Explaining lighting control and its benefits
In traditional lighting, power is routed through a switch on the wall and then onto the lights in your room. The only way to control the lights is to flip the switch ON or OFF.
With a lighting control system, all of the lights in a room, house or business are connected to and managed by a central brain. This brain is connected to your IT network, making it possible to control any light from any light switch, via an app or by third party systems, such as Control and Home Automation systems.
Set the Scene
Lighting control systems remember combinations of lights and dimming levels, called ‘scenes’. For example, a kitchen/diner/living area might have several sets of lights; general downlights, LED strips under the units, pendant lights over the island or table, wall lights, and floor lamps. You could set up six scenes like this:-
- Scene 1: General lighting: All lights dimmed to 70%
- Scene 2: Dining: Pendant lights over the dining table at 50%
- Scene 3: TV watching: Floor lamps and wall lights at 70%
- Scene 4: Night: LED strips at 30%
- Scene 5: Cleaning: Everything on at 100%
- Scene 6: All Off
Each scene can be retrieved at the press of a single button, or be automatically triggered based on activities in the room (occupancy, temperature, time of day, burglar alarm activity, fire etc).
Benefits of lighting control
- Complicated lighting: If your room has lots of different lights then it can be rather onerous to flick all the switches as you enter/exit, even more so if you also have dimmers to adjust. With lighting control, pressing a single button sets up the room exactly how you want it, every time.
- Control: How about a button by the front door which turns off all the lights in the house, or the ability to check if your son has left his bedroom lights on again from your phone?
- Security: How about different lights in the house coming on and off at different times making it appear that someone is there even if you are away on holiday?
- Automation: The possibilities are endless and can be tailored to the exact needs of the inhabitants; how about triggering your ‘away on holiday’ lights automatically when you set the intruder alarm; how about enhancing the alarm’s sirens by triggering some external or internal lights to flash at the same time?
- Energy saving: With standard switches your lights are either on 100% or off. Your lighting control system will mainly use dimmable lights and your pre-defined lighting scenes will most likely include some lights dimmed to less than 100%, using less power.
Our go-to solution (used in nearly all our projects) is Rako Controls. Rako is a British company, where both product design and manufacturing happen in the UK. They are a great company to deal with and technical enquiries are always dealt with quickly and efficiently. Rako offers both a fully wired solution (ideal for residential new builds and commercial use) and a wireless solution (ideal for retrofit and heritage projects). Rako’s killer feature is the ability to easily combine the wired and wireless solutions. This is often useful when we are asked to add lights after the project has been finished and decoration complete. With Rako’s wireless system, it is easy to add new light circuits and lighting controllers with minimal disruption.
Part or Full Control?
At Fade, some of our customers choose to install lighting control in key areas only, for example, in a large open plan kitchen and the garden. These projects gain the ‘ease of use’ and some of the control and automation benefits we described earlier.
For those customers who choose to install lighting control throughout the whole space, they stand to gain all the benefits, for many years to come.
If you’d like to discuss any ideas for controlling your lighting, we’d be happy to share our expert advice, why not drop us a line?