Traditional line-voltage wiring methods require installing high-voltage wiring from each run of lights to an individual switch, resulting in dated control methods and limited flexibility. A centralized lighting control system provides customizable functionality for not only switching, but also dimming, scheduling and energy management.
Once reserved for expensive applications only, costs for these systems have come down over time, making this method practical for more economical project budgets.
A centralized lighting method utilizes keypads throughout the home that not only control a single room, but any light fixture in the house. This allows the user to directly control, program and schedule lighting scenes from any keypad or user interface.
So how does it work? All the electrical wiring is run through remote dimming modules. This eliminates the need for individual switches and dimmers crowding the walls. These modules are housed in a centralized panel that is tucked out of sight, typically in a basement equipment room or utility closet.
Don’t worry, these modules still connect to standard breakers like a traditional panel. Some providers, like Lutron, even offer solutions with these breakers built in.
When a button is pressed on a keypad, it runs a signal to the dimming module through low-voltage wiring. From there, the dimmer has direct control over the lighting response. This allows for functions like “Welcome” and “Away” settings that control every light in the home with a single button press.
From a builder perspective, the main benefit of this system is ease of install. By home run, or “star,” wiring the system, all electrical wires are being pulled to the same location. Although this might require more linear feet of wire, it saves time on labor and install, and eliminates the need for three- or four-way switches.
Related: Smart lighting for safer homes
This centralized system lessens the chance of a short, and eases maintenance for your electrician. Homeowners value the optimized energy management and hard-wired system reliability. And designers now have an extensive range of keypad styles to choose from, reducing clutter on the walls and increasing lighting design options.
Beyond just indoor or outdoor lighting, this control method is also applicable to fans, shades and miscellaneous motors.
Hayley Selden is the head of business development at Digital Media Innovations (DMI), a luxury home automation company serving the state of Colorado. Originally from California, she traveled to Philadelphia to pursue degrees in Civil and Architectural Engineering at Drexel University. Hayley now uses her technical background and natural people skills to bridge the gaps between integrators, builders/architects, and clients when it comes to the emerging field of home automation technology. She can be reached at [email protected].