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Architects' & Designers' Questions ANSWERED -
Lighting Control

My client doesn't need a luxury gadget like a lighting
control system.

In a large home or one with a lot of lighting, a lighting control system is essential and few homeowners would decline them if they fully understood the benefits. Conventional switching and dimming is fine for a home with one or two switches per room. However, as homes get larger and lighting gets more elaborate, conventional switching and dimming becomes difficult to use, cumbersome and confusing.

My client is not a technophile - don't we want to just "Keep It Simple"?

OK, which is easier? Calculating payroll taxes for 6 employees using a pencil and paper or doing the same task on a computer with payroll tax software? Even if you never used a computer, the latter would probably be easier. True, there is something simpler about the pencil and paper but that answer misses the point. Simple does not equal "easy".

In a home or other structure that has a lot of lighting because of sheer size or sophistication, the only way to make anything simpler is to DELETE lighting or ADD controls. A lighting control system is simple enough that it does not require an owner's manual or a homeowner-training course - twenty minutes would be a lot of homeowner instruction.

Generally speaking, the purpose of control systems is to operate equipment that a homeowner does NOT understand. If you had a control system for a home theatre, the homeowner would only have to know how to use the control system, not how to operate all of the individual components.

Technophiles don't need controls or consultants. Everybody else does.

My builder/general contractor is grousing that these control systems
are complicated.

Such comments can usually be traced to years of never having used such things. A lighting control system can be a lifesaver to a builder or G/C - or any of us for that matter, because it allows virtually ALL lighting control decisions to be made post-facto.

It is difficult to sit with a homeowner, present them with your ideas of what is switched from where, have them understand it and then have them like all of your decisions later. If you are doing a project with a lighting control system, the only decisions made at the beginning of the job are the locations of control stations ("switches"). Where are the porch lights controlled? Where are the driveway lights controlled? Who knows? Who cares? These could be anywhere and everywhere. We can start with any idea we like and change it later after the homeowner has had a chance to live in the house.

How do you make changes when using wall-box switches and dimmers? Either you get out your Milwaukee Sawz-all or you tell the client, “we can't change that”.

There are countless other advantages to something that can be changed on the fly. All of the control stations (“switches”) wire to each other with low-voltage wire and consequently, it is easy to add a control location when the homeowner has a request during a walk-through. If you don't know the size of the door trim, leave the wire hanging and cut the box in later. Put a pocket door behind a station, or put one in a night-table drawer. Lighting control systems let you start wiring now and make final decisions later.

As a further added benefit, a centralized lighting control system makes the electrical contractors job substantially easier. Everything wires to big roomy dimmer cabinets and all of the low-voltage control wiring is easy compared to its high-voltage equivalent. As well, there are no 3-way, 4-way or n-way switching to work out or an umpteen gang box in the wall full of stiff wires to cram with dimmers that barely fit.

I leave decisions to the homeowner about controls, lighting and electronics.

Virtually no homeowner has enough knowledge to act as a specifier. Homeowners may not know what is available or how or when to integrate their decisions into the project, may suggest things that conflict with your design or bring in vendors who are not very architect-friendly. If the plans that leave the architects' or designers' office are to be truly complete and logical, important technical decisions should not be left up to the homeowner.

I have been working for umpteen years without any hotshot technical consultant and all my clients are happy.

If you've worked for many years and have many satisfied clients, then that speaks highly of your skills as a professional and a business person. However, the homeowners knowledge of lighting controls, electronics and other technical issues is so minimal that they will happily accept virtually any rendition of these things.

We  at eCharles Integrated Technologies are looking for design professionals who want to raise their own standards to the highest order available to them.

If my lighting is "computerized", won't it crash?

If people controlled important things like lighting with a Personal Computer, that would be a problem; lighting control systems in the home use dedicated controllers similar to the anti-lock brakes in your car.

set the mood with lighting & dimming control

Custom keypad that controls lights, sound and shades

Setting the scene

Energy savings and convenience are the first advantages, providing essential control to better manage environmental systems such as lighting, climate, etc. throughout your home or business. Simplicity with one touch or let the system determine when your away

One button control

The ultimate in simplicity. Experience the convenience of one touch control to dim lights, lower shades, adjust temperature and enjoy your state-of-the-art audio and video system and more!

Get ready in a hurry

An activity as commonplace as watching a movie, for example, can be as effortless as if you had a fully staffed theater. Music that matches your frame of mind can welcome you at the door.

Lights, fountains and ambience can be ready for entertaining at the touch of a button. All of which makes the beauty of technology as much a part of your home as the aesthetics of the home itself.


And, with integrated security, get added peace of mind knowing that a fire alarm will turn on lights all over the house, providing a lighted pathway to guide your family to safety.

Lighting Design and Dimming systems to maximize energy efficiency, reduce wall clutter and provide the ultimate in ease of use.

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