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Intelligent Lighting all the Buzz at Lightapalooza


At Beemer Smart Home, we have a passion for education. We believe it's our responsibility as an HTA Certified home technology integrator to keep up with the latest design and innovations for our partners and clients. Whether they are an architect, designer, builder, or homeowner, trying to keep up with the fast-moving world of home technology is time-consuming, and because of this, newer builds are often lacking the technology that truly makes their house a home. Areas we have identified as crucial to the homeowner's satisfaction are lighting design, fixture selection, and automation.

Last month we ventured out to Arizona and attended Lightapalooza, an event focused on educating lighting integrators like Beemer Smart Home on the latest innovations and methods in lighting design. This three-day event included classes with some of the best lighting designers in the industry, as well as a two-day tradeshow allowing us to see and play with the latest in lighting technology and design tools. We got so much out of it, we wanted to share a few of the highlights we took away from the show.  

Individually Addressable Lights – The Evolution of Classic Dimmer Switches 

Traditional lighting uses groups of fixtures/lamps wired on one "load". As an example, three or four fixtures over the kitchen bar would be controlled by a single switch or dimmer. As you likely have multiple areas in a kitchen, (an island for cooking, a peninsula or bar for eating, and a sink for cleaning), each of these spaces requires different levels of lighting to get the most out of them. An electrician will likely just add more switches to the wall (we call it "wall acne"), often creating confusion as to which switches control which lights. Modern illumination solutions use programmable keypads and take advantage of a growing catalog of intelligent fixtures/lamps that can be controlled individually rather than in a group. This means that whether we get to design it correctly during the design phase of a new build, or during a home remodel, we can dramatically improve the home with lighting that can respond to your needs, moment by moment.

Ketra by Lutron is a prime example of intelligent lighting which is individually addressable, meaning that each bulb or fixture can change dimming level, Kelvin temperature, and color, based on what's required for the task. This is the best solution on the market and is what we often suggest using for primary areas like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and primary suite. However, we were happy to find other manufacturers at the show with solutions that complement Ketra by Lutron for those times where all the features aren't needed, or a lower-cost solution is required.

Tunable Lighting – Warm, Cool, and Everything in Between

"What's your Kelvin?" is a question we always ask our clients during the discovery process, and we often learn that family members have different preferences. Traditionally, you had to pick a single, warmer or cooler lighting temperature, and that choice was a decision everyone had to live with. With tunable lighting you can customize the Kelvin temperature to fit the requirements of the task and then those same lights can instantly adjust when moving on to something else. Imagine having a brighter, cooler light while cooking dinner, and then those same fixtures adjust to a softer, warmer color when it's time to eat. After dinner, the lights adjust again to a color and dimming level mimicking candlelight. This is the magic of tunable lighting, and in addition to the classic Kelvin scale, you gain access to millions of colors. So, whether you want your kitchen to look like your favorite restaurant or need to set the mood for your next date night, we design the home's lighting scenes to be easily controlled by the push of a button or a simple voice command. Again, Ketra by Lutron has been doing this for a while and other manufacturers at the show displayed solutions with tunable LED lighting coming to market as well. These solutions include architectural fixtures, decorative lighting, as well as LED tape lighting, so we can design a lighting solution that includes direct lighting for tasks, indirect lighting to set the mood, along with accessory fixtures that complement or highlight any artwork or architectural pieces.

Bringing the Light (Designer) Into Your Home - Custom Illumination is a Game Changer

Illuminating a home begins with understanding how each room will be used, where furniture gets placed, and which walls will likely be displaying artwork. These are the types of questions your lighting designer should be asking to make sure the lighting in the home supports your lifestyle, which, unfortunately, even in luxury homes, is sometimes not the case. Often, a standard lighting layout is created to obtain building permits, typically the standard "four cans and a fan". Too many times, this "permit-approval" layout is never updated and ends up being executed, ultimately not meeting the expectations of the owner, or reflecting the quality of the rest of the build. At the show, there were several educational sessions highlighting the benefits of true lighting design, where an advanced lighting designer who understands the trends in intelligent lighting collaborates with the customer, architect, and system integrator to create a lighting solution that will undoubtedly provide the owner with a home that feels more comfortable to live in, while also highlighting the various artwork, wall materials, and other statement pieces you've designed into the home.

Closing Thoughts

Integrators like Beemer Smart Home play a crucial role in proper lighting design, as they are usually the point person between the design team, builder, homeowner, and any additional lighting designers. They incorporate everyone's feedback and then program the perfect living environment, understanding the homeowner's specific needs and providing thoughtful keypad placement and button engraving that allows anyone to walk in and immediately understand how it works. This attention to detail with lighting is what separates the general cookie-cutter track home from a custom, luxury build, and is why we at Beemer Smart Home take any opportunity we can to continue our education. We invest our time and money to make sure we provide our architect, designer, and builder partners (as well as the homeowner) with the confidence that their home is going to be built with the best solutions available at their budget, as well as our guarantee that the lighting in the home will provide a source of comfort and energy just not possible with basic lighting design.

Check out our Lightapalooza Video to watch us condense two days of show floor discussions into just 14 minutes as Håkan interviews top brands like DMF, Klus, Proluxe, plus outdoor lighting and audio manufacturer Coastal Source. You're sure to see something new and innovative, plus be sure to subscribe to our brand-new YouTube page.  

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