Some consumers see smart lighting as a bit of a “party trick,” according to Rachael Laughlin, district lighting specialist for Ferguson Enterprises. However, she believes that “the most usable feature” of smart home lighting regards safety and security.
Landscape and exterior lighting are important elements in designs that are safe for homeowners and their guests. Compared to the familiar dusk-to-dawn photocells of yesteryear, today’s smart lighting controls are turbocharged tools that can make a home safer and more convenient for owners.
One of the challenges in outdoor lighting design is illuminating the space so that homeowners can navigate it safely without overlighting areas in ways that waste energy or annoy the neighbors.
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Many states have passed laws regarding outdoor lighting. In Colorado, that law covers lighting installed using state funds, though some jurisdictions may have their own dark-sky regulations.
Landscape lighting is the biggest casualty of dark-sky regulations, according to Laughlin.
“That’s where we’re running into this battle [with lighting that] might illuminate your house in a beautiful way and feature your brick or your stone or your trees, but then it becomes a non-dark-sky-compliant home,” she said.
Manufacturers recognize the trend toward dark-sky ordinances and are producing fixtures, including pathway and step lights, that are downward-facing, shielded or have lower color temperatures.
“More manufacturers are offering more fixtures that are dark-sky-compliant, such as your exterior wall fixtures that go by your garage, your front door, as well as your pathway lighting,” Laughlin said.
Peace and light
Beyond homeowners’ physical safety, smart lighting products can also give homeowners more peace of mind regarding security.
Homeowners can set controls so that lights automatically come on when they’re most likely to be home, even if they’re not home. Products with vacation mode capabilities allow owners to “set your light fixtures within your house to turn on and off as if you’re walking through your home in your nightly routine.”