For an easy, yet exciting introduction to home automation, why not try smart lighting?
One of the best ways to quickly give your home a new shine is by renovating your lighting system. You’d be surprised by the way that something as simple as changing a light bulb can completely change the way you experience a room. For those who are prepared to put in the time and effort, there’s no end to the exciting possibilities of lighting design. The latest trends in lighting this year, and arguably the industry’s biggest change since Edison’s invention, are home automation and smart lighting.
What is Home Automation?
Home automation allows the homeowner to either control their home remotely, and/or to have home devices function automatically. This can range from the simple, such as having the lights turn off automatically when you leave the house, to something more complex, such as having your desk lamp change colour when your name is mentioned on Twitter. Devices that can connect to the internet (or other networking protocol), are known as smart devices, and they are an important element of home automation.
What is Smart Lighting?
Smart lighting means having your light bulbs connected to the internet, to each other and possibly to a sensor too. This means that you can either control them remotely, have them turn off and on automatically, or do something else in response to a preprogrammed signal. People who want to cut down on their energy usage and bills, or want the convenience of automated appliances, see smart lighting as an ideal solution.
The other uses for smart lighting are more esoteric. Light influences our moods and emotions, so arranging smart lighting ‘scenes’ can change the way we experience waking up in the morning or relaxing at night. A scene refers to having a single command, whether it’s touch, mobile or voice, that changes the behaviour of more than one light bulb in your home. For example, having all the lights in your house turn off when you say “good night” to your iPhone or Android.
You might be surprised to find that lighting has a huge affect on your everyday life. Being woken up by gentle lights that artfully mimic sunrise is a much more soothing way to start your day than the tinny harshness of an alarm. Likewise, lights that dim automatically when you begin to watch a film in your living room, just like in a commercial cinema, bring a touch of that Hollywood magic into your home.
What Types of Smart Lighting Installation Should I Consider?
Essentially there are two main types of home automation installation, and this applies to smart lighting too. They are DIY and professional installation.
‘DIY’ refers to off the shelf products that work reasonably well straight out of the box. The Phillips Hue Connected Bulb system is one of the most successful DIY smart lighting products out there because it’s easy-to-use, relatively inexpensive, and it comes with a decent amount of functionality too. With this powerful starter kit, you’ll be able to wirelessly program and control up to fifty Philips LED bulbs in your home.
However, this kind of DIY product does have a drawback. The difficulty with DIY is getting smart products from different brands to communicate. The dream of the connected home is one where the devices can communicate with one another, for example, having your heating and your lights turn on moments before you arrive home from work. Unfortunately, DIY products rarely have that kind of functionality without some tricky additional tinkering.
Professional smart lighting installations are another story entirely. If you hire a reputable professional, they’ll often work collaboratively with a lighting designer as well as an architect in order to achieve the very best results for your home. The planning stage will be meticulous to ensure that every aspect of your daily living is considered. Professional installations require a much larger time investment, and are naturally more expensive, but the end result will be flawless lighting control that integrates seamlessly into your life.
Why Do I Need Smart Lighting?
There are many reasons why people are buying smart lighting products. Since electricity isn’t wasted on empty rooms, smart lighting is a great way to reduce energy usage and cut bills. There’s also the convenience of being able to turn off the lights from the comfort of your bed. Security has emerged as another reason that people buy smart lighting. By connecting your lighting to a motion sensor, it’s possible to have your lights flash a warning in the event of a break-in.
There’s also that undeniable ‘wow’ factor that comes with new lighting technology. Our homes are our castles, and we all want them to be the very best that they can be. We want to see that look on our friends’ and family’s faces when we show them something that they haven’t ever seen before – and most of all, everyone enjoys seeing their old home in a new light.