What is the difference between Smart Lighting and Lighting Control?
Smart lighting is different to lighting control. Lighting control is simply the way you would control your lighting….normally done via a conventional switch.
However, there are a few other ways in which you can control your lights.
- conventional switch
- smart lighting / mood lighting
- PIR sensors
Conventional switching is fine but when you have an open plan area with multiple circuits controlling anything from ceiling spots, feature hanging pendants, wall lights, LED plinth lights, under cabinet lights, ceiling above island lights etc, things can get quite complex and you begin to struggle controlling it all from one light switch panel.
So lets talk about smart lighting. Without complicating things too much, smart lighting is a programmed system that controls your lighting circuits using control panels or your phones which works using WiFi or local network via a phone line.
With smart lighting you can set moods for each room. For example, in your kitchen you may have a lighting panel (in replacement of your switch) which has 4 buttons but can control many circuits. Each button has been programmed in advance by an audio visual specialist.
You can have options as follows:
- Button 1 – all circuits on 100% – this is also known as cleaning mode.
- Button 2 – ceiling lights at 80% dim plus island drop pendants at 30% – ideal whilst you’re cooking
- Button 3 – ceiling lights at 10% dim plus island drop pendants at 80% dim – ideal whilst you’re having your dinner
- Button 4 – under wall unit lights on and LED plinth lights on – ideal for night time
As you can imagine the possibilities are endless with smart lighting and setting the scene. You can control the lighting using your smart phone and adjust the dimness of your lighting manually too.
Yes, smart lighting is more costly than conventional switching but remember, you don’t need it in every room. Even some of the luxury homes I design only have smart lighting in the main key rooms, front and rear gardens and communal hallways / landings.
As smart lighting is programmed to suit your needs, it means you have the flexibility to control the garden lights from your bedside lighting panel in case you hear a noise. Or in the hallway next to your front door, you can have a button that controls all the circuits programmed to turn off as you leave the house.
What Are The Options Out There?
If you want to look into any smart systems, some you can look into are RAKO, Lutron and Crestron. There are other brands on the market but this is a good starting point. You may have also heard of a system called Control 4. This is taking things one step further and controlling everything from one panel / ipad / phone app. Imaging controlling your CCTV, heating, electric blinds, lighting, air conditioning, sound and alarms all from one app on your iPad.
Smart lighting, home automation and control 4 can take months to explain but hopefully this gives you some of the basics. There are a lot of systems out in the market including plug and play options. Please speak to an audio visual specialist for cost indications.