Multidwelling units, or MDUs, are an expanding segment of the residential market, especially in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, CA. They’re also a largely untapped market for contractors and installers of home automation technologies.
With On Controls, MTS has an easily repeatable system that electrical contractors—who are typically less familiar with low-voltage technologies such as home automation—can install in volume with no complications.
One such contractor, VanKirk Electric, has taken its business headlong into this emerging market. An electrical contractor with a national presence specializing in MDU complexes, the company decided to add low-voltage connected home technologies to the tens of thousands of units it already services. Called Monarc Tree Systems, or MTS, the division offers developers of MDUs “a catalog of products ranging from lighting to security that they could choose from, to create seamless individual automation experiences for their tenants on a project-wide scale,” said MTS CEO Lacey Van Kirk.
At Millennium Del Rey, a MDU complex in Los Angeles, MTS handled the rough-in, installation, testing and trim-out at each of the apartments before handing the job over to a local integrator, the Westlake Village, CA-based ToGoOnline. ToGoOnline then configured the systems for each customer and provided them with training for a smooth transition to daily use. Of the 196 total units within the Millennium Del Rey complex, 138 are now MTS smart home-equipped residences.
But Millennium Del Rey is just the start. The key to success for contractors in the MDU market is ease of repeatability, and MTS found a simple, easy-to-use solution to facilitate this with On Controls. With On Controls, MTS has an easily repeatable system that electrical contractors—who are typically less familiar with low-voltage technologies such as home automation—can install in volume with no complications. For the Millennium Del Rey project, MTS applied a proprietary user interface to the On Controls framework, offering renters a customized and simple solution for lighting, temperature, and AV control.
MTS’s connected home installations are able to utilize existing home automation technologies such as Z-Wave and IR to control lighting, thermostat, and built-in speakers. Before the installation, all connected devices were preconfigured with the On Controls software to ensure an easy setup and virtually maintenance-free operation. Using a newly introduced piece of compact hardware called On Controls Connect, tenants simply download the Monarc Tree app, press the “sync” button, and all of the unit’s networked devices—including the Apple TV and Global Cache IR controllers—are discovered on the network, ready to be controlled either locally or remotely from any connected location (Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G).
Still, all of the convenience in the world is of little value if the devices aren’t reliable. According to John Tumbleson, principal at ToGoOnline, dependability is not a problem for the On Controls system. “One thing I love about the On Controls system: if you set it up correctly once, you don’t have to go back,” he said.
The smart home features in Millennium Del Rey aren’t just some glitzy sales tool; tenants have embraced the functionality and appreciate the simplicity and modern conveniences that the On Controls framework has brought to their luxury apartments. Now residents have easy access to lighting and temperature control, as well as their built-in Apple TV, which features applications like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go. Apple TV also allows for full access to personal iCloud and iTunes accounts and AirPlay, a content-streaming function that allows guests in the apartment to play their media from any handheld device to the Apple TV.
Thanks to the collaboration with On Controls, MTS’s home automation package for multi-family dwellings has opened up an opportunity for the mass adoption of home automation to an underserved demographic, and created a vital link for dealers like ToGoOnline to take part in capturing new customers in this expanding market segment.