Home Control Lighting Tips
From automated window treatments to dimmers, learn what technology you need to light your home for safety, convenience and energy efficiency.
Lighting for security
No one likes to come home to a dark house, so integrating a lighting system into your smart-grid home system can illuminate your indoor and outdoor lighting automatically to make your home more welcoming, inviting and safer.
Ideally, your lighting system will link up with your automatic door locks. Working much like a standard garage door opener, you push a button to unlock your door from your car and your lights will go on. But there are many variables to lighting systems. "It's up to your imagination what you can do," says Bill Weingarten, owner of HomeTech. "We can put a motion sensor outside your home that turns on the lights inside." This feature also works as a deterrent to intruders because it makes the house look like someone is home while you are away.
At night, you can shut down your house at the push of a button, Weingarten says. "It locks the doors, turns down the HVAC system, turns lights off or down, and makes sure the garage door is closed."
Lighting sensors and dimmers
Lighting sensors and dimmers have been available for years, but now there are versions that are controlled by radio waves that link back to your smart home integration system. They are retrofitted into your existing light switch outlets to turn the lights off and on or dim them depending on the time of day and how much natural light is coming in through your windows. "They work especially well on remodeling projects where you may not be able to get into the walls to install wiring," says Joe Corona, owner of Corona Integrated Systems. The radio-control sensors and dimmers can operate lights inside and outside your home, turning on landscape flood lighting as well as lights in your garage, kitchen or any room in your home. You can even control the lights from your smartphone or iPad, or program them in your fully integrated system so the lights come on at dusk then shut off at a preset time at night.
The dimmers can be programmed with a slow-on and slow-off feature that will save you money. "It adds three to five years to a light bulb and saves power," says Corona. The daylight-harvesting concept works in conjunction with the time of day. "If you have a room with a southern exposure, the light sensor will notice the light then dim the light to 100 percent or less rather than 110 percent or more," says Steve Edelman, director at Integrated Electronic Systems. "The system understands how much light is coming in to the room. You can save about 35 percent in lighting costs."
Window treatment controls
You can save even more money on your energy costs by installing automatic window treatment controls that link up to your integrated lighting system. "They mostly use the heat of the sun," says Edelman. For example, he explains, when a 72-degree room gets warmer in the summer, the system understands that the sun is raising the temperature so it lowers the blinds to help stabilize the temperature in the room so you use less air conditioning.
In the winter, if the blinds are down, the system may raise them to allow the sun to help heat the space. Automatic window treatment controls are generally battery-operated so they don’t require special wiring to work. Depending on the level of customization, though, they often require that a professional come to your home to measure and install them so they work properly.