January 03, 2007
| by Lisa Montgomery
Of all the electronic systems you can choose for your abode, a lighting control system is one of the most versatile. You can use it to highlight your home’s architectural features, to protect your family and to help conserve electricity. There’s also the convenience of being able to turn on and off every light from one spot and to illuminate pathways throughout a dark house.
Once you pin down your priorities for a lighting control system, a home systems installer (yes, most of these systems require programming and installation by a professional) can recommend the best types of devices to control the fixtures remotely.
Find Your Focus
Aesthetics, convenience, security: These are the major benefits available from a lighting control system. While it’s possible for a system to provide all three, it’s always best to focus first on which benefit is most important to your family. For example, if you collect art, are passionate about interior design or want to show off your home’s unique architecture, you’ll want your lighting control system to be designed in a way that accentuates the aesthetic qualities of your home. In this case, a lighting designer should be brought into the project to select the appropriate fixtures, arrange and aim the lights and specify the best intensity levels to achieve the effects you desire. A home systems installer can then set up several lighting scenes that can be enacted from a remote, a keypad or some other type of control device.
A nighttime welcome scene, for instance, could uplight the maples in your front lawn, wash soft lighting across the beautiful stone facade and light a pathway from the driveway to the front door. When your guests have arrived, you could switch to a cocktail party scene to keep the general lighting in your living room soft but play up the artwork on the walls.
Every homeowner wants to feel protected and secure in his own house, but if you live alone, have small children or travel frequently, you may need some extra assurance that your family and property are safe. A lighting control system can add an extra layer of protection to your home. For example, when smoke has been detected, a lighting control system can light a pathway from the bedrooms to the nearest exit. Illuminated pathways can also provide peace of mind when you return home after an evening out or when your kids cry out in the middle of the night.
Another effective way to use lighting as a security tool is by having the lights flash or simultaneously activate when there’s trouble. A popular setup is to have a “panic” button placed by your bedside. Should you hear something strange, just hit the button to instantly light up the backyard and every room on the first floor. Integrating the lights with a security system is a good idea, too. When the security system detects a break-in, it could flash every light to scare away the intruder or to help the police find your home quickly.
Push Your Buttons
Whether you’re using lights to showcase a collection of art or to help you find your way from the bedroom to the kitchen, being able to set multiple groups of lights by pressing one button on a keypad, remote or touchpanel is so much more convenient than activating each fixture individually. You’ll be able to dim the family room lights in seconds for a movie, turn off every light at bedtime from your master suite and light up your house before you step out of the car. The possibilities are endless.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.