Smart Lighting Systems

SMART LIGHTING SYSTEMS

If you have read anything about lighting design, you’ll have learnt that good lighting design is all about having different layers of light.

Lighting control systems bring levels of control to those layers giving you pre-set combinations of layers, dimming and programmability, which can greatly enhance any lighting design. You may have heard of these pre-set combinations of dimmed layers as ‘moods’ or ‘scenes’.

Smart lighting controls can also incorporate many of the features to make your building energy efficient. We have covered the building management systems side of lighting in or intelligent lighting systems paper. Many of those features can be included within a smart lighting system, and we suggest you have a read of that too.

 

Different Lighting Control Systems:

There are a number of different systems available. Some using industry standard protocols, and some using their own. Some using wireless control and some only hard wired. Some names you may have heard of are: Lutron, Helvar, Rako, iLight, Legrand, etc.

Which system is right for you will depend on your project. If you are retro-fitting in to an existing space then a wireless system may be best. If you are renovating a room, or undertaking a new build, then there is an opportunity to get a hard wired system in. We have worked with several systems and can advise on which one to go with. We do not promote one specific brand as we prefer to choose the right smart lighting system for the project.

 

What is in Smart Lighting System?

Relay Circuits:

These are simple on and off circuits. Usually used for lighting, but that can also be used for many other applications. Opening and closing gates, garage doors, blinds, curtains. Turning on/off fountains, water irrigation, or even your kettle from your smart phone when you wake up so it’s boiled when you get downstairs! Don’t just restrict your ideas to lighting.

Dimmable Circuits:

For the ultimate in adjustability then you can have all of your lighting circuits dimmable. However, this is often unnecessary and incurs needless cost. Dimmable circuits are usually more expensive than relay circuits, so have them, but only where they are needed.

For example, you may have some low level LED lighting on your stairs, hallway or landing. These are usually designed to give just enough light to allow you to move safely through those areas. Dimming them won’t have much purpose, and may require more expensive light fittings too. There is a good chance you will have other, more general lighting, which could be dimmable and only called upon when a generally brighter ‘scene’ is required.

Keypads (Similar To Light Switches):

They are controllers, rather than actual switches, but often it is easier to call them switches as everyone seems to understand that.

We suggest that you still have keypads everywhere you always have had switches. Despite the intelligence that some systems have which can predict where you are going in the building, and the ability to turn your lights on and dim by smart phone, sometimes you just want to put the lights on as you walk in to a room.

Imagine walking from the living area in to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Without enough keypads you would walk to the kitchen. Stop. Get your smart phone out. Open the app. Select the kitchen lights. Select on, and then continue. With a keypad, you hit the button as walk in and get on with the cuppa.

But, you could have already turned the kettle on from your smartphone before you arrived home, or from the sofa, so it’s ready to make your drink…

Keypads are also better than traditional switches because any button on any keypad can set to control any lighting circuit (or kettle) in the house.

When you arrive home, one button by the door could put a low level of lighting on in all areas of the home to make it feel welcoming.

When you go to bed, one button can ensure that all of the downstairs lights are off.

Motion Sensors:

These could be useful in several scenarios.

A sensor in the kitchen which turns on a little bit of light as you walk in. That would help on the previous scenario.

Automatically having a low level of light on when there is movement in the hallway, stairs or landing. Ideal when your hands are full.

Making it impossible for the kids to leave bedroom and bathroom lights on all day.

Other Features:

Depending on the system, all manner of features can be incorporated.

Dusk and dawn can be triggers for lights coming on/off, or allowing lights to be turned on/off.

A combination of actions can be strung together to simulate occupancy. This could just be for an evening, or a ‘holiday’ mode. Ideally, you would only use the lowest energy circuits to keep your electricity bills down.

If you burglar or fire alarm is activated, then the lighting can be set to come on, and outside lights flash to attract attention, or whatever else you would like.

Summary:

There is more to lighting control than just lighting control. Much of the time you have the hardware and software to make many extra things happen, you just need some help with your imagination and the implementation.

There are many different ways of achieving smart lighting control. Please use our expertise and experience to help you plan and implement yours, and enhance the spaces you live in.