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Connected Homes July 2019 Viewpoints

Technology Analyst: Christian Feest

Connected Rented Homes

Why is this topic significant?

Whether a person owns or rents a home affects his or her connected-home purchase interests. Conflicting demands concerning connected devices in the home may exist between tenants and landlords.

Description

Tenants and landlords make up a significant proportion of the potential connected-home market. Approximately a third of US residents rent their home, and in many European countries, such as the United Kingdom and Germany, an even greater proportion of the population rents. Several real-estate companies are integrating connected-home equipment into rented homes—often as a way to attract tenants. For example, apartments in The Stanwix apartment block in Brooklyn, New York, all come with home-automation technology—such as smart lighting, package-delivery-notification functionality, and a complimentary Amazon Alexa—as standard. Elsewhere, property-management company S2 Capital is overhauling 30,000 of its rental apartments in Texas to convert them to smart apartments. Tenants will control devices in these smart apartments using the Zego smart-apartment platform powered by Amazon Alexa. Similarly, the Alliance Residential Company is in the process of installing its Google- and Dwelo-powered Alliance SmartHome technology package across 25,000 apartments in the United States.

Implications

Whether an occupant rents or owns a home has a significant impact on which connected-home devices that occupant finds viable. For example, portable products such as smart speakers are likely to appeal to both owners and renters equally, but tenants are unlikely to install permanent fixtures in a property they do not own. By contrast, landlords are potential customers for fixed devices, such as smart locks and smart thermostats, but such devices may not suit all tenants. In May 2019, five tenants of a New York City apartment block won a court case against their landlord after the landlord installed smart locks on the building's lobby door. The tenants argued the smart lock presented privacy concerns, because the device could potentially enable the landlord to monitor when tenants enter and leave the building. (Latch, the manufacturer of the smart lock, denies these claims.) The tenants also argued that an elderly resident was unable to use the smart lock. Although this case will not set a legal precedent, it shows how connected-home devices may make properties less desirable to some potential tenants. However, these same devices may increase the desirability of rental properties for other potential tenants.

Impacts/Disruptions

As more homes integrate smart devices, more tenants may demand such technologies when renting properties. However, in addition to the potential legal issues some connected-home devices present such as the issues above, compatibility issues also exist. If a tenant's personal and portable devices, such as his or her smartphones and smart speakers, are part of a particular ecosystem, this ecosystem may present a barrier for the tenant when moving and exclude the tenant from apartments he or she might otherwise like.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium to High

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Real estate, home energy, building management, digital assistants, connected devices

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas:

At-Home Electric-Vehicle Charging

Why is this topic significant?

Growing demand for electric vehicles is fueling growing demand—and innovations—within the at-home-EV-charging market.

Description

The various types of charging stations available to electric-vehicle (EV) owners divide into three categories: level 1, level 2, and quick charging. Level 1 charging stations operate at 120 volts alternating current (AC)—the standard household voltage of power sockets in the United States—which translates to roughly 4 miles of range per hour of charging, depending on the car. Level 2 charging stations operate at 240 volts AC—the standard voltage of many household power sockets outside the Americas—and enable charging at a rate of approximately 25 miles of range per hour of charging. In the United States, EVs typically use level 1 chargers as standard, but EV owners can install level 2 chargers if they so desire. The third and more powerful type of charging station—quick charging—operates at 480 volts direct current and enables approximately 100 additional miles of range per hour, but it is unavailable in homes at present.

Many EV charging stations contain functionality to reduce charging costs by taking advantage of utility time-of-use rate programs. For example, some Siemens chargers contain functionality to vary amperage demand on a timer, enabling users to charge EVs at times of day when electricity prices are lower. Other models—from ChargePoint and eMotorWerks—come with Wi-Fi connectivity, enabling users to control EV charging remotely via dedicated applications or connected smart assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Apple's Siri.

Another potentially more ambitious energy program involving EVs is Nissan Energy Share. The November 2018 program plans to utilize the bidirectional charging capabilities of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle to improve energy management in the home. Drivers will be able, for example, to use energy stored in the Leaf battery to power their home at peak times, and the program could potentially enable drivers to return stored energy to the grid to help stabilize it.

Implications

Although faster charging speeds are clearly desirable to EV owners, safety concerns and costs limit the commercialization of quick-charging stations in the home. Ordinary plug sockets and cables may overheat when operating at or near maximum power for extended periods. Further, without installing a dedicated circuit, typical home electrical infrastructure is unlikely to suit the large power demands of quick-charging stations, which may cause circuit breakers to trip. Instead, innovations in the at-home EV-charging-station market are likely to focus on improving energy utilization and storage—at least in the short term.

Impacts/Disruptions

EVs have quickly and steadily proliferated in the past decade, from an estimated total stock of 6,000 EVs worldwide in 2009 to potentially over 9 million EVs by the end of 2019. If programs such as Nissan Energy Share see organization, standardization, and wide adoption, the large number of contributing EVs could play an important role in home energy management and energy-grid stabilization.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium to High

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Automotive, home energy, energy storage, clean energy, utilities

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas: