Lights play an important role in your home. They create an ambience and can add drama and create moods to an otherwise normal plain environment. The home automation system makes it possible for intelligent lighting controls to go that extra mile to blend in with your lifestyle. Intelligent lighting goes beyond wireless home lighting controls using your Smartphone. It requires other household devices, including motion sensors, light sensors, timers and dimmer switches, to work in sync with your home lighting control.
Below are some common scenarios of how intelligent lighting provides homeowners more than just the facility to remotely switch on and off their lights using their Smartphones.
Improve Safety & Security
Smart lighting can give the impression that your home is occupied even if you are away at work or enjoying your holidays. This is possible by scheduling your outdoor or living room lights to switch on as soon as the motion detectors sense movement. So, whenever a movement is detected around your home, the lights will come on and simulate your presence as if somebody is at home. This is how automated lighting can help add to your remote home monitoring system.
Intelligent home lighting control can reduce your energy usage considerably. As well as allowing you to remotely control all types of lights using your Smartphone app, you can schedule them to switch on or dim at certain times of the day using timers and dimmers. You can also sync the photo sensors and lights to work in tandem so that the lights come on whenever sensors detect low light. This ensures none of the lights are inadvertently left on and that the electricity is optimally used thereby reducing your utility bills.
Return to a Well-Lit Home
Another scenario where intelligent lighting helps is when we return home from work. All of us like to enter a well-lit home after a hard day’s work. You can schedule your living room lights to turn on as soon as the magnetic door sensor is activated when the front door is opened. This means you will no longer have to unlock your main door and hunt for the light switch panel.
Intelligent lighting control helps you to create the ambience you desire by illuminating or dimming a collection of lights. For instance, with a single tap on your phone you can switch all the indoor lights off and dim all the garden lights for a perfect campfire evening with your friends. You can also dim and change the colour of your living room LEDs to have a faint blue hue to enjoy an evening watching movie with friends.
Your kitchen, more than any other room in your home, needs a good well thought out lighting plan. Today’s kitchens have many more functions than just cooking a meal. For many families it is the most frequently used room in the house. Besides the obvious preparation of meals, kitchens today are also a place for the kids to do homework, parents to pay the bills, reading, eating and watching TV. For this reason it is important that the light not only be adequate but flexible.
The first place to start in any room when devising a lighting plan is to address general lighting. This is the light that will be used most of the time. In the case of a very small kitchen, one light in the center of the room will provide the general light. With most of today’s kitchens being larger, a single light fixture in the center of the room probably won’t satisfy your lighting needs. The most common solution is recessed lighting. Depending on what part of the country you are in they may be called high hats or pot lights or can lights. All these terms mean the same thing. Recessed lighting is a good way to provide general lighting in a kitchen in a neat and clean way.
The placement of the lights is very important. When designing a layout for the general lighting in a kitchen, we want to take into account the areas where tasks will be done. This includes counters, islands and tables. In most cases, by designing the light to illuminate these areas, the rest of the room gets a good spread of general light as well. Try to have the recessed lights fall out on the ceiling so that they are directly above the outside edge of the cabinets. The key here is getting the lights close enough to the work area so that you don’t create a shadow with your body. Putting the lights to far away from the counters is a sure formula for shadows. Don’t overlook any nooks that may be dark.
Islands can provide a great outlet for adding a decorative fixture or fixtures to the room. There are a multitude of pendants to choose from that can really enhance the room. I find it is probably one of the most commented on aspects of a kitchen lighting plan when the homeowner sees the finished product. Simply installing 2 or 3 pendants in line over an island can be quite stunning.
The next step is the task lighting. In a kitchen this is the light directly over the counters, stove and sink. Having one or two small recessed lights on a separate switch over the sink is both attractive and useful. The stove these days is almost always lit from a fan hood or microwave but if it is not it should be addressed. The way the counters are illuminated is with under cabinet lighting. This can be in the form of simple fluorescent fixtures on an economical level. A very nice effect is to use low voltage linear track. These can be dimmed and provide very good light to the counters. There are also xenon fixtures and halogen fixtures. If you can try and stay with xenon as they burn cooler and have a longer bulb life than halogen.
