Big box retailer Lowe’s has jumped into the smart energy home biz, an overcrowded market that has already seen failed efforts by Microsoft, Google and Cisco. But Lowe’s entry into home energy management, which follows Best Buy’s move into the sector last November, might prove more meaningful and ultimately more successful than the Internet and networking gear giants that came before it. Here’s why.
Like its foray into solar last year, Lowe’s has decided to move beyond just selling a few home energy gadgets. It’s pushing the whole package.
Lowe’s announce Thursday it will launch Iris, a cloud-based home energy management system that will let customers connect the smart gadgets in their home into one network and digitally manage those devices via mobile app or computer. The UK-based smart home technology company AlertMe is providing the management system, which will be rolled out in select Lowe’s stores by midyear. The system will initially support Zigbee and Z-Wave wireless protocols and have the flexibility to work over additional standards over time, a company spokesman told me via email today.
Iris will include energy and home management applications to monitor and control thermostats, smart plugs, lighting, door locks, motion sensors and door/window/cabinet sensors, among other devices, AlertMe said in a release. For example, a customer can monitor and control the heating and air conditioning of their home — when they’re not at home.
There are other cloud-based home energy management systems out there in the world. But the Lowe’s offering is interesting because the company says it’s priced for the mass market (meaning cheaper) and customers will be available to chose from one of several kits. Plus, Lowe’s already sells many of the smart home appliances that would eventually be connected under the management system, making them a one-stop shop of sorts.
That puts the big box retailer, which has more than 1,725 home improvement stores, in a powerful position when working with manufacturers. You’d assume Lowe’s will want any smart appliance sold in its stores to be compatible with its home energy management system.