The Custom Solution vs. The DIY Revolution

Holly Keller
Feb 03, 2014

Dave Pedigo, CEDIA’s senior director of learning & emerging technologies, recently spoke with writers at Fast Company Labs to shed light on trends in the home automation market for that publication’s audience.

The resulting article, Will the Home Automation Revolution be DIY?, raises some interesting questions for both the tech-savvy homeowner and the CEDIA market.

The story talks about how the rise in consumer adoption of mobile technologies has created a platform for home tech startups to launch a growing number of direct-to-consumer home automation products. While some are clearly trying to undercut the custom market with a DIY approach, Adam Sager, cofounder of home security startup Canary, says his product targets a “middle ground” that’s less work than DIY yet still comes in at a lower price point than custom. From the article:

Sager believes Canary fills a gap in the market for a consumer-level security device. A solution so simple, he says it doesn’t even classify as DIY. In other words, it’s not a solution geared for the Lowe’s weekend warrior--instead, you might one day find it at a big box electronics store.

“[Canary] is designed for normal people to install and use, whether you’re a renter or an owner or just someone who doesn’t want to install a fully integrated system,” he says. “That’s the middle ground between the fully integrated model and the DIY model--the consumer model, and this wasn’t being addressed at all.”

And even for DIY, the barriers to entry are being lowered. According to the article, “This DIY space has long been owned by the geekier among us, requiring comfort with hardware, programming, and electrical wiring. But that’s starting to change,” say the authors, thanks to advances in wireless standards.

Of course, as any CEDIA member who takes pride in what they do will tell you, you get what you pay for. So, what are the trade-offs for the homeowners who seek out these DIY solutions and consumer-grade technologies? Could the plug-and-play marketing be giving them a false sense of security? As Z-Wave Alliance Chairman Mark Walters says in the story, “If you do it right you get tremendous advantages, if you do it wrong you could be opening yourself up to some disappointments.”

And if it’s true that these entry-level solutions will generate greater awareness of the home automation market, a new concern is brought to light. Could bad experiences with poorly-DIYed solutions turn some homeowners off from the whole thing?

Later in the article, Pedigo, along with Crestron Director of Residential Marketing Tom Barnett, expand on what the custom market can provide that the DIY market hasn’t proven reliably capable of – in terms of not only the ultimate tangible functionality, but also the increasingly important security considerations that, when they work well, are invisible to the client.

So, what do you think? Is this so-called DIY revolution a growing threat to the CEDIA market? Even though it’s been said that “there will always be a luxury market,” does the DIY market contribute to a “race to the bottom” for consumer expectations of pricing and installation/setup time?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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