Home Automation: Lighting

Lighting

Lighting control is the foundation of home automation. Most home automation enthusiasts will tell you that they became interested in home automation with the thought of controlling lighting. Whether it's a simple or complex lighting system, the ability to control lighting has drawn many homeowners into the world of home automation.

An automated lighting system gives unlimited ability to control all aspects of home lighting. The simplest form of controlling lights is with timers which can be set to turn lights or off at certain times. More complex systems give the owner the ability to control lighting remotely using lighting control modules.

The modules give the homeowner full control over the lighting system. Lights can be turned on and off on a set schedule or controlled remotely form anywhere in the house. The ability to dim lights or control lighting in various rooms of the home is now possible.

Scene lighting has become very popular. Scene lighting gives the homeowner the ability to control multiple light groups. These groups of lights can be dimmed or brightened or turned on and off in any sequence creating different moods in the home.

The basic elements of lighting automation are the switch and the dimmer. There are several variants of these items that work on several different protocols such as X-10 or Z-Wave.

Switches

An ordinary light switch performs the function of turning a light or group of lights on and off. An automated switch does the same thing except it has the advantage of being able to communicate with a controller of some sort. This controller may use the home's electrical wiring to communicate with the switch or communicate wirelessly through a RF signal.

Once the switch is under the controller's command it can be programmed and its function becomes automated. This controller can be controlled by a touchscreen or an app on a Smartphone, iPad or Android device to control the lights when the owner is away from the home.

Dimmers

Dimmers are used to control the brightness or levels of lighting an advance over the on or off switch. All lights may not need to be on at 100 percent levels all the time. A dimmer gives the homeowner the ability to control the levels of lighting and consume less energy. Standard dimmer modules can be purchased to replace in-wall switches.

Automated dimmers serve the same function as regular dimmers but add a whole new level of sophistication to the device's capabilities. Automated dimmers can have fade on and off times. When the switch is turned on the lights will gradually go to full brightness or a preset level in a certain time period. The same is true for turning the lights off eliminating the harsh full on full off transition.

Programming gives the device the ability to adjust the levels of lighting in certain areas of the home. It could be different areas of a single room or multiple rooms. This is one of the key factors in Scene lighting. Combined with different colored lighting this is one of the most powerful aspects of automated lighting. These units can also be controlled remotely by an internet connected device.

Automated dimmer and switch units may be purchased as replacements for regular wall switches. These devices are also available as plug in modules for lamps and other lighting where possible. They're available for do-it-yourself options as well as through professional installers.

Security

Although there are some very exotic uses of automated lighting, some homeowners are looking at a basic need for safety and security.

Automated lighting is idea for increasing safety and security in and around the home. A simple automated lighting system can turn on the lights when you arrive home or enter the garage. Lights can be activated when away from home on a set schedule or by and app on your iPhone giving the appearance of someone being in the home.

Some lighting switches have motion detectors built in and can send a signal over the internet when the device is activated. This signal can alert the homeowner or a security service.

Installation

There are two ways to achieve the goal of the perfectly automated home lighting system. The choices are do-it-yourself or professional installation. For those who are handy with common tools, tackling an automated lighting project may not be difficult at all. There are various resources on the web from tutorials to complete ready to purchase packages. Local home improvement stores also carry automated lighting systems and components.

A homeowner may prefer a professional installation that will offer some advantages. These advantages include a single integrated system, components tailored to the home, warranty service and a readily available support system.

Automated lighting is well within any homeowner's reach. Investigate thoroughly and you'll find a system that fits both your budget and lighting requirements.

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