Marie Parry, Group Marketing Director, Scolmore Group, looks at the wiring accessories sector and what will be driving trends in 2021
This time last year, the focus for an article on trends in wiring accessories might have covered the continuing growth in smart and connected products, or the demand for decorative devices fuelled by consumers’ unlimited access via social media to an array of interior design inspiration.
Fast forward one year to 2021 and few could have predicted that a key focus for anyone involved in the manufacture, specification and installation of wiring accessories would be the antiviral or antimicrobial properties of these products.
Whereas antimicrobial products have been associated with healthcare settings such as hospitals and care homes to help with infection control, we are now seeing much more demand for them across an array of settings where there is a high volume of traffic. These include offices, hotels, educational premises, retail outlets to name just a few.
It is well documented that switch plates, such as light switches, dimmers and sockets have one of the highest touch rates in any environment, and as such are likely to hold a significant number of microbes on their surfaces. Products with antimicrobial properties have an important part to play to help inhibit the spread of infection and this is what is driving demand.
It is clear that the fight against the coronavirus is far from over and may prove something we have to live with in the long term. We can only see an increase in demand for any products and solutions that provide some measure of protection against the spread of infection.
Everyone, from specifiers, building owners and developers, to contractors, end users and consumers, is striving to make working and living environments as safe as possible and antimicrobial wiring accessories are top of the list of products being specified.
We took the step early last year to further enhance the hygiene properties of our white, moulded wiring accessories.
In addition to the anti-bacterial testing already carried out on Mode, Mode Part M and Polar plates, they have now been independently tested and shown to have anti-viral properties against enveloped and non-enveloped viruses. After a contact period of four hours, all tested plates were shown to have a 99.9% kill off rate against enveloped viruses and a 92% kill off rate against non-enveloped viruses.
Mode, Mode Part M and Polar are all manufactured using Urea Formaldehyde, which has similar inherent properties to antimicrobial additives that inhibit the growth of infectious diseases.
White is the new black
Despite the myriad of styles and finishes available for wiring accessories, we have found that simple, white accessories remain the bread and butter for the electrical contractor. The Click Mode range is still our best-selling wiring accessories collection to date. Installers have a key role to play in driving trends as they are the ones working with the products that are being developed.
There will always be demand from installers for high quality, flexible and modern wiring accessory solutions. The smooth, contemporary lines of the Mode accessory plates means they will fit easily into traditional and contemporary designs alike, and the modular design allows installers unprecedented flexibility in creating dedicated wiring solutions to deal with specific wiring needs.
When selecting wiring accessories installers have often had to compromise their schemes as they have been unable to identify a suitably flexible solution to satisfy their ideas. Mode accessories have been providing that flexibility, with a comprehensive selection of products that covers all install requirements.
Smart wiring accessories
The UK smart home market is experiencing exponential growth, with the development of integrated home technology moving faster than ever before. Almost every household today includes some sort of smart connectivity device as more consumers become aware of the benefits that smart technology can offer.
Smart plugs are often one of the first smart products that householders acquire, allowing them, via app control, to turn on and off any appliance plugged into the smart plug. The latest development is to integrate smart technology directly into the sockets and switches.
These Wi-Fi-enabled switches also have voice control options that integrate with popular AI voice assistants. If your phone is not in reach, simply beckon your smart digital assistants to make the adjustment you’re looking for. The touch plates require no manual buttons or screws, so the design looks clean and sleek in any interior setting.
As smart homes or home automation continues to develop, the focus is moving from the ultra-high-end customer and is becoming an affordable reality for many households. This is leading to increasing demand for smart home systems, which are designed to simplify and streamline a range of connected home products – lighting controls, smart sockets, security cameras and sensors.
The new Click Smart+ smart home solution is one such system and it has at its core accessibility and simplicity for the installer and end user – both key components in this developing trend for smart automation. It is designed to bring convenience, comfort, security, energy saving and ultimately more control in the home.
The bespoke Click Smart+ App gives householders ultimate control of the smart devices, which can also be operated through voice control in conjunction with a smart speaker. From the installer point of view, installation is simple and flexible, with no additional cables or wall cutting required, making it ideal for existing or newly constructed buildings.
The trend for smart homes and the benefits they offer shows no sign of abating and the continual development of innovative and intuitive products and systems, such as the Click Smart+ range, will assist installers looking to boost their business with an enhanced smart home offer that will deliver a complete connected home experience to householders.