Professional guidance on intelligent lighting control for your home, how do you plan for it and what platform to choose.
The lighting of homes and living spaces has dramatically changed over the past five years. Long gone are the days of flipping switches and pulling cords. Today, our customers are demanding a wider range of functionality, customisation and integration for the systems they install in their homes. In particular, the advent of LED light fittings has increased consumer demand for lighting design and a higher level of intelligent control over lighting systems.
There are now a number of lighting control platforms on offer, all of which have fantastic features. The prices, setup complexity and ease of use range from platform to platform, so if you’re considering an intelligent lighting system, the principal objective is aligning your requirements to the optimum controller.
What Is Intelligent Home Lighting?
Have you’ve ever watched a television show and seen all the stage lights dim, turn up or turn off at the same time? That feat isn’t accomplished by 20 technicians working in concert. Rather, all of the stage lights are wired together on a single network with a central control hub. We can take this same concept and apply it to your home. Intelligent home lighting (or smart home lighting) is the connection of your lighting circuits and switches (and therefore fittings) to a central network with a single control system. Intelligent home lighting allows you to control the lighting throughout your home and living spaces from anywhere.
Lighting controllers are typically set up by professionals, but for smaller residential spaces there is a selection of ‘off the shelf’ retail products that offer similar features. Modern controllers now have a host of functionality that are cloud enabled and come complete with an app so you can control your home lighting from your smartphone!
As with all technologies, consumers have a wide range of choice when it comes to the control system for their intelligent home lighting. Deciding which system and controller is right for you means aligning what you wish to achieve with the features of each controller. Getting professional advice on this choice can help make it easier and ensure you choose the best controller for you.
The Benefits of Smart Home Lighting
Depending on which control system you decide to install, your intelligent lighting controller will have an array of features. It’s important, however, to distinguish features from benefits. Be sure to consider carefully the list of features for any given control system to decide whether they truly are benefits to you.
The purpose of installing smart home lighting is to enhance your living spaces while also reflecting your lifestyle. When we discuss smart home lighting with our clients, our first objective is to learn how they wish to live in their homes so we can properly advise them on the right product and features.
Even though every client and every space have unique needs, after many years of designing and specifying lighting control we have identified five key benefits of intelligent home lighting systems:
- Ambiance: Trying to find the right mood lighting for breakfast or your evening meal? Or your fancy dinner or cocktail party? Simple. Much like with a stereo system, you can pre-program lighting levels so that with one tap you can set the right lighting scene for the occasion.
- Hands-free Use: Want your evening lights to come on just before it gets dark every night? Then go off when you go to bed? Easy! Program specific schedules and timers for lights around the home or garden.
- Energy Conservation: Already left for work but forgot to turn off the kitchen lights? Kids left their bedroom lights on? Not a problem. You can easily turn lights off or dim them, even when you’re away from home, to help reduce energy costs and save the environment.
- Security and Safety: Going away for a long holiday or coming home late from work? Don’t worry! There are settings that allow you to mimic your daily lighting use or turn on certain lights when you’re away from home to help ward off unwanted intruders.
- Aesthetics: Can’t decide what light switch finish goes with your wall colour? Or wish to reduce what items you have on your walls, like heating and blind control? You’re in luck. With all the lights connected to a single controller, you can have ease over control over many services – and no more banks of switches.
How to Start Planning for Smart Home Lighting
Before you go out and buy equipment, you need to plan ahead to ensure you end up with great looking rooms that have the right fittings and a control platform that will offer you the functionality and benefits you desire.
The first decision you’ll need to make is what rooms should be included. We suggest making a list of all of the lighted spaces inside and outside of your home. Then, you’ll want to identify the high-footfall areas and start there. These are typically kitchen and dining areas, master bedroom and the hall or stairway. But you might also want to consider what areas could have lights left on that you’d want to switch on/off automatically when you’re away from home. These could include, for example, children’s bedrooms, patio and garden areas.
[pro tip: if you’re going to embark on any lighting cabling for your primary areas, would it be easy to cable other rooms near-by at the same time? You could always enable other areas at a later time.]
Lighting Design and Space Use
After you’ve made a list of the areas you think you would want to include, you need to think more about those particular spaces and rooms to determine how each intelligent lighting system fits with your preferred lighting design. Specifically, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What is the primary use of those rooms and spaces? Is it an entertainment space, dining area, home office, kitchen, games room? Does the lighting level need to change from day to day?
- What types of light do you want? Do you want direct overhead light or only table lamps? Do you want to be able to control the direction of the light? You should try to aim for three layers of light.
- How do you want to control the lights? Some lights can be automatic, motion or voice activated or controlled from a smartphone. Do you want to lights to be normal switched or dimming?
[pro tip: Security is a very common concern when away from home, we would suggest using your lighting control to replicate home occupancy when you’re away. In order to do this, you’d want to include occupancy sensors!]
Not all the decisions you’ll need to make are purely aesthetic or pragmatic. As with any new equipment, there are technical aspects to consider about the wiring and installation of the intelligent light system and controller. It’s best to have professional advice on these technical issues of smart home lighting to ensure you purchase a controller and system that aligns with your home requirements and lifestyle.
Some of the technical considerations include:
- Cabled vs. Wireless: Whether your project is a retrofit or new build, some type of cabling will have to be undertaken. It’s vital to plan the cabling ahead of time so you don’t end up with too much or too little cable. When looking for your control platform you can investigate what you’ll need.
- Circuits and Circuit Load: For every room or space you intend to include on the intelligent home lighting system, look at how many circuits there are and how many light fittings are on each circuit.
- Light Fittings and Switches: You’ll need to figure out the capabilities and power requirements for all the light fittings. What type of lighting do you need? Are there LED drivers required? Are the fittings normal switched or dimming?
The answers to all of these technical issues will be important both to choosing the controller platform that’s best for your budget and offers the correct functionality, switch finishes and compatibility with your light fittings.
Again, we suggest that you consider engaging a professional to help you implement your vision for your home and living spaces. This could be your local electrical wholesaler, electrician, lighting designer or a friendly integrator like AVINU.
Go Transform Your Home!
Great lighting can transform your home and living spaces, allowing you to add an extra level of personalisation. By installing an intelligent home lighting system you can promote ease of use and a level of automation to reflect and better your lifestyle.
The great news is that systems are now far more affordable and offer a huge amount of flexibility. If you’re thinking your home and lifestyle would benefit from better control over your in-home lighting systems, then intelligent home lighting is for you. Reach out to our team for further guidance and support. We will work with you to get everything designed and delivered to meet your exact requirements.
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