System design and installation by Gramophone, Timonium, Md.
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 clients are cooking, they need the lights brighter; lower when they sit down to eat. As they apply makeup or shave, they’ll want the lights bright, but when 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:
1. Clears “Wall Acne.” It’s not unusual to see kitchen and bath walls 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.
2. 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 undercabinet 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.
Home systems design and installation by Global Custom Integrations, Hawthorne, N.Y., in this and below photo
3. 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. You designer who specializes in lighting can choose the best light source, fixture and placement, while a home systems installer can suggest the best levels of brightness.
4. 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.
5. Adds an Element of Automation. Imagine having your clients’ kitchen lights set at the perfect level when they 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 their smartphone (a feature called geofencing).
6. Personalizes the Space. Some people like a room brightly lit; others prefer an atmosphere that’s soft and subdued. A smart lighting system has the intelligence to set the lights based on who’s at home.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Synchs with Music and Other Systems. 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.
10. Provides Peace of Mind. Nobody intends to leave the lights on when they leave the house or go to bed. Lighting systems can be accessed and controlled remotely from a mobile app so that the kitchen and bath are always illuminated (or not illuminated) perfectly
– Lisa Montgomery is the editor of Electronic House