Cisco: Another Big Blow for Home Energy Management?

Cisco kills its energy management platform, but Control4 says its branding partnership with the networking giant is alive and well.

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Networking giant Cisco this week put the kibosh on its energy management platform, but that won’t affect a branding partnership with home control company Control4, according to Control4 CEO Will West.

Cisco has an agreement with Control4 to brand Control4’s home automation and energy management systems, especially in smart communities being developed in Asia, such as Songdo, South Korea, where Cisco is rolling out home control, energy management and telepresence videoconferencing systems to the new community’s 22,500 residences. Cisco may also brand Control4’s EMS 100 energy management system in smart grid rollouts in the United States.

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The EMS 100 energy management solution consists of a 4.7-inch EC-100 touchscreen controller and the WT-100 wireless thermostat. It is being rolled out in some smart grid trials, including 20,000 units in Nevada with NV Energy. Cisco is not involved in that rollout, however.

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Cisco has decided to concentrate on the network platform side of the smart grid business, while apparently using hardware from Control4. Cisco also has a partnership with Schneider Electric for commercial-grade energy management systems.

Control4’s West says his company’s partnership with Cisco is progressing and becoming increasingly stronger. “They’re backing out of manufacturing the in-home devices, but they still need solutions that go end to end.”

In Songdo, West says Control4 is deploying its home control software and hardware, with a Cisco back end. The systems contain a variation of Control4’s My Energy application. “The focus there is on more complete home solutions,” he says.

The home energy management market has taken some heavy hits lately, with big companies such as Google, Microsoft and now Cisco abandoning bigger plans. But West doesn’t think that should sound the death knell for the market. “It’s got to happen. The market is there, and it’s gigantic.”

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