Who Controls the Light?
Light switches. We all have them. The bigger and newer the house, the more you have, it seems. I’ve seen some walls with up to 6 or 7 switches together on one wall! If you’re young and still have your memory, you may remember what they all do, but chances are that you have to switch them all on and off at least once before you do remember. If you’re like me, your house has at least 2 or 3 switches that you still don’t really know what they do!
The answer to this dilemma is lighting control. An effective automation system will allow you to put in special, remote-controlled switches that can: a) be labeled with a description of what the switch is for, and b) be controlled remotely using your remote control, tablet or phone. This means that from anywhere in the house – or anywhere in the world for that matter – you can control those lights. They are labeled nicely on the wall and on your smart devices, so you’ll never again forget what does what. But what about getting rid of all of those switches in the first place?
The answer to the ugly array of light switches on the wall, that many modern homes suffer from, is centralized lighting. This means that all of your switches are “centralized”, i.e. in another part of the house, typically in an equipment closet where all of your other electronics systems are. On your wall, in your living room or bedroom, there is only a single switch, which can control multiple lights. Typically one switch can have up to 7 or 8 buttons and therefore control as many individual lights. But since the entire lighting system is centralized, these buttons can control as many lights as you want and lights in other rooms! In our old showroom, we had 79 lights and I could turn them all on or off with a single button!
What’s the Catch?
The only drawbacks of a centralized lighting system are that they are pretty expensive, and you need to either be building a brand-new house or undergoing a pretty significant remodel on your existing home to take advantage of one. (i.e. you have to change the way your electrical system is wired.) But, in my humble opinion, if you are undertaking either of these things, you absolutely have to have a centralized lighting system!
Get With the Scene
Another big advantage of a controlled lighting system – whether it has individual switches or a centralized system – is that it allows you to more carefully adjust the level of the various lights in your home. You can set what they call “scenes” that automatically adjust your lights too preprogrammed settings. During a formal dining event, for example, you may want a nice low-level light over the dining table while the living and kitchen lights are just bright enough so that you can maneuver through the house without tripping over something. Or, when it’s time to start the movie, you just hit a button and all of the lights in the home slowly dim to off, right before the movie starts.
Having full control of your lights is definitely a luxury, but it’s one that, once you experience it, you won’t want to go back to the old-fashioned way. A centralized lighting system is by far the best way to go, if you can do it, but just having controlled switches can be nearly as effective and fun. It’s like when you first got your smart phone – you didn’t really need those new features, but now that you have it, you’ll never go back!