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Sky's the Limit

WHEN PRO AV ASKS ITS READERS whether they do work in the residential market, nearly half say they do. Now, that figure might be down this year if all we were talking about was single-family homes. But residential projects encompass so much more.

Such an implicit and potentially appreciating value proposition could help overcome what Gillenwater believes has historically held back wider implementation of integrated AV/IT systems in MDUs. “Developers did not see the value in systems and as a result were reluctant to pay for them,” he says. “They couldn't see the possibility of successfully passing the costs on to the buyer. When you have a flexible set of systems and give the buyer options, you have a better chance of making the upsell and creating an ongoing revenue source.”

CAUTIONARY TALE

Still, experts caution that not everything on the market is ready for prime time, and that anything that's not bulletproof could offset the benefits of a well-connected building.

“Energy conservation, in the form of lighting control and automated window shades, is a huge priority for home buyers now,” says Bill Schafer, director of channel development at Crestron. “But developers have to make sure that the components going into these systems are capable of working in an MDU environment, which is different from that of a single-family home.”

For instance, Schafer cites the wide use of wireless dimmers in MDUs as a way to expedite electricians' installation work. “But you can't put a wireless dimmer designed for a house in Kansas into a condo in Manhattan,” he says. “The RF environments are totally different. The condo wireless dimmer has to be properly shielded against a higher level of RF.”

In fact, says Schafer, the products Crestron recommends for MDU use are the same ones it specifies for medical and military applications. “Using components that aren't specified for heavy-duty use is taking a chance on making the home automation systems a liability rather than an asset.”

Dan Daley is a freelance technology writer, author, songwriter, and music producer.

Credit: Cy CYR/WPN



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