Home energy management is about to get really big—on a global scale.
Networking giant Cisco has announced that it will brand home control company Control4’s energy management and home automation devices and deploy them in smart communities being developed throughout the world and electric utility-based smart grid rollouts in the United States.
Through the strategic agreement, Cisco and Control4 products will also be offered through custom electronic dealers and possibly retailers such as Best Buy.
Control4’s EMS 100 energy management solution, consisting of a 4.7-inch EC-100 touchscreen controller and the WT-100 wireless thermostat, will be integrated into Cisco’s own Home Energy Management System. Other Control4 home automation components such as lighting, touchpanels and remote controls will also be made available or sold under the Cisco name. The user interface, however, will retain the Control4 brand.
“Cisco’s collaboration with Control4 will offer our customers the network as the platform to transform and manage their properties, enhance economic development and city management, and improve energy management and citizens’ quality of life,” said Wim Elfrink, chief globalisation officer and executive vice president, Cisco Services.
Smart Grid and Smart Communities
The first rollouts of the Cisco/Control4 products will take place this year in the United States, likely in smart grid deployments and pilot programs conducted by electric utilities. Control4’s EMS 100 solution provides customers of utilities with information about their energy use and the ability to reduce loads via demand response event signals during peak load periods. The EMS 100 platform has been selected by NV Energy, AEP, OG&E, and other leading utilities to connect consumers to the smart grid.
Another large rollout will occur this year in Songdo, South Korea, a connected community being developed near Incheon and with about 22,500 new residences. “Every home in Songdo will have lighting, temperature, security integration, audio/video, [Cisco’s] umi telepresence videoconferencing installed when the consumer moves in,” said Paul Fulton, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s prosumer business unit. Cisco-branded Control4 controllers and touchscreens will be in every home, but specific hardware in the EMS-100 hardware package may or may not be used in the Songdo development. Other deployments will be based on the community or utility involved.
Songdo is also planned as an International Business District (IBD). It will eventually total 350 structures, hosting a population of 300,000 by day and 65,000 by night.
Other smart and connected communities are being planned and developed in Vietnam, India, and Malaysia. In the United States, deployments of energy management solutions will largely take place by electric utilities rolling out smart grid programs and custom electronics installation companies and retailers selling energy management systems.
Control4 maintains that making its systems available through the Cisco brand will open opportunities for its custom electronics dealers, either via initial rollouts or by selling add-on services such as home automation. “500 million people are moving into cities in next five years or so, and dealers have to get in on that process to deploy and add on,” says Control4 CEO Will West. “We already have retailers and integrators getting involved in smart grid deployments and pilot programs.”
The Cisco/Control4 partnership is also a huge step toward bringing energy management and home control to the mass market—via smart grid rollouts and retailers like Best Buy. The rollouts could also open the door for recurring revenues.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates