What Makes Smart Lighting Smart?
Alright, so the hype is all about automation and smart homes. We dig it. We LOVE it! However, the fact of the matter is, we can love it forever but that love doesn’t really mean much to our customers in terms of what automation can actually do for them. Knowledge is what they need and an understanding of what these things do to improve their lives functionally. So, rather than just rant our enthusiasm at everyone (after a few rah rah’s for good measure!), we wanted to share a little about smart lighting and why it’s important to our customers.
The following article on smart lighting by Grant Clauser of Electronic House, does a fantastic job of explaining the functionality of smart lighting with a twist of humor. So, without further ado we give you, “What Makes Smart Lighting Smart?”.
What makes a smart light smart, and why should you care?
The dumbest devices in our homes (our lights, not our dogs) have gotten an IQ boost over the past year. It’s as if someone was spiking the electricity with ginko biloba. Lights are the most pervasive technology in our homes. We can hardly function without them. Even the most rustic campers take flashlights when they head out into the woods. Why do we still settle for such basic functionality as on/off? It’s Neolithic.
The term smart lighting means different things to different people, or different companies. I actually prefer terms like advanced or controllable lights, but whatever word you use, they all lead to the same place.
One of the best features of smart lighting is versatility of control—for most people this means not having to rely on a dedicated wall switch to control the light. Smart lights let you control them from where you are—in your chair, from another room, from another state. The method will depend on the specific device and control protocols, but they all offer convenience over the old-fashioned way of being tied to a specific switch to power a light.
The biggest move is toward controlling lights wirelessly via apps on smart phones or tablets. This method is convenient because it allow you to adjust lights anywhere in the house—perfect for shutting down all the lights for the night, turning off lights your kids left on or dimming a room to watch TV.
With comprehensive lighting systems (rather than just individual smart lights) custom scenes can be programmed, lights can be grouped, ungrouped, timed and customized to your heart’s (or your programmer’s) content.
Smart lighting allows light to become integral to your room’s design and function. Rather than just turn on a chair lamp in the evening, you can set a reading scene that adjusts the light intensity specific to your task. Lights that are color-adjustable can even be changed to different shades of white, which can make reading more comfortable.
Most people use smart lighting scenes for their main tasks of the day—wake up, dinner, goodnight… A scene for movie watching may turn off all the living room lights at one button press. I visited a home where the kitchen keypad had a scene programmed for morning that turned on can lights above the coffee maker and the breakfast nook, and then rose to full brightness slowly so as not to be a shock to an early riser.
Vacation or away scenes are also very useful, especially when they employ a little random on/off to give the appearance of occupancy.
Smart lighting can lead to energy savings in several different ways. Simply dimming a lamp a small amount can have a positive impact on your energy use, and you probably would never notice the difference in light output (many lighting programmers will automatically program the lights to be dimmed 5- or 10 percent by default.
Using things such as motion sensors and times can help prevent energy waste. Also, by combining smart lighting with smart window shades and blinds, you can maximize the sun’s free natural light while you use less electricity.
When smart lighting is combined with LED-based lights, which use very little electricity compared to incandescent bulbs, the energy savings are even greater.
For a more integrated solution, install smart lighting switches that provide feedback status so you can control lights from your switch/dimmer/keypad as well as from your phone or tablet app. When lighting is part of a total home control system, your lighting can function in sync with your security, HVAC and entertainment settings.