Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Controlling Lights the NEW Way

Recently my facther-in-law was telling me how he needed to move an attic light switch closer to the entrance. He was asking if moving the outlet was a pain. Being the quintessential do-it-yourselfer, he could do a door activated switch or even move the existing. But there are easier options that do not require wiring. I suggested options that are readily available, knowing he would hit the big box store during his regular weekly visit. I then started to think about some newer options we have installed with great success. It all depends on your budget and goals for controlling a light, space, house, or entire building.

Sound Activated Units
Sound activated units have been around since the mid-1980’s. We goofed on the commercial as kids, but it is a pretty easy and quick solution. They can control up to two devices, with remote control or away options. They can be triggered by other sharp noises like coughing or a television. Easy install.

Remote Control Operated Outlet Switch
The remote control plug works off a radio frequency that can travel through walls, doors, and floors. Losing the remote will require you to turn on the lamp or appliance the old fashion way. Easy install.

Wireless Control Screw In Light Remote
This remote control installs into the screw socket. Some may not travel well through objects such as floors or walls. You can also buy units where one remote can control multiple screw in controls. Easy Install.

Occupancy Sensor
Occupancy sensors are commonly referred to as “motion sensors” or “motion light sensors” provide adjustable automatic ON/OFF switching. Sensors can be screw in to the bulb base, ceiling, fixture, or wall mounted, wall switches, or wireless. Easy with a screw in, harder when you are wiring.

Smart Wall Switches
Smart wall switches can be programmed for occupancy sensing, ON/OFF switching, 3-way switching, bi-level switching, HVAC control, and many more features. They can be designed for each space to save energy and have greater lighting control flexibility. Certain manufacturers offer units that operate indefinitely without external power or batteries, and require zero-maintenance for the life of the device. Harder since they require rewiring.

Phone or Tablet Operated
I use Wifi enabled control systems with my phone or tablet. They are a great way to monitor heating and cooling systems, but they also can control everything from lights, to security cameras, renewable energy production monitoring, water heaters, home security and locks, and outlet control. There are more and more players in this market, so do extensive research to see what is best for you. Easy to moderate difficulty, requiring Internet connectivity and wiring.

Whole Building
There are complete architectural and energy management solutions for pretty much everything electric. These “smart” systems are fantastic for energy management and lighting controls. The interfaces are limitless, from using your tablet or phone, coupled with wall touch screens, buttons or switches of all types. A lighting designer or electrician is required.

Voice Activated
This is the future. We may not be ready to reproduce Earl Gray Tea, but we can say “turn on the lights”. These systems can be limited by ambient noise or general comprehension, but they are being refined all of the time. So unless you are really want the best and greatest, hold off for just a little more.

If you are Bill Gates and have 100 million dollars, you can have a system that knows you, turning on custom colored lights as you move, have music follow you, and allow the television to change to your favorite channel. Some day our kids, or maybe our kids kids, will say to us “Wow, the house you grew up with was so stupid”. Imagine, we had to get up to change the channel, but even more stone age was turning on a off lights manually, having fixed light colors, or even having light fixtures. The future is bringing us all sorts of things we could never imagine. Who knew the Clapper would evolve into complete building automation, but here we are.

One thought on “Controlling Lights the NEW Way

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