Lighting control is one of the first things people think of when they think of home automation. It forms the basis upon which all other home automation is built from. Basic lighting control (turning a light on or off from a switch) is something that is very familiar to a lot of people, so it’s important that this is done right.
Lighting control can help you set the mood and ambience of your home or office and can either be done individually (each light) or as a scene. Lighting scenes allow you to set multiple lights at the same time using either a single voice or touch command.
How does automated lighting work?
Traditional lighting works by supplying or cutting power to a light from a switch on the wall. Constant power is fed to a light switch, and the user toggles the switch.
Traditional wiring is inexpensive and gets the job done, but it’s not smart, can’t be controlled via smart device or voice, and can’t be included in any scenes. Depending on how it’s wired, you could possibly control devices from two locations and perhaps three; not very flexible.
Two of the main lighting automation systems we use are Clipsal C-Bus and Environexus Nero. They both result in smart control of your lighting, but are cabled differently and have different functions.
Clipsal C-Bus is a hard-wired solution, where all your lights are wired to a central location, and your light switches are wired together with a pink electrically-rated data cable. Switches are then programmed
C-Bus is typically best suited to new builds where it can be cabled at rough-in. Its hard-wired nature means connected devices respond quickly to commands, and it’s extremely expandable; each C-Bus network can control roughly 100 switches and sensors, and networks can be added easily to control more. Control of up to 255 lights is easy, control of more is possible. Clipsal make a wide range of products for the C-Bus standard, including dimmers and relays to control 240v lights and devices, analog dimmers for LED strips, shutter relays for blinds control, fan controllers for sweep fans, motion sensors, DALI interfaces and more.
Nero by Environexus is a wireless solution, where a small control module is installed behind your light switch to provide control.
Nero is typically best suited as either a retrofit, or where the client wishes to have only a few devices automated. Up to ~80 devices can be added to a Nero gateway, and multiple gateways can be used to control additional devices.
Environexus produce a wide range of products for Nero, including a 2400w relay (for lighting or devices such as towel rails or panel heaters), a 140w dimmer for 240v lighting, analog dimmers for low-voltage lighting, multi-sensors (which support motion, light level, temperature and humidity), reed switches, smart plugs and more.
A key feature lighting control is the ability to create pre-programmed scenes. Scenes allow you to group a series of different lights together into one single switch or command in order to return a given atmosphere. Examples could include the following, but we find that every customer has a unique set of scene requirements.
- “Goodbye” scene – turns off all lights in the house
- “Goodnight” scene – turns off all or selected lights in house
- “Party” scene – create a party theme
- “Movie” scene – create a movie lighting scene – turn off certain lights and dim others
- “Cooking” scene – brighten lights in the prep area and dim lights in dining area
- “Security” scene – could be triggered when motion is detected outside and no-one is home. This would then activate lights inside and outside of the house.
- “Holiday” scene – turn it on when you are away to trigger a number of lights to come on during the night.
Lighting control not only enables you to easily manage many lighting zones increasing efficiency and security, it’s energy efficient, reducing running costs by having lights turned off in unused areas or lights at a dimmed level.
We recommend and install the following lighting products