Setting the right light–there’s a fine line between an outdoor landscape that exudes elegance and sophistication while being highly functional, and one that’s uninspiring, uninviting, and tends to go sorely underutilized. This line is typically drawn by the effective implementation of landscape lighting. Illuminated in all the right places and at just the right intensity levels, a home’s outdoor spaces can look and function beautifully as entertainment venues where friends and family congregate to enjoy music and video mixed with fresh air and fabulous views.
Smart Lighting Delivers Comfort and Effortless Control
The inclusion of several comfortable, eye-pleasing outdoor living areas was top on the priority list during the construction of this 8,000-square-foot home nestled on a hill overlooking the Gallatin Valley near Bozeman, Mont. Recognizing the importance of smart, easily controllable lighting to the overall design of the rustic yet modern residence, the homeowners hired local home systems integration firm Smart Home Systems to design and install a Lutron HomeWorks QS system. Smart, controllable lighting was absolutely essential, as the homeowners wanted the posh patios and porches illuminated, but without making the backyard look like a “landing strip,” says Smart Home Systems owner Randy Schram, of the project that was honored in 2016 as the “Best Integration of Outdoor Lighting” for Lutron’s Excellence Awards Competition.
Compatibility of Light Fixtures Assured
Making sure that the lighting was just right would boil down to selecting the appropriate type of light fixtures for each outdoor area, positioning each fixture properly, and programming the fixtures to brighten and dim to the most eye-pleasing levels based on the time of day, the occasion, and the activities taking place throughout the home’s expansive landscape.
The fact that the majority of the outdoor lights are LED made the Lutron HomeWorks QS a no-brainer as the control system. “In today’s world of lighting, it’s always a bit of a challenge working with architects and designers to pick out fixtures that will allow them to be controlled, and controlled accurately,” Schram says.
“Lutron, however, eliminates this guesswork by indicating specifically which fixtures are easily integrated and controlled through its systems. They’ve tested a variety of lights and provide us with all the information we need to ensure seamless, easy dimming of the lights without any flicker.”
Scene Setting and Automatic Dimming
After the architect specified the arrangement of the light fixtures, Smart Home Systems programmed the Lutron HomeWorks QS system to automate the settings of every light on the property. This setup would allow the homeowners to simply tap one button on any Lutron seeTouch keypad mounted to a wall or a mobile app on their smartphones to bring the outdoor areas to life.
These areas include the main patio comprising a commercial-quality kitchen and home theater; a terrace featuring a pond and fire-pit; a smaller patio with a hot tub; and several stone-stepped pathways. Each lighting scene customized by Smart Home Systems activates specific groups of lights in one or several of these zones. Some of the scenes control other components, too, giving the homeowners the ability to completely alter the environment on a whim. An ENTERTAIN scene, for example, focuses on the main patio by activating fixtures in and around the outdoor theater, kicking on an outdoor heater, but only during specified months of the year, and turning on the TV and surround-sound system. While another scene brightens every exterior location so that guests are free to enjoy every inch of the property.
HomeWorks QS in Harmony with its Surroundings
Particularly appealing to the homeowners is the WELCOME HOME scene that activates automatically when a motorized gate opens. The opening of the gate triggers the Lutron HomeWorks QS system to activate the landscape lighting that flanks the quarter-mile-long driveway.
Of course, not all outdoor activities happen in the evening, and the Lutron HomeWorks QS system is smart enough to keep the lights off during the day, as governed by its internal astronomical timeclock.
Bringing the Outdoors Inside with Smart, Automated Shading
Simple scene setting happens inside the house, as well, where the Lutron HomeWorks QS system also manages 22 hardwired Sivoia QS window shades and six battery-powered Sivoia QS Triathon shades (installed in places where it was difficult to add wiring). The ultra-quiet control and movement of the shades adjusting at set times of the day helps protect the interior decor and blends tastefully with the exterior of the home. In addition, the fabric that lowers over the windows is sheer, effectively mitigating the harsh summer sun and heat without obscuring the view. The family can bask in the beauty of the Montana’s “Big Sky” no matter where they happen to be—inside or outside.