Retrofit Technology to Existing Homes Without New Wiring
By Erik Anderson and Jacqueline Woo, Lutron
Builders and remodelers have the ability to retrofit existing homes, including standing inventory, with many of the new technologies that are now in demand — without having to add wiring or cut holes in walls — by using radio frequency (RF) or wireless technology.
Wireless technology that can be used to remotely set the mood or save energy usage can be used in existing homes without installing new wiring or cutting into walls.
RF technology is fairly commonplace today and includes items such as cordless phones, garage door openers and the anti-shoplifting detectors often found in department stores.
RF technology also is incorporated in many of the home technologies that enable consumers to save energy and enhance their lifestyles. In fact, some RF products have been on the market more than 10 years.
While technologies that are hard-wired have greater reliability — primarily because they aren’t subject to interference from microwaves, cordless phones or other electronic devices — strong and dependable wireless options for builders and remodelers do exist.
One of the most cost-effective ways remodelers can easily include many of the new technologies not found in older homes is to replace light switches with electronic dimmers, old thermostats with programmable models and ceiling and bath fan controls with controls that have timers. By regularly selling and marketing these technologies to home owners, builders and remodelers can create a consistent revenue stream that makes a positive difference to their bottom line.
They also benefit by increasing service to their customers — by providing key products such as automated energy management systems that can help home owners save money. With rising fuel costs, consumers are looking for new ways to cut expenses.
By making small investments in dimmers, programmable thermostats and controls with timers, home owners can pocket immediate savings. But they need to be offered and sold these options.
RF technology adds a bit more “wow” to these retrofitted products by enabling them to be operated remotely. With RF built into the lighting, for instance, home owners can turn on house lights from their car — creating a safe pathway into the home.
They can also press the “goodnight” button on the controller on their nightstand, which can be set to automatically turn off all the lights and adjust other controls ― such as leaving the bathroom light on at 15% so it can serve as a nightlight.
Home owners can also program the "goodnight" button to adjust their thermostats to a night setting that can reduce energy usage or set a comfort level.
RF solutions also can be added to a single room or throughout the entire house.
For instance, there are multi-room audio and media server systems with RF capabilities. These systems enable home owners to watch and listen to their digital content ― music and images ― on TVs, audio systems and computers in different rooms throughout their homes without being tied to one personal computer.
Wireless technology — which has greatly increased in quality and consistency — can meet customer demand for an automated and more comfortable lifestyle, especially when cost and space issues inhibit tearing down walls. In addition, consumers who want less time for remodeling projects can enjoy almost instant technology gratification with wireless retrofit solutions.
Building industry professionals who provide and market retrofit products understand this and regularly talk to their customers about lifestyle needs. They have differentiated themselves from their peers and increased their revenue as a result.
Erik Anderson, CGA, CGP, of Lutron Electronics, is an active member of NAHB. He works with the 20 Club Program and Home Technology Alliance. For more information, e-mail Anderson, or call him at 484-809-3867.
Jacqueline Woo, of Lutron Electronics, is a member of the Remodelers Council of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. For more information, e-mail Woo, or call her at 610-392-3258.
Information About Home Technology Available From HTA
The Home Technology Alliance (HTA) is a partnership between NAHB and the Custom Electronic Design Installation Association (CEDIA) that was formed to position the housing industry to effectively meet the growing home buyer demand for home technology and provide maximum return on investment in the new home building and remodeling process.
For more information, visit www.nahb.org/HTA.
CEDIA: A Source for Experienced ESCs
The Custom Electronic Design Installation Association (CEDIA) is a founding sponsor in the Home Technology Alliance and an international trade association of companies that specialize in designing and installing electronic systems for the home.
CEDIA members are established and insured businesses with bona fide qualifications and experience in this field. CEDIA serves as a source for Electronic Systems Contractors (ESCs).
For more information on CEDIA, visit the association’s Web site at www.cedia.org. To find an ESC, click here.