Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Get Techy With Home Lighting

Home owners can control the lights in their home when ever and where ever they want to using technology.  There are a number of new DIY lighting kits on the market that allow you to control the lights in your home using an app for your tablet or smart phone.

While you can have professionals come and set up wireless lighting systems throughout your home for $1,500 to $5,000, there are some relatively low cost mini-systems out there that you can install yourself.  An added benefit of these systems is that they all use LED bulbs which give you great energy efficiency and all kinds of color and dimming options.

DIY Lighting Systems

The Hue is a $199 do-it-yourself starter kit from electronic manufacturer Philips. It includes a wireless hub that plugs into your home router, and three LED bulbs that respond to wireless signals.

Source:  Phillips

Once the hub and bulbs are installed, you control everything from your smartphone, setting up zones (called “scenes” by Hue), and choosing color combos from millions of possible hues. You can even add tricks, such as having your lights flash when one of your tweets is re-tweeted.

If you get hooked on your Hue, you can expand — additional bulbs are $60 each. And because it’s linked to your internet router, your hub can be accessed from virtually anywhere using your smart phone, tablet, or laptop. Working late? Delay your “Coming Home” mode for an hour — and save energy.

Another smart bulb on the market is the ilumi bulb.  With two strengths (100-watt and 60-watt) ranging between $84 and $94, the ilumi bulbs us your phone's Bluetooth network.  So you'll need to keep your phone within 100 feet of your bulbs in order for it to work.

Source:  ilumi

The LIFX bulb ($69) are controlled by your Wi-Fi network and can be accessed from anywhere. Wonder about the popularity of smart bulbs? LIFX started as a crowd-sourced Kickstarter project seeking $100,000 in funding; they received more than $1.3 million. That says something.


Mood lighting isn't the only thing that these bulbs can help with.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects around 20% of the US population and you can bet most of those are in the northern states like our good old Minnesota.  SAD is a type of depression characterized by  low energy and poor concentration and is brought about by low levels of daylight.  The therapy for this disorder is use of artificial lights that mimic the properties of natural light.

Healthy Lights

Dynamic lights vary between warm white (2600K) and cool light (5600K) so that the natural rhythms of daylight are reproduced indoors — helping keep you happy in the depths of winter. Several manufacturers make dynamic light bulbs — also called full-spectrum bulbs. A 2,800-lumen compact fluorescent bulb is about $12.

The Definity Digital Awake & Alert bulb from Lighting Science ($69.99) is touted as a “blue-enriched” LED biologically-corrected lighting solution that’s “proven to boost energy, promote alertness, and enhance performance.”

Source:  USAToday

The Withings Aura sleep monitoring device measures heartbeat and breathing patterns to adjust light levels in your bedroom, providing deeper sleep during the night and gentle alarms and raised light levels to bring you gently awake in the morning. Multi-colored LED dimming and brightening technologies help regulate the body’s melatonin — the hormone responsible for the body’s sleep/wake cycle. The system is about $300.

Withings Aura Sleep Monitoring System

Kohler’s Underscore Bathtub with Chromatherapy bathes you in underwater light as you soak. Choose from a variety of light colors to suit your mood. The tub is about $3,600.


The Future Of Lighting

There's no question that LEDs are the lights of the future.  The price on LED lighting has come down significantly in recent years and will continue  to drop.  LED lighting emits no heat and can be made really small - think the point of a pencil.  

That means the future will see a difference in the way we light out homes.  For example, hundreds of tiny LEDs can be embedded in sheets of drywall to create walls and ceilings that glow.  There are already luminous LED wallpapers on the market.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, Kvadrat Soft Cells, Philips, mood lighting, ambient light, LED wallpaper, sound absorbing wall paper, illuminated wall

Philips and carpet manufacturer Desso have already teamed up to create light-transmissive carpets. Add some motion sensors, and we’ll have hallways that light up as we approach and fade away behind us — putting light where we need it and turning it off where we don’t, saving energy.

Move over Jetsons!

Source:  Houselogic and Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors.

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