Smart lighting: The core element in smart homes

Light is a key requirement in our daily lives and its timely & adequate availability affects quality of life,safety,security and productivity

Written by Sumit Joshi | Published: October 20, 2012 2:12:28 am

Light is a key requirement in our daily lives and its timely & adequate availability affects quality of life,safety,security and productivity.

Given this importance,lighting was among the first aspects of a home to be automated and ‘smart lighting’ today is at the core of modern smart homes. An important part of a smart home,therefore,is the ability to control lighting,almost making its applicability intuitive.

Being intuitive is the key here. For example,a typical smart lighting solution would switch on the light in a room as you enter and switch off as you exit. Similarly,smart lighting would ensure that your child’s bathroom would light up at night,as the child walks towards it,without any human intervention. Smart lighting solutions thus have the potential to vastly improve our sense of security and comfort to a large extent.

When used with energy efficient lighting (like CFLs and LEDs),smart lighting control systems allow energy savings ranging between 20-50 per cent by tuning the lighting smartly to the patterns of use and environmental dynamics. This is achieved by means such as :

* Automatic switching based on presence detection;

* Automatic adjusting of light levels based on available amount of daylight;

* Temporary lowering of lighting levels in a subtle way to manage peak energy demands

Smart lighting control systems ensure a lot of flexibility and lend well to home owners who like to periodically change the way their home looks. Smart lighting can be adapted to changes in the home’s configuration,with minimal or no re-installation or rewiring costs. This allows flexible use of floor space and free-moving partitions as often as required. In this way,the lighting can easily be adapted to the changing uses of multi-functional spaces or changing needs of home owners without any major repairs or modifications.

Components of smart lighting: There are various avenues available today to ‘smarten’ lighting systems — from using electromagnetic ballasts to new technology lighting solutions. Most commercially available solutions offer simple building-block smart home solutions,which allow for future expansion with additional components or new technologies.

As lighting is the fundamental system in every home,a smart lighting control system is the logical backbone off which to connect other systems and devices. These include security,audio-visual,air-conditioning,motorised blinds,curtains,pool pumps — in fact,just about anything that can be turned ‘on’ or ‘off’.

Inter-operability in smart lighting solutions,or the ease with which smart lighting equipment can talk to other equipment,is an essential requirement.

For example,smart lighting control could be connected to a water heater in your bathroom,so that as soon as you enter the house,not only will the main lights come on,but the water heater will also turn on to prepare the water for your bath. Smart lighting controls could also be integrated with anti-theft burglary alarms as well.

Smart controls provide for dynamic lighting to enhance comfort and well-being and influence the atmosphere of spaces or façades by varying the colour or dynamics of lighting in a pre-programmed way.

Regardless of the extent of ‘smartness’,if controls are not intuitive or if the user is not comfortable with operating a home automation system,then it fails to qualify as ‘smart’. So the ultimate proof of the pudding,so to speak,of a smart lighting control system,is in its ease of use and the extent of control it provides of one’s surroundings.

— The author is Senior Director – Marketing,Philips Lighting India

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