Business Today

Let There Be (Smart) Lights

Power your homes with smart lighting - they are convenient, energy-saving, and more affordable than you think.
By Nidhi Singal | Print Edition: April 9, 2017
Let There Be (Smart) Lights

Entering home at the end of the day to see the lights and ACs on, the subsequent guilt trip and inflated electricity bills, we have all been there at some point. Enter smart lighting: it detects your presence and turns lights and devices on/off accordingly, or lets your smartphone become the universal switch. The seemingly expensive idea which deftly offers both cost and energy efficiency, is fast catching up.

"Until a while back, smart lighting was only limited to commercial buildings and grand apartments. However, the concept is now transforming immensely as the idea of smart lighting and home automation is finding a place in the lives of many middle-class and upper middle-class families," says Ripu Daman Sharma, Country Manager Sales, India Subcontinent, Lutron. As per a report by Global Market Insights, the smart lighting market is expected to reach $8.5 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of over 22 per cent from 2016 to 2023.

Smart lighting can be sensor based or connected/ IoT-based (Internet of Things). While sensor-based lighting involves technical know-how and is slightly expensive, IoT solutions are affordable and easy to instal.

Sleight of Sensors

"Incorporating natural light sensors, occupancy sensors and motion sensors, among others, ensure a significant reduction in energy. When used with energy-efficient lighting (like LEDs), smart lighting control systems allow energy savings of 20-50 per cent by tuning the lighting smartly to the patterns of use and environmental dynamics," explains Harshavardhan Chitale, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Philips Lighting India. Some of the control systems under home automation can be linked to control blinds and home appliances remotely.

Here are a few sensor-based smart lighting options:Lutron: Module-based Lutron systems offer wireless products like occupancy sensors, keypads and automated shades. Its HomeWorks QS system, designed exclusively for homes, integrates the control of all lights - interior and exterior, electric light and daylight. The system can also be integrated with other manufacturers for audio-visual and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) control and allows one to monitor lighting and heating/ cool conditions with an internet connection. Lutron is compatible with Amazon Alexa, and lets you control lights, shades and even temperature using voice commands.

Philips Dynalite: This offers fully integrated, energy-efficient lighting control solutions. The Dynalite sensor

range combines motion detection, light level detection and IR (infrared) receiver in one unit. The sensor is capable of turning on the lights after detecting motion, and then dimming the light level once the available sunlight has been measured, thereby providing additional energy savings.

Anchor by Panasonic: The automation range from Anchor works on infrared technology and is capable of room temperature detection. It has 360-degree detection and can be mounted on standard ceiling height in residential and commercial units. It is capable of carrying a load of 330 Watts for CFL and 660 Watts for incandescent light. One can set a delay time from 10 seconds to 30 minutes for the action to take place - turning the light on and off.

Schneider Electric: Schneider's Argus occupancy sensor automates the switching or dimming of lights by detecting movement within a space. The passive infrared occupancy sensors can detect motion by sensing temperature profile changes. It even automates motor load switching for ACs, fans, blinds and curtains.

The cost of installing sensors can vary depending on circuit count and area of the house. A single sensor can cost around Rs 4,350, while the installation of sensors for a home could cost Rs 2.5 lakh onwards.

IoT Power

There are IoT-based smart lighting solutions which, unlike sensor-based solutions, are easy to install. Although still a work-in-progress, IoT is ushering in affordable smart lighting solutions. The devices are connected through software and can be operated from a smartphone or a tablet using the dedicated app. However, a consumer has to download individual apps for each product as they all work on different IoT protocols.

"IoT devices will be on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and many other connectivity protocols, but the consumer should not be hassled by it. Soon, consumers will be able to control all of the devices seamlessly using a single app," says Raj Talluri, Senior Vice President, IoT, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

You can choose from the following IoT smart lights:

Philips Hue: One can change the brightness, tone and colour of light, personalise light to suit mood, lifestyle or need right from one's smartphone. The starter kit comprises three LED bulbs that can be plugged into existing sockets. The bridge accompanying the bulbs needs to be connected to a Wi-Fi router using LAN cable, and the bulbs can then be controlled using the Philips Hue app. The lights can be synced with movies and music, and can be controlled from almost anywhere if the bridge and the router are on. This wireless lighting system is compatible with leading smart home platforms including Apple's Homekit on iOS 10, Google's Nest and Amazon Echo. Philips Hue works with over 600 apps.

Price: Rs 16,995 for the starter kit.

Reos Smart LED: Unlike Philips Hue, this is an independent bulb which can be operated from a smartphone using the Reos app available on both iOS and Android platforms, and connects via Bluetooth, too. The app interface is simple - one can choose from 16 million colours and adjust brightness using the slider at the bottom. Reos Smart LED can also pick colours from images in your phone and synchronise the light to music. One can also choose and set colours for various modes - reading mode, candle flicker or create a new one. One can schedule it to be turned on or off at a specific time.

Price: Rs 1,699

Syska Sonic LED: A step ahead of the Reos Smart LED bulb, Syska's Sonic LED bulb is a connected mood lighting solution with a built-in speaker. It is a combination of a smart light with a Bluetooth speaker, offers three million colours and harmonises the light with music.

Price: Rs 2,999.


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