Among professional home-automation systems, Control4 is already considered ‘mainstream’, but the new CA-1 controller, introduced this week at ISE 2018, is downright affordable.

It takes the best of Control4’s IoT solutions – including integration with lighting, energy management, security, surveillance, Alexa and more – and packs them into a $350 (MSRP) box.

It has the same IP (Ethernet, Wi-Fi), ZigBee and serial control as Control4’s flagship EA Series, but it also incorporates Z-Wave more integrally than before – via a slide-in module, rather than an external dongle.

About the only thing it doesn’t have is the EA’s slightly higher price tag (starts at $600 with a handheld remote) and audio/video capabilities (streaming media and IR control of AV gear).

The CA-1 was built “specifically as a new entry point for homeowners who want peace of mind, comfort and convenience,” says Kordon Vaughn, Control4 senior director of product marketing, in an interview with CE Pro.

Control4 keeps coming down in price, but the production-builder and MDU markets (hotels, condos, hospitality) remain elusive. True, Toll Brothers offers Control4 as an option for all new homes, but the large national builder has yet to develop a community that includes home-automation standard in every unit – the Holy Grail for all control companies, and pretty much every company that sells into new construction.

“Toll Brothers offers Control4 as an upgrade, not a standard,” says Brad Hintze, Control4 senior director of product marketing. “Injecting an integrator conversation into the home-buying cycle can be challenging; however if the builder puts this affordable unit into every home, it is much easier for the dealer to come in later and customise the system for the new home owner.”

Vaughn adds, “The new price point really is going to resonate with homebuilders and developers, even hotels.”

CA-1: Same Control4 Smart-Home Ecosystem, Programming

Some smart-home vendors that go down-market create separate ecosystems and programming environments for their new offerings.

Often, they do this to strip costs or artificially limit the feature set of the lower-priced options.

“Many home-control companies sell their products through multiple channels, like security dealers, electrical contractors and higher-end ‘CEDIA’ dealers,” Vaughn explains. “Often, they want their products to ‘look’ different for each channel, or program differently to reflect the skills of the installer.”

Control4 doesn’t take this approach with the CA-1, which integrates with the same thousands of products that EA controllers already support. Users also enjoy the same feature sets, same user interfaces, and same personalisation tools such as Control4’s new When/Then “DIY” engine.

“We leverage the existing Control4 ecosystem,” Vaughn says. “We wanted dealers to immediately succeed. We’ve learned that when you bifurcate your product line – when you have two different types of systems – you can’t get the scale of starting simple and then going big over time.”

In the case of the CA-1, Control4 dealers need not learn another programming environment, nor confuse the brand with different UIs and features.

The approach also allows dealers to easily upgrade to an AV-capable EA-Series controller.

“You could start with a CA-1 and then add AV,” Vaughn says. “It’s as simple as adding an EA-5 to the project. All of the programming comes with it.”

He adds that typically there will be little reason to “upgrade” to an EA-5 unless AV is the objective.

The CA-1 can support more than 100 smart devices and systems out of the box – already overkill for the typical entry-level home. For larger homes and projects, the integrator would simply start with an EA-Series controller.

Control4 CA-1 Features & Specs

The Control4 CA-1 Automation Controller is the perfect entry point into Control4 automation built around security, comfort, and convenience solutions. It has built-in control for IP, ZigBee, and serial devices, plus an internal slot for a Z-Wave Plus module (sold separately). It is designed for homeowners, builders, MDUs, and hotels that want smart experiences that include smart lighting, thermostats, door locks, cameras, sensors, shades, and more.

The CA-1 is the foundation that makes smart products work together to deliver rich, orchestrated automation —the smart home experience homeowners truly want.

• The simplest way to experience the Control4 Smart Home
• Orchestrated automation for door locks, shades, cameras, sensors, and lighting
• Built on Control4’s proven OS and ecosystem
• Built-in connectivity for IP, ZigBee, and serial devices
• Expansion slot for optional Z-Wave module
• Perfect for broad-scale deployments
• Can be powered by PoE—making it an ideal tool to expand ZigBee in larger Control4 installations

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