Romain Seeleuthner, Category Manager at ElectricalDirect, looks at what you should consider when recommending smart lighting.
Historically, contractors may have steered away from suggesting smart lighting products due to the assumption that they are more difficult to install compared to more traditional options. However, today’s technology means that the installation process is far less complicated than many might expect. This is not only a benefit to the contractor, but also the customer, as installation time and disruption can be kept to a minimum.
This is why smart lighting solutions are becoming an increasingly popular choice for commercial premises. But with so many options to choose from, contractors need to familiarise themselves with the products available on the market, as well as their benefits, so they can help customers select the right products that match the requirements of their business.
The benefits to the customer
For customers that are unsure whether smart lighting is right for their business, it is important to explain the benefits that these products can offer. Firstly, smart lighting can result in energy efficiency savings as lights can be easily scheduled to turn on when the building is in use and off over the weekend or overnight when occupants have gone home, thus maintaining the optimal level of lighting throughout the day.
Helpfully, there are even products on the market that are able to memorise regular activity and mimic these patterns so that lights automatically turn on and off throughout the day without having to set up a manual schedule. As well as ensuring that lights are only on when needed, great for energy savings, this presents a huge benefit in making buildings more secure. For example, when employees are working from home or while the office is closed during the holidays, the lights can be set so that they continue to turn on and off as though people are on-site, therefore deterring would-be intruders.
Light also plays a huge role in productivity, so it is important that the right products are selected for a particular setting. For example, the main office area should have lighting that resembles regular daylight – whereas lobbies require a gentler, more welcoming hue. Having a zoned system of dimmable or colour changing bulbs will ensure that customers can adjust the lighting depending on natural daylight or to suit the purpose (and occupancy needs) of each room or area within a building.
Zoned systems also mean that end-users can conveniently select the spaces to illuminate according to a customised schedule. This is ideal for companies that employ a flexible working policy, as it means that just the occupied areas of a building can be lit.
Finally, most systems can be controlled using a mobile app so those outside of the building can still control the lighting. This is ideal for making sure lights are turned on ahead of the first employees arriving to start their workday, which is particularly handy on darker, winter mornings. Alternatively, landlords, property managers or occupiers alike can use the app to check that lights have been turned off at the end of the day – and if necessary, turn them off remotely.
Selecting the right solution
Every building is different, so it is important to gauge from the customer what their main objective is and what they want to achieve with their lighting system. For example, they might need lights that can be zoned so that certain areas are lit, whilst others are not – or perhaps they want to be able to control the lights remotely. Speaking to customers about how the building is used and any future plans they might have for the space will also help to determine whether the system installed needs to be scalable or easily adjusted later down the line.
Simple smart lighting
For customers new to smart lighting, or looking for a simple solution, smart light bulbs are a great place to start. Depending on the model, these can be linked to Wi-Fi and controlled via an app, or they can be connected to a hub for central control (which is ideal if they are being used as part of a system of multiple smart products).
Another simple way of integrating smart lighting in commercial premises is by using smart light switches. These solutions can be paired with smart hubs as part of an integrated system – and customers have complete control via a smartphone app. They can even set up features such as voice control to effortlessly control lighting throughout the building. Smart light switches are also incredibly easy to install and can replace traditional versions like-for-like.
More complex systems
For customers looking for more control with a wide range of smart products from the start, or to futureproof their system to integrate further smart devices over time, a control hub or ecosystem (such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit) is ideal. As well as lighting, these are compatible with smart devices and appliances such as sound systems, speakers, PIR sensors, CCTV and heating so contractors can design a fully integrated system, and plan associated cabling requirements, that minimises disruption for the customer at a later date.