Smart Living FAQs | Smart Lighting

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We believe Smart Living improves the every day lives of our clients by creating solutions to the day to day niggles we all go through. Here we will discuss our most frequently asked questions about Smart Lighting and how it integrates into the Smart Living system.

If you have any questions about Smart Living and want to find out more, please get in touch at or call 01738 566 566.

What is Smart Lighting?

What are the benefits of having a Smart Lighting System?

A Smart Lighting system is, in simple terms, an intelligent lighting system that can be installed throughout your whole home or just parts of it, internal and external.

A Smart Lighting system will offer you a multitude of benefits such as:

  • Better efficiency over conventional lights witches – traditionally when you switch an old style light switch on or off you are simply going from full power to off or vice versa.  With a Smart Lighting system, the lights will only be on at the level required depending on various circumstances such as time of day, time of year, mood for the moment etc.  Therefore, it’s not difficult to understand that the power taken by a Smart Lighting system can be considerably less than a conventional system – which is crucial with the cost of energy today. 
  • Traditional dimmer switches offer the illusion of saving power by offering a lower light solution. Sadly this is not the case, old-style dimmer switches turn the power reduction into heat so when dimmed the power is being repurposed rather than saved.
  • Fewer light switches – not only does this offer a cost saving benefit, aesthetically fewer switches and items on the walls offers a minimalist and clean impression, invoking feelings of calmness. With conventional switches you need a switch for every type of light in a room which could include downlights, wall lights, pendants, lamps, floor lights.  So, in a fairly standard lounge you will have numerous switches and each lamp will need switched on and off independently every time.  With a Smart Lighting System, one switch can bring on every light in the room at the required level you want at that moment. One switch can switch the whole room off at the end of the night – or indeed can switch off all the lights on the ground floor allowing you to go to bed with peace of mind knowing you are not wasting any electricity.
  • Proactivity – a Smart Lighting System is intelligent, so if you are the kind of person that gets up in the middle of the night your Smart Lighting system will know to turn on the en-suite lights at a low level, make sure the fan doesn’t come on and waken your partner and even light your path to the kitchen for a midnight snack.

What is a lighting design, and do I need one?

A lighting design, in simplest terms, is a plan showing where the lights are to be positioned, what type of light is to be fitted at each position and how each light will illuminate and affect the room.

Lighting is one of the most important elements of any home – a good lighting design can make your home look even more fantastic – and equally a lack of one can make the best home look drab!

Any reputable Smart Living company will strongly recommend having a lighting design produced for your new home, renovation, or extension.  Whether you install a Smart Lighting System, or stick to the conventional switches, the Lighting Design is crucial.  It is about how the house is lit, the ambience, the moods, and the feelings – all very important for how you are going to live and feel in the house.

In our experience the budget for Lighting Fitments is often missed or becomes a grey area with no one taking ownership of this very important aspect.

Do I need to get my ceiling taken down if I want Smart Lighting installed?

If you want to fit Smart Lighting after your house is built or to an existing house, then there are various options available to you. In all cases you should speak to a reputable firm of Smart Living installers to help you with this as there is the potential for some monumental mistakes that could be very costly.  The truth is there will most likely be some mess due to lights having to be taken down and switches removed for work – but a good firm will minimise this.

Do I need to change my lights to install Smart Lighting?

In most cases you can retain your existing light fitments, but it is often prudent to replace them with low energy LED ones which will save you money in the long run and most likely work better with the Smart Lighting system.

Your existing light switches will be replaced with new, discrete switches which will have buttons relating to scenes or lights depending on your installer.  These switches are available in many finishes depending on the manufacturer.  Leading Smart Lighting manufacturers include Rako, Lutron and Control4 and all of these have wireless Smart Lighting solutions to minimise any rewiring required – and in some cases have wireless Light Switches (Rako) which means you don’t have to have your switches in their existing positions – you simply decide where you want one and “stick” it there and it works by battery.

Can I do some Smart Lights but not all of them?

In most cases it is possible to continue to use your existing light fitments, however replacing them with a Smart Lighting solution will often save you money in the long run due to LED lights being incredibly energy efficient.

If it is important to you to keep some of your existing lights please discuss with your Lighting Designer to see what the best solution would be.

Do I need to install different cabling for Smart Lighting?

In most cases the existing cabling can be used but this depends on how many lights and rooms you are thinking of and the cost of wireless solutions versus wired ones.  Again, a good Smart Living company will be able to guide you through the process of deciding which is best for your project.

Can the smart lighting be controlled using sensory motion?

Yes it can – and this is a great way to utilise Smart Lighting to make your life better – which is what it’s all about – well for us it is anyway!

Sensors can be used in various ways:

  • Small rooms like utility, cupboards etc can have lighting that simply tuns on when someone enters, or opens the door, and goes off when they exit or shut the door
  • Areas like hallways and bathrooms can have sensors that detect people moving around and turn on the lighting accordingly – which can be based on time of day, how dark it is outside and inside, what other lights are on, etc
  • The lighting in External areas can be automated using sensors based on movement and time of day – and will take into account the time of year as we know that it gets darker earlier as we get into winter – so the lights will come on earlier without having to be constantly programmed as the days get shorter.
  • Smart Cinema Rooms can have sensors to turn on lights when you walk in, if the room is not in use, but then turn off the lights after you’ve settled down, the system has turned on, and the film is just about to start – just like the real cinema but in the comfort of your own home!
  • Sensors are often seen as simple dumb items that simply switch on the bright light when you walk past and then, after a predetermined time will switch off the light.  With a Smart Living system this is not the case – the system is much cleverer than that and, providing you use a good Smart Living Installer, the automation of your lighting system using sensors and other devices, will ensure that it works for you to truly make your life better.

What is the difference between a Smart Lighting System and Smart Wifi Lights?

Smart Wifi Lights are great if you want a cheap solution to one or two lights in a room or to switch a lamp on or off in the lounge.  There are better alternatives however when it comes to controlling multiple lights in a room or house. 

The reason for this is that Smart Wifi Lights use your existing Wifi Connection that integrates with a little Wifi Receiver in each light, meaning every light is connected individually. This can be a huge benefit if you are looking to control each light individually – although the reliability of the system is questionable.

The problem really arises when there are multiple lights – the device with the app has to send a command via Wifi to each light and, in turn, each light has to receive this command and act on it. The result is varying degrees of control and reliability.  Some or all lights not coming on, flashing lights when they bug out and disconnect, lights coming on by themselves with no input from the user and all sorts of variations on these