It's so much easier
This is the big reason.
Traditional switch-based wiring doesn't work for modern living, with open plan spaces and many more lighting circuits. In a kitchen-diner, six or more circuits is just normal.
A 'lighting circuit' just means a group of lights - or one light - which come on and off together on the same switch or dimmer.
So you're faced with a dilemma - a confusing array, or a proper scene-setting system.
Until we try it, we all think lighting control will be complicated or confusing - but actually, it's very much simpler and easier.
In the first picture, you can work it out with one look. What about the second?
Your rooms look so much better
This is the other big reason!
Lighting transforms the way our spaces look - it's much better to spend some time getting the balance just right, and then store it for recall later, than leave things to chance.
Stylish keypads also look much better on the wall than a 6, 9 or 12-gang switch.
As well as simplifying the control and improving the look, there are plenty of other benefits:
Our young son gets us up early most mornings. I've often got my hands full and he can't reach the switch. So in the winter it's great if the downstairs lights are already on ready for us. In the evenings, a nightly 'all off' means we don't have to think about it.
Garden and outdoor lights work really well on a schedule, helping everyone get in and out safely when it's dark outside. They can be set by time of day, sunrise and sunset, or a mix of the two.
Remote and app control
Getting up to change the lights is a faff especially if you're not coming in or leaving. So it's great if you can use an app instead, or the TV controller. You can also control floor and table lamps with in-line dimmers, so there's no need to hard-wire for those locations in advance.
It looks great when light levels raise and lower gently, especially with a scheduled event, avoiding the unpleasant surprise of a sudden change from dark to bright.
Do you remember, or still use, those timer switches, which turn one or two lights on at set times to deter burglars? All the good lighting systems have a holiday mode, which uses all your lights and at different times - much more convincing.
Updated for 2023 - Rako have made great leaps forwards recently with their new keypads and the vastly improved control app updates, and offer fabulous value.
For the foreseeable future, we highly recommend Rako Controls for their excellent products and industry-leading aftercare.
It absolutely depends...!
That said, a 'brain' will cost from around £350 and if you budget from £200 per controlled circuit and £200 per lighting keypad, that's about the right sort of ballpark.
The exact system for you depends on a few things:
How big is your home? How many light circuits are there? Do you particularly like one or other keypad type? Would you like to have traditional style switches? Do you have a driveway? Or gates? Would you like garden lighting? Is this a build/refurb project, or retrofit into finished rooms?
Lighting control is life-changingly brilliant. We'd love to help you get started - please get in touch.
Systems we don't do
We don't recommend any smart-bulb systems at the moment. Firstly, the costs can really add up and you should be able to choose your fixtures based on quality, not be locked in to any one make.
The bigger problem though, is the wall switch. We've all trained ourselves to use wall switches for years - and if you switch a smart bulb off at the wall, it isn't smart anymore, as it isn't getting any power.
Lighting is critical for daily life, so we need a system that works intuitively. Smart bulbs fail the test.
Systems we don't do, but that are still good
It's not realistic to be trained experts in every system. Rako are industry leaders - they've done a great job for years and we're sure they'll be here in the future. Some of the smaller, newer companies don't give us that same confidence. Because it's your lighting, that really matters!
However, the lighting control from several reputable companies we don't deal with right now, is of good quality - once properly set up they should keep you happy.