Matt Jacks, experience centre manager at Lutron Electronics, demystifies the top smart lighting misconceptions in electrical contracting.
In recent years, lighting control technology has made significant strides forward. Today homeowners can have an integrated, simple, scalable and energy efficient solution, tailored to their unique requirements – no matter how unusual.
Yet despite all these benefits, many homeowners are reluctant to even explore lighting control as an option. This is, in large part, due to the many myths and misconceptions that surround smart lighting. It is, therefore, the role of the electrical contractor to bring an end to these once and for all.
More often than not, the electrical contractor is required to educate the customer throughout the project, walking them through the process from lighting selection and installation, to the set-up process and management. Homeowners often have little to no knowledge of lighting control and need constant consultation, whether on logistics and timeframes or aesthetics and post-installation personalisation.
If electrical contractors hope to help the general public navigate their installation projects successfully, they must be aware of the most common misconceptions in the industry.
Misconception 1: Wireless means Wi-Fi
Every electrical contractor has encountered this misconception at one time, if not many times, in their career. Often one of the main reasons for homeowners being put off smart lighting systems is because they wrongly assume that wireless lighting runs on Wi-Fi and therefore if the Wi-Fi drops out so do the lights. Generally, homeowners underestimate the technological capabilities of wireless lighting.
The most advanced technology operates on a quiet frequency band that is essentially free of interference. The benefit of a dedicated network is that it ensures that communication between system devices are reliably delivered alongside group commands, which guarantees a smooth, simultaneous system response. It is essential for electrical contractors to squash this misconception as soon as they enter a new property.
Misconception 2: Smart systems are complicated
Smart lighting systems don’t stand alone – they can be integrated with heating, sound and audio. Investing in integrated smart home systems is one of the best ways for homeowners to save themselves from some significant spending on electricity and heating bills further down the line.
However, when it comes to the topic of integration, many are reluctant to even explore the possibilities, believing these systems have to be established and connected at the same time with a high-level integrator.
Today, this doesn’t have to be the case. Knowledgeable professionals understand which technologies are compatible. Some homeowners assume there’s an all or nothing approach when it comes to smart home integration – in reality smart systems can be treated like buildings blocks.
Homeowners have the flexibility to add and remove different systems, at different times to create a tailored smart home system to suit their home and lifestyle. With intuitive smart systems, it is possible to integrate new systems as and when the budget allows, proving that smart home technology is accessible for all.
Misconception 3: There’s a tradeoff between style and function
Social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to misconceptions about lighting control. Today’s homeowners have high expectations of their lighting control systems and can assume that the intricate lighting designs they see on Instagram and Pinterest come with a star-trek style panel of dimmers and switches.
Many believe that there is a tradeoff between flexibility, simplicity or aesthetic. This is simply not the case – gone are the days of multiple, large, and bewildering displays. With modern lighting control systems, this dilemma no longer exists. Design expertise from a trained electrician and the right lighting control system means homeowners can have a beautifully simple, minimal and usable interface that allows them to change scenes with the click of a button.
A large part of the EC’s role is working with their clients to educate them on the importance of style and function and help them achieve the perfect balance.
Misconception 4: The process ends at installation
Despite the name, a common misconception is that lighting cannot adapt to the ever-changing needs of its user. As a result, homeowners will often spend days, weeks and in extreme cases months, fretting about the suitability of the scene descriptions for their lighting interfaces and control panels.
They incorrectly assume that once their system is installed, the configuration is set in stone. Electrical contractors should be educating and informing their customers that lighting control remains customisable long after the electrician has left the site.
As life changes, so do lighting requirements – a room that was once a formal dining room could be transformed into a child’s playroom and this requires an adapted lighting scene. The beauty of smart lighting systems is in the name, they’re smart enough that with a quick reconfiguration a space can be transformed to suit the new needs of its users.
In a nutshell, every installation comes with its own unique challenges and requests, from start to finish there’s likely to be a common thread of confusions and myths that require busting. But electrical contractors should enter every job knowing that they have the knowledge, and access to a network of lighting control experts, that can help them guide homeowners through every step of the design and installation process.