February 01, 2013
| by EH Staff
First off, unless you’ve been exposed to advanced lighting control at a friend’s house or in a dealer’s showroom, you probably don’t even know what the term refers to. For most people, lighting control consists of on/off switches and dimmers, placed at the entrances to rooms or on lamps. The truth is, lighting control can be a whole lot more than that. We’ve rounded up the top five things people don’t know, but should, about lighting control (and we’ve thrown in a bonus item too).
But first, let’s explain what we mean by lighting control. Whether it’s a single wall dimmer, multiple controls in a room or a complete home system, managing the amount and quality of your light can help save energy and enhance your home environment. A light control system, when properly installed and configured, can better integrate your lifestyle with the most fundamental electronic system in your house—your lights. In short, light is essential, so why do so many people shortchange themselves with decade’s old technology to control it like the on/off switch?
1. Light Control Is Simple
A lighting system doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive. Sure, a sprawling estate with hundreds of switches may be a big job, but for most people, it’s easy to start small and see what works for you. With the invention of wireless technology, lighting systems can be easily installed in any home with very little wall cutting or new wiring. Because most of the control is at the keypad itself, there’s very little that needs to be installed. Also, all kinds of lights can be integrated: lamps, chandeliers, canister, landscape, incandescent, compact fluorescent, halogen, and LED.
2. Makes Life Easier
If you have a large house, you’re probably familiar with the task of walking through and shutting off lights in empty rooms, especially if there are children in the home. A lighting control system can make managing those lights a breeze with wireless controllers or wall-mounted keypads. Occupancy sensors can automatically turn off lights when everyone has left the room. And at bedtime you can press one button on a bedside remote to engage the “Nighttime” scene to shut off all the main lights, turn on the outside security lights and leave a dimmed light on in the hallway without leaving your bed.
3. Safety and Security
Most people feel safer with a little light on. It started when we were children with small night lights to help us sleep. Now as adults, we realize that lights not only make us feel safer from (and help discourage) intruders, but they also can prevent accidental injuries from falls.
A lighting system can add to your home’s security in several ways. First, you can program lighting scenes that simulate occupancy when you’re away. Simply program a vacation mode in your lighting system, and it will turn on and off lights to create the appearance that someone is home much more effectively than basic plug-in timers.
To avoid coming home to a dark house, your lights can be programmed to automatically come on when you enter the driveway or open the garage door. A wireless control device in your car can turn on a sequence of lights to light up a walkway and key rooms in your home.
4. Energy Savings
Lighting control is not only convenient; it’s also a responsible method of energy management. Many integrators point out that turning down the lights by 10 percent will create energy savings, but no noticeable change in the room’s light. A control system can do that automatically so the homeowner doesn’t need to fuss with individual dimmers.
Room sensors can also automatically turn off lights when there are no occupants, and outdoor lights can be connected to sensors or put on schedules so they’re not accidentally left on during the day. Lighting control, combined with window covering control, can help to maximize your home’s use of natural daylight for lighting and warming your home. Daylight sensors can trigger a control system to automatically adjust your window shades, preventing too much heat coming through the windows and forcing your air conditioning system to work harder. In cold months light sensors and automated window treatments can do the opposite by taking advantage of the sun’s warming rays.
5. Lighting as Décor
While people may spend thousands of dollars decorating their homes to create just the right décor, they often don’t realize that ambient lighting can play an important role in how it looks. Proper accent lighting can add drama and create moods in an otherwise flat environment. Lighting adds depth as well as impacts color to properly showcase your home.
Using shades and blinds, combined with daylight sensors, makes it easy to create energy-efficient rooms. The proper blending of daylight and electric light helps to beautify a home by making the space more inviting and comfortable. It’s also beneficial to use automated shades and blinds to protect your home’s interior furnishings from fading due to sun exposure. Advanced light control systems will integrate with shades to adjust the shade levels based on the sun’s position throughout the day.
Additionally, pre-progammed exterior lighting scenes can create a dramatic look for a house by highlighting landscape and architectural features that would otherwise be hidden.
Where to get it?
One of the most surprising things about an advance lighting control system is that you don’t get them from a lighting store or home improvement outlet. The most comprehensive lighting control technology is generally available from the same independent dealers you go to for your home theater, high-end audio needs or home automation systems.
Why? Because a light control system is a lifestyle element in the same way that whole-house audio or home theaters are. The specialists who install and program a home automation system or the remote for your family entertainment understand the technology, and know how to design a system to fit your lifestyle, not the other way around.
To find a lighting control dealer near you, click here.