Introduction This discussion paper addresses home lighting control systems and their place in today’s custom homes and condominiums. Don’t equate ‘custom home’ to ‘big’. The considerations discussed here apply equally to a 1000 sq. ft. mountain hideaway and a 9000 sq. ft. beachfront home. Isn’t this home automation? No. But it can evolve into automation of your custom home or condo if you would like it to. However, we want to focus on the simple functions a lighting control system can provide, such as turning lights on and off or dimming of fixtures, and most importantly, maintaining the ambiance you are seeking for your home. Use Of Wall Space Today’s custom homes are usually constructed in scenic areas and have many windows to view the surroundings. Most locations where light switches are placed are now only 6 inches wide due to wall to wall windows, and these areas contain structural members of the home that should not be altered to accommodate big switch boxes and standard wiring. A lighting control system allows installation of switches with minimum alterations, and only a small wire to the keypad control. When you have a special wall with your art hanging on it, do you really want the viewer’s eye to be distracted by a wall full of switches and thermostats? Switch Boxes To Keypads Custom homes and condominiums are typically constructed to have room sizes that are large. With that size comes a need for many sources of light. In the past these fixtures were controlled by rows of dimmer switches installed in large wall boxes (as shown above). With a control system, the large overheating wall box dimmers and switches are gone. Small low voltage keypad switches send electronic signals back to the central control system for the switching and dimming of the lighting fixtures. There may be up to nine separate switches on a keypad measuring only 3 X 5 inches thus saving the aesthetics of the room and walls. Lighting Scenes With the desire to have that warm and cozy atmosphere provided by balanced illumination, the process of adjusting the “rows of dimmers” to return the proper levels is tedious at best! Utilizing a lighting control system, you will be able to return to the same balanced setting of all the fixtures in an area with the press of a single button. For security when you are away from your home, the system can repeat the last several weeks of lighting changes to give the appearance of you being at home. Lighting Pathways Light fixtures such as these, which are recessed into a set of steps, can be energized, with a press of a single button. Programming the system for the many conveniences that should be included in a custom home or condominium provides these lighting scenes. Guests visiting your home will have the ability to move about easily from their quarters to select areas such as the exterior spa or to the kitchen for a snack at 3 AM. Other Advantages and Evolutions Control systems are easily integrated with other systems of your home to improve security and add comfort to your homes operation. Custom homes and condominiums have some fixtures that are not easily changed because they are in high or odd locations. Control systems save light bulb life by slowly starting the lamp thereby extending the lamp by thousands of hours. The controls for fireplaces and window shades operators may be easily added eliminating more switch boxes on the walls. Audio, video, web browsing, email and climate control could also be intergraded. The custom home has grown from a show place to a home where people actually live! When it is time to move on to another dwelling the future purchaser of your home will be already be informed about home controls and one of your home’s strongest selling feature may be the control system. System Costs Lighting “control systems” are now more cost effective than ever. In some homes, a lighting control system may actually be more cost effective than conventional wiring and switches. This cost difference can be caused by the complicated structural components of the home. The size and complexity of the system for your particular application versus the cost for conventional wiring methods will be the factors to develop the financial business case for deploying a lighting control system. However, there is one impacting decision factor that only you can decide if the system is cost justified. How do you want the walls of your home to look? Sleek and clean? Or do you want to look at a clutter of switches that you can’t remember what controls what? Summary A home lighting control system is a must have for a home of any size. It will be a welcomed addition to any custom home or condominium. Consider the benefits such systems provide; controlling the lighting to provide a warm pleasant area for living, to brightly illuminate any area for safety and home security, increased energy savings, and most importantly, maintaining the atmosphere you are trying to accomplish with your home design. Still confused? Ask us for a copy of Discussion Paper 2003.003 “Home Automation System Selection Issues”. You can also access that document from our web site at in the ‘Learning Center’. Clear Lighting and Electrical Design welcomes any questions you may have. Our Home Technology Integration team is standing by to assist you with the design and selection process of a Home Lighting Control System for your home. Clear Lighting and Electrical Design is a Vail, CO based corporation which provides a comprehensive portfolio of lighting and electrical design services. They include designing, specifying, and managing the installation of electrical, lighting, home automation, security, data services, voice services, and audio/video systems. They also offer clients a wide range of support services both pre- and post- design / installation. For More Information Contact: Clear Lighting & Electrical Design, Inc Vail, CO, Tel: 800-238-6823