When smart and connected home consumer devices first emerged, the market for them was largely limited to techies who felt comfortable retrofitting their homes all on their own.
Today, as the desire for internet-connected products becomes more widespread, there’s a growing need for qualified professionals to set them up and make them work efficiently together. Companies that provide installation services are taking notice and rising to the occasion.
One such company is American Residential Services (ARS), a Memphis-based, privately-held national provider of air conditioning, heating and plumbing services with 70 locations around the country. This May, the company teamed up with Nest, a producer of programmable, self-learning, sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled devices, to offer the Nest Learning Thermostat as a standard component of most of its middle and upper-tier residential HVAC installations. The company is also offering to install Nest thermostats as an optional upgrade when performing service and maintenance on previously installed systems.
“As the smart home goes mainstream there’s a shift from the DIY market to the do-it-for-me market, and that’s created a channel for targeting pro installation. Given the fact our company has the largest footprint of HVAC installations, it seemed like a natural marriage, because Nest has a product and we have the infrastructure to install that in the field,” said Luis Orbegoso, president and COO of ARS/Rescue Rooter.
The Nest Learning Thermostat learns the temperatures a homeowner prefers and then programs itself. It alerts homeowners in the event it detects problems with the home’s HVAC system, and allows homeowners to monitor their daily and monthly energy history. It’s been proven to save homeowners an average of 10 to 12 percent on heating costs and 15 percent on cooling costs.
“A lot of benefits start to happen when you have this technology at your fingertips,” said Gene LaNois, head of professional channel at Nest.
The Nest thermostat is designed for customers to be able to install it themselves, but LaNois said that not every customer has the time or comfort level to do so.
“When you’re dealing with electrical products, installation may not be something everyone wants to do themselves. A large partner like ARS can help the do-it-for-me consumers,” he said.
Orbegoso sees the Nest Learning Thermostat as a way to introduce the concept of the smart home to customers. Once they’ve experienced the safety and sustainability benefits of Nest, he said, customers are likely to be more interested in using other connected devices and getting professionals to make sure they all communicate with one another properly.
“Because of the wide variety of wireless devices, integration between those devices can be clunky most times. We can help make them integrate seamlessly.” Orbegoso said.
In just the last few months, thousands of customers across the country have experienced the Nest Learning Thermostat in their homes for the first time. But that’s just the beginning of the smart home revolution Orbegoso sees coming.
“Our strategy is starting with the Nest Thermostat and then we’ll move on to other connected devices, such as cameras, smoke detectors and CO detectors that drive additional value for our customers,” Orbegoso said. “In fact, we have some locations professionally installing these other devices currently.”
As the smart home becomes even more popular, customers are going to want to ensure their connected products are easy to use and capable of merging with a wider technological ecosystem. Those goals can be best achieved with professional installation.
“It’s a nice way of knowing you’re going to get the job done right,” LaNois said.