Author: Phillip Pini, Director Residential Sales UK at Crestron
As a home automation professional, you know (almost) everything there is to know about luminaire, Kelvin, light output, dimming, lighting control, up lighters, chandeliers, and everything in between. So, it’s easy to forget that the best form of light is daylight. Well, unless you recently had the experience I had while on vacation!
During the summer, I spent some days in a rental. The house was luxurious and fun, but also frustrating on a personal and professional level because it had automated blinds and skylights that needed to be controlled by at least four different devices. And of course, they didn’t work properly. So, there were days where I just decided to keep the blinds closed and turn on the lights. Which isn’t smart because it meant blocking out natural daylight, which is paramount for your health and wellbeing. Our body needs UV-B rays to be able to produce vitamin D. On top of that, research shows that daylight helps establish a healthy circadian rhythm.
This isn’t really an issue during a short break, but when it comes to a house where your client spends a lot of time, perhaps even is working from home, it’s essential to have a system that considers not only the electric lighting and control, but also the control of daylight. Ideally it automates the combined control of shades and lighting. Let’s say your client has some nice big windows in their home where the sunlight comes in. When the sun is shining, their home system might be smart enough to know, that it doesn't need to turn the lights on or that it might want to dim the lights. However, when the sunlight is streaming in and the shades are up, it not only letting the sunlight in, but also the heat. Even with triple glazed windows with film on the back, nothing is stopping some form of solar heat gain. If you made the home automation system truly smart, the blinds lower enough so the room doesn’t overheat, while keeping some natural light to allow dimming the lights.
Obviously, shades and shade control do not solve everything, especially not in a country where it rains more often than there is sunshine. The lighting design is one of the most important elements of the home, after the physical structure itself. Lighting can make or break the house and the way the homeowner feels.
To convince them, it often helps to talk about how recent developments in lighting and lighting control are increasingly boosting efficiency. About a decade ago, luminaires were made more efficient with the introduction of LED. Now, lights do not need to be on their highest level with a control system as we are able to achieve a nice fine balance and level things out, which means more efficiency and less energy consumed.
DALI as a protocol allows each lamp to be controlled independently or in groups, so the homeowner can make features out of tables or artwork. Since all control is in the ballast, the homeowner saves room on multiple dimmers within an enclosure. And the absence of resistant dimming diminishes the amount of heat gain. DMX is on the rise too. It has even more channels available than DALI, which means that color phases can be programmed so that the solar tracking can be automatically followed.
And of course, it doesn’t hurt if you can offer a true lifetime warranty on all lighting and window treatment hardware where critical pieces are always available, making the process of swapping failing items almost instantaneous.