Spotlight on Crestron Lighting
How Does Crestron Lighting Work & How is it Installed?
If you are reading this then you are probably interested in a lighting system for home. Whether this is the first article you have read, or you are at the end of your research, we feel this article will help you work out what you need and why.
What is Crestron Lighting?
Put simply Crestron lighting solutions allow you to control the light levels in your home. This can be as simple as switching a lamp on at a certain time or in response to a button press right through to replaying the last two weeks activity to simulate occupancy.
Crestron Lighting in a Single Room
In a typical living room of a family home you may have a collection of lamps:
- Pendant Light in the middle of the ceiling
- Table or Floor standing lamps
- Wall lights to show off your pictures
- strip lighting to illuminate alcoves and shelves
In a traditional home when entering a room after dark the homeowner visits every lamp and either switches them on or sets a dimming level. Some homes of multiple switches to allow some channels to be controlled from the door but it is rare for all lighting to be controlled from here and the bank of switches would be enormous for a large room!
With a Crestron lighting system a Lighting Keypad replaces the light switch and talks back to a central processor. When the home owner presses “Scene 1” the processor sends the dimmer a command to say – “Pendant at 20% / Table lamp 1 at 25% / Table lamp 2 at 50% / Wall lights at 30%”. The result is perfect lighting levels in the room. Different scenes allow the homeowner to set different levels for different “activities” eg TV watching, Reading, Entertaining.
Crestron Lighting Throughout the Home
Now factor the single room benefits up to include every room of the home – not only do you get the different scenes for different activities but there starts to become convenience and economies too. Pressing a light switch by the bed head can bring lighting on in the en-suite with a different level preset for the middle of the night (with no fan!) than during the day. Integration with security systems allows setting the alarm to switch off all internal lighting (or revert to the previously mentioned holiday mode).
Saving Energy and Adding Convenience!
Whether installed in a single room or a whole home a Crestron lighting saves energy. Digital dimming ensures a dimmed lamp actual uses less energy (unlike lesser systems which simply use the same energy and create lots of heat) which means the benefits over a whole home can be huge. We have seen this in practice in two projects – Our Derby project was commissioned using a generator whilst we waited for mains hookup and the fuel lasted approximately 5 times as long as forecast; and our Dubai job where a limit on the incoming mains supply meant further expansion was impossible, we were able to prove our lighting system substantially lowered the load.
What are the options for installing a Crestron Lighting System?
In common with most lighting control systems the wiring they require is different than a normal UK lighting system. In a traditional switched system a live wire is dropped down to a switch point and looped back up the lamp. When the switch is closed the lamp comes on. With a lighting control system each lighting channel (in the single room example above this would be each of the five channels) is wired back to a central point. The actual light switch (or a better term would be lighting keypad) are wired back using low voltage cabling. The lighting keypad sends button presses back to the central point and a processor determines what needs to happen in response to that button press. In very large systems the central brain will have a mixture of local dimmers and remote nodes – lighting dimmer racks which are positioned around the home, nearer to the room and ensuring easier wiring.
The above works brilliantly for new build and substantial refit projects but for finished homes installing one of these systems would be incredibly difficult. For this reason Crestron also have wireless lighting solutions. In the traditional wiring example the live which goes to the switch actually powers the keypad and each lighting circuit has a dimmer installed in it’s path. This means the lighting keypad now sends a radio signal out to each dimmer with the actions required. This approach allows us to wire whole homes with lighting systems without disturbing the fabric of the rooms.
Integrating Lighting in to a Crestron Home Automation system
Crestron are not the only manufacturer of lighting control systems – the likes of Lutron do a comparable product and have been in business for around 50 years. The advantage of a Crestron system is its integration with a fuller Crestron Home Automation system. The convenience of the lighting system is compounded when other system are added. Further up the article we suggested that arming the security system could switch lighting off in the home, integrating with a fuller system could also switch off audio video systems and set heating to a lower temperature. When arriving home opening the gates could automatically bring on outside lighting (or raise the level from it’s dimmed state) and raise the temperature – different key fobs (or geo-location information from a mobile phone) could even open different garage doors or perform different actions for different members of the family arriving home.
Lighting is the first smart home technology that we would fit in a new home, it saves energy whilst increasing convenience and – crucially – it shows your home off at it’s aboslute best whilst saving energy. We are a Crestron Dealer of Distinction who specialise in high end home automation systems. The vast majority of our case studies feature Crestron lighting controls and we experts in designing, installing and programming systems for very large houses.