Smart looks, smart operation

The ‘wow’ factor can be achieved in new homes combined with cost-effective smart lighting and audio control to provide the best of both worlds for developers. One company is realising the benefits in several new schemes.

Smart controls and home automation systems have become hugely popular, yet they can also require huge budgets to implement. However, as new technologies become increasingly accessible, it’s now easier and more cost-effective than ever to incorporate these technologies on a budget and give new developments that extra special ‘wow’ factor while appealing to the energy conscious homeowner.

Smart technology and devices have become everyday essentials for many in today’s ‘always connected’ life, enabling people to do whatever they want, whenever and wherever. House buyers are looking for extra special features when making their purchase, and technologies such as smart lighting and audio controls are delivering just that.

Gavin Williams, marketing manager for electrical accessories manufacturer Hamilton Litestat, said:

“We’ve seen an increasing market demand for smart controls thanks to changing lifestyle choices. Lighting and audio controls are seen as a luxury item with a very high perceived value. Yes, you need a light switch in a room but having lighting control is a whole new level that’s extremely desirable. Now by also adding multi-room audio you are giving the homeowner a total lighting and sound package.”

Yet this technology needn’t cost the earth. ‘Off the shelf’, easy to install lighting control solutions allow the user to create, store and easily recall lighting scenes all at the touch of a button – setting the mood in any area of the home or changing it depending on the desired function of the space at that time. Another option is RGB DMX control where a colour wash can be given to an area with lighting. The DMX standard is becoming more popular domestically to provide accent lighting and even add drama to a space.

Major energy savings

Not only does the functionality appeal to today’s homeowner, so do the energy efficient properties. By dimming lights around the home, lighting controls can offer vast energy savings of up to 80 per cent. Savings of between 20-30 per cent can be achieved by dimming the LEDs alone, with further savings of 50 per cent possible by using PIRs to turn off lights when a room or area is not in use.

Furthermore, using a soft start dimmer can offer further savings by extending the typical 25,000-hour life of an LED lamp. By making current switching smoother and reducing the lamp temperature, lamp failure is reduced along with maintenance requirements.

Gavin Williams added:

“Even the most basic system that uses a pre-set timer or dimmer will use less power, so lighting control offers vast energy saving improvements. Plus, creating an appropriate pre-set ambience, lighting control can reduce energy usage in entertainment spaces such as home cinemas. Any person looking to reduce their expenditure and carbon footprint will find such systems invaluable.”

Wall to wall light and sound

The popularity of lighting control has led to the natural development of multi-room audio solutions. The two can be integrated, giving the homeowner the versatility to control the audio played in any room, even in an outside patio or garden space.

Williams added:

“A more lavish setting might be the ability to control both the lighting and audio around a hot tub or pool area, but it can be used in any living space. That new level of luxury is now much more accessible with off-the-shelf lighting control and multi-room audio systems.”

A coordinated look

Both the lighting and audio functions can be controlled via a range of different switch options. Mechanical push button switches can be supplied in a huge variety of styles and finishes, which coordinate with other switch plate and socket options. Glass capacitive touch and touchscreen options are also available, or the lighting and audio can be controlled with a mobile or tablet using Hamilton’s downloadable iOS/Android app.

Case study: Multi-room audio and lighting control for London apartments

Quintas Homes, together with interior designer Matteo Bianchi, designed and developed a block of six apartments near Clissold Park in London which aim to combine classic design with modern living requirements.

The developer challenged Hamilton Litestat to suggest appropriate technologies and electrical accessories that would provide future homeowners with desirable options which also blended seamlessly with the striking design.

In partnership with leading wholesaler, The Light Bulb Shop, the manufacturer recommended the installation of its Mercury lighting control and multi-room audio system – an intelligent system that allows the homeowner to control the lighting and music in any room via coloured touchscreen panels or a smartphone app.

Ambient lighting is controlled by a dedicated system that allows the creation and storing of bespoke lighting scenes so they can be recalled at a touch of the control pad or via an app, setting the mood for any occasion. By storing and using dimmed lighting ‘scenes’, the homeowner can also reduce energy usage and their electricity bills.

The touchscreen control panels were specified in a chic design and finished in Black Nickel, complements the high quality dark oak floors and soft stone black shower floors in the apartments.

A variety of switch plate and socket functions were supplied to suit modern living, including the USB sockets now seen as essential, as well as data points in all bedrooms and living rooms, and a telephone data point fitting in the living room.