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From Connected Home, 11/21/2011
Lighting control is about a lot of things. Comfort, convenience, peace of mind, security and energy management, among others. For example, an automated daylight sensor on a window sill might allow a system to automatically dim or switch off lights inside a home, or to adjust curtain positions depending on the time of day.
One of the many benefits that lighting control systems afford their owners is the use of ‘scenes’. These scenes are usually preset across lighting control systems, and feature descriptive names such as ‘Welcome Home’, ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Goodnight’. These scenes, typically controlled by a ‘building management system’ (BMS) let the home owner control all of their lighting, security and audio systems with one touch of a button.
The ‘Welcome Home’ scene is designed to adjust lighting (and heating and cooling, audio systems, security and so forth) to instil a feeling of warmth and welcome. It can even be tailored to the specific person who gets home first through the use of an individual security code, automated key fob or, for people who take security very seriously, through biometric data such as fingerprints. Automated lighting systems are not just limited to light fittings either – the same system can also adjust blinds and curtains to preset positions in order to properly manage your home’s daylighting as well.
The ‘Welcome Home’ scene can also be set up to activate timer-controlled lights. For example, you can set it up so that the lights in your garage will switch off when enough time has passed for you to move upstairs.
Goodbye and Goodnight
Of course, if you have a scene mode to turn all your lights on, it makes sense to have settings to turn them all off again. ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Goodnight’ scenes are very similar in the way they function, with minor differences such as the activation of security systems and power saving processes. While they both switch lights off, the Goodbye scene will typically activate the security system, and can also initiate preset lighting activities to make your home appear lived in.
Choose a qualified automation expert
Ultimately, to use these systems to their full potential it is important that you talk to someone with a strong understanding of lighting design and automated systems. Dealing with the first person that puts their hand up and says they can cheaply install such a complex system has the potential to be a very costly mistake. Obviously cost is a big factor, and these types of systems cost a significant premium to design, install and support.
It’s not uncommon for home owners to be sold a control system that ends up being an expensive light switch. Do your homework, make sure you look at well-supported systems that can expand with your needs, and always ask for references; professional companies will be more than happy to provide them.