Lighting has the potential to transform an environment, taking it from subdued and intimate to bold and exciting in a second. It’s the ability to do this automatically that makes lighting one of the most popular features in the smart home world.
So, let’s flick the switch on lighting, looking at all the things smart home automation offers, and the switches, dimmers and connections that drive this connected world.
Automated lighting is one of the most simple and effective ways of embracing smart technology within the home, allowing lights to turn on and off on command, or interact as part of a greater scene.
The benefits of employing it range from ambience to security, energy efficiency and more. But like many areas of the smart home, it’s true potential is not realised in single smart light fixtures, but when entire lighting systems are automated and interact together.
Like most features of the smart home, automated lighting allows you to create scenes using sensors and activators. These are managed through a hub and simple application that you install on your computer, tablet or smartphone, or can be activated via voice command.
Effectively this means at the touch of a button or by voice you can transform the lighting anywhere in your home. You can switch off the lights in the lounge from the comfort of a bed, turn on the garden lights as the sun sets on a festive party, or dim the dining room lights for an intimate dinner.
However, automated lighting extends far beyond the convenience of simply switching items on and off. It allows you to set scenes or actions that occur automatically or by prompt.
The tech behind it
Behind every automated home is a series of elements that interact to allow your home to monitor the environment and anticipate the needs of residents.
At Lera our supplier of choice when it comes to this technology is FIBARO, and in terms of lighting, they offer a series of products designed to simplify and automate the everyday functions of lighting within the home. Here’s how they work.
Switch modules are simple to install and even easier to use, allowing any electrical switch including light switches to be controlled remotely.
Available in double or single, the switch module is installed in a wall behind a standard electrical socket or lights witch.
They are Z-Wave enabled, allowing them to communicate with other smart home technology also on the Z-Wave network.
These switch modules drive the functionality of a truly automated home, communicating with the hub, which subsequently allows each module to be controlled independently or as a group via smart phone or voice control.
The upshot of these modules is, you can turn your lights on or off via your smart phone, set them to respond to sensors and activate in response to the environment or have them work together as part of a scene.
The module can also be monitored for power consumption, allowing you to understand exactly how much power lights are drawing.
FIBARO explains: “The FIBARO Single Switch placed in the socket is able to turn on and monitor an electrical device you choose. It can also manage most household appliances.
“Control a single or two lighting circuits by installing the FIBARO Single or Double Switch with the light switch.”
Like switch modules, the dimmer is placed in the wall socket behind a light switch or power outlet. It allows your lighting to be turned on and off, or up and down depending on your mood.
The dimmer can work in response to sensors, at the command of smart phone or voice activation, and can also be used as part of a scene.
- Brightness regulation
- Power consumption
- Energy monitoring
- Fade-in start function
FIBARO notes like switch modules, dimmers are simple to install.
“Every house can be equipped with smart lighting. The only thing that has to be done is the installation of Dimmer 2 in the electrical box or switch.
“The unit is non invasive to the existing electrical infrastructure…”
They also explain it works well with voice activation.
“During daily activities or while relaxing, you can use voice command to adjust lighting to current needs of household members with the dimmer switch. Even without a smartphone around, just say what you need and keep on doing your task.”
The RGBW Controller allows you to transform your home environment through lighting colour. Again, the RGBW Controller is simple to install and easy to use, taking up residence in your power outlets or light switches.
“RGBW Controller is a plain, inconspicuous cube which allows you to adjust colours in your house the way you want them to be,” FIBARO explains.
“Whenever you wish to create atmosphere suitable for work, focus or relax, just run the application in your phone or use a voice command, and the light in the room will immediately adjust to your needs. Is there anything better that a sun-filled kitchen on a gloomy, autumn day?
“As your moods and needs change, RGBW will make it possible for you to adjust the colours to them.
“Surround yourself with atmospheric twilight when you and your family start watching a gripping movie. Fill your bathroom with warm yellows and oranges to transform it into a house spa. Let cosmic blue into your children’s bathroom to make their every evening another space adventure.
“It is daylight that we feel best and most natural in. Thanks to RGBW Controller you may be able to regulate the temperature of light, thanks to which you will create a brighter and healthier environment for work and studying at home. The duties will not only become more pleasant, but also more fruitful.”
The RGBW Controller features:
- Light tone control
- Light intensity control
- Power metering
- Four sources of light control
A smart lighting scenario
Imagine this – the family is away on holidays. In your absence the smart lighting in your home has been set to replicate actions as if you were there, turning lights on, off and dimming them over the course of an evening just as if the family was home. This adds a further level of your security to your property.
Then picture this – as you collect your car at the airport, you tell the app on your smartphone a very simple thing: “I’m coming home”. The smart home then sets to work with the GPS knowledge you are 42km from home. It turns on the entry lights, and the lights in the lounge, kitchen and children’s bedroom, and sets the temperature control to 24 degrees.
As you roll into the driveway, it automatically senses your car. The smart home opens the gate to the property, illuminates the driveway lighting and lifts the garage door on a fully-lit garage, unlocking the internal door to give you immediate and unimpeded access to your comfortably-prepared home.
Meanwhile, there are three main areas where smart lighting comes into play to improve the quality, efficiency and enjoyment of life.
Smart lighting allows you to set a scene, transforming the feel, comfort and convenience of your house. For example:
- Set the scene for an intimate gathering of lights on in all areas but slightly dimmed for a warm welcoming ambience.
- Establish a nightly lighting routine for your children’s rooms that progressively dims the bedside nightlamp as they’re lulled gently into sleep.
- Use motion sensors with lighting in the bathrooms after dark, so home occupants aren’t fumbling for a light switch in the early hours of the morning.
- Set the house to party mode, with a lighting of different hues to embrace a festive feel.
- Gauge the energy consumption of your home, and automatically turn off lights in areas that aren’t being used.
- And the list of mood lighting options goes on, limited only by your imagination. But smart lighting isn’t just about convenience, it also offers very real security and safety.
There are few things less welcoming than returning to a darkened house late at night. With automated lighting, this is an inconvenience of the past as lights can be turned on remotely while you’re away from the property or set to automatically illuminate as you approach.
Importantly, smart lighting can be set to sense motion and automatically turn on, illuminating areas where there’s movement to ensure the safety of the person in that area or deter an intruder who may be there with more sinister intent.
Meanwhile, automated lighting can work to offer additional safety in the home.
Consider a scenario like this: your smoke alarm activates after sensing the threat of a burning pot in the kitchen. Lights immediately come on in all rooms, flashing to indicate a threat, while track lighting shows all occupants the preferred and safest exit from the house.
This type of feature offers a very real safety asset to your property especially in situations where occupants may be hearing impaired.
Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.
We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.