If you’ve never lived in a home that’s been outfitted with a lighting control system, you’re all too familiar with the drill of strolling through the house to manually turn of every light before bedtime, your departure for work and vacation, and times when you simply just want to save electricity. It’s not terribly hard, but it is time-consuming and tedious … so much so that you may shrug and let a few lights burn overnight. Admit it. You’ve probably done this a few times.
There are absolutely no excuses for this type of behavior when a lighting control system is in charge. It’s so easy and convenient to turn lights on and off–even when you’re in a completely different part of the house than the offending fixtures–that you’ll find yourself enjoying the process. There are a number of devices you can use to control your home’s light fixtures, each with its own unique benefits. Here’s a rundown of the types of controllers available with most lighting systems today:
1. A handheld remote control. This type of controller is super handy (no pun intended) when you’ve just gotten comfortable on the sofa and feel the need to switch off and/or dim a few lights. Maybe you want to darken the room for movie watching, catching a catnap, or to meditate. Just a tap of a button on a trusty clicker can do the trick.
2. A wall-mounted keypad. A lighting control keypad is basically the modern version of a light switch–make that several light switches. Each button on a keypad (they can support anywhere from two to eight buttons, typically) can do the job of several traditional light switches. In other words, in a where four switches may have been mounted, you can rely on a single keypad. It’s an attractive, convenient option for every room that supports on-the-fly control of the lights as you walk into the space.
3. A wall-mounted or portable touchpanel. Arguably the most sophisticated style of lighting controller, a touchpanel is ideally suited for initiating commands that alter the settings of lights throughout the entire house. For example, a touchpanel mounted in the foyer could feature a Good Bye button that when pressed turns off every light in the house; a Home button, meanwhile could activate certain groups of lights at certain intensity levels.
4. A smartphone/tablet app. Most manufacturers of lighting control system offer a companion control app for smartphones and tablets. You get the same level of control in a device that probably already own and are comfortable using. Due to their portable nature, they are the controller of choice for operating lights from the back yard, across town or even hundreds of miles away. As long as you’re able to connect to the Internet, a smartphone or tablet can be used to remotely monitor and manage the lights from anywhere in the world.
5. An astronomical clock. Built into most lighting control systems is an astronomical timeclock that enables the operation of your home’s lights to be automated based on sunrise and sunset. This makes it a great control solution for exterior lights, in particular, but can also be useful for managing interior lights. For example, at sunrise each day the lights in the rooms you typically visit as you get ready for work can activate–possibly at a low level then gradually brightening over a certain period of time.
6. A motion sensor. How cool would it be to have the lights in each room turn on and off automatically as you enter and leave? It’s possible by having a motion sensor trigger the lights. In reality, though, motion sensors may automate the lights a little too much for some people. They may be overkill for the common areas of your home, but for closets, powder rooms and other areas where people often forget to turn off the lights–or enter with an armload of items– they can’t be beat.