It’s like breathing. It’s the most important aspect of any home, and it is also the one most taken for granted. Lighting is paramount. Without light, you cannot live in your house (well I guess mornings are fine, but what about night time? You will wear the wrong socks and your shirt inside out). It is such a part of our lives that when the electricity goes (load shedding being common in our country), the phrase we use is, “The lights went.” Like what happened with Xerox, actual lights are synonymous with electricity. And little do you know that Lights are actually available in many options.
It is imperative that you choose the right light to create the right ambiance for your home. The wrong light can ruin the mood and milieu of a space. The right ambiance can ensure comfort and relaxation for hours. And your happiness is of utmost importance (why else do we live). In my house, I have used varied types of lights and fixtures in every room. Again, mainly to showcase visitors, the different lighting controls offered through my KNX system but also for my own benefit (2 birds and all). I will breakdown the lighting I chose for different rooms and the reasons and benefits behind these choices.
On/Off - In Most Rooms, At Least a Couple of Points.
Let me get the basic out of the way—the regular on/off lights. You press a button, the light comes on, press another button or the same button again (as programmed by you), and the light turns off. In my home, the kitchen lights, the garden lights, the bathroom lights, and the bedside lights are primarily on/off lights. They are utilitarian zones of my home, and I don’t need lights dimmed here or in a different color. They need to come on when I want them to. These are regular store-bought LED lights or regular 40-watt bulbs.
Dimming - The Master Bedroom, Guest Room, Study, and Dining.
Like regular dimming, where you modulate the intensity of the ‘bulb’ (a term used broadly), through a regulator, the KNX system offers no latency dimming for most types of lights. One important misnomer I correct for most customers is that it isn’t the light that we are dimming, it is the dimming driver connected to the light fixture that you have to control. And you dim up or down by controlling the voltage being provided to the driver, which in turn ensures that the light will turn brighter or dimmer as selected by the user. In my bedrooms, I am mainly dimming LEDs. For the dining, I have two chandeliers with a rustic aesthetic. Each chandelier has six regular 60-watt yellow bulbs. I am using the same dimming KNX device to control these as I am for the bedrooms. The only difference is that the incandescent bulbs have a shorter life than LEDs. The benefit I get over the automation system is that I can program how the dimming happens. It can be smooth and gradual and look pleasant while extending the life of your light fixtures. You can even program the lights in a particular room to close in sequence so you can hit the exit button and leave as the lights close gradually behind you.
Tunable - Living Room.
For the living room, as it’s my most occupied zone of the house, barring the bedroom where I slumber, I incorporated tunable lights. These are LEDs with both a white light strip and a yellow light strip. For this, I used a KNX DALI controller and connected the white light to one point on the controller and the yellow to another. This way, if I want only white or cool light, I get white light, and I can dim up or down. Same for yellow or warm light. And if I want to have both yellow and white operating together for added luminosity, then I can turn both on at once. The difference it makes is transformative. My living room is usually white lights during the day and warm and yellow and welcoming (think, fireplace with hot cocoa during winter) in the evenings. Yes, these lights require two dimming drivers, and hence, maybe a little more expensive, but I usually recommend my customers to try this out in their most-used part of their homes.
Mood lighting - In living, Dining, Study, and Master Bedroom.
My definition of mood lighting is essentially color light strips placed neatly in coves in my false ceiling. These are red, green, blue (RGB), LED strips that offer the complete 256 color palate to the user. The rule of thumb here is simple, the more expensive the RGB strip, the better the quality of the mood lighting you will get. And these lighting strips can cost a pretty penny. The advantage, I get complete control of choosing any color of light, and I can create the perfect ambiance for a party or a movie-going experience. The strange thing is when I am playing my video games, I prefer to switch off the other lights and set my mood lighting to a pinkish hue. For some odd reason, I find it best suits my gaming needs.
Lighting is crucial for my home. I have experimented with different types of lights and lighting control in my house. Each room has something new and unique to offer. Lights are different during the day than they are during the night. What I prefer on the weekends that I do get a lie-in at home is to utilize natural lighting by opening my motorized shades. The bathrooms have light control over sensors. And if ever I entertain, all I have to do is tell Alexa, “it’s party time.” The house knows. It always knows.