The Rise of the Home Automation Industry



It wasn’t so long ago that home automation technology was thought of as a fancy luxury that only high-level businesses and rich homeowners could enjoy.  The amount of work it took to install these early systems once caused plenty of headaches for electrical contractors, but this has now changed.  Home automation technology has become less of a hassle to install, making it more affordable and widespread.

With these improvements, electrical contractors are seeing a significant benefit in acquiring home automation expertise.  Those who understand the benefits that home automation systems can provide are searching for contractors with the necessary credentials for the job.  In order for electrical contractors to jump into this market, it is important to have an understanding of how the home automation industry has grown and where it’s headed.



What is Home Automation?

First, let’s discuss what home automation means.  Home automation may refer to single programmable devices such as a thermostat, but the definition usually includes the ability to control the majority of a building’s appliances, electrical outlets, heating and air condition, security systems, and more.  Also called “smart homes,” home automation systems can be controlled through devices such as your smartphone, making it extremely convenient for people to manage their homes and businesses no matter where they are.  This, in addition to safety, security, and energy conservation, make home automation systems appealing to many.




The Beginning of Home Automation

Many people are surprised to learn that home automation systems have been around for a while now.  The only problem was that the technology was just not quite advanced enough to make it feasible for the masses.  Here is a timeline of important milestones in the home automation industry:

1898:  The year that electrical engineer Nicola Tesla’s patent was approved, which described what was essentially the first remote control.  That same year he held a demonstration in Madison Square Garden that pushed the limits of technology at the time.

1934:  In Chicago, the World’s Fair would begin introducing the concept of home automation technology.  While spectators were intrigued, the technology was still decades away from being invented.

1950:  Jack Kilby revolutionized the electronics industry with the invention of an integrated circuit and would help pave the way for smart home technology.

1951:  The first commercially available computer, called UNIVAC I, is created.

1956:  The first wireless television remote was invented by Zenith Electronics LLC.

1969:  ARPAnet, the first network, is introduced by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

1975:  The X10 project was a protocol invented by Pico Electronics that allowed electronic devices to communicate with each other.

1978:  X10 develops light switches, thermostat controllers, and many other technologies that could be controlled by computers.

1980:  Bill Gates and Paul Allen created MS-DOS, the basis of Windows.

1984:  Apple introduces their first personal computer to consumers, called the Macintosh Personal Computer.

1984:  Home automation technology begins to be more commonplace.  This technology was seen in garage doors, security systems, sprinklers, HVAC, and more.

1990s-2000s:  The code for the World Wide Web is completed during this time, and smart homes start becoming widespread.  As technology improves, the systems become easier to install and more affordable.




Home Automation Today

Now that we have a brief history of home automation, it’s time to look at how this technology is performing in today’s economy.  The increased use of smartphones, rising energy costs, and improved technology has all led to home automation becoming more mainstream.  In addition, the consumer’s awareness of the need to reduce energy and cut emissions is also contributing to the boom in home automation technology.

The industry is only expected to grow as the economy strengthens.  According to a report by Transparency Market Research, the global home automation market was estimated at $4.41 billion in 2013 and is expected to rise to $21.6 billion by 2020.  This lucrative market is ripe for the taking for contractors who want to expand their services in the home automation sector.

How Does This Affect Electrical Contractors?

The rise of the home automation industry has provided electrical contractors with a unique opportunity.  As home automation technology continues to grow, the need for an effective infrastructure to sustain these systems becomes even more important.  Simply providing homeowners and business owners with the flexibility they need to support these systems will go a long way.  While electrical contractors may not need home automation credentials to benefit from this, receiving training and certifications in the home automation industry can certainly give them a boost.

Teaming Up to Boost Profits

Many electrical contractors are finding themselves installing structured wiring in homes and businesses in order to accommodate home automation systems.  Some are diving right in and installing entire home automation services—something that they could not have done previously without the help of a computer technician and a programmer.

However, others are deciding to partner with builders and integrators to maximize their profits.  While the electrical contractor uses their own parts and equipment to handle the rough in, the integrator takes over and handles the rest.  This partnership allows electrical contractors to reclaim some of the structured wiring market that was being taken by home automation experts.

Training, Certificates, and Licensing

It isn’t too difficult for electrical contractors to get home automation-related training and certification.  The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) is an organization that can provide contractors with training and certification programs.  In addition, there are also many private organizations that offer home automation training.


Home automation technology isn’t new, but the home automation industry has been experiencing steady growth in the last decade that is causing electrical contractors to take notice.  Contractors can benefit by paying attention to the home automation market and providing clients with a flexible infrastructure to accommodate this smart technology.  In addition, training courses and certificates can also help electrical contractors stand apart from their competitors and earn more bids.


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