Combining Dimming with Other Commands – It’s a Bright Idea

The possibility of enhanced energy savings is a big driver behind the 
adoption of dimmer switches – but what about all those table lamps in a 
typical home that aren’t controlled by a wall switch? Or when light 
dimming is part of an effort to set a scene or make a room more 
comfortable? Thanks to the “internet of things,” consumers are gaining 
new options for controlling new devices – such as table lamps – and 
grouping together the operations of multiple device types – such as, 
say, lighting and fans – using a single remote control or mobile-device 
app. Lutron Electronics

Chuck Ross

The possibility of enhanced energy savings is a big driver behind the adoption of dimmer switches – but what about all those table lamps in a typical home that aren’t controlled by a wall switch? Or when light dimming is part of an effort to set a scene or make a room more comfortable? Thanks to the “internet of things,” consumers are gaining new options for controlling new devices – such as table lamps – and grouping together the operations of multiple device types – such as, say, lighting and fans – using a single remote control or mobile-device app. In some cases, even a simple voice command can now dim your lights and set the stage for a dinner party or movie night.

A plug-in dimmer can be the basic building block for creating a smarter home. These devices plug into any standard electrical outlet and provide up to two outlets, themselves, for plugging in table or floor lamps equipped with dimmable light bulbs. Homeowners then can easily adjust the lamps’ light levels using a compatible remote control.

For a more sophisticated system that operates multiple dimmer outlets, along with wireless window shades, fans and other devices, a wireless bridge or hub is usually attached to the home’s wireless router. The bridge acts as dispatcher that can accept and broadcast commands from mobile-device apps and newer voice-controlled personal-assistant products, such as Amazon’s Echo, to enable Jetsons-style home-automation capabilities.

Beyond simple timesaving, these quickly evolving control options are providing new options to help older consumers remain comfortable in their homes, notes Ed Blair, vice president and general manager for Lutron.

“For people with limited mobility, voice technology can restore some freedom once taken for granted – like easily moving about to set the lights shades and temperature,” he says. His company’s Caséta Wireless system now is compatible with voice-based Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit systems. “Smart home products are not just about the wow factor anymore – they’re changing peoples’ lives.”


Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics