The Integrated Home and SHEMS - Technology Newsletter

January 2020

January 2020

The Integrated Home and SHEMS 

Events in 2020 are already suggesting that this will be the year of the integrated home. My comment is based upon the market growth of smart or connected lighting products – and indeed connected electrical products of all types that are increasingly being installed in homes. At some point, they will need to be interconnected to simplify control, exchange data, expedite servicing and provide information to the user. They become linked into a whole-house system – an integrated home. Complexity is a strong driver. Even if homeowners and users are technically savvy, they are going to run out of time and patience trying to install, manage, troubleshoot and secure their various appliances and systems, especially in larger homes. A growing proliferation of products, many of which are not compatible, means that, at some point, there will be standardization and system integration. I see that happening in 2020, and one indicator is a new alliance involving Google, Apple and Amazon with plans to standardize communication protocols for voice assistants, which, according to Adobe, are already the second most popular way, after wireless phones, to control smart home products. See more here and here.


Those who attended the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Phoenix may recall that I gave a short technical review about smart, connected and integrated homes during one of the general sessions. The information was particularly timely because Energy Star had just rolled out the details of their Smart Home Energy Management System (SHEMS) as a way to save energy and better manage the many smart products being put into homes. Connected lighting is an integral part of SHEMS, and Energy Star predicts that integrated homes with SHEMS will see overall home energy savings of 4 to 15 percent.


There are several ways to put together systems for integrated homes using electronic hub devices and interconnected components that communicate directly or wirelessly via Bluetooth or internet routers. These can be DIY projects or professional installations. Manufacturers of household appliances and TVs are competing to provide the electronics and software that will make the systems work. Energy Star, however, also added the idea of a service component into their SHEMS plan, and expect to certify their first smart home service provider during the second quarter of 2020. 


Who might be the service providers for the Energy Star SHEMS? That’s an open question, but it is something that ALA members, and especially retailers, may want to follow from a business standpoint. Service providers are expected to initially provide local, integrated home services to developers, homeowners associations and other groups or individuals, perhaps as additions to subscription services such as fire or home security monitoring. 


Energy Star specifically included product retailers on their list of potential service providers and has listed various ways for retailers to participate including:

  • As a SHEMS service provider
  • Selling devices or bundles of devices
  • Selling devices along with market certified Energy Star services
  • Selling devices and providing installation assistance
  • Joining with a service provider to offer products and product packages

The SHEMS service provider is required to include the items inside the red dashed rectangle in the diagram, but note the line to Grid Services outside the rectangle. That is where the service provider might connect with the electric utility to provide optional user benefits, such as reduced electrical energy costs in return for data sharing and energy management, depending upon the wishes of the homeowner.


Last year, the ALA set up a reciprocal membership arrangement with the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) and is currently involved as a sponsor, along with several ALA members, in a research study titled “Smart Home as a Service” to better understand not just the technology, but also the business opportunities and future directions of the smart home market. Details can be found here . You will be hearing more about that report, which is scheduled for publication in February 2020. I plan to schedule webinars and information sessions at June Lightovation and the ALA Annual Conference to help ALA members take advantage of the expanding integrated home opportunities.

Engineering & Technology News

Lighting and Homes for Tomorrow

During January Lightovation, the ALA, CEE and UL rolled out the new connected product competition Lighting and Homes for Tomorrow (LHFT). Information sheets were available at The SMART Center, if you missed them, please contact me for a copy or check out the LHFT website at:  LHFT is a product competition for manufacturers of connected residential lighting products including fixtures, ceiling fans, bulbs and controls. The LHFT competition sponsors are electric utilities, associations and others who promote energy savings using high-quality products and systems in connected homes. They want to recognize and promote the products that achieve those goals and do so with a high level of style, appearance, design and function. LHFT replaces the previous Lighting for Tomorrow Competition, which, for 15 years, recognized and promoted the very best energy-saving residential lighting products. The deadline for LHFT submission forms is March 31, 2020, and winners will be recognized at the 2020 ALA Annual Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., Sept. 13-15. Winning products receive a year of promotion at major trade shows in the U.S. and Canada, and are featured in widely circulated consumer periodicals and social media.

ALA Engineering Meeting

There is a wealth of residential lighting technical information presented each year at the ALA Engineering Meeting. The presentations from the August 2019 meeting are easy to access and review on line in the Members Section of the ALA website .

A Word About This Newsletter

This Technology Newsletter is the first of a new series of bimonthly newsletters focusing on the technologies and technical developments that are important to the residential lighting industry. My intent is to make lighting technology interesting, understandable and useful to ALA members and to cover those technical subjects that are both timely and important. Your feedback and questions will help me do that, so don’t hesitate to suggest technical subjects and ideas that are of interest to you and your part of the residential lighting business. An email to me at will get things started. 




Terry McGowan, FIES, LC

Director of Engineering & Technology

American Lighting Association