Smart Lighting: 4 Systems for intelligent Light
What smart lighting means and which networking systems you can use to make your lighting intelligent at home.

With smart lighting you can change the atmosphere in your home at the push of a button. With a remote control for example, you can control several different wireless LED lights. Dim it, turn it on or off, or change the light color. Our main focus in this article is on the common smart systems you can use.

An overview of the technologies in the smart home.

As light has a significant influence on our mood – also see Human Centric Lighting, you should definitely put a focus on this. In the purchase decision, the type of control plays an important role. The problem is always the same: the signals from the sensors (e.g. the switch) must reach the actors (the lamp). There are many solutions for this. You have the following options for illuminating your own four walls with Smart Lighting.

Infrared solutions

In this area especially device manufacturers are present, helping the consumer to remotely control devices such as blinds or lamps. The simplest type that is suitable for everyone is a lamp with included remote control which offers various functions, such as dimmability, changing light color, etc. An example of a table lamp is Philips Living Colors. No new cables need to be laid. The remote control makes it possible to change the light from the sofa. Disadvantage: The various remote controls for the approx. 1-8 lights in one room.

Philips Living Colors is one of the simplest Smart Lighting products.

Another possibility is to install infrared actuators, which are installed in an existing flush-mounted box. In connection with a control center, e.g. a smartphone or a tablet computer, this actor can then be reached and your’re able to turn the light on and off. Even special programming such as timers or connecting with motion detectors can be done by an app. No cables are necessary here.

There are also battery-powered wall transmitters, which can be placed next to the bed to easily control the light. Companies like Belkin and Logitech are even selling accessories, such as adapters, switches, thermostats, window contacts, etc. which can be controlled all together via a single app. Although this doesn’t control everything in the house, it is a good start for a reasonably adequate budget (depending on the provider) and ensures a little smart home feeling.

Intelligent lamps

Here the bulb of the lamp is controlled by an app. Often they can’t only be dimmed, but you can also change the light color. Since this is controlled by the app, it depends on the software, how much more you can do. Timers and even complex profiles are generally possible though. Another example is the well-known Philips Hue product line.

Philips Hue smart lighting in action

You should keep in mind that only lamps in standard versions such as E27 or E14 or even GU10 can be controlled by app, of which the lamp manufacturer offers integrated WLAN interface and control electronics. For example lamps with integrated fixed LEDs are usually not controllable with the same app. If these also have control electronics and WLAN, they can be controlled by another software. So it can happen that you can’t control the lights of different manufacturers with just one software. Nevertheless, it is a favorable alternative for all who want to control one lamp per room.

Fieldbus solution

The bus solution is especially interesting for builders and complete renovators. Here, a cable is installed in the house (e.g. KNX or EIB cable network) which ensures the communication of various electronic and electrical devices, such as lights, smoke detectors, alarms, blinds, heating, washing machine, etc. It is ideal when it comes to more complex programming, not just a lighting control.

Touch screens in the smart home

Very beneficial: in principle, everything can be integrated which has control electronics for a bus solution. Each participant in the bus (which can easily be more than one per space), has its own “intelligence” that can also interact with each other or interdependently, which means that if one participant fails, the entire remaining system remains operational.

Situations such as in our example above: closing the front door switches off certain previously programmed systems and at the same time activates the home security camera are no longer a problem. Usually a touch display is installed at a central location at each floor. The desired actions can be planned and activated via WLAN, LAN network on the PC or via smartphone. Various lighting scenes for the lighting system are then easily programmable. The only drawback: a bus installation is more expensive in the purchase.

Powerline solution

For completeness, it should be mentioned that there are powerline solutions, such as the Powernet 230V 50Hz. The light can be controlled directly over the grid. It can be used to automate simple switching operations and is remotely controlled. The switches or controls are then either permanently installed or plugged into sockets and communicate with each other via 120-kHz signals. To increase the switching reliability and to avoid interference by phase control (dimmer), they are sent only to the zero crossings of the AC voltage. Here you can bypass the many radio signals from the above-mentioned wireless solutions. However, as it is less and less used according to our research in Europe, we didn’t dig deeper.

As you can see, there’s been lots of progress in terms of smart home and smart lighting over the years and this is just the tip of the iceberg. One thing is for sure though, anyone can customize their apartment with smart lighting as they wish. If you have more budget, you can do even more than just control the light with more specific hardware.

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