1. As a member of the Z-Wave Alliance can you tell us a bit about that organization and what it does for your company?
The Z-Wave Alliance is an open consortium of more than170 manufacturers who create products and services based on the Z-Wave protocol. The Z-Wave Alliance keeps members together, organizing trade shows, marketing meetings and shares information between members.
The benefit we have from the Z-Wave Alliance is that we meet other Z-Wave product manufacturers, have the opportunity to exchange information and improve compatibility between our products.
2. What is Z-Wave and how do your products incorporate and implement it?
Z-Wave is a proprietary technology based on a common protocol and it utilizes radio frequency to communicate with product from different manufacturers. Each member and its products must go through a rigorous certification process which ensures that all Z-Wave branded products will function and work together seamlessly inside a home automation network to provide the home owner with a simple to use and setup home automation network.
3. There are many water detection or freeze detection sensors on the market from different manufacturers, what is different on the sensors offered by FortrezZ?
It is true, over the years, different manufacturers realized the damage produced by water leaks or broken heating systems. They produced water detection sensors to alert the consumer when a water and freeze event happens, some of them very simple at a low cost.
FortrezZ sensors are made for multiple uses, indoor or outdoor. Indoor sensors are small enough that they use a lithium or AA Alkaline battery. For outdoor sensors, they are connected to permanent power, etc. There is a water or freeze detection sensor for any potential application. The main feature offered by FortrezZ’s water and freeze detection sensors is the Z-Wave wireless communication protocol that integrates with the complete water and freeze damage protection system. A typical water detection sensor will only detect water and will alert the homeowner. The FortrezZ sensors, however, can integrate with the entire home area network system to prevent damage through alerts to the homeowner.
4. There are also a few, three, maybe four complete water and freeze detection systems on the market. What is different on the Water and Freeze Damage prevention System offered by FortrezZ?
What is different with the FortrezZ system is that it is the first complete system that works in tandem with a home automation network and integrates with multiple controllers from various manufacturers. Water and Freeze damage prevention can be set as a Z-Wave subsystem inside your home automation network. If the MIMO module (Multiple inputs, Multiple outputs) is used in conjunction, any water alarm or freeze alarm can be set into a security control panel for alerts at the monitoring company. Through FortrezZ’s solution, users can set up personal alerts on their smart phone, email, etc â€“ something that the other existing systems cannot do.
5. According to some statistics, more than 1 million water caused damages are happening in residential and commercial buildings across USA alone. The freeze events when a furnace or hot tub heater etc fails to function, is not known but this number is running in hundreds of thousand events a year.
a. Do you have data on how many insurance claims are filed with the insurance companies and what is the annual gross estimated damage?
We did some research and according to trade publications, an average of $3 billion in damage is cause by water to homeowners every year in US. Damage produced by freezing temperatures creating broken water heaters, furnaces, etc also cost US home owners a lot each year. Interestingly enough, only half of the damages are reported to insurance companies for claims. And not all the claims are paid for 100 percent, as it all depends on the insurance policy, coverage etc. So many times home owners end up with damages that they need to fix using their own rainy day savings.
b. Also can you better describe how the FortrezZ Water and Freeze Damage prevention System can help consumers?
The FotrezZ Water and Freeze Damage prevention system prevents the damage before it happens! Most of our customers are buying water and freeze damage prevention system AFTER they had water damage!
Unfortunately, we are a small company and we do not have big budgets to advertize nationally. Our sales people are contacting water damage restoration companies to educate them about our system. Those companies are our best advertisers and best distributors!
6. What are the next products in development at FortrezZ and how can consumers use them?
Right now, a few products are close to release into production, including:
The MIMO2-3-4 module (multiple inputs and multiple outputs module), this will connect existing Z-Wave products into the security panels, adding and converting non-Z-Wave into products with Z-Wave capabilities.
The WWA02AA, a water sensor that uses standard AA alkaline batteries â€“ this is to address concerns from some customers about the special 1/2AA size Lithium batteries we use and that are a little more expensive.
The WWA04 outdoor sensor will have capabilities for water temperature measurements and alerts.
Our second generation of water valve will have water flow and temperature monitoring capabilities, will use a USB connection and will have capabilities for driving high power, big size valve actuators (mostly for commercial applications).
7. What are the advantages to the homeowner to have a Z-Wave system installed in their home?
There are many advantages for homeowners who install the Z-Wave Home Area Network system is the ability to continually add onto the network. Z-Wave home automation controls range from power monitoring to thermostat, lighting and outlet control via a remote as well as security solutions through various service providers. Since each product acts as both a receiver and a sender, consumers can turn on lights via remotes, cell phones or their laptops without leaving the room or work. Z-Wave technology empowers home owners by providing more than 450 products available on the market today in retailers nationwide.
8. What is the bestselling product at FortrezZ?
Our bestseller product is not a sensor or a water valve! Our best selling product is our SSA01/02 Z-Wave Wireless Siren and Strobe alarm. This siren is providing a loud 119dB @10cm, 105dB@1m sound and can be programmed as a multilevel switch, lights only, sound only or both. Most consumers are using our siren in addition to the new 2GIG wireless home security controller to alarm for any security event. They are still discovering the benefits of having a water and freeze damage prevention system installed into their house.
Stella Szasz is a majority owner of FortrezZ LLC and President of C&S Electronics Inc. both companies located in South East Michigan. Ms. Szasz handles all day to day operations of both FortrezZ and C&S Electronics Inc. including production, operations, customer relations and business management. She attributes her personal and professional success to exceptional customer service skills, as she believes the key to a successful business comes from treating customers with respect and understanding. Ms. Szasz became involved in the Z-Wave home automation electronics business profession after a successful trade show at ISC West where together with her husband become aware of this new business opportunity and they decided to open a business together using their combined skills. The highlight of her career has been being recognized as a hard working woman with vast knowledge in a male dominated industry.