Smart as a button

Gavin Williams of Hamilton Litestat explores the numerous benefits and growing affordability of smart lighting.

Smart controls and home automation systems have become hugely popular, but many can also require huge budgets to implement. However, as new technologies become increasingly accessible, it’s now easier and more cost-effective than ever to incorporate these technologies on a budget, providing new developments the extra ‘wow’ factor while appealing to the energy conscious.

Smart technology and devices have become everyday essentials for many in today’s ‘always connected’ life, enabling people to do whatever they want, whenever and wherever. House buyer are always looking for extra or special features when making their purchase, and technologies such as smart lighting are delivering just that.

This technology doesn’t need to cost the earth, however. ‘Off the shelf’, easy to install lighting control solutions allow the user to create, store and easily recall lighting scenes at the touch of a button, or with the swipe of a finger.

An increasing market demand for smart controls have been prominent in recent times, often thanks to changing lifestyle choices. Lighting and audio controls are seen as a luxury item with a very high perceived value.

Yes, you need a light switch in a room, but having lighting control is a whole new level that’s extremely desirable. Also, by including multi-room audio, you are giving the home-owner a total lighting and sound package.

Kitchens

One such change in lifestyle choices is the increasing use of smart lighting within the kitchen environment. The function of this space has evolved from solely a meal preparation area to a multifunctional space, and the hub of the home. The kitchen/diner has become more open plan and is now an area for entertainment and relaxation.

Rather than being just an afterthought, lighting design has become a far greater consideration in the kitchen during recent years. Now it’s expected that the increasing use of smart controls will allow users to effortlessly convert the space from one function to another. For example, when preparing food, a specific lighting scheme ensures that bright LEDs are focused on the work surfaces for precise tasks such as knife work. Then, with the flick of a switch or the swipe of a button, the lighting can be transformed for relaxed dining.

Personalisation

With the option to create multiple lighting scenes, popular tasks can have their own settings, such as children doing homework at the breakfast counter, or reading in a comfortable chair.

Additionally, with a DMX option, an RGB colour wash can work as accent lighting to highlight key features, or can be used throughout the space to make it a more relaxing and welcoming atmosphere for guests. Full personalisation means that the lighting can be adapted to any time of day, occasion or mood.

This level of control is becoming increasingly popular as our living spaces turn into ‘smarter homes’. Taking that one step further is multi-room audio, allowing for the easy streaming of music across multiple rooms.

Plates: not just for the kitchen

The focus on customisation and aesthetics will make control panel and plate design vitally important. The average homeowner is becoming more tech- and style-conscious than ever, with greater movement from standard fittings.

Smart lighting control is a great way to enrich the experience within a property, giving homeowners fantastic functionality that can be controlled via touchscreen controllers or with a mobile tablet using a downloadable iOS/Android app.

Energy savings

Not only does functionality appeal to today’s homeowners, but the demand for energy efficient properties is on the rise. By dimming lights throughout a property, lighting control can offer vast energy savings of up to 80 per cent.

Savings of between 20-30 per cent can be achieved by dimming the LEDs alone, with further savings of around 50 per cent possible by using PIRs to turn off lights when a room or area is not in use.

A soft start dimmer can offer even more savings by extending the typical 25,000 hour life of an LED lamp. By making current switching smoother and reducing the lamp temperature, lamp failure is reduced along with maintenance requirements.

Gavin Williams is marketing manager at Hamilton Litestat