Just a few years ago, do-it-yourself lighting control amounted to little more than replacing light switches with dimmers. Truly advanced lighting control was the domain of sophisticated lighting controllers, and more often than not involved a major overhaul of the home's electrical wiring.
These days, lighting control is within the reach of just about every household, thanks in part to a handful of new wireless technologies that allow you to build a lighting infrastructure one piece at a time without needing to replace your home's electrical wiring.
In fact, you can start by replacing just one or two of your existing light switches with ZigBee or Z-Wave wireless light switches and grow from there. Many lighting manufacturers also sell wireless lighting starter kits, which include a remote control and perhaps a wireless dimmer switch or two, or maybe even Z-Wave or ZigBee power outlets, which not only allow you to remotely dim standalone lamps but may also give you the ability to monitor power usage.
Some lighting control manufacturers also make occupancy sensor and daylight sensor switches that you can add to your growing system for a more hands-off approach to lighting your home (not to mention saving energy)
From there, you can expand your system by adding a ZigBee or Z-Wave USB adapter to your computer and purchase any number of lighting servers for your computer, many of which allow you to create more complex lighting scenes, and even add astronomic time clock functions that turn select lights on and off based not just on the time of the day but also on the position of the sun.
Don't be surprised if you find yourself hooked on automated lighting control and wishing you could take it to the next level. A dealer-installed home automation system can go one step beyond merely controlling your lights to integrate your home lighting system with your alarm, automated shades, home theater system and even your kitchen appliances.
Imagine leaving a roast cooking in the oven and having your lights flash in another part of the home (or in every room) when it reaches the perfect temperature. Or maybe you'd like emergency lights to spotlight the optimal exit path in the event of a fire. A CEDIA member home technology professional can work with you to illuminate all of the possibilities, and best of all, even with the most sophisticated of lighting control systems, you can start as small as you'd like. Your installer can help you select the right products for a starter system that will grow with your needs-and your imagination-over time.