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The smart choice

Marie Parry, marketing director at Scolmore Group, looks at the developments in the lighting sector and how wholesalers can benefit from the smart lighting revolution.

Where it used to be considered a luxury and accessible only to the well off, smart lighting is now becoming more widely accessible thanks to the advancements in technology which means that smart devices are now being utilised in all areas of life and app-based control is a standard part of our everyday lives.

The way we use lighting is changing. Digital technology is now crossing over with lighting and the smart lighting revolution is seeing fittings being turned into smart devices and these can then be used to monitor and control our environments.

With consumers switched on to the benefits of smart control, installers have the opportunity to introduce a professional, easy-to-install smart lighting system that offers excellent functionality whilst at the same time is affordable. As well as offering the means to control the lighting for aesthetic reasons, for example creating a dimmed setting for a reading area in the home, smart lighting is also about the ability to reduce energy usage and providing the means for cost-saving as well as cutting a property’s carbon footprint.

Scolmore’s recently launched Click Smart Box is one example of how easily lighting and appliances can be controlled from a smart phone or tablet, via a downloaded APP.

Designed with simplicity in mind, a system like this can be easily integrated into a new or existing installation and just requires broadband connection. The Click Smart Box simply plugs into the broadband router via an Ethernet port and and the App downloaded. Set-up couldn’t be more straightforward, with the App guide taking you seamlessly through the process, enabling you to customise a home automation system to suit a client’s particular requirements.

Such a system makes it easy, quick and relatively inexpensive to adapt and update a home to provide extra security, energy saving, comfort and control. Installation is simple and flexible, with no additional cables or wall cutting needed. Receivers can be installed behind light fittings or into suitable installation boxes and can be utilised with existing wiring.

Comprising three basic components, Click Smart Box, RF Receivers and a Smart Phone, the system is a high end, professional one which is very competitively priced and has been designed with installers in mind. It can add functionality to already installed receivers, or it can be installed from scratch on a brand new build and it enables automation via phone for the whole family or team.

Critical information is stored within the Smart Box, not the phone, making it easy if a phone needs to be upgraded or other users added - without affecting the settings. With all the settings stored on the Smart Box, there is no need to programme and install all the elements onto each individual phone.

Multiple users can use the system to control their home or building premises. The smart box and applications enable up to 40 receivers to be controlled by up to 8 paired phones/tablets.  Up to 40 receivers can be assigned to one Smart Box and up to 40 rooms/locations can be added. This makes the system suitable for a range of installations from small to large.  Receivers can be controlled on an individual basis, and up to 20 receivers can be controlled with a single press using the ‘scene’ setup. 

With up to 8 smart devices being able to control the receivers through one smart box, and up to 6 smart boxes controlled through one application, the flexibility to customise this system is clear to see. For a large installation, for example, multiple smart boxes can be used, all controlled by the same Phone and app – up to 240 receivers from 6 smart boxes.

With the App downloaded, it will take you through the various set up stages – adding and naming rooms; adding each element (an element is the individually controlled receiver eg for on/off, dimmer or shutters) and finally, scene setting. This brings the required, separate elements into one group to create a scene – eg for film watching, listening to music or creating ambience in a bar or restaurant. There is also the ability to set schedules, which means that various elements can be created and activated at particular times to suit.  An example would be to set a schedule to mimic home occupancy when the occupants are away from home for added security.

There are huge opportunities for smart lighting in the retrofit segment as many of the lighting systems in current buildings are not energy efficient. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) there is huge potential for improved energy efficiency in buildings. It says that up to 82% of energy efficiency measures remain untapped in buildings today; up to half of this energy efficiency potential can be realised through improved control of the building and the integration of systems that work together. 

With only around 20% of the UK’s commercial buildings at present ‘smart’ buildings, and with energy efficiency and sustainability increasingly becoming a business consideration for many directors and senior managers, this market is expected to grow significantly over the next decade, providing business opportunities for wholesalers and contractors alike.

Demand for smart technology will without doubt continue to increase, and wholesaler are in a prime position to help drive this growth by drawing attention to the energy-saving, convenience and efficiency properties of smart lighting.   

There is a raft of products and solutions coming onto the market with the continued growth in this sector and contractors will need to determine which of the wide range of products and services deliver the most value to the end user. When looking at overall project costs, it may be tempting to specify lower cost products, but as reliability reduces so will profit margins, as the need to return to sort out problems becomes an issue. With such a rapid advance in developments in the lighting sector, it can be difficult for contractors and their customers to keep up to date with the latest products and solutions and they may look to wholesalers to help them decide on the choice of products for a particular project. By working with manufacturers to keep up to date with the latest developments and to help improve their understanding of the latest products and solutions available, wholesalers can save contractors some of the time and effort required to source materials that meet the job specifications.

Scolmore is one manufacturer committed to driving awareness and education in the industry, offering a range of training opportunities designed to keep wholesalers and contractors up to date with the latest in new product development, technological advances and changes in legislation. Training sessions take place at our purpose-designed showroom at our head offices in Staffordshire.

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