As the price of consumer technologies continues to drop, the rate at which smart home devices are flying off store shelves seems to be gathering steam. In fact, it’s estimated that the industry – which is still in its infancy when you think about it – will be worth a staggering $121 billion by the year 2022. Chances are, even if you yourself haven’t jumped on the smart home bandwagon, you know someone who’s installed at least one smart device with the hope that it’ll save them money on their monthly bills, make their lives a little easier, or both.

Many homeowners, once they’ve made the decision to introduce automation technology into their homes, start with an intelligent lighting control system, and it’s easy to understand why. Of all the controls in your home, operating your lights is right up there with opening and closing your window blinds in terms of frequency of use.

What is an Intelligent Lighting Control System?

Simply put, an intelligent lighting control system allows you to program different lighting “zones” in your home without the headache of requiring the installation of additional wiring. Typical programing options include turning on/off the lights at specific times of the day, as you enter or leave a room, or as you approach your home. Lighting preferences, like the amount of light emitted, can also be adjusted as needed based on your lighting needs.

How Are They Controlled?

Since these automated lighting systems comprise two-way communication functionality, there are a number of different ways they can be controlled. Most devices can be controlled using a web-based or downloaded mobile app. If the lighting controls are part of a larger system, or the homeowner has several different smart devices already installed throughout their home, it’d make sense to connect all devices through a centralized hub like Apple’s HomeKit, or Amazon’s Echo to make controlling the different elements simpler.

Generally speaking, centralized intelligent lighting controls are designed using an open protocol. In layman’s terms, this means that devices made by different manufacturers can operate within the same network. From the perspective of an end-user, this obviously translates into a greater degree of flexibility when shopping for devices, and reduces the necessity of having to purchase all components from the same manufacturer.

What Are The Benefits of Owning Such a System?

When it comes to home automation, there are two very key and universal selling points: convenience and cost savings. Though not regularly considered an arduous task by any means, there are times when having a light turn on automatically comes in handy. For instance, when you’re coming home late at night or when you’ve got an armful of groceries and can’t get the switch. In terms of cost savings, you’d never again have to worry about needlessly running up your electricity bill because you forgot to turn off one of more lights before you left for work.

What to Look For When You Buy

Thankfully, you don’t need to look too far if you’re in the market for home automation devices, as they’re widely available at just about any hardware or electronics store. Having said that, ample supply doesn’t necessarily make the buying decision any easier. Before you buy, make sure that you assess what you’re hoping to get out of the device and compare the different features of the products in your price range. Perhaps you’d like a device that still gives you the ability to physically turn on the light or maybe you’d prefer one that comes with an indicator to let you know it’s properly connected to the network.

It’s also important to see what other people are saying about things like the device’s mobile application (whether or not its user interface is user friendly) as well as its overall performance.

Energy Savings – Is it Enough to Justify the Purchase?

Admittedly, calculating the cost savings of installing an intelligent lighting control system for an individual can depend on several different factors, including their usage patterns. Having said that, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, use of lighting controls can lower the amount of energy consumed from 15-80%, so it’s arguable the average homeowner could expect savings within that range as well.

At the end of the day, energy savings isn’t just about money; these systems will also help you lower your home’s carbon footprint, which is, at least to some, reason enough to justify the purchase.