From the humble light switch to smart lighting control systems
The road to smart lighting began with the invention of the light switch in 1884. The next game-changer was the dimmer switch in 1959, then in 1992, a Japanese-born American electronic engineer called Shuji Nakamura invented the blue LED – for which he won a Nobel Prize in 2014.
Red and green LEDs had been around for a while but blue ones remained a challenge for industry and academia. Without them, the three colours couldn’t be mixed to create white light – the basis of the next generation LED bulb that is so prevalent today.
This kick-started the digital lighting revolution and led to where we are today: a world where lighting control systems that can be managed remotely via our smartphones, with our voice or simply by stepping into a room have become the standard.
Smart lighting control systems for homes can make life easier, add atmosphere to a room and even save you money.
What exactly are smart lighting control systems?
Smart Lighting control systems are single lights – or groups of lights – that can be controlled remotely from a smartphone app, programmed to turn on/ off, up/ down automatically, change colour and respond to voice or motion.
What about setting them up?
The great thing is they’re becoming easier and less expensive to set up. In fact, if you have a smartphone, you’re already halfway there.
Also, if you’re thinking about setting one up, remember that there’s no need to get an electrician on the case or rewire your home. Screwing in a smart light bulb is as easy as… well… screwing in a light bulb – because they have exactly the same fittings.
How lighting systems make life easier
Remote control lights
If you hear people talking about remote control lighting control systems, the remote control they’re referring to is the app that sits on your smartphone. To turn things on or off, up or down from anywhere, all you need to do is open up the app and give it a tap.
Great if you’re coming home and want to be welcomed back by a bright house, without having to light it all day.
Lights for smarter security
You can also programme lights through the app to go on and off in a random pattern automatically – like Hive Mimic mode – which is spot on for security when you’re away.
If you have an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Google Home, you can turn your lights on or off with your voice. Just holler.
Smart sensors for even smarter lights
When you throw a smart sensor into the mix, things get even more clever: the moment your sensor detects you walking into a room, it can turn on your lights without you even having to open your app (or your mouth).
How lighting systems add a little atmosphere
At Hive we have all kinds of smart lights that can create different atmospheres depending on the room or your mood.
For example, with a Hive Light Cool to Warm White light bulb, you can turn it up to a crisp white to keep you energised if you’re working, then as the evening draws in you can take it down to a warmer, cosier tone.
The Hive Light Colour Changing Light Bulb has just about every colour under the sun to choose from. Go red in your dining room or blue for your bathroom – or purple for the office (gets the creative juices flowing, apparently).
How lighting systems save you energy and money
According to the Carbon Trust, up to 40% of a building’s energy use is accounted for by lighting. But residential lighting control systems are helping homeowners only use their lights when they’re needed.
With WiFi lighting control systems, you can check if any lights have been left on at home or at work anytime, then just turn them off with a tap.
Or, if you and the family follow a pretty regular routine you can programme your lights so they’re only on when people are in.
So that’s a little insight about smart lighting for the home – or even a small business. But if you have a large business space and you’re interested in setting up a commercial lighting control system, check out Lutron.
And finally, one quick reminder about smart lighting for the home: don’t be daunted by setting it up. Know how many people it takes to screw in and set up a smart light bulb? One.