Kits and other hits. What are this year’s key innovations in homes and hotels?

ELKO EP has traditionally been one of Europe’s largest innovators and manufacturers in the field of relay products. Nevertheless, it does not want to focus only on improving its traditional electrical product lines and consolidating its position among professional electricians or system integrators. In recent years, therefore, a substantial part of its development investments has been directed towards intelligent wiring and smart technologies for homes, hotels or cities. That is, technologies that are accessible to all of us.

“My wish is that with our smart system, which we embarked on years ago and where 90% of the development investment is going, we can have the position we have built up over 25 years in relay. We are number two in Europe in these, and we would like to achieve the same with these systems. In relays it is easier to measure, whereas in smart systems, which are groups to families of products, it is harder. Moreover, deliveries do not go through wholesalers, but directly through projects,” says Jiří Konečný, founder and owner of the successful Holešov-based ELKO EP, which exports more than 70% of its products and solutions. That is why it now has branches not only in neighbouring countries, but also in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Last year, ELKO EP therefore launched so-called “smart kits” – smart sets in which wireless switches in a timeless design provide one specific function at a time – whether it be switching lights, dimming, controlling blinds or heating and temperature control. Paradoxically, the business results in the first phase were more in the Middle East than in the Czech Republic or neighbouring countries.

We don’t make toys for Amazon or Alibaba

“We have a lot of competition in Europe, especially from Asian manufacturers, but they often only offer ‘toys’ for Amazon or Alibaba, not professional solutions. That’s why this year we had to simplify and streamline the smart sets even further to get to prices that are break-even for us. But it’s an investment for us for the future, because we’re pretty much evangelizing the whole market and teaching customers to see electrical devices differently than they were used to,” says Jiří Konečný.

Another innovation of recent months, the latest version of the professional wireless system iNELS, which immediately after its launch gained extraordinary popularity among end customers and system integrators, tells a different story.

Retrofits of houses, hotels and schools

“We have been working on its development for more than 10 years and today we are celebrating success with it especially in renovations of family houses, residential or corporate premises or hotels. It’s a system that looks good and works great, yet requires no complicated training or programming. As a result, our sales have radically increased even in the wholesale trade, because we save electricians a substantial part of their work,” explains Jiří Konečný.

The improved iNELS wireless system has found particular popularity among so-called retrofits. “The system includes a package of wireless products that contains everything you need to solve in a hotel room. Watch the door and window, dim the lights, control the temperature. One button to turn everything off and let the front desk know. And at the same time, make it all look good and blend in. But it’s not just hotels – in schools, retrofit addresses monitoring ventilation, heating or sound systems. By keeping an eye on both heat and cold sources, this can save money and also help with modern ESG reporting. That’s why we’re also developing a new thermostat that is simple, intuitive, yet connected to the parent system,” concludes Jiří Konečný.