Residential construction and integration has remained a beacon for construction and allied trades throughout the turmoil of the past year. Even as confidence in nonresidential construction remains lukewarm, residential construction and real estate enjoying a historic boom. Existing homes are being upgraded as well: homeowners spent much of the year in quarantine feathering their nests, and a lot of their investment went to custom electronics. CE Pro’s annual State of the Industry study found that the custom electronics industry grew 11.4 percent last year, far outstripping the growth rate of the electrical industry more broadly.
Electricians interested in getting a larger share of this investment should look to expand their low voltage integration partnerships and connected home portfolios. With any such opportunity, the first step is to learn the terrain—and there’s no better place to do that than the upcoming CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis.
CEDIA Expo is the leading tradeshow for smart and home technology. While the show floor itself is a learning opportunity, electricians are well advised to take advantage of the formal training available. CEDIA Expo features over 100 educations sessions, many of which are available on-demand for those who cannot attend the expo in person. We spoke with CEDIA Director of Workforce Training Ken Erdmann, a licensed journeyman electrician who has taught in the Utah State University electrical apprenticeship program for 15 years, to find out which sessions in this dense program would have the most value for electrical contractors.
“This year’s slate of CEDIA Education offerings includes a nice variety that would appeal to electrical contractors who are looking to broaden their skillsets into smart home technology and other work involving high-tech, low-voltage installs,” say Erdmann. “For electrical contractors to best serve their customers they need to know what is possible and who to call to get it done or how to do it themselves.”
Understanding the Smart and Home Technology Landscape
The show floor can be overwhelming. Luckily, the education program features talks on the current state and future trajectory of the custom home technology landscape that can help electricians put all the booths into context. Erdmann’s top session recommendations for electricians include:
Future Technologies: The Inside Scoop from Silicon Valley
An annual show mainstay: in this 90-minute session, veteran consultant Rich Green analyzes how emerging technology is likely to impact the custom integration industry. For electricians, this is a chance to see the breadth of the industry and identify what education sources they’ll need to tap into for the future.
Decoding the Video Display Landscape
Residential technology integrations are often anchored by large displays; any electrical contractor looking to enter this space must understand the alphabet soup of display technology descriptors. This 90-minute overview from Michael Heiss will explain current and near future display technologies, including how to evaluate which technology is right for a particular project.
Understanding the Custom Integration Customer
People tend to take their custom home theaters and dedicated media rooms very personally. To capture this market, electricians need to approach clients with empathy. In this three-hour workshop, Peter Aylett and Rich Green will teach integrators how to conduct client interviews and create system designs using the principles of human-centered design.
Lighting is a natural entry point for electrical contractors into custom technology experiences. Today’s custom lighting designs are about much more than the number and location of luminaires in each room, though. This one-hour session from Al Bourke and Victor Menendez will explore how lighting can affect human psychology – helping electrical contractors work high-margin circadian lighting systems into their portfolios.
Going Deep on Custom Technology Integration
The custom integration industry differs from electrical contracting on a lot more than voltage. This four-hour workshop from Ian Williams will expose those interested in launching a low voltage business to the operational requirements, sales and marketing practices, licensing and service contracts, and hidden pitfalls particular to this industry.
Network-based AV distribution is gaining popularity. It’s also easy to get wrong. What looks like just another Ethernet cable could, without the right components and proper network configuration, fail to work at all or bring down the whole network. This 90-minute session from David Meyer will introduce electricians to the AV-over-IP technology landscape and explore when a project would benefit from IP distribution, how to estimate bandwidth requirements, and more.
For those ready to explore professional industry certification, CEDIA Expo will feature review sessions and learning opportunities for CEDIA’s internationally-recognized Cabling and Infrastructure Technician (CIT) and Integrated Systems Technician (IST) certifications. “Both of these certifications could prove invaluable for new avenues of business growth and professional development,” says Erdmann. “From the highly-technical to the business-minded, CEDIA Education has coursework and engagement opportunities in-person and online that can be real differentiators for your business.”
Registration for CEDIA Expo 2021 is open now. Visit cediaexpo.com to explore the full program, sign up for classes, and register to attend.