Mood lighting is often used as a short hand term for a lighting control system. We feel very strongly that there are two aspects to mood lighting: the lighting design (what fitting and lamp type goes where, controlled how), and the lighting control (a more automated way of controlling all of the different circuits).
Together when done well you can achieve fabulous mood lighting. Without both aspects you are unlikely to achieve anything special: a grid of downlights will always look like a grid of downlights however sophisticated the control system, and a super lighting design with multiple circuits is unlikely to be used to its full potential if you have to twiddle half a dozen rotary dimmers to recreate each scene.
So what can mood lighting, properly done, do for you?
In order to vary the focal point and mood in a room you need multiple circuits. With conventional controls you end up with a large grid of knobs and switches to manipulate each time you want to recreate a scene. A lighting control system does this all for you.
A lighting control system also enables you to have the same level of control from multiple points, eg; a large three storey hall, stairs, landing area might have 5 or 6 points from which you want to control the lights. Using conventional switching you have complicated two or three way switching, and only one point at which you can dim a circuit (and it’s always somewhere different than where you are!). A lighting control system gives you full control from any point.
The really clever bits
Once a circuit is on a lighting control system, the programming permutations can be endless. They include things such as:
Wider lighting control:
Controlling the circuits in one room from another, so for example we often programme the button on a bedside keypad to control the lights on the stairs for low level night time lighting
Taking this concept further, you can have a ‘path of light’ button to light (eg:) from the master bedroom down the stairs to the kitchen
A keypad button at your main entry/exit door can be allocated to turn the ‘whole house off’ or to put the house into a pre-defined to ‘gone out for the evening’ state
Certain circuits or scenes can be programmed to be triggered automatically, eg; at dusk, and then programmed to dim down after a certain time, and switch off at a certain time.
Integrating the lighting control system with automatic gates or garage doors enables (for example) the lights up the drive or in the garage to come on automatically but only within the hours of darkness.
Blinds and curtains:
Blinds and curtains can be controlled on the same system as the lighting, giving ease of use (particularly for very high, hard to reach curtains) and seamless integration
This is particularly good in things like cinemas, where you can press one button and the projector comes on, the screen comes down, the lights dim etc.
Simple audio control can be done through lighting keypads, to help reduce wall clutter
The lighting and curtains/blinds can ‘track and replay’ your real pattern of lighting and curtain/blind movements to make the house looked lived in whilst away. We can edit the selection to remove circuits which cannot be seen from outside, or ask the overall scenes to be dimmed by a certain amount to reduce energy whilst replaying.
If a security alarm is triggered, the lights can be programmed to (for example), flash on the external circuits and come on at 100% for the ground floor circuits. Certain keypads can automatically be disabled to prevent the lights being turned off again until over-ridden at a master keypad.
Energy saving measures:
Lighting Control Systems contribute significantly to energy saving in our lighting schemes. More detail can be found in this section about lighting design and energy efficiency
Domestic Building Services Compliance Guide - 2010 Edition
Rako Lighting Control
Lutron Blinds and Curtains Control