So much happens in the kitchen and bath that it’s often difficult to have the lights at the right intensity levels at all times. When you’re cooking, you need the lights brighter; lower when you sit down to eat. As you apply makeup or shave, you’ll want the lights bright, but when you’re unwinding in a hot bath at the end of the day, an intensity level that mimics candlelight is apropos.
In the past, we’ve relied on dimmer switches to adjust the intensity levels of the lights. While this approach still works well, smart lighting products have introduced a whole new level of convenience and control to the management of home lighting. Plus, these solutions are so much more cosmetically pleasing than the switches of yesteryear.
Here are 10 ways smart lighting can add value to the kitchen and bath:
Clears “Wall Acne” It’s not unusual to see the walls of kitchens and baths blanketed with huge banks of light switches. There are two problems with this setup: it’s difficult to remember which switch controls which group of lights and the numerous faceplates eat up a big chunk of wall space. Lighting keypads, by contrast, provide six to eight pushbuttons that can control all of the lights and take up only the space of a single-gang junction box.
Creates Activity-Based Preset Lighting Levels Each pushbutton on a keypad can be programmed to set the intensity level of a predetermined group of lights, called a lighting “scene.” For example, a morning button on a kitchen keypad can brighten the under cabinet lights to 50 percent and the fixture over the island to 30. A cleaning button can raise every light to full intensity, and a romantic button can lower the lights to an intimate 25 percent. Likewise, in the bathroom, specific lights can adjust on the fly based on whichever button is engaged: morning, night, relaxation, and so on.
Showcases Decorative Details The wood grain of fine cabinetry, the mix of colors of a granite countertop, and other visually stunning architectural details look even better with the right lighting. A lighting designer can choose the best light source, fixture and placement, while a home systems installer can suggest the best levels of brightness.
Improves Comfort With standard, non-smart lighting, the lights can feel blinding during midnight trips to the bathroom or the kitchen. A smart lighting system ensures that the lights are easy on the eyes during certain hours of the night.
Adds an Element of Automation Imagine having the kitchen lights set at the perfect level when you arrive home from work. It’s possible with a smart lighting system. Driven by sophisticated microprocessors, it can adjust the lights automatically based on conditions like the time of day, occupancy, and even the location of your smartphone (a feature called geofencing).
Personalizes the Space Some people like a room brightly lit; others prefer at atmosphere that’s soft and subdued. A smart lighting system has the intelligence to set the lights based on who’s at home.
Sets the Mood The biggest trends in home lighting are color and tunable white light. Smart LED bulbs are available that can glow in a rainbow of hues. This is all controllable through a mobile app, keypad, or even voice commands. The bathroom can bask in a sea of blue to promote relaxation; a red hue can evoke a festive atmosphere when entertaining guests in the kitchen. If infusing the kitchen and bath with colored lighting seems too drastic of an approach, a subtler mood-setting alternative is “tunable white lighting.” These LED bulbs adjust their color temperature—as well as their brightness levels—to mimic daylight patterns. This can have a huge impact on the look and feel of the kitchen and bath.
Boosts Energy Efficiency Dimming a light by 25 percent can cut electricity costs by 20 percent, according to Lutron Electronics. You can save even more if that light source is an LED, which uses significantly less electricity than an incandescent bulb. LED bulbs also last years longer—a huge perk if the kitchen or bath has hard-to-reach light fixtures.
Synchs with Music and More Lights can go a long way toward setting the mood of a room; when a smart lighting system has been programmed to synchronize with a music system, the kitchen and bath can take on a whole new attitude. Classic music can play when the lights are dim; hip-hop when they are bright, for example. This can be easily accomplished by pressing a single button on a keypad or launching a command from a mobile app. A security system, thermostats, and motorized shading can be integrated, as well, to completely alter the atmosphere of the room.
Provides Peace of Mind Nobody intends to leave the lights on when they leave the house or go to bed. Lighting systems can be access and controlled remotely from a mobile app, so that the kitchen and bath are always illuminated (or not illuminated) perfectly.Lisa MontgomeryLisa Montgomery has been a member of the Electronic House editorial team for nearly 20 years; most of that time as the Editor. With a knack for explaining complex high-tech topics in terms that average consumers can understand, her style of writing resonates with people who are interested in addition electronic systems to their homes, but are unsure of the steps involved and the solutions available. From basic lighting control systems to full-blown automation systems, Lisa understands the home electronics market well, and is able to point consumers in the right direction on their quest for a smarter, more convenient, efficient and enjoyable home. Over the years, she has developed close relationships with key manufacturers and seasoned custom electronics professionals, giving her a keen sense of what home technologies are hot now and what's on the horizon. She shares this wisdom regularly through feature stories, product roundups, case studies technology spotlights and comprehensive guides and books, which can be found on the Electronic House website, www.electronichouse.com. Have suggestions or something you want to read about? Email Lisa at >[email protected]
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