Modern Home Automation - Balaklava

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Lighting Control, Why?

Big Picture

Lighting a space properly requires multiple circuits of lights and will use a wide variety of light fixtures. Looks great, but how do you control all fixtures without a bank of light switches on the wall? This is where lighting control comes in.


At a very high level, lighting control systems control the voltage that is sent to the fixtures. “Scenes” can be created to turn a group of lights on and at a certain level.


Example: A button on the wall at the entry to the kitchen turns on the under-cabinet lights at 80%, fades up the recessed can lights to 80%, and fades up the cove lights to 80%. All from one button. Touch the button again and all the lights fade down and then go off.

Let’s unwrap what just happened and why:

  • Why 80%? The human eye doesn’t see the difference between 100% and 80% because our pupil opens a little more to let in more light. Yet, we have reduced power consumption by 20% and doubled the lifespan of the bulb.
  • Fade up, why? In this kitchen example, we anticipated entering the room after getting out of bed. Blasting your eyes with light first thing in the morning is never good, especially before that first cup of coffee.
  • Fade down, why? It is nice to have time to leave a room before it completely goes black. As you walk away, the lights go away.

This is how we simplify lighting control. One button in the right spot does it all and you don’t need to even think about it.

More Scenes


Beyond a simple button that toggles on/off, keypads can be used in larger areas that need a few more options.


Balaklava Audio lighting control keypadGreat Rooms are the norm these days and typically encompass the living room, dinning room, and kitchen. A keypad would be placed at the entries with the top button turning on the immediate area, but not the entire Great Room. The blind expectation is to hit the top button (without looking at it to read it) and the lights come. The next button down turns on the entire Great Room.

“Relax” is a heavily used scene in our light control systems. We have found that people want to wind down at the end of the day, watch a little TV or read a book. They want the lights to be lowered for the room overall, but task lighting for reading is at the right level. The Relax scene is on the remote control for the entertainment system and on an app for easy access.

“All Off” is a button we would typically place on a keypad at the main entrances to the home. Press and hold this button and all the lights go off. The press and hold is to prevent accidentally turning off all the lights. But wait, there is more…… Our systems use the All Off command to turn off all the entertainment equipment, activate the security system (after you leave the house), and we can even change the HVAC settings to an “Away” mode.

Simplicity


As technology becomes pervasive, we have found ways to simplify the systems. Concepts like “blind expectations” guide us towards functionality. The top button is always On and the bottom button is always Off. You can enter a room with your hands full and still use your elbow to turn on the lights.

Our systems can be very smart and provide a simple user experience. An astronomic clock in a system tells the system what time sunrise and sunset are at your home every day of the year. Landscape lights come on when it is dark and will run until a schedule turns them off. No need to touch the schedule for Daylight Saving Time either.

The “On” button at the entry of the home will also use the astronomic clock as well. During the day, less lights will be turned on. At night, more will be turned on.

Geo-Fencing is cool too. Our app on your phone knows when all the phones have left the house. After a few hundred meters of travel, the app informs you that some lights are still on and asks if you want to turn them off.

Peace of Mind

Most of our projects have a security system. The lighting control system communicates with the security system. It is common for us to provide a button on the lighting keypad or the remote control to arm the security system. No need to go back downstairs because you forgot. And, even if you can’t remember that the system is armed, the button can be pressed, and the security system will stay armed (does not toggle the security system off).

A “Panic” button can be placed in various rooms (typically the Master Bedroom). If you hear a strange noise, the Panic button will turn on all the lights.


If the security system activates the alarm mode, we can make the exterior lights flash on/off, helping the police find the home quickly.

Be in Control


Lighting control helps you have a great looking home that is properly lit, while being very easy to use. Simple buttons for On and Off will do all the work. Never over think all the things that can be done. Always focus on what should be done.