Intelligent Lighting – key Considerations

By July 12, 2019 October 2nd, 2019 Design, Lighting, Knowledge & Tips

With significant investment into ‘smart home’ technology by all the big tech giants, Intelligent lighting is a trend that is here to stay – and it is one we’re excited about. Read Liz’ post here to find out why.

So, are you convinced and ready to jump in, or feeling a bit wary? Either way, there are some key considerations to help make intelligent lighting a long-term success in your home:

The cost

Modern, App-based systems, are cheaper and easier to maintain than the early systems. Crestron app interface.

For most of the early 2000s intelligent lighting systems were expensive as the technology was new and there weren’t many players in the field. Recent developments in the field have resulted in significantly lower cost packages that work on an almost ‘plug & play’ basis. If you are considering a significant renovation including full electrical re-wiring, these options are worth considering. Fully bespoke and highly expensive options do still exist, so make sure that when you visit a specialist you have an idea of what you are willing to spend, and the lighting priorities for your home. We can help you with that!

Maintenance

Historically, these systems were hard to programme, and prone to problematic software updates requiring engineer visits at £500 a pop. Now, however, all but the most significant software upgrades happen automatically or can be carried out easily by users via the system’s app.  You’ll probably only need to call an engineer if you want to physically change positions of lights or related equipment. Ask the supplier to demonstrate the update process, and make sure you are happy with the app interface before committing.

Ease of use

Intelligent lighting systems can be over-complicated with too many buttons, but they don’t need to be. The key to success is choosing the right number of ‘scenes’, and sensible labelling of buttons.

Keep switch controls simple. Lutron switches & app.

Prioritise your fixed scenes

Most of our daily needs boil down to On, Dim & Off. Work with your interior designer to think carefully about your lighting needs for each room to come up with a set of ‘scenes’ that meet your needs (we suggest no more than 4). You can then build on this with the app and voice controls. Your ‘morning’ setting might not need to be associated with a button if you can activate it with a voice command from your bed.

Label your buttons

Most of the ‘plug and play’ options come with a set of pictorial button labels you can use to label your ‘scenes’. Check the options for labelling before you get too far – these need to be intuitive to you and your household.

Technological redundancy

With any fast-moving technology, there is a risk of technological redundancy: Spending money integrating technology into your home that is then replaced with something better with a completely different set up. As, historically, intelligent lighting systems have required a large, temperature controlled, server room to work properly, this has been a big risk! The latest generation of systems has flexibility built in to help mitigate this risk;

  • Large commercial properties may still require a ‘server room’ for Intelligent lighting – but your home should not. Lutron commercial server.

    Web-based app updates mean the technology can respond to changes in any ‘smart home’ technology they are connected to, and likely connect to any new entrants to the market.

  • The hardware is smaller and easier to update. Battery-powered wall mounted switches, small drivers that can sit in your ceiling recess with your downlights, and improved ‘server’ systems that can live in a small cupboard – these are all in many ways easier to install than traditional lighting systems.

If you would like some advice getting started with lighting (intelligent or otherwise) in your home, get in touch.

Read our full Lighting series: