitors can choose from commands like "Alexa, lock the front door" that brings them to a solutions page with a hub and smart locks, or "Alexa, turn on save energy mode" that navigates to a solutions page with a hub, lighting, sensors and temperature control products.

Customers can purchase Amazon Echo products right from the site and engagement with the Echo landing page encourages additional product purchases. Support videos that walk customers through the Echo setup process with a variety of hubs are also housed on the page and soon, a downloadable PDF guide that gives customers the information they need to get started with voice control in their home.
Visit the new landing page at 
Has Voice Control Changed the Game for Pro Installers?

by Rich Bira, Fibaro USA
In June 2015, Amazon introduced Echo, the first voice control speaker equipped with its intelligent personal assistant Alexa. Amazon Echo was an exciting new gadget that had a huge impact on the overall smart home industry and consumer awareness of connected technology. Consumers were delighted at the thought of having a single point hands free solution in the home that activated devices and scenes, offered the ability to provide real-time updates on things like the weather, order groceries on their behalf, offer restaurant recommendations and more. Suddenly a much larger group of consumers became intrigued by the idea of the smart home.
Since then, voice control has picked up speed, with other big players like Google, Microsoft and Apple offering their own voice control assistants and compatible devices. While many households have purchased and installed one-off DIY smart devices like smart thermostats or smoke alarms, the increase in smart home awareness benefits the custom install space as well. Adding one or two devices doesn't make a home 'smart'; a connected home requires true device integration, automation and seamless control, areas where integrators have the expertise.
Increased excitement for voice control in the home provides integrators with a place to start the conversation with new and existing clients. Working with an experienced integrator, for those who don't want to learn the ins and outs of setup, is a huge value-add for consumers. A good integrator will educate their clients on what is possible and encourage them to think about the big picture. They ask their clients the right questions such as: how do you visualize your smart home? What do you want to be able to control today and what might you want to add in the future? The early-stage planning is just as important as the knowledge and experience required to build a custom smart home ecosystem to suit client needs.
Integrators should start from the ground-up by looking at the foundation of every home - the network. It is essential to build a strong home network that can support all of the connected wireless devices in the home whether that be audio, video, lighting, smart home sensors, thermostats, surveillance cameras, smart locks, or sprinklers. Most clients are unaware that without a strong network, the connected home is not possible. It's up to the integrator to do their homework and educate their clients on what will be required to ensure they have a strong and consistent connection.
Programming advanced scenes to customize the technology for each client is another way that integrators can add value when designing systems. The purpose of a connected home is for it to be a seamless experience, while adding peace of mind and ultimately a time-saver. Users should be able to provide a single command of their choice, such as "goodbye" when leaving the house, and all connected electrical devices are shut off, the temperature is adjusted, exterior doors are locked and the alarm is armed.
Where last year consumers were simply exploring voice control, the technology has now become baked into client and integrator conversations and the shift continues as more brands update their previously 'dumb' devices to 'smart'. We now see more and more integration with voice control into sensors, surveillance products, speakers, AV receivers, lighting and more. We are already seeing it with Amazon and Google, and with Apple's HomePod rolling out later this year, iOS users will have a new way of using Siri to control a variety of smart home products in their home. In order to be successful and present a superior, easier option to DIY, integrators need to be well-versed in all voice control technologies and provide additional value to their clients through intelligent system design as well as programming and building a solid network to support the current and future connected home.
A Beginner's Guide to Light Switch Installation 
By: Rick Tinker, director of technology, Z-Wave Alliance
As an integrator, you may often get requests from customers to install smart light switches, which can require some light electrical work on your end. If you're unfamiliar with electrical installations or new to the process, take a look at this back-to-basics guide on light switch installation from our own Rick Tinker.  

Types of light bulbs
The incandescent bulb was conceived by Thomas Edison in 1879. Since then, CFL and LED bulbs have been introduced. A Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) could produce the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb but at a reduced amount of power, but were not as widely received because they could not be dimmed. Manufacturers addressed this problem by coming out with dimmable CFL bulbs, which can now be dimmed with a standard dimmer, but it still contains electronic circuitry that can cause problems with electronic switches.

The most recent advancement in light technology is the Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulb. Producing even more light at an even lower amount of power, LED technology is now driving most lighting purchases in homes today. LED bulbs use Direct Current (DC) electricity while our homes use Alternating Current (AC) electricity, so all LED bulbs contain an electronic circuit which converts a home's AC to the type of DC that the LED needs. Just like CFL bulbs, not all LED bulbs are dimmable, but today you will find many options for dimmable LED bulbs and lights.

