The case for Intelligent Lighting

By June 14, 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 one I’m excited about. Here’s why:

We find that each of our clients has a bug bear in their home (or other people’s homes).

Mine is switches! 

Light switches which don’t match, dimmers which buzz, broken dimmers, switches with sharp edges, wonky switches, too many switches, switches in silly places, switches which don’t do anything discernible, two single switches on separate faceplates, switches that don’t match, string pull switches with nothing on the end, faceplates with 3 or more gangs, cheap white plastic switches, dirty switches, clear switches and switches on the wrong side of the door.  Trust me, I’ve seen all above examples (usually more than once) in the last 4 years of working in renovation project management.

Liz’ switch hall of shame from L-R: Single switches on separate faceplates / 11-gang dimmer / clear switches / a shambles of a faceplate

So, imagine my joy when I learned about intelligent lighting! Don’t get me wrong, I also detest confusing ‘intelligent’ switches or, worse, no switches anywhere- BUT when done right, intelligent lighting can rectify all my switch issues above and provide an absolutely stunning lighting scheme- at the click of a switch!!

Lighting design

We’re increasingly finding (especially in London) that key areas of people’s homes have multiple uses.  That means flexible lighting is key.  In your lounge/ dining area – you will want a multitude of lighting arrangements- suitable for breakfast in the winter, lunchtime with the family, entertaining friends in the evening, task lighting for working from home and probably much more. With a plethora of beautiful light fixtures including directional downlights, pendants, low level lighting, strip lights etc- this is easy to achieve.

But not with a 10 gang dimmer switch.

This is where intelligent lighting comes in:

Each circuit (collection of lights) or individual lighting point is added to a dimmer and controlled centrally.  You can then pre-set a range of scenes allowing you to change a multitude of lights at the click of a button.

This technology has been around for a while but  is now much more affordable and user friendly.  Most systems now have apps which mean you can change your controls and adapt them to suit you.  You can also set up timers allowing you to ensure all lights are off at night or play a normal evening light routine when you’re away (providing more security). Lighting controls can even be coordinated with other elements such as blinds and speakers- allowing you to shut the blinds, turn on the music and dim the lights with one button as soon as you sit down to relax in the evening.

Lutron switches and mobile phone app

Back to switches

Switches can be custom made to your needs

These can be custom made to suit your needs/ aesthetic- labelled to make it clear what scene you’re selecting and even battery powered so it can be moved without requiring huge amounts of disruption to your walls (though you will always need at least one hardwired switch- ideally by the door so you’re not left fumbling in the dark for the remote switch!).  Intelligent lighting can be retrofitted or hardwired in during the renovation phase, and it can be fitted to key areas only- reducing costs where it isn’t required.

I understand change can be alarming, confusing and expensive, but so are smart phones and I couldn’t now imagine my life without one.  I feel quite sure that I will feel the same way about intelligent lighting switches very soon!

For advice lighting your home, get in touch, or read our Lighting series: