Home Technology Blog

Bright Ideas: Transform Your Space with a Smart Home Lighting System

June 18, 2012 | Comments

Nothing sets the mood or feeling in a home like lighting. Lighting can be raised to highlight areas or focused to display treasured artwork. Or it can be lowered to create warmth and intimacy.

However, most homes' lighting controls haven't evolved much since Edison invented them. Save for the installation of a dimmer or two, most homes still use the basic lighting systems that were installed by the electrician during construction.

But for homeowners wanting to bring their lighting control into the 21st century, there is a much better solution: a home lighting control system. With this, you can:

  • Turn on a single light, group of lights or every light with one button press
  • Have lights automatically turn on/off at different times of the day
  • Automatically set lights to the desired level at each location
  • Incorporate switches/dimmers to control practically any kind of lighting load

One of the great things is that a lighting system can be installed into virtually any home, new or existing.  (Rare exceptions exist with old homes that have aluminum electrical wiring instead of copper.) By pulling out your old "dumb" switches and replacing them with a new "smart" switch, you can do some amazing things!

Lighting systems are very scalable; you can start by automating certain areas and then grow the system over time. Some of the key elements of a lighting control system are:

Lighting Scenes

For certain activities - parties, bedtime or waking in the morning, for example - you may want multiple lights around your home to go into a certain state. That state could be fully on (100%), fully off (0%) or­ dimmed to some point in between. Generally this requires walking around the home and manually flipping or dimming each location to the correct setting. With a lighting system, you create the perfect lighting scene one time and then recall that scene with the press of a button. Pressing the "Party" button will light your environment exactly as you like every time. Or pressing "Goodnight" will turn all the interior lights off, dim the kitchen to 10% for a nightlight and turn on the outdoor lights.

Timed Events

Most lighting control systems integrate an astronomic time clock. By knowing a home's geographic location, the astronomic time clock keeps up with changing sunrise and sunset times. With this information, the lighting system can automatically change settings either at specific times every day, such as turning off exterior lights at 5 a.m., or based on sunrise/sunset events, such as turning on porch lights 15 minutes before sunset.

Energy Savings

Dimming lights just a bit can both lower energy usage and increase the lifespan of the bulb. Multiplied over dozens or even hundreds of bulbs, this can add up to real savings. Also when a lighting system includes occupancy sensors, lights can automatically turn off when an area is not in use.

While replacing all of the lighting controls in the home is the best solution, areas that benefit most from automation include:

  • Basement lighting. No need to wonder whether a light has been left on. Press a single button and ensure that every light in the basement is off. Or, incorporate an occupancy sensor and have lights automatically turn on when you enter and off when you leave.
  • Kitchen lighting. No room in the home generally has as many lighting areas as the kitchen. Instead of flipping multiple switches, simply turn on lighting scenes like "Cook," "Entertain" or "Clean Up" and get the kitchen lighting design you want at the touch of a button.
  • Home theater lighting. Home theaters often have several zones of lighting, such as sconces, overheads and spots. With a button press, lights can slowly dim to create a darkened environment perfect for watching movies, and then automatically rise to a comfortable level for intermission or to full bright for clean-up.

Learn more about having a lighting control system designed and installed, or to turn your home into a smart home, search for a local qualified CEDIA member home technology professional near you.