In the case of all types of loads that can be dimmed, there is a transformer involved. A transformer transforms voltages from one type or range to another and may increase or reduce voltage, or convert it from AC to DC. A Magnetic Low Voltage (MLV) transformer uses older technology of copper wire wound around an iron core, and an Electronic Low Voltage (ELV transformer uses an electronic circuit to change the voltage. Now, we have the primary load types that you will see referenced in the description of the type of loads a light switch can handle: Incandescent, MLV, or ELV. All CFL and LED lights will fall into the MLV or ELV load categories with most devices produced today being ELV because they can produce much smaller lights than the ones using MLV.

Today's light bulbs use so much less power than the older incandescent bulbs that it takes many more bulbs to approach the limit of the switch or dimmer. It is easy to figure out the amount of load - add up the watts or volt-amps listed on all the bulbs controlled by the switch or dimmer, and make sure you do not exceed the maximum specified for the switch or dimmer.
The home's electrical
A home's electrical is important for the selection of an electronic light switch, but it requires opening the existing light switch box to see what you have to work with. Unless the MLV or ELV transformer along with Z-Wave is built into the device itself (see Z-Wave light bulbs), the wall switch that you want to replace is itself electronic in nature and needs power for itself to operate. A conventional light switch works by "breaking" (disconnecting) the circuit that powers the load. A circuit consists of a power supply "line" and a "neutral" return line. When a circuit is complete, current flows. If you were to hold two pieces of electrical wire so that they were touching each other, and then you pull them apart, you are doing the same thing as a light switch that simply turns things on and off.

In a home's electrical wiring, there is usually a 3 conductor (3 wire) cable that is used - it has a wire for line, one for neutral, and one for a circuit ground. Very old homes may be missing the ground wire. In a typical run of a circuit by an electrician, the cable is brought from the power source (your circuit breaker or fuse panel), run up to the light switch, and then continues to the light, outlets, or whatever it is being controlled (the load). Depending upon the location of the load and the light switch, an electrician may not want to go to the switch and then to the load; it may use less wire and save time to run a single cable from the load to the light switch. How can they do this? Since only the line is disconnected by the light switch, they can do this by simply using the conductors normally used for line and neutral to be the line being switched. When this method is used, the neutral wire from the power source is connected to the load, and then the line from the power source and the line for the load are connected to the cable going to the switch. Because the line is normally colored black in the cable, and the neutral wire is usually white, an electrician using this method that re-purposes the neutral wire as a line wire is supposed to indicate this by wrapping black electrician's tape around the end of the white wire so that anybody else working on the circuit will know that the white wire can potentially be a "hot" line wire. 

Why does this create a potential problem for Z-Wave light switches?
Electronic light switches like Z-Wave switches require power themselves to operate. Getting power means that current needs to be flowing through the circuit. If there is no neutral wire available in the switch box, how is the electronic switch supposed to operate?

For lighting loads which are incandescent, manufacturers created a very clever way of making a Z-Wave switch work when there is no neutral wire available. In this case, the electronic circuit makes a "tiny" connection of the circuit allowing a small amount of current to flow through the circuit. This method can be referred to as "current stealing". If you go into a very dark room and look at your incandescent bulb when the switch is off, it is possible that you might see the very faint trace of a glow of light from the bulb because of the small amount of current flowing through it, which allows the light switch to get its power to operate. If your incandescent light bulb is only 20 watts (a night light) it won't work because the bulb is not strong enough to pull enough current through the circuit.

The bigger problem is with circuits that have dimmable LED bulbs on them; LED bulbs require so much less power to operate than incandescent bulbs providing the same amount of light, that even the small amount of current needed to power the electronic switch is enough to power the LED bulb - when the switch is off - to nearly 50% brightness or more! And lastly, some ELV loads (such as most CFL bulbs) have electronics that do not react the same way to the small amount of current the switch tries to provide, so the current does not flow and the light switch does not have the power to operate.

While you can find several brands of Z-Wave dimming light switches that will work with incandescent loads without a neutral wire, it is very rare (but possible) to find a Z-Wave on/off light switch that will work without a neutral wire; in most cases the relay in an on/off switch requires more current than can be provided by "stealing" the current.

If you have a lighting load that is ELV or MLV and does not have a neutral wire available, you have two options (three if you include having an electrician re-wire the circuit): You can either replace your light bulbs with incandescent bulbs, or you can use a type of Z-Wave device called a "micro switch" or "micro dimmer". When you decide to use a "micro" type device, the micro device is installed inside the fixture where the light itself is located because there is a neutral wire available there, and then the two wires going to the light switch are used to tell the micro switch when to turn on or off through toggling of the light switch, or they are tied together so that the micro switch always has power.

