6 Ways to Maximize Your Home’s Lights

Think beyond basic illumination when automating your home’s lights.

Reprinted with permission by Electronic House
Written by Lisa Montgomery • October 1, 2015

Table lamps, wall sconces, and recessed ceiling fixtures

—they all do one thing really well: illuminate your home so you can see what you’re doing. By tying these lights to a control system (see below), operating them becomes more convenient, efficient, and useful—not to mention increasingly multi-faceted. In addition to simply brightening the dark spaces of your abode, smart, controllable light fixtures can provide a bevy of other benefits:

1. Home Security.

Putting your lights on a timer is a dead giveaway that you’re not home. It’s way too regimented. More believable and realistic are lights that turn on and off randomly, as if you and the family were truly at home. Most lighting control systems offer this feature, which can be engaged by simply tapping an Away button on a keypad, smartphone, or some other device.

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2. Architectural Enhancement.

You spent a lot of money on those marble kitchen countertops and the stonework around the fireplace. Why not accentuate some of the more eye-pleasing parts of your home with lighting? You might want to hire a lighting designer to choose the right type of fixtures, but once the fixtures are installed, a lighting control system can set each and every bulb to the appropriate intensity level, ensuring that whatever you’re highlighting will look its very best.

3. Sending out an S.O.S.

A control system can signal certain lights to flash in the event of a fire or break-in, helping authorities find your house quickly. These are serious situations that you hope never happen; however, the S.O.S. feature is also helpful for giving you a heads-up to less extreme happenings around your home. When a lighting control system is tied to a door sensor, for example, a light can flash to let you know that the kids have left the house. The same thing can happen when a car pulls into the driveway (with the addition of a driveway sensor), or motion is detected in the backyard—or anywhere else on the property.

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4. Blissful Bedtime.

Strolling through the house to turn off all the lights is a common bedtime routine of many homeowners. There’s nothing difficult about it, but imagine handling the task by pressing one button on your smartphone as you lay in bed. You can put the entire house to bed in a fraction of the time it used to require. As a bonus, it’s an effective way to “tell” the kids that it’s time to turn off the phone, computer, and TV.

5. Purposeful Pathways.

It’s midnight and your stomach is growling. Hit the Snack button on a bedside keypad, and bam—a path to the kitchen appears. The lights leading the way to your destination are set at a dim level, of course, so that nobody else wakes up. You can use a lighting control system to create any number of pathways: from your bedroom to the bathroom, from the garage to the kitchen, and from the front door to the backyard entertainment area are some options that make sense. In addition to responding to the press of a button, a lighting control system can strike a path automatically when a sensor detects motion, when the garage door opens, or at a certain preset time. Then the lights can turn off automatically after five minutes, 15 minutes, or whatever duration you decide.

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6. A Better Home Environment.

Lights controlled by standard switches are either all the way on or all the way off. This is neither a good use of electricity nor is it particularly pleasing to the eye. Dimmer switches can soften the intensity of the lights, and when you tie them into a control system, you’ll be able to set the lights perfectly each and every time to touch a button. Every room can evoke the look and feel you desire, creating a warm, inviting, and comfortable home environment.