eZiControl – Home Automation
Home automation is becoming the standard in most modern homes. The homeowner is generally not a home automation specialist and will require guidance and assistance. This normally comes in the form of a sales person trying to match their product offering to the homeowner’s needs. Therein lies the problem – how does the homeowner know that what is being offered is correct for the home and not correct for the supplier. Home Automation consists of a number of facets – Lighting, Security, Intrusion, Water Management (e.g. sprinklers and pool pumps), curtain and blind, Audio Visual and so on. Each of these facets or systems requires control of some form and this is where the homeowner is normally offered the best solution that the supplier has – not necessarily the best solution for their particular application. Let’s understand this a bit better – All manufacturers of Home Automation systems have invested millions of dollars/euro’s in research and development to produce their own products that are set up (engineered) with their own engineering app or program. These companies need to recoup their investment. This old business model is great for the manufacturer but not for the homeowner – WHY ? – simply because the homeowner is investing in a single source product with single source engineering tools and is locked into the performance of the equipment supplier and contractor. If the supplier has no stock or the contractor that installed the system has not performed or there is a design fault that requires attention, the homeowner has no alternatives. In other words – held to ransom by the single source contractor who holds the engineering files for the installation. Simply stated, the homeowner has only one option once he selects a home automation system that is single source. This problem is not unique to Home Automation, it exists wherever technology is used. As an example, consider the old computer monitors – you had to buy a monitor that had a video input that was specific to the computers type – in other words there were no standards that defined how a monitor should work. After a number of years, the standards were set up and adopted by the manufacturers because the users pressurised the industry to provide a more open solution. Today you know that when you buy a monitor it will work on your computer – no matter what monitor or computer you are connecting together. If we expand this example to commercial buildings, building owners pressurised the Building Automation manufacturers to produce standardised products. A non-profit organisation ASHRAE (https://www.ashrae.org/) wrote a specification for open systems called BACnet (http://www.bacnet.org/). A few manufacturers tried to produce their own standards – Echelon is one of these (http://www.echelon.com/) and there are others – however the vast majority of building owners and specifiers in the commercial building industry have standardised on BACnet because it is an open platform – in other words – “Not owned by a particular company”. This has been done with the sole purpose of standardising systems in the built environment. If open standards exist and they are sophisticated and reliable enough to be adopted in hi-rise buildings, military installations, power stations e.t.c. then surely they must be good enough for homes. The simple answer is YES – they are! So why are homeowners still installing proprietary systems? Well there is a bit of history regarding these various standards BUT CURRENTLY, there is NO REASON the end user should be locked into using proprietary systems. The history is that the home automation industry is relying on the fact that homeowners are individually installing systems because no industry lobby group is driving the interests of homeowners – the industry is being driven by the manufacturers for the benefit of the manufacturers at the expense of the homeowner – History lesson over. Manufacturers will argue that “standards cost money” – well yes there are costs associated initially, however once the standards have been developed and adopted, the product prices begin to drop as the technology matures. If we look at the products in the commercial building space, the prices have dropped dramatically – to the point that they are now comparable in price and in some cases cheaper than Home Automation products and various other products manufactured specifically for Home Automation industry. As a systems engineer with over 25 years’ experience in building automation, I noticed that the Home Automation industry was being driven by manufacturers in a direction that was opposite to the rest of the built environment trends – eZiControl is iLED’s solution to this. With eZiControl we have the industry knowledge to select open platform products from various suppliers and offer them to home owners through a channel of trained System Integrator’s. This open platform approach has massive benefits for homeowners such as
- Multiple product suppliers based on open protocols
- Multiple Installers trained and certified through iLED University
- Reliable proven technology
Item 1 and 2 ensure that each homeowner remains in control of their own system by having a choice of suppliers and installers and never being held to ransom when a supplier has no stock or an installer retains the programming for the system forcing the homeowner to use their services. We have taken what is a proven technology applied in the built environment and structured the solution to fit the residential automation market – eZiControl is like having the intelligence of corporate HiRISE buildings at your fingertips. Yes – eZiControl really is that eZi.