In this article: lighting and renovation; modern switches and lighting control; control the lighting of the house with one touch, from the remote control, presence or voice; the more complex the lighting system, the easier and more comfortable it is to operate.
Over a century ago, electric lighting changed our way of life, eliminating the need to stock up on candles, keep oil lamps and matches close at hand. In turn, wiring products have evolved from incandescent lamps hanging from the ceiling and controlled by a cord-switch to chandeliers and wall-mounted key switches, frozen for decades at this stage. Finding ourselves in an unfamiliar room, we habitually go around the walls in search of a switch, mentally noting its position and practicing the movement of our hand to its keys. Our descendants will consider these actions archaism, because in their present all switches will work without physical contact with them..
Comfortable home lighting
Approximately 20 years ago, Soviet standards for lighting homes – one ceiling lamp per room – were mercilessly swept away by a new design trend commonly known as “renovation”. The boring, whitewashed ceiling with traditional lime disappeared behind the multilevel plasterboard structures, the old partitions were demolished and new ones were erected, in which decorative niches were created. The formed planes were dotted with spotlights and cornice lamps, which “captured” not only the ceiling and walls, but also cabinet furniture. Renovated rooms were immersed in streams of light, captivating the guests of the house and inspiring its owners to search for new solutions in the field of lighting.
However, despite the breakdown of lighting fixtures into groups associated with the switch key, one problem became especially acute – the switches inevitably captured the walls, lining up in groups and creating confusion for households. The search for the necessary switch turned into some kind of difficult game – from the first time it became extremely difficult to find the key that will set the desired level of lighting in the room.
If there were fewer switches, if their appearance ceased to be discordant with the interior of the rooms and if it were not for the necessary switch, and even more so to approach it – yes, it would be ideal for a comfortable rest after a working day.
The art of design of apartments and houses has long gone beyond the framework of the “European-style renovation” of the 90s, wiring products have also changed – today they are able to provide households with the level of comfort they could not have imagined 10 years ago. Utilitarian white or gray frames and switch keys are a thing of the past, their modern counterparts fit perfectly into the interior design styles and the reason for this is the Italian design and European quality of work..
What are they – modern switches?
Let’s start with the wiring accessories that have controlled the lighting in our homes for decades and are very poorly suited to the needs of households today. According to the principle of operation, classic switches can be divided into three main groups: simple ones, equipped with a rocker mechanism with a button fixed in two positions; rotary, switching of contacts is made by turning the knob until it clicks; push-button, closing contacts by first pressing, opening contacts by the second. Switches of these groups are manufactured in the CIS countries, China and Turkey..
Rotary switches, invented about a century ago, are now in demand only among lovers of retro style. To better match the style, their covers and handles are made of stone and porcelain.
Pushbutton switches are mainly used to control household appliances and mobile lighting devices (floor lamp, table lamp). There are models of push-button switches for controlling the main lighting of rooms, more often in the form of a push-button, in this design they are perfect as pass-through and cross switches, because with each switch, the spring returns the key to its original state – each time it is pressed, its position remains unchanged.
Rocker rocker switches are the most widespread; they are equipped with lighting systems in about 90% of all private houses and 70% of office buildings in the post-Soviet space. Two and three-button switches (the latter are rare) allow you to control groups of lighting devices, usually as part of chandeliers and in separate bathrooms. Rocker switches can be equipped with a backlight indicator light that is active when the key is “off” – its glow allows you to quickly find the switch in rooms without natural light. In addition, there are switches with a control indicator, the glow of which signals the lighting not turned off and allows you to avoid unnecessary waste of electricity.
The switches described above are capable of controlling lighting devices, but no more than three groups at a time, most often only two groups. They are characterized by a simple and relatively reliable design, uncomplicated design and limited color range.
Modern switches have a much wider range of possibilities, with their help lighting control is not just convenient, but really comfortable. Among them are touch switches equipped with a timer, motion sensor, presence sensor, remotely controlled. Their manufacturers are the largest European concerns, including Legrand, BTicino, Schneider Electric, Gira and Merten. Compared to switches of simple design, modern switches are made in a complex design, their outer frames (panels) and keys are selected to the interior of the room in which they will be installed – there is always something to choose from among more than 100 color and texture options.
Timed switches are equipped with an electronic relay that automatically activates the lighting and the operation of electrical appliances in a specified period of time, after which they stop working. Such wiring accessories are especially convenient for perimeter lighting and control, for example, electromechanical blinds or roller shutters..
A motion sensor built into the switch monitors the movement of people in the range of its sensors, activating the lighting when a person appears and turning it off some time after any movement stops. Usually infrared sensors are used that can distinguish between the presence of a person and some kind of pet, for example, a dog or cat..
Possessing a wide viewing angle, the presence detector is installed on the ceiling of the room – it is responsible for activating the lighting for the entire time a person is in the room. In addition to tracking human presence, this sensor controls the intensity of lighting depending on the actions of household members – when they turn on the TV, the light will be dimmed by half, if the person in the room falls asleep, then the lighting will be completely turned off.
Touch and voice (commutated) switches are one of the latest developments, controlled without directly touching a key (however, these devices do not have them). Visually, such switches resemble a metal or plastic rectangle with marked zones, controlled by the movement of fingers without touching or with a touch, as well as certain voice commands.
For remote control of lighting, remote switches are used – their receivers do not have keys or buttons and are controlled by a remote control located in a pocket or on the occupant’s clothes and activating the switches’ sensors when approaching them. They can also be controlled from a distance by pressing certain buttons on the stationary or mobile remote control..
Dimmers designed to dim or increase the intensity of lighting are used to control the main group of lighting fixtures. The external panel of such a dimmer is equipped with keys, a rotating button or an IR sensor that receives signals from the remote control. Depending on the type of lighting lamps, dimmers are divided into three groups: control halogen lamps and incandescent lamps (voltage 220 V); halogen lamps connected through ferromagnetic and electronic transformers (low voltage); energy-saving fluorescent and LED lamps equipped with an electromagnetic ballast (such dimmers are called “potentiometer”).
All control elements of modern switches contain explanatory drawings and inscriptions that facilitate their use – with undoubtedly complex equipment, the smart home system is designed to facilitate the life of households, and not burden them with multivolume instructions.
At the end
For some time now, the switches have gone beyond the form and style, the presence or absence of diode backlighting and the number of keys. Now they save us time by not having to locate them in the dark, save energy and money by providing light intensity control at the touch of a button on the remote control, avoiding the need to create multiple groups of fixtures. Controlling the activation and deactivation of lighting in any remote area of the house has ceased to be a problem – switches with motion sensors will do this for the owners, thereby making it much easier to move around the rooms at night.
With each new device of this kind, our homes are becoming smarter, and life in them is more comfortable..