TechNotes: Lighting Control Systems

TechNotesFifty years ago, it was easy to control the lights in one of the rooms in your home. The switch on the wall controlled the one ceiling-mounted light fixture, and it was either on or off. Since that time, lighting designers and homeowners alike have discovered the benefits of layered lighting, where a given room may have multiple lights with each serving its own unique purpose. Good lighting design takes the following into consideration:

  • Ambient lighting to give the space a warm, well-lit feel
  • Task lighting for reading or to light work surfaces and tables
  • Accent lighting on artwork, sculptures and architectural details
  • Pathway lighting to ease navigation in darker areas

This layered form of lighting has made a dramatic impact on how our spaces both look and feel. But, there is a downside to all this lighting: it’s inherently difficult to control. The more lights you put in the room, the more switches must be placed on the wall–and in some cases, this can result in banks of four or six or even more switches and dimmers on the wall. In this case, you most likely spend some time flipping each switch on and off to find the right one, or you end up placing unsightly labels on the switch or dimmer to identify it out of the lineup. Not exactly an ideal solution.It doesn’t take a designer to appreciate a well-lit room, and most of us spend our time at home with the lights on than we do during the daytime. A good lighting system is one of the least expensive ways we can impact the look and feel of a space. The biggest complaint about modern lighting plans is that there are too many switches and dimmers, and since homeowners don’t know what switch controls what light, lights get left on all the time when rooms are unoccupied.

This single Lutron seeTouch keypad can replace a wall full of switches.

Lighting control allows you to replace a bank of switches with one keypad, like this seeTouch model from Lutron.

Unparalleled simplicityA lighting control system can help make your home a better place to live by giving you 1950s-style, push-button simplicity when it comes to controlling your home’s lights. Imagine being able to replace a huge bank of wall switches with one simple keypad, allowing homeowners to have customizable lighting “scenes,” one-touch recall of your favorite lighting settings, and a one-touch “off” button to turn off all lights in a space. These control systems allow you to control your lights based on your activity, not how they are wired.Energy savingsIn addition to outstanding ease of use, a lighting control system also allows you to save more energy through your lighting system than you ever thought possible. Keypads make it simple to turn off lights in areas that are unoccupied. By adding occupancy sensors to rooms, lights in unoccupied areas will turn off automatically without you having to do a thing. These systems are “smart,” meaning they know what time it is and will turn off unnecessary lighting during the day and turn on essential pathway lights automatically after sunset. We can even program a “vacation mode,” where the system recreates your daily routines, turning on and off lights around the house, giving the illusion that someone is home at all times.A lighting control system is the key to really getting the most out of your home’s lighting design, and SoundVision is the North Bay’s experts in lighting control. We have extensive experience working with a variety of Lutron lighting control products, such as HomeWorks, GRAFIK Eye, Sivoia QED shades, Maestro dimmers and more.

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