Lighting Automation Versus Lighting Control
If you have ever driven on a rural road at night, you know what darkness is in a way that a lifelong city dweller could never know. Out there, in the country, the night sky is punctuated by sparkling starlight. Your headlights illuminate every fluttering moth. Navigating such roads at night can be perilous, but navigating your own home or office should not be so perilous. That is the importance of good lighting design and effective lighting automation. We live in the 21st century, and our lighting should not make us feel like we are living in a rural shack on the bleeding edge of the 20th century.
All that said, there is still a great deal of confusion about the differences between lighting automation and lighting control. The phrases are too often used interchangeably, and while both are important and work together, there are important distinctions to be made. Today we will shed some light on this subject of lighting automation if you will pardon the intentional pun.
When we talk about lighting control, we are talking about technology designed to replace those old toggle switches. Rather than flipping several switches on and off, lighting control allows you to press a single button to power on a series of lights to preset power levels, based upon several conditions. This is called a lighting scene. With lighting control, all those switches are removed, or more accurately, moved to central distribution point. This eliminates wall clutter. No more six gang switches cluttering up the walls of your million dollar designer great room. On a single keypad or your smartphone, select the scene you want, and a programmed series of lights will power on to predetermined levels. Scenes can even react to the time of day or to ambient light levels.
A variety of sensors are at work in a lighting automation system. Daylight sensors detect the ambient light levels. The same scene might trigger the shades to open or close depending upon the time of day and level of light. Occupancy sensors, true to their name, determine the occupancy of a room. Rooms unoccupied can be powered off automatically. You never need to flip a switch or push a button. This is what sets lighting automation apart from lighting control. Once you have set the scene, the lighting automation takes over. You walk through the home and lights power on before you and power off behind you. The daylight sensor can ramp the lights up as the daylight fades outside or ramp down your patio lights as the morning light breaks the dawn. When you are on vacation, your lighting scenes continue to play out as scheduled like a playlist. This creates the illusion that the home is occupied. If there is a break in, the burglary alarm panel can flash the lights as an additional signal to reduce response time from emergency personnel.
Of course, with lighting control, you can always make adjustments. Open up your tablet and manually dim the lights in a particular room to suit your current mood. Is the afternoon sun blinding you? Tap the tablet and lower the shades. With a synergy of lighting automation and lighting control, you are always in control, but you never need to give it a thought.
The anatomy of the lighting automation system varies depending upon the actual system. Leviton’s solution integrates burglary alarm, lighting control, and lighting automation in one system with the burglary alarm panel being the brain for all systems. Universal powerline bus (UPB) switches control and dim lighting loads as desired. Motion detectors used for security also track room occupancy to automate lighting. This system is very cost effective for existing buildings. Lighting control systems from industry leaders like Lutron and Crestron utilize purpose built lighting control processors, occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, dimmer modules, and dimmer switches. These systems are best suited for new construction.
Of course, businesses can expect to reap the same benefits from lighting automation and control as consumers in the home. Lighting automation reduces cost from energy consumption, increases security through perceived building occupancy, and provides greater convenience to building occupants. With over a decade of experience and partner lighting designers, Fulkra offers a clear advantage over other systems integrators. Turn to Fulkra to automate the lighting in your home or business.
Call 877.738.5572 today to learn more Lighting Automation and control. Fulkra is California’s favorite Technology Automation experts.