Modern homes have many lights in each room, from accent and decorative lighting to recessed down lights and lamps. With so many fixtures, wiring and control in the traditional fashion usually results in too many wall switches and an unintuitive experience. For over 20 years Custom Audio Video has designed and installed lighting control systems to simplify and enrich the control of house lighting.
The core of lighting control in the traditional sense is built around the wall keypad. Through various design approaches the goal has always been to eliminate large banks of unlabeled, traditional wall switches and replace them with a single slim device with labeled buttons. No more guessing which switch turns on which light.
Additionally, lighting control introduces the concept of scene control for rooms and for the whole home. This means one button push can bring on several lights together to predetermined dim levels. Lighting scenes are customizable to each home and homeowner, allowing for easy access to beautifully planned settings while also providing practical control over large areas. Examples of these might be a “Dinner Guest” scene that makes the dining room chandelier and art lights come on to an appropriately dim level while leaving hallway and powder room lighting on slightly brighter to allow convenience for guests. On the practical side, a scene like “Goodnight” has been a staple for many lighting control installations, turning off all lighting in the house from a bedside control.
Smart conditional programming can take a homes lighting to the next level by employing smart clocks, Smart clock programming is a great way to provide more advanced control of outdoor lighting, turning lights on just after sunset and turning them off at precisely 10 o’clock. Smart clock programming changes with the seasons and other variables like daylight savings, meaning the lights always behave as they should without seasonal adjustment. For those in areas where sea turtles nest, this can be an incredible benefit.
In the last 20 years lighting controls systems have added features and come down in price, but also, they have added wireless communication to allow for retrofit into homes with traditional wiring. In just the last few years it has become easier than ever to integrate lighting control systems with other smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. While control from wall keypads may be where lighting control beganl, these days phone and tablet control are a solid and reliable additional convenience. The same goes for voice control through devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; “Alexa, turn on the living room.”
Another of today’s benefits of a lighting control system is the attention to dimming modern LED fixtures and bulbs, an area rife with confusion, misinformation, and lack of standards. It is all too common to come across an LED light that does not dim properly, fluttering wildly or just winking out rather than dimming. Because lighting control system manufacturers are designing and building products to provide homeowners with a superior experience, it is in the best interest of everyone to solve the problems inherent in LED dimming. Custom Audio Video designers are well versed in the do’s and don’ts of LED dimming and can offer counsel on how to achieve quality dimming for today’s lighting fixtures.
How to Plan for a Lighting Control System
The first thing to understand with a lighting control system install in a new home or a retrofit project, is that the endeavor is inherently a collaborative one between at least three parties: lighting designers/ suppliers, who provide the actual fixtures and make decisions that can affect the quality of dimming the system will ultimately yield; the electrician who will install the high voltage wiring and fixtures; and Custom Audio Video, who will design and specify the control hardware, keypads, and programming that make the system come together and function. Custom Audio Video designers and project managers have along history of collaborating in this way and will provide as part of a custom design all the documentation and guidance necessary to ensure a successful project. This will usually include, redesigned or marked up electrical plans for architects and lighting designers, installation schedules and on-site guidance for the electricians, and recommendations on dimming and fixture specifications for lighting suppliers.
The second consideration in planning for a lighting control system is the scope of the project. While a house with every light controlled will offer the greatest amount of convenience and control, the budget for a lighting control system scales with the number of lighting zones (a group of lights that switch on and off together). For many, the best value of lighting control involves targeting the areas of the home that are used every day, perhaps eschewing secondary bedrooms or guest houses. This can allow for great convenience with the possibility of retrofitting lighting control to additional areas at a later date. The smallest lighting control systems that Custom Audio Video design for homes are one that have a specific purpose or scope, such as control of the lighting of just a home theater, or pathways lighting, or just superior exterior lighting control. Custom Audio Video can advise homeowners on the benefits and drawbacks of each of these approaches.
The Products Custom Audio Video Trusts
There are many lighting control products on the market today, but Custom Audio Video recommends only those that have a long record of quality and reliability. First and foremost, among these is Lutron Electronics, a company with a half century of dimming and lighting control product engineering and manufacturing. As lighting control and home automation are systems that often overlap in a home, it’s no surprise that many automation companies have designed and built their own lighting control products. Chiefly of these recommended by Custom Audio Video are Crestron and Control4, both companies with good products for the right application.
To discuss how a lighting control system can benefit your new construction or retrofit project, contact Custom Audio Video today.