During the fall and winter months each year, the industry starts reflecting on growth, trends, and challenges to prepare for success in the new year. But this year is different than most, as we enter a new decade that will bring a new landscape of technologies and opportunities.
There’s more technology in today’s average home than ever before, and it’s on an upward trend: IDC expects that the global annual smart home revenue will quadruple from $3.2 billion in 2019 to $14.3 billion in under 10 years. Homeowner demand for more smart home, audio, theater, and security systems spells opportunity for dealers to grow their businesses, where they can add both new customers and simultaneously expand features of existing systems. As the average home moves from housing dozens to hundreds of devices, the stakes for system management and performance are rising for dealers. Customer satisfaction can make or break a dealer’s reputation.
A strong foundation is necessary to make the connected home, theater, and security systems reliable and perform up to customer expectations. Power quality needs the same attention as the network. While power is a constant — save for weather-related outages — it fluctuates. Brownouts are a familiar disturbance, where homeowners and dealers can see lights dimming or appliances shutting down, and occurrences such as sags, surges, spikes, and electrical noise are a daily threat to equipment and systems. They aren’t often apparent, and can have a number of causes: incoming power from the grid, a neighboring building, a large appliance power cycling, or even a renewable energy source. Common examples of the presence of power anomalies include frequent system downtime, device lockup, or complete equipment breakdown.
When power anomalies hit a system, the problems quickly trickle from devices to dealers. Power issues can be wrongly attributed to faulty equipment (which isn’t, in fact, faulty), or worse: the dealer, their installation skills, and their reputation. Without proactively addressing the power quality in installations, dealers risk both costs such as product replacement and truck rolls to address system downtime, as well as potential loss of business and reputation damage. To stay ahead of power problems and their effects, dealers can use a two-pronged approach: getting clients on board and choosing the right technology for a power foundation.
For clients who are hesitant about adding a power foundation, a simple analysis can prime them and the installation site for success. A diagnostic tool like the SurgeX enVision, for example, helps dealers prove and find power anomalies. Plugged into any outlet, it tracks the conditions by providing time-stamped reports and analysis. If a homeowner is skeptical of their need for a power foundation, a simple report shows the spikes, sags, and electrical noise that could threaten their technology investment and system experience.
The reports also help dealers find the culprit for a troubled system. Power problems are often present in systems that need extra service, like those frequently requiring remote reboots or equipment that repeatedly needs service and replacement, like a speaker or projector.
For example, one home in rural upstate New York was outfitted with a home automation system with over 20 audio and video zones. But the dealer was repeatedly called back to reboot the system or go out to the house to fix lighting, shades, settop boxes, and other devices that were dying or malfunctioning. The dealer couldn’t identify the source of the issue, so they put in a diagnostic tool that showed that unstable power was the culprit. The dealer proved to the client why the system wasn’t performing up to expectations, and was able to solve it by installing a proper power foundation.
Using analysis, dealers can design the power foundation. The technology for protecting against power problems is universal, but the devices needed will vary from installation to installation. Smaller homes may only need a power conditioner installed in the rack, and houses in areas at risk for frequent lightning storms like the South and Midwest may also call for a surge eliminator.
No matter the type of installation, the surge technology is critical to a successful foundation. Equipment and power strips bought at retailers contain inadequate Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV) technology that’s designed to be self-sacrificial: MOVs pop when a surge comes in as they absorb the extra energy. Not only do they run out, but they still let harmful surge energy through to devices. A multi-stage technology like SurgeX Advanced Series Mode ensures that the surge is completely eliminated instead of deterred, and that the equipment will protect systems and devices without a limited lifespan.
Implementing a plan for a power foundation does more than protect devices from breakdown and downtime. It prevents loss to a dealers’ credibility by removing power anomalies as an invisible variable that can deteriorate their work. Preventing problems safeguards the dealers’ relationship with their customers against the effects of power anomalies, and in turn, customers benefit from having their technology investment protected. A power foundation is an all-win scenario, and a must-have on 2020 installation checklists.
Lauren Simmen joined the SurgeX team in 2012 as director of communications and partner support, and grew quickly to regional manager, sales through her relationship building with both B2B and B2C industry partners. As the director, marketing, she is responsible for communications across AMETEK Electronic Systems Protection, including the ESP and SurgeX brands. She is also responsible for marketing for Powervar, AMETEK Electronic Systems Protection’s sister company. Simmen applies her vast historical engineering and communications background to now also manage strategic partnerships and programs, product development roadmaps, product marketing, and tradeshows and events. She holds trainings at industry events, and was named the NSCA Volunteer of the year. Simmen sits on the board of directors for the NSCA education foundation where she helps spearhead the Ignite programs and initiatives.