December 21, 2009
| by Lisa Montgomery
Lighting control systems can do many things. Driven by robust processors and versatile software, they can be programmed to turn on and off certain fixtures based on the time of day, the angle of the sun and who’s at home.
They can tell the lights to flash whenever your security alarm goes off, and to gradually dim the lamps in the great room in preparation of a movie. They can save energy by keeping the lights at a low level.
They’re also good at making your house look occupied while you’re away on vacation.
Where lighting systems really shine, though, is in their ability to create scenes, or moods. A party scene, for example, could be designed to set sconces in the living room at an intensity level of 80 percent while keeping the lights in the kitchen at 30 percent. An artwork scene, meanwhile, could highlight sculptures, paintings and other pieces. Scenes allow you to get really creative with your lighting effects, so be sure to discuss all of your ideas with your custom electronics professional (CE pro), as most lighting systems must be installed and programmed by a professional.
The clever setups that follow should get your creative juices flowing.
#1, 2, 3 & 4: The Chameleon
LED (light emitting diodes) fixtures can add a touch of color to your home. The owners of this residence went a step further by tying the decorative ceiling lights to a home control system. Per a program designed by Audio Video Interiors of Medina, Ohio, the family chooses one of 26 colors to display overhead. The choices are presented on the screen of a touchpanel. For a different effect, there’s an ECLECTIC scene that fades the ceiling LEDs from one color to the next over the course of five to 15 minutes.
Other LED effects include a RAINBOW CHASE scene, where solid colors “chase” down the cove lighting in the master bathroom, and SPARKLE, in which cove lights flash different colors randomly onto a barrel ceiling in the master bedroom.
5 & 6: Day or Night
Fiber optic lights are often used in home theaters to transform ceilings into star fields, but the pros at Union Place in Excelsior, Minn., used the tiny ceiling fixtures to evoke a sunny day. The owners press either the NIGHT SKY button, signified by an icon of the moon and stars, or the day sky button, represented by an icon of a sun. The lights brighten and dim to create the desired effect.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.