Use of a micro switch in the fixture to overcome the lack of a neutral wire in the switch box.
Micro switches and dimmers work well but have these drawbacks: There is not always enough room in the fixture for the micro device, and any time you need to access the micro device to press a button for inclusion or exclusion to a Z-Wave network, you must at least partially remove the light fixture it is installed inside to get to the button.
The two big pieces of information you need to know when purchasing a Z-Wave light switch or dimmer: the type of load being controlled and whether you have a neutral wire available.

This version was amended for the newsletter - for the full article visit:
Integrator Q&A: Where do you see the smart home industry heading in the next 10 years?
This month we're focused on pre-CEDIA news and the integrator community that makes up a portion of the Z-Wave Alliance membership. Since integrators are on the front line of smart home installation we wanted to know what their thoughts were on the burgeoning connected home industry and where they expect it to change in the next 10 years. Seven Z-Wave members shared their thoughts on the future of the smart home industry, below.

 "Where do you see the smart home industry heading in the next 10 years?"

"The smart home industry is headed for a major shift into more of a smart home service industry. The home network is taking over the home and it requires qualified and educated people to properly install and manage that network, as well as the devices that are connected to it. It is important to be able to communicate across many different platforms while maintaining a high level of security so that consumers are comfortable having these smart devices in their homes. Today's smart home integrators will be well served to consider this shift as an opportunity and learn as much as they possibly can about the interactivity of these devices across the home network and how to secure that functionality so that as consumers become interested in the technology the integrator will still be considered the go-to expert."
-          Ron Wanless, Tech Design Associates

"I think that smart home industry will soon be a key sector of employment. As every piece of our life from our smartphones to our cars are becoming more connected, I believe that everyone will soon desire a smart home that perfectly fits their needs. The complexity of the growing IOT and relevant automation systems will continue to require a high level of product knowledge and expertise for planning, designing and maintenance activities. I think that smart industry is at a point now where it needs a comprehensive training school for new smart home technicians. These need to be competent in electrical work, computers, connectivity, informatics and more."
-          Marco Piscopia, Vemarsas

"Ten years ago, the word smart home was no more than a buzz word meaning that integrators could allow the client to control things (lights, audio, video and a few other devices) via a wall mounted touch panel. Today we are at the beginning of smart - we are still reliant on the integrators ability to make non-like devices work together in a way that that is the beginning of smart but not completely there. Smart now is macros and variables based on some predefined conditions, (time, day, occupancy, temperature and so on) as well as other devices that are in the home. In the future, consumer demand will drive the market, as we have seen what happens when the market tries to drive demand. Consumers want easy, reliable technology that operates in the background. Someone or most likely some company will figure out a way to bring it all together in an easy, reliable way so that the technology sits in the background and does not interfere with the client's user experience."
-          Brian Esarove, A.I. Home Automation

"The wide scale adoption of the smart home has been imminent for a while! In the next 10 years I expect the industry to mature and smart home functionality to become ubiquitous. A catalyst for this transition will be voice assistants, which give a meaningful interface to control a fragmented ecosystem of connected devices. Industry investment will continue to increase, as the prospect of acquiring increasingly granular customer data continues to draw in major players such as telco's and utilities. AI will significantly improve the value proposition to customers and investors alike. The challenges in terms of privacy and data security will be tremendous. We believe scale and trust will be the defining success criteria over the next 10 years, leading to significant consolidation across the industry. The winners will be the ones able to present a comprehensive smart home solution to customers, and draw value from aggregate data while protecting their privacy. "
-          Arnulf Fuglestein, Wirefree

"It's the year 2017 and IOT is booming everywhere - the smart home is common for most people. If we think about the concept of a smart home - from the outside it looks very simple, lights turn on and off, you can control temperature from a tablet, but inside it is another story. People who work full time want to spend their free time with family and friends, and their hobbies. They just don't have time to be smart home installers. It takes time to install devices, then you have to tell them what is your target and how they should work together. I think that the smart home will continue to be an installer-based business for the next 10 years. Today everyone can buy devices but only few can make them work the way home automation should work."
-          Lauri Lotamõis, Indome

"Taking into consideration the speed of technology evolution we believe that in 10 years, the smart home industry will go way beyond device to device and physical human interaction to device communication. It will allow for communication between ourselves and where we live - a smart home that recognizes emotions, desires and needs - and interacts accordingly. Homes will no longer behave alone, but they will interconnect further with their environment, establishing a huge network of smart homes interacting internally in an independent way and with their environment. Smart home integrators can best judge where the industry should go as they deal with customer needs and wants on a daily basis and cycle that information back to the manufacturers."
-          Conundrum SARL Team, Conundrum Smart Home Automation Solutions  

"I think that the growth of the smart home in 10 years will be similar to how the use of smartphones has grown. The technology will expand to a plug and play concept that means an end user that has little knowledge about smart home will be able to install it without any professional installer and the main competition will be in integration and customized devices." 

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