Control4 announced a strategic reselling agreement with Silver Springs Networks on Wednesday that will provide a fully integrated solution of energy management and demand response services for utilities and their residential customers.
Under the agreement, Control4 will integrate its EC-100 Energy Controller, WT-100 thermostat, and Advantage software with Silver Spring’s Advanced Metering, UtilityIQ and CustomerIQ applications. In lay terms, Control4 will serve as the hardware gateway for Silver Spring's demand response services and Silver Spring will be able to introduce Control4 to utilities that might be interested in convincing customers to adopt intelligent thermostats and demand response services. In some instances, utilities will subsidize this hardware: partnering with Silver Springs is thus potentially a big deal.
Silver Spring just released a demand response product in October of last year in an effort to expand its software portfolio. Interestingly, Silver Spring actually has hardware technology it could use inside homes from its Greenbox acquisition, but Silver Spring has morphed Greenbox into a software-only solution.
“The interoperability of Control4 EC-100 units with Silver Spring’s Smart Energy Platform creates a robust end-to-end Smart Grid architecture,” said Susan Cashen, VP Marketing for Control4. “Interoperability sounds trivial and is taken for granted, but utilities are finding out that having [ZigBee] SEP 1.0 certified meters and SEP certified HAN devices far from guarantee that the two will work together.”
Other HAN marriages to look for: Tendril and General Electric; EcoFactor and cable/cellular carriers; Motorola and carriers.
Unlike many other home energy management companies, Control4 is coming to the market with other products that include wireless home networking systems from audio systems, lighting and security. Its console is meant to offer a whole lot more than just demand response and energy management. The 5-inch screen display allows customers to monitor everything from a wireless thermostat and other smart devices, and could also host applications such as Facebook, RSS feeds and Netflix, making it a destination for apps that fit every facet of a consumer’s life. However, with products like an iPad, it’s unclear that consumers are looking for separate displays when they might rather just log onto a web dashboard or app on a smart phone.
For utilities, however, the combination of products will be promising. The integration of meter, communications, HAN applications and demand response could mean one-stop shopping. Control4’s open platform also allows for utilities to build applications to integrate with the EC-100 Energy Controller.
At AEP Ohio, 1,000 customers will receive the Energy Controller, which includes an in-home feedback and HAN device, and 200 of those customers will also receive the programmable thermostat. Currently, the suite of products is just for the residential market.
Cashen characterized the partnership between the AMI giant and Control4 as one that will drive momentum and benefit both, which she likened to the partnership to iPhone and AT&T (if so, who is the AT&T in this case?). Lofty comparisons beside, for Control4, the pairing means access to millions of homes that already sport a Silver Spring meter. The partnership is currently in discussion and negotiation with various utilities already using Silver Spring products. “We’ve got a hefty pipeline to drive thousands of units by summertime,” said Cashen.