The Impact of Smart Lighting in a Home

March 8th, 2007 |
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Smart lighting makes that “old” light switch cool again. It also saves you money as you conserve power.

Ed Ryan and Scott Moulton at Control4 talk about how little, everyday tasks can become conveniences with Smart Lighting. With Control4 “scenes,” you can wake up to lights that come up gradually, have shades open to let in the sun, and have favorite wake-up music grow in volume. Keep kid’s from turning on lights in the middle of the day. High-tech switches easily integrate into your walls and support more commands. Plus the same remote you use to turn on your TV can also control your lights. Finally, you can even turn lights on or off with a Web browser from a remote location.

Have you ever jumped in bed and then realized that an outside light is on but the switch is all the way downstairs? Or have you ever wanted to wow your friends in your home theater by having the lights dim gradually over a 10-second period? Find out how.

Transcript:

Host: Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

Guest: Scott Moulton

Guest: Ed Ryan

Announcer

This is RockyMountainVoices powered by PodTech.

Ed Ryan

“So in the morning, instead of waking upto an alarm clock, personally I wake up better to the sun rising regardless of time of the day, you can have the lights gradually dim up and have your music come on, have the blinds raised 20 minutes before you wake up, the temperatures come up. So, you can have control of your whole environment.”

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

This is Brad with RockyMountainVoices and I’m here today with Scott Moulton and Ed Ryan from Control4, welcome to the Podcast.

Ed Ryan

Thanks.

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

I’m excited to learn a little bit more about what smart lighting would mean? I know you guys talk about the smart home and we’ve talked a little bit about automation in the past and even some of the digital home but tell me a little bit more about lighting Ed, and what is smart lighting?

Ed Ryan

Well, lighting is one of those technologies that everybody takes for granted and doesn’t really understand the benefit of what smart lighting or automated lighting can do for you. The first obvious benefit is that you can control lights from wherever you are without having to go to the specific light switch that controls that lighting. So, it gives you remote access and remote control to all your lighting. The other thing that over lays on top of that is that you can control your lighting in an automated way.

So, you can have events in your home automation system that trigger lighting coming on. So, for example, at a certain time of day, half an hour before sunset, you can have your outside lights come on or at certain times of the day, you can have them shut off or based on events, if a motion sensor goes off because you are getting up at night, you can have the pathway to the kitchen, turned on. So, there is all this automation that you can get built into the lighting deck, most people don’t think about until you really use it and have access to it

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

You really need smart lighting, I mean isn’t it easy just to turn on a switch in your house?

Ed Ryan

Well sure, and what does it need right? You need food, you need air, right? Because if we get down at that level, do you need — so what one of my favorite keypad buttons in my house is at the top of my stairs looking down into the basement, I have programmed a button that shuts all the lights off in the basement. There is nothing more annoying than having a light being put on and having to walk down to where it is. Last night for example, a perfect example, one of my children turns on the fan in the bathroom all the time and leaves the lights on and not just the lights but the fan.

So, at 11:30 at night, I’m going to bed and this bathroom is right underneath our bedroom and that fan, the ball bearings aren’t quite working exactly right and so it’s a very noisy, rattly fan and so I can’t go to sleep if that fan is on. So, without smart lighting, I’d have to get up out of bed, go downstairs, turn the fan off, come back up. Where last night, it’s one of those moments where you say, “Boy, I’m so glad I have this system” I reached over to my nightstand and I have a basement off button, so I didn’t have to search for which light it was, which fan it was because there are a couple of bathrooms down there. I just pressed that ‘off’ button, the fan goes off and I roll over back in bed saying, “Ah, isn’t this great?”

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

So, one of those moments where you’re happy you made that investment?

Ed Ryan

Yeah, it’s little things like that, but once you live with this, you just really appreciate the value of it. I have another keypad button when I leave the house, its house off. So, when everyone is out of the house, I don’t have to run around the house and make sure I didn’t leave the light on. I just pressed that button and the whole house, the lights will shut off and I’m good to go, no need to worry about it.

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

Scott, I know one of things that I’ve read in some of your brochures even on the Websites. If you’re in an emergency situation, you get a fire in your home or something, you can program your system, your lights would be flashing or other things in the outside. Tell me a little bit more about that and maybe some of the benefits that’s around security and really kind of helping in your home.

