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What does the lighting of a modern home look like? Let’s just take a look at the living room with the dining room – the main lamp or ceiling lights, another hanging over the table, another standing next to the sofa, wall lights illuminating paintings and photos, an LED strip behind the TV, plus illumination of the shelves above the fireplace and glass display cases. Switching on each of these light points separately is inconvenient, which is why lighting is one of the first installations to be included in a smart home system.
What are the benefits of integrating the lighting system into a smart home system?
It used to be that a room had a single chandelier, switched on by a switch next to the door. Today, a room is supposed to be not only bright. Light is supposed to build the atmosphere of the interior and influence the mood of the occupants – to stimulate or promote relaxation. Different types of lighting are designed to perform different tasks, which can generally be divided into three groups.
The first is the main lighting, such as a chandelier located in the central point, or a series of ceiling spots (lamps). Their task is to evenly illuminate the entire room. The second group is local lighting, i.e. light directed to a specific place, making it easier for us to perform various activities. Such a role is fulfilled by a reading lamp standing next to an armchair, halogens over a worktop in the kitchen, or a wall lamp illuminating the mirror in the bathroom.
The last group is decorative lighting, which is intended to create scenery and build the mood. Such a function is fulfilled both by spotlighting elements of interior design (paintings, sculptures, striking wall coverings) and by designer lamps, which themselves are the decoration of the room.
In practice, in most rooms today we have several, a dozen, and in the living area even more points of light. It is inconvenient to switch on each of them individually, so we generally do not take advantage of the opportunities offered by having so many light sources.
In a smart home, they can be grouped in different ways, arranging so-called scenes. And activate them selectively (i.e., several points of light, plus, for example, playing music) with a touch of a button or the screen of a control panel or smartphone.
The system must include so-called sensors, with the help of which the user can trigger something or enter commands, and actors, i.e. actuators, which respond to signals from the sensors. In the case of lighting, sensors are surface-mounted switches, a control panel, and a smartphone, while actors are, for example, relays mounted in flush-mounted boxes that switch on lights.
Sensors and actuators are connected in one of two ways – by wire or by radio. The first option is easiest to implement at the stage of house construction or during a major renovation because then it is possible to run the necessary wiring. The second can be used almost always, although it usually involves the necessity of replacing lighting fixtures. However, such a system is easier to modify and can be moved when, for example, we move out.
It is better to entrust the planning of an extensive installation to a specialist, such as an interior designer, who will match different types of lighting to the interior and the needs of users.
The whole thing can also be managed from a smartphone or tablet, thanks to an easy-to-use application. Any resident can now control the light (but also the temperature and home appliances) from anywhere inside, or from outside, basically from any point in the world.
Recommended reading – What Is the Difference Between Philips Hue and Wiz.
Convenient lighting scenes in a smart home
Establishing so-called scenes is nothing more than adopting scenarios for the actions of selected devices. Multi-point lighting can then be managed centrally – with a single button or touch of a smartphone or tablet screen.
Each scene is a different configuration of light points. This is because different lighting is needed for different activities. For example, starting the “cooking” scene will turn on the main lamp in the kitchen and halogens illuminating the worktops, the “romantic dinner” scene will mean lighting the lamp over the table and decorative illumination of selected points in the living room. In the “watching TV” scene, only the dimmed light next to the TV will be switched on, and for the “cleaning” scene, the full main lighting will be switched on.
Scenes, moreover, can include more than just light control – the “romantic dinner” scenario will be enhanced by playing the music selected for the occasion, and the selection of a movie scene will not only dim the lights but also cover the windows, pull down the screen and start the projector. Of course, each device and light point can always be controlled separately.
With the right equipment, the whole thing can be managed by voice. All you have to do is speak a predetermined command, such as a TV, to turn on the TV and the assigned light scene.
If there are colored LED bulbs in the installation, then when synchronized with the TV or computer, the light can react to what is happening on the screen by shining in different colors.
Individual scenes can be triggered by a button or from a smartphone, and can also be linked to the calendar and clock, i.e. the daily activity of the household members. Also, the color of artificial light can be different, depending on the time of day.
