Lighting is often taken for granted, but done properly, lighting can alter a room’s ambiance, lift moods, and enhance daily activities.
While we all agree that lighting is wonderful, lighting control has been the barrier to full utilization of ergonomic illumination, reducing lighting to a simple, functional commodity. Lights are the most common devices in the home, and we’re so used to turning, or not turning, them on or off, that we can’t see the forest for the trees.
Sure, we all have dimmer switches and cleverly positioned halogen track lighting, but affordable, fully adjustable, whole home environmental lighting systems have been, until recently, out of our reach. Our homes, obviously, come pre-wired with light fixtures, wall switches and dimmers, and some of us have added accessory lights like floor and table standing fixtures and the aforementioned track lighting.
All of the above, however, still do not constitute a lighting system. Manually switching your lights, room by room and one by one, is not a system, it’s a chore. A lighting system though, gives you the ability to choose how much light to use and where to use it, quickly, conveniently, and independently of whether you’re in the room or not. When you can walk into a room and the lights come on automatically to your exact pre-set preferences, when you can effortlessly control every light inside and outside of your home and property, that’s when you have true, whole home lighting control.
While whole home lighting systems are indeed available, they’re overly complex, very expensive, and require a professional electrician or an AV integrator for installation and programming. There’s good news though. New technologies are making it possible for any home to add highly sophisticated lighting control, quickly, easily, and affordably. When you’re given the realistic means to adjust and control lighting throughout the home with little or no effort, you’ll have the ability to take full advantage of the positive enhancement lighting can bring to a home environment.
The Impact Of Good Lighting
Poor lighting has been shown to affect mood, behavior, and health in ways both subtle and overt. Our eyes obviously, take the brunt of poor lighting, due in large part to the fact that we all spend a substantial amount of time in front of self-illuminated television and computer screens. There are some arguments making a convincing case that appropriate lighting should be viewed as a necessity, rather than an option.
The association between good lighting and positive, elevated moods has been well documented by experts, and has spawned adjustments throughout workplaces, retail stores, and home environments. Now, many conference rooms employ soft lighting to create a relaxed ambiance to initiate dialogue and stimulate ideas. Old style fluorescent lights, which are overly bright and jar the senses are being replaced by the newer fluorescents that better mimic the feel of more natural day and incandescent light. Architects and interior designers, who understand the relationship between lighting and living spaces, have incorporated elegant lighting schemes as an integral part of their plans. But there are other benefits to lighting control besides aesthetics.
Energy savings for instance: if you can efficiently manage and control lighting and appliances, you can control energy usage and consumption, which in turn controls the rate by which money flies out of your wallet. With a lighting system you can save money and energy without even thinking about it.
Good lighting has been shown to also enhance productivity. Many of us are performing at least some of our professional duties from home, and those of us with children have a vested interested in seeing them complete their homework efficiently and correctly so they can get good jobs and lavish their parents with expensive gifts. Good lighting can provide a conducive ambiance, one that spurs productivity, enhances positive mood, and reduces eyestrain. It’s been shown that overabundant or poorly directed lighting distracts us and reduces our ability to concentrate, and does so in a subtle manner. Even slight changes to better lighting can result in dramatic improvements.
The home entertainment experience is another area that benefits from superior lighting. Video experts maintain that a small amount of ambient light while watching a video/DVD movie actually improves the viewing experience. It seems that because light emitting from a display is in constant movement, it forces our eyes to overwork in order to react to the dominant, ever-moving display. With low-level, strategic ambient lighting, our eyes don’t work as hard and are free to absorb more information for a better, more comfortable viewing experience. The music experience is also affected by the type and intensity of lighting; low lights for smooth R & B, brighter lights for a rock concert experience, and for moshing to some polka… well, we’ll leave that one up to you.
The issue of home security is another reason why lighting control is in high demand. Strategic lighting reduces the risk of burglary and vandalism, and with simple lighting timers you can give your house the appearance of being occupied while you’re traveling. In addition, good security lighting can prevent possible injury in dark places.
With all these benefits, why hasn’t lighting control been adopted on a larger scale? Quite simply, because the technology to create intelligent home lighting networks has up until now been expensive, and geared mainly toward the custom installation market. Fortunately, that’s changing.
How To Set The Ideal Lighting Scene
Creating the ideal lighting scene is easy with Monster Central IlluminEssence products. Here are some tips on creating multiple light scenes to enhance your lifestyle
- Adding a dimmer to a shower light can ease the glare and help you wake up easier in the morning
- Dimmers on kitchen lights can turn your brightly lit food preparation into an ideal dining setting with low mood lighting. If you eat in the kitchen at the counter or a table, consider replacing overhead fluorescent bulbs to incandescent bulbs that work with dimmers.