Scott Moulton

Sure, yeah as Ed mentioned, one of the benefits is that the lights — multiple lights can interact with each other but because you’re tied into a whole home automation system, really the lights can interact with other systems in the home as well. And so, whether that’s a security alarm that goes off, or a smoke detector, or a motion detector, those lights can respond accordingly.

So, that could be a case like you mentioned, a fire alarm that goes off and so emergency vehicles are on their way, so to notify those vehicles where the home is at, the front porch lights could flash on and off but it could also be something more convenient oriented in the way that for example, coming home from work. You never have to arrive home to a dark house. I open the garage door and that triggers lights in the home to come on, right? So, it gives me a pathway from the garage into the — through the mud room into the kitchen, things like that. So, I don’t have to walk into a dark home, carrying groceries and fumbling for lights or anything like that.

Ed Ryan

Yeah, just safety and security; one of the basic things about it is having the lights on, so you can see where you’re going, right? So, you get up at night; our house we have the lights programmed, so if it’s after 11 o’ clock at night, so lights come on, they only come on 50%. So, in the middle of the night, when I’m up, I turn the light on I don’t have to do the one eye dance, I can’t open both eyes because it’s too much of a shock to my eyes, its painful. So, you have the lights come up just a little bit, so it’s comforting to your eyes. The other thing, if you need to get up and walk downstairs, go into the kitchen, or answer a door, or something, you can have the entire lighting path, the place where you’re coming from to where we’re going to and back, be lit just with the touch of a button.

So, you don’t have to keep going forward into the dark, then hit that switch, go to next one, hit that switch. So, it’s little things like that that. You know a lot of people fall, accidents happen based on that, or like Scott said you’re carrying something and you don’t have the ability to turn the light switch on, how often you come into the house with the groceries and you’re fumbling around, trying to hit a light switch, where as you don’t have to do that.

So, it’s just little conveniences like not having to go downstairs to turn the fan off or not having to turn all the lights off as you’re walking some place or have things happen automatically be a motion sensor or a time of day, or some other event happened. A cool thing that I do in my theater at home, is I tie the lights dimming to starting a movie.

So, when I play on my DVD player or my VCR, the lights dim down over 15 seconds and when I press ‘pause’ or ‘stop’, they dim back up. It’s a simple thing, but when you’re done with the movie and you shut the screen off, well, its dark, or you have to get up and turn the lights off after you’ve started the movie or where you just have the convenience of doing that. The other convenience is wherever you are in the home from any user interface, not just a light switch or a keypad, but from the remote control from a touch panel, from across the Internet using our four side product, you can control your lighting from wherever you are. So those little conveniences add up to just having a lifestyle impact, once you live with it, you really don’t want to be without it.

Scott Moulton

My experience is a lot like, you know when I first experienced DVR TiVo right, it’s a question do you really — how big of a deal was it to be able to skip commercials really? But you live with that for a little while and then you go to a hotel for example and then you’re frustrated by the fact that you have to sit through commercials, you can’t skip ahead or anything like that and lighting is very much the same way. You get used to just those real simple conveniences of being able to turn all the lights off with a single button press, or I had the scenario in my home of, if I return home past 11 o’clock, I press the ‘Welcome Home’ button and it would give me a pathway of light, but if it was after 11 o’clock, it would only go to 50% and that’s usually because I created it that way because I was usually carrying my daughter and I hated the fact that I would come in, the lights will come on full bright and she would wake up and she was usually asleep.

So, I just created that simple programming that if during the day, the lights would come on full bright but if it was after a certain hour, they would only come on to 50% but it would turn on all the lights to her bedroom, so I could take her, put her in a crib and then it’ll be done and so real simple little scenarios like that, but they’re just, they’re addictive.

Ed Ryan

The other thing is the whole save your money concept or being energy conservative. I grew up in a house where if we had the lights left on for five minutes, where they weren’t being used, boy, my mom was all over me, like “shut the lights off.” And my kids aren’t — haven’t been raised that way, we just leave the lights on all the time and it just bugs me. So, simple things like a pantry light, where I open the door to our pantry, I have it programmed, so five minutes after the light was turned on, it shuts off.

So, you hit the pantry light on, you get what you need, you forget to shut it off, you shut the door well without the Control4 system, automated lighting, that light may stay on for four hours the next time somebody goes in the pantry, now it just shuts off five minutes later. I can set the lights to shut off after so many minutes after use or I have a sweep in my base — 9:30 in the morning after they’re all off to school, every light in the basement shuts off.

