It's a big week in technology land, thanks to CES 2018. If you're not familiar, CES is an international exhibition with almost 4,000 exhibitors from over 150 countries showing consumer technology of all kinds.
A huge draw this year? Smart home technology, which includes a favorite topic of ours: lighting controls. If you're thinking of making your home "smarter," you must consider lighting controls. Now, we know it might seem like a daunting task for the uninitiated, but here's the good news: it's probably a lot easier to accomplish than you think!
Two important points…
- You can find a wide variety of lighting and home control systems to fit various budgets.
- In addition to new construction applications, high-quality retrofit applications already exist in the marketplace (with more to come).
So what steps should you take if you want to go down the smart-home path in terms of lighting controls? First, create your wish list. To get started, consider the following:
- Do you want to turn off the house lights with the touch of a button?
- Are you looking to consolidate banks of switches into one keypad?
- Do you want to integrate all of your smart appliances?
- Do you already have a smart home device, such as Google Home or Apple HomeKit?
- Do you want to focus on a few rooms or the whole house?
- Are you dealing with an existing space or new construction?
By defining your wish list, you'll get a sense of the project scope, which will help you determine a budget.
Once you do that, it's time to educate yourself. Check out this resource: Lighting Controls 101. And below are some popular lighting control systems that you can use in a wide variety of projects.
1. Philips Hue. Easy and effortless lighting control, Philips Hue wirelessly interfaces between Philips LED lamps, a wireless bridge, and the Hue app on your smartphone or tablet. This system is compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home (Marty, in our Waltham showroom, pictured above with the Hue system).
A new addition to our Waltham showroom, Hue is available with tunable white and RGB capability, as well as static white colors. Not to mention, Philips has introduced contemporary-styled light fixtures that you can control via Hue. Plus, Philips also offers some physical controls, such as wall switches or motion sensors. And if you're looking for easy DIY, you can install the bridge and LED lamps on your own and program them via the app.
2. Lutron. Lutron offers wireless and wired solutions for new construction or retrofit applications. You'll find a wide variety of switches and keypads that can be installed in existing switch boxes as a simple on-off switch as well as multi-button keypads or remote switches that can dock in a wall.
Below are two popular products:
Lutron RadioRA 2. This flexible product is ideal for expanding control throughout your home.
- RadioRA 2 is a wireless-only system that works off your existing wiring; it can support up to 7,500 square feet of space.
- A plethora of wall switches, remote controllers, daylight and motion sensors offer a full range of controllers for your lighting (including interfacing with shade technology).
- Using astronomic time and time-of-day controls can allow you to set programming for specific lights to turn on or off at specific times as well as integrate with thermostat programming and the Lutron Connect App. (Psst: Lutron even offers custom engraving for your keypads—a nice touch!)
Lutron HomeWorks QS. This is Lutron's full-feature, top-of-the-line offering.
- Perfect for large-scale new construction homes so that you can take advantage of pre-wiring, which allows almost unlimited control (think control of up to 10,000 zones and wireless coverage for up to 50,000 feet).
- Designer finishes for keypads and switches come in an assortment of colors, finishes, and materials (including metals).
- This system allows control of lighting, thermostat, appliance control, A/V equipment, and security systems.
Are you curious about smart home technology, specifically lighting controls? Stop by a Wolfers showroom and tell us about your project. We're happy to help, and we can enlist our partners at System 7 and The Boston Shade Company to bring you the perfect home control system.