After you have your general lighting and task lighting covered the last thing to consider is any accent lighting. On some kitchens where there is a space above the cabinets, lighting on top of the cabinets can look spectacular. Tray ceilings with crown molding can also benefit greatly from this type of lighting. Using either a low voltage type track or rope light, you can add that extra touch that makes your kitchen unique.
Installing under cabinet lighting in your kitchen has many benefits. Under cabinet lighting uses low-voltage bulbs to make tasks easier and safer by delivering directed light to a specific area. Under cabinet lighting can provide two functions in your kitchen. It can provide task lighting for countertop food preparation and accent lighting to highlight your countertops and backsplash. Although under cabinet is also useful in workshops, garages, and basements, here we will focus on the kitchen.
Benefits of Under Cabinet Kitchen Lighting
1) Energy efficient – Can save energy by eliminating the need to light up an entire room.
2) Variety of bulbs – Energy efficient lights bulbs are most often used for under-the-cabinet lighting fixtures. Common under cabinet light bulbs include fluorescent, halogen, LED, and xenon bulbs.
3) Eliminate shadows – Under cabinet lighting reduces the shadows created by wall cabinets and overhead ceiling lighting. Proper spacing of under cabinet lighting eliminates the dark shadows under your countertops. To eliminate shadows, install one light for every 20-30 inches of counter space.
4) Add unique style and distinction to your kitchen – Many kitchen countertops are made from granite or marble. A kitchen under cabinet light can make your stone countertops shine.
5) Simple installation – Many DIYers can install under cabinet lighting in just a few hours.
Types of Under Cabinet Lighting: Strip Lights, Puck Lights, Linear Lights
Strip Lights: These are rectangular shaped fixtures and they work well with fluorescent bulbs. They are great for providing diffused light to the kitchen.
Puck Lights: These are round fixtures that got their name from their round, hockey puck- like size and appearance. These lights are best for highlighting countertops and backsplashes. Puck lights work with LED, halogen and xenon bulbs. Puck lights can be mounted in different positions to either aim downward or at the backsplash. As an alternative, puck lights can usually be recessed into cabinets.
Linear lights: Linear lights are often used with fluorescent bulbs. They are the most popular types of fluorescent under cabinet kitchen lighting because they are thin, which allow them to be concealed behind the cabinet trim.
Types of Bulbs Used: Fluorescent, Halogen, Incandescent, LED and Xenon.
Fluorescent bulbs – These are commonly used for under cabinet lighting fixtures. They create a bright work area by providing clear light. The disadvantage of fluorescent lights is that they cannot be dimmed and they sometimes flicker.
Halogen bulbs – Homeowners seeking a bright, white light choose halogen bulbs. The light emitted from a halogen bulb is warm and bright and provides a nice amount of light from under the cabinet. These bulbs have an extremely long life, lasting up to 2,000 hours.
Incandescent bulbs – These bulbs are the least popular under cabinet bulb type as their light is not very bright. Incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient and they emit heat. They last half as long as halogen bulbs.
LED bulbs – These bulbs are becoming a more popular choice among homeowners as they become more commonly available at lighting and home improvement stores. LED bulbs are available in different colors they and provide homeowners with the ability to create unique decorative features. LED bulbs are best for puck lighting.
Xenon bulbs – These bulbs have the longest lifespan of all under cabinet light bulb options. They can last up to 10,000 hours. They are energy efficient as they do not create heat.
Tips for Successful Under Cabinet Lighting
o One 12-inch lighting fixture or 3-puck light fixture should be installed for every 4 ft. of countertop.
o Install the lights toward the front of the cabinet so that they will highlight the surface best.
Marcy Tate is a home improvement writer with over a decade of experience in the electric field.