After all, lighting control allows us to choose not only the intensity of the light but also the color temperature of the light, depending on our needs. The one that will wake us up, switching on together with the alarm clock signal, can have a shade similar to the rising sun. During the day, a cooler shade of white similar to natural light will work, while in the evening, warmer colors are conducive to calmness.
The ability to create scenes is not the only convenience that a smart home offers when it comes to lighting. After all, motion detectors are also used to control the light, including those that are standard equipment of an alarm system. Sensors, whose main task is to detect an intruder, when the alarm is disconnected will send a signal indicating that someone has entered the room and the light should be turned on.
The smart home can also activate discreet illumination of passageways (e.g., the way to the child’s room or the toilet) when the motion detector is triggered when we get out of bed at night. If we peek into our kids’ room after dark, a dimmed light will automatically turn on, with an intensity pre-programmed, for example, at 20% of standard.
Motion detectors also eliminate the need to turn on more light points when we walk through the house – the light can now follow the occupant. Which is both convenient and economical. As well as the light, a favorite tune will follow the householder. Because thanks to a network of speakers and control devices in each room it is possible to play music from any source. All players can be managed by a single remote control or mobile device, on which we can also browse the library of cataloged music or select a playlist.
The smart home also manages the lights in the garden. Twilight sensors can trigger outdoor lights to go out, such as when you sound the alarm. Geolocation can also be enabled in the lighting management app. When the owner’s phone is tracked in front of the property, the entrance gate will open and lights will turn on in the driveway or at the entrance, depending on how you plan the scene of your return home.
One of the most frequently discussed functions of a smart home is the so-called presence simulation. The system is supposed to give the impression that someone is at home and thus confuse and deter potential burglars. Lighting plays a key role here!
The light, switched on in various rooms in an irregular manner, or even reproducing the sequence of previously recorded events, is supposed to be a visible sign of the occupants’ presence. The smart home can also lower and raise blinds, play music, and turn on lamps in the garden. Thanks to an app installed on a mobile device, insight into what is happening in the house and remote change of settings are possible from anywhere in the world (with Internet access, of course).
Indoor and outdoor lighting can also turn on when a motion detector detects a violation of the protected zone. The signal from the sensor will simultaneously activate the siren, cause the control panel to send the appropriate information to the security agency or the owner, and turn on the lights throughout the house. Which should make the job harder for thieves.
Light signals can also signal danger inside the building, such as smoke or high carbon-oxygen detected by appropriate sensors.
And the use of so-called smart plug sockets (superimposed on typical electrical outlets) allows us to remotely disconnect the device plugged into them. This means we won’t have to go home when we leave an iron on – we’ll disconnect it from power using our smartphone!
Smart home lighting vs. savings
It seems that a lot of light points mean a lot of energy consumption and a lot of electricity expenses. Not necessarily. First, modern light sources can be really energy efficient. Second, the smart home is supposed to help save money. We mentioned light following a person walking through a building. The points of light he passes light up on a signal from a motion sensor and turn off a few moments after the motion is no longer detected. Here, no one forgets to turn off the lights behind him.
Even if the lights don’t go off automatically, we can check at any time (for example, when we’re already in bed, or when we’ve just gone out shopping) whether we forgot to turn off the lights in the kitchen or attic. All you have to do is look at your smartphone and, if necessary, click the appropriate icon.
It is also convenient and very economical to automatically turn off selected power consumers (e.g. all lamps, radio, TV, etc.) when we activate the alarm, leaving the building. The light in the child’s room, which does not like to fall asleep in the dark, can also turn off automatically at a set time. The toddler will fall asleep without fear with a dimmed lamp, which will stop consuming electricity when the light is no longer needed.
Savings are also encouraged by plugging household appliances into the smart home system. This may not be a common phenomenon yet, but it is happening more and more often. For example, a dishwasher connected to a smart home will work with a cheaper energy tariff. And in order not to trouble the household members, it will open itself. So will the washing machine, which will additionally send information to the smartphone that it has finished the laundry. Aside from these tips in making a smart home to be more efficient, it would also be a plus if you choose an electric provider or company that has lower energy rate. You can check texas electricity choice for more information.
On a similar basis, ovens and coffee makers are plugged into the smart home, although in the case of kitchen equipment, it’s more about convenience (the machine will start making coffee when we show up outside the house after work) than about savings. These appliances can also be controlled remotely using mobile devices.