- Accent spotlights on artwork can be made more effective by reducing the brilliance of the spotlight. You may want to reduce the wattage of the bulb, or simply add a dimmer switch to instantly get the perfect setting.
- Setting various lights to different levels in a room adds texture and makes living spaces aesthetically appealing and add definition.
- To find the ideal room setting, try various brightnesses on lights with dimmers. Check and make sure there is no eye catching glare from various positions both seated and standing.
- the ideal lighting for home theater movie watching is not completely off. You’ll notice that even in the movie theater the lights dim low, but never turn off completely. In your home theater, dim the lights low enough to see around the room. However, you may need to turn some home theater lights completely off to eliminate reflection glare. Try a 30% on dimmer setting to start and adjust accordingly.
- To create the ideal reading lighting, you’ll want to independently adjust the ambient lighting and the reading light you intend to use. Set background lighting to create a warm environment, while adjusting the reading light level so that there is no harsh glare off white pages.
Spotlight On New Home Lighting Systems
Home lighting control has been available for a long time, but traditionally, the prohibitive cost and installation complexity has made it an unrealistic purchase for most homeowners. Recently however, the home lighting control landscape has changed significantly. Today, there are new technologies available that allow lights to be elegantly controlled through an inexpensive, wireless network system. This system is called Monster ControlNet, which uses radio frequency signals in to connect Monster’s IlluminEssence switches and dimmers to one another. This means you won’t need to change your home’s built-in wiring to get sophisticated lighting control: no tearing out walls, no professional electricians, no complicated programming.
You can add ControlNet simply by plugging lamps into IlluminEssence on/off switch modules or dimmer modules, then plugging the module into the wall. For even more powerful control, you can easily replace your existing wall switches and dimmers with their IlluminEssence equivalents-they all fit in standard wall boxes and don’t require a professional electrician to install. In this way, the whole house is easily controlled without custom wiring. And since the system is plug-and-play — there’s no configuration-the ControlNet network automatically recognizes any IlluminEssence lights.
ControlNet – The Bright Spot In Home Lighting Systems
The brilliance of Monster ControlNet lies inside the wireless “mesh” network that the system automatically creates. When you add an IlluminEssence remote controlled switch or dimmer to any light, that light becomes part of the ControlNet home lighting network. The key of ControlNet is that every IlluminEssence lighting switch and dimmer maintains open communications with every other IlluminEssence module in range. This makes communications fail-safe. If you remove one IlluminEssence switch or change your lighting setup, ControlNet continues to function seamlessly. The IlluminEssence lighting modules automatically reroute their communications. The mesh design of ControlNet also extends the effective range. If any obstacle, such as a wall or floor, blocks the direct path between your controller and the light you want to control, ControlNet beams out signals to other ControlNet devices on the network that aren’t blocked, and basically performs an end-around the obstacle.
The ControlNet mesh network not only increases reliability, but has better aesthetics as well. Let’s say you have a Party setting that turns off some interior lights dims other lights, and activates outside lights to welcome guests. When you send the Party command, all the lights in the ControlNet network receive your commands instantly and adjust to your preset level at the same time. Other lighting systems have a “popcorn” delay effect where the lights activate in steps as the lighting scene commands travel from one lighting module to the next in a linear path, which can ruin the mood you’re trying to create and delay activating your setting.
Unlimited Imaginative Home Entertainment Lighting
Lighting goes far beyond the simple function of enhancing sight; it’s also a key aspect in enhancing your home entertainment experience. With that in mind, Monster has also gone far beyond supplying traditional lighting switches, dimmers, and controllers by adding integrated lighting control capabilities-through ControlNetÑinto the new line of Monster Central remote controls. This means you’ll be able to incorporate lighting commands into your home entertainment activities. Simply press a fully customizable “Watch DVD” button on your Monster Central AVL 300 controller, and:
- Your home theater powers on
- The surround sound mode is set to 5.1
- The DVD player, TV, and receiver are all tuned to the correct inputs and outputs
- Home theater lights dim to the perfect level for movie watching
You can literally create a lighting setting or “scene” to match virtually any mood, and easily combine those scenes with AV commands. Now when you turn on your favorite mood music, the right lighting for that mood automatically comes up along with it. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination; you can add ControlNet modules to as many lights and appliances around your home as you like. True whole home lighting control is now within reach.
Posted in How-To