Lighting control is the cornerstone of the home automation industry. Ask a home automation enthusiast what first interested him or her in the technology, and nine out of ten people will say it was to control home lighting. From the first time someone uses the remote control to dim the light across the room, most people are hooked on automated lighting systems.
Home automation is a billion-dollar industry that started with controlling home lighting. Home automation lighting includes controlling lights remotely, controlling lights through timer switches, setting custom light levels and schedules, and controlling multiple lights as a group (scenes).
Dimmers allow you to set the brightness of lights to different levels. Depending on the time of day or the location, lights don’t always need to run at 100% brightness. Home automation wall dimmers, plug-in modules, and lamp bases allow you set brightness at adjustable levels. This saves money on your electric bill, increases bulb lifetime, and customizes your home to your personal preferences.
Home automation dimmers allow for programmable on/off fade times. Conventional lights go to full brightness (or darkness) almost immediately when activated. This harsh transition is difficult on your eyes and takes a moment for your pupils to readjust. Home automation dimmers allow you to set the speed at which your light goes to full power or turns off (known as ramp or fade speed).
Another feature of home automation dimmers is pre-set on levels. Setting a custom brightness level becomes useful when the dimmer can remember your favorite dimmer position. Home automation dimmers are programmable to pre-set levels so the light turns on to the desired brightness every time you use it.
In home automation jargon, a switch refers to an on/off device. Some lights do not dim well (or at all) such as florescent fixtures. When you want to control one of these lights with home automation technology you have to use a switch (sometimes called a relay). Switches can control one or more lights such as a group or bank of florescent fixtures.
Scene programming is particularly useful with home lighting. Using scenes, it is possible to turn several lights on (to various levels) while turning other lights off at the same time. Another way to think of scenes is as mood lighting. For example, to set the stage for a romantic dinner, pressing one button can set the overhead candelabra light at 50% brightness and turn off other lights in the room or vicinity.