Lighting Control can make your life easier and your home more secure.

You pull up to your home and it is dark. You push the button on your garage door opener and as the garage door opens, the outside lights, garage lights and some inside lights turn on. You enter your home and touch a button on your iPhone/iPad/Droid labeled "Home" and all of your favorite lights come on to the perfect dimmed levels. When you go to bed, you touch one button and all of lights in your home turn off. When you turn on your Home Theater, the lights automatically dim to the perfect level.

These are just a few of the things that you can do with lighting control systems. Call us today for a free lighting design quote or read on for more information:

Lighting Control basics

Lighting control can be as basic as a timer that you plug a lamp into and it turns on and off at a preset time every day. A more sophisticated control system would track the changing time of sunrise/sunset and adjust the on/off times so that the lights always come on around dark.

Lighting Scenes

Lighting scenes allow you to group lights together so that a single button push on a keypad or touch screen controller can set the "scene". So each light in your home can be turned on and set to a specific dim level. Here are some examples:

  • You hear a noise outside and press a button labeled "Outside On" and all of your outside lights and landscape lights come on.
  • You go to bed at night and you press a button labeled "Good Night" and all of the lights inside and outside go off. If you had a whole house automation system, the alarm could also arm, the Heating/Air Conditioning system could be adjusted and the shades could be lowered.
  • You get up in the middle of the night and want a snack. You press the button labeled "Kitchen" and lights in the hallway and stairs come on to a low level and the kitchen light comes on to a higher level.
  • You are having a party, so you press the "Party" button. Lights all over your home are turned on to the perfect level. The driveway and landscape lights are turned on and your favorite artwork is illuminated. If you had a whole house automation system installed, your favorite Ipod play list could also start playing all over your home.

Lighting Technologies

Lighting control basically comes down to two things. The lighting modules and the lighting control system.

  • ModulesThe lighting modules are the devices that actually control the light itself. So for a lamp there would be a module that would plug into a standard A/C outlet and the lamp would plug in to the module. For a chandelier or recessed lighting, there would be an in-wall switch that looks just like the standard wall switch you are used to. But these devices would be controllable by the control system. These modules could be wired or wireless and controlled via a variety of different communication technologies.
  • Control SystemThe control system will have the ability to control the lighting modules. By issuing commands, the controller can turn lights on/off or dim/brighten.
  • Communication ProtocolsCommunication protocols are the mechanisms used by the control system to talk to the lighting modules. Some protocols are one-way and some are two-way. In a one-way protocol, the controller would issue a command (light on for example) and just hope that it actually happened. A two-way protocol allows for the module to respond to the command (yes I turned the light on). Some communicate over the standard 110 Volt A/C wiring in your home. Some communicate via wireless and some are hard-wired. Here are some of the more popular communication protocols used for lighting:

Power line:

  • X10 is a one-way protocol that has been around since the early 1970s. It is still in use today. It is cheap and easy to find, but not very reliable.
  • CE Bus is a two-way protocol that is faster and more robust than X10. It has been around since the mid 80s. It is more expensive and more reliable than X10.

Wireless:

  • Radio Ra is a two-way proprietary protocol developed by Lutron. It is medium priced, easy to install and very reliable.
  • Zigbee is a low-cost, two-way wireless mesh network protocol. It is standards based, however interoperability between manufactures is not guaranteed. It operates in the 2.4 GHz or 915 MHz spectrum. Control4 uses this technology. 
  • Z-Wave is a low-cost, two-way wireless mesh network protocol. It is standards based and available from many manufacturers. It operates in the 900 MHz spectrum.

Hard-wired:

  • Homeworks is a two-way proprietary protocol developed by Lutron. It is a high priced, extremely reliable, and very scalable system.

Integration

We install lighting products from Lutron and Control4. These companies have controllers and keypads to control their lighting systems. But what if you have a home automation system or whole house audio system and want to integrate lighting control in with that system? Not to worry, as there are a few ways to do this. It can be done either via IR or RS-232. So for example an AMX or Control4 touch screen controller can be setup to control audio/video, your alarm system, your thermostats and your lighting. The control system will talk to the Lutron system via RS-232.

Call us today and we can put together a lighting control system that completely addresses your needs!