I just know that well for the most part, the lights are off in the basement they’re not going to be left on all the time. In my case, whether it’s conserving energy or not, it’s just peace of mind because I feel better when I know the lights aren’t left on around the house, I’m not wasting energy. So, that’s another aspect of it, it gives you more control over your environment in your home.

Scott Moulton

You know, even while you are not at home, the home can give this ‘lived in’ appearance right? So, that if anyone would be happening by or be scoping the house at all, they would get the appearance that people are living in the house because not just a single light, you can buy timers, and just turn on a single lamp, rooms can turn on and off in different parts of the house and kind of cascade through so that it gives a more intelligent kind of safety and security type scenario.

Ed Ryan

So, one of the big benefits of having not just lighting control, but having it as part of a whole home control package, is you get to all the interaction between the different systems in your home, so it’s not just lighting. So, for example, we have what we call an agent or something you can set up in your system, it’s called the wake up agent.

So, in the morning instead of waking up to an alarm clock personally, I wake up better to the light or the sun rising, regardless of what time of the day. But you can do things like set your wake up scene, so if you like to sleep cold and you have the temperature down, you can have 20 minutes before you wake up to temperatures come up. You can have the lights gradually dim up and have your music come on, have the blinds raised.

So, you can have control over your whole environment and have it all be integrated into a Control4 system and not just be lighting control. Its really upto your imagination, like I talked about the theater example, there’s a lot of things where you can integrate lighting into other things that you’re doing to set moods, to add convenience, to add safety to whatever you’re doing which really adds the benefit of the whole is greater than some of the parts.

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

That really answers my question. Earlier on I talked about just flipping a switch, it’s more than flipping a switch. If you have an integrated system, because you’re flipping lots of switches all simultaneously with dimming and I think that’s in a sense, answering my own question, it is a lot easier when you look at all of those systems working together as a one whole.

Ed Ryan

Right because you interact with your whole environment, you don’t interact with just your music, or just your lights or just your heating or climate control. It’s the entire environment with what you’re doing, with what your lifestyle is and because the system is automated and it’s intelligent, you can set it up to completely fit like a glove with your lifestyle and how you want your environment to behave and lighting is a key part of that.

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

The thing I keep hearing Ed is that it’s just everyday available and it’s easy and it’s just always there. I think you have one example, I remember back before my car didn’t shut the lights off automatically, after so many seconds and I would come out to a parking lot to a dead battery. I mean this is the same kind of thing I imagine it’s that feeling that you lock your car doors, lights on, as a matter it’s going to be off in 30 seconds and it’s that same comfort that you get of walking away and knowing that everything is under control.

Ed Ryan

Yeah the whole point of having a control system in your house is to enhance your lifestyle, add more convenience, more comfort, more peace of mind and the little things that you point out, the little annoyances in life, a dead battery from a light being left on or you just think there is any number of things having this system give you full control over your environment from wherever you are and have it be intelligent enough to interact with you and behave without you having to remember, “Oh I got to remember to shut that light off”, it just knows and it will do that for you.

It’s kind of like the TiVo example, where if you haven’t had it, you really don’t know what the big deal it is, but once you start living with it, you say wow, what I — how would I be if I moved houses will I spend the money to move this over and if you haven’t lived with it, you’d have a question but once you have experienced, you say “Boy I don’t want to live without this anymore”, it’s added that much value to my lifestyle.

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

Scott, where can we tell listeners to get more information about Control4 and lighting?

Scott Moulton

Yeah, anybody can log on to the Control4.com Website and there it’s the site is divided into the different sections and different systems, different pieces of the Control4 solution. So they can go into lighting and look at all the different products that are available as well as some easy scenarios that can be accomplished with the Control4 system.

Ed Ryan

And then we have a dealer locator up there. You can put in your zip code and you can see all the dealers that are in your area, contact a couple of them and see what their capabilities are? We have a large number of dealers that are certified and trained to do this all the time and can come out and do a walk through with you and find out exactly what your needs are and get your set up.

Brad Baldwin – RockyMountainVoices

I think you kind of answered some of my earlier questions. I think lighting and integrated into the home automation system, the whole thing is, obviously, you get a lot of benefit. Thanks for joining us today on the Podcast Ed and Scott.

Ed Ryan

Thanks for having us, thank you.

Announcer

This has been a RockyMountainVoices Podcast, visit us on the Internet at www. rockymountainvoices.com.

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