The house I grew up in had sparse lighting, to say the least. If you wanted more light just 20 years ago, you probably brought in a floor or table lamp from another room and plugged it into the one available outlet you had to work with.
With available lighting options today, it is hard to believe many of us grew up in a kitchen with just one circular florescent fixture that turned on and off with a pull string.
“Modern kitchens now might have hanging pendants over the table to create a stunning visual effect while also providing great functional lighting,” said Al Lawrence, founder of Artisan Electric in Madbury. “Other fixtures might shine indirect lighting up from the kitchen cabinets to create a warm inviting feeling.”
According to Lawrence, though, lighting and lighting design are not the only things that have evolved in recent years within the residential electric industry.
“It’s how we control and integrate lighting itself,” he said.
Today’s electricians can create what many in his industry refer to as “lighting scenes.”
“With just the push of a button, you can have all the lights in your room turn on in a coordinated way to reflect what you want,” he said. “You can have a lighting scene for when you watch TV, eat dinner, or doing deep clean-up ...There are a lot of cool things we can do inside and outside your home.”
Before controlling lights, however, Lawrence said it is essential for him to understand the kind of lighting required in the home by the homeowner. In
creating lighting scenes, the coordinated interplay between various kinds of lights both inside and outside the home is important.
Whereas general illumination lighting is present in every room and essentially gets you from place to place in your home, task lighting is generally above where you perform a task. With ambient lighting, homeowners can decoratively highlight artwork or exterior and interior architectural features as just two examples.
“Once we have identified the lighting required by the homeowner, we can create different scenes based on his or her needs and wants,” he said. For new construction, such technology means that homeowners no longer need to navigate “banks of light switches.”
“All those traditional light switches can be replaced with a streamlined, one gang switch with a touch screen and buttons,” he said.
For existing construction, Lawrence cited lighting options that employ radio frequency (RF) technology. With this solution, light switches are networked through RF, which enables the homeowner to control lights anywhere inside or outside the home from any location depending on how its configured.
“You can reprogram them, too, on a daily basis if you want,” he added.
In creating scenes or controlling lights through the use of a computerized control panel, Lawrence said electricians can also integrate security lights. Plug-in lamps, fans, TV’s, stereos and other devices can also be brought into these “scenes.”
“Lighting automation can also mean sensor lighting that only turns on if
someone enters a room,” he said. “Do the kids or husband leave the lights on? It’s okay, because the lights will turn themselves off.”
Lawrence said the future of lighting is essentially now.
“Technology enables people to control their lighting with their phones and voice commands,” he said. “This is technology that is not only convenient, but can also enhance safety for homeowners. There are many benefits to having this control of your lighting, and it is more available than many homeowners realize.”