Current Article to Help You Understand Lighting Control

The idea that one can have actual control over the individual light loads in one’s home has come a long way from its inception thirty years ago. In fact, I would say lighting control systems have reached a peak in perfection as of this writing. You, my reader today, may not be as fluent in the language of lighting control as some others, so I am going to begin by making sure you understand just what a lighting control system is and some of the benefits you would derive from installing one in your home.

Lighting control is a system where each light load is controlled individually and lights can be controlled as a group. When I say control, I mean you can control every aspect of the light.

* Control the illumination level. It’s not like the old days that when you flip a light switch the light snaps on at 100% illumination. No, these days you can determine the illumination level of the light in advance by programming the switch to turn it on at 80% as an example.

* Save energy on your lighting bill. A dimmed level of 90% is virtually indistinguishable from full on, yet saves 10% energy. If set at 80% illumination, energy savings is 20%. Lights set at 50% illumination save 50% energy. Now multiply this energy savings by your entire house.

* Some lights are purposely programmed to come on at a much reduced light illumination level, not to save energy necessarily, but to serve a special need such as a porch light. Sometimes porch lights are programmed to come on at forty to sixty percent.

* One can program the rate at which a light turns on from 0% to whatever level it has been set to illuminate. Everyone knows how uncomfortable it is to turn on a light in a dark room only to have it snap to the on condition at 100%. Now it can be programmed to ramp up slowly from 0% to the desired illumination over a couple seconds to several minutes.

* Lights can also be programmed to fade down the illumination level at a controlled rate. It’s no fun to be in the bathroom getting ready for bed and turn out the last light in the house at night only to walk across the room toward the bed in total darkness. How many stubbed toes have resulted from that age old action? Now when you turn off the light switch, the light will slowly fade to 0% illumination level over a few seconds to several minutes.

*There are two methods of turning on a given light. If you tap the decora type light switch once, the light ramps up at the rate it has been programmed. Or you can quickly tap the light switch two times and it will snap on immediately.

* Of course, the same is true when you are turning the light off. One tap and it fades at the rate it has been programmed, or two taps and it snaps to a 0%.

* The most important utilization of any lighting control system is the ability to control lighting scenes. Energy savings is definitely important and so are smooth ramp rates, but it is the ability to control selective lights as a group that really gets the public’s attention. You can design any number of lighting scenes, determine which lights will be part of the scenes, and how the scenes will be executed. Illuminating a pathway through your home is but one example.

* Designing a scene gives the home owner a blank slate in terms illumination of various lights. For example, just because you include a living room light that normally ramps up to a light illumination level of 75% does not mean that you are stuck with that performance when it is selected for a scene. You will be able to define all new ramp, fade, and illumination performance parameters for that particular light when it is included as part of a scene.

* There is more good news about individual lights being part of lighting scenes. Just because you programmed the parameters of that living room light we included in our first scene, does not mean you are stuck with those parameters in any new scenes. Again you will have a clean slate when setting the properties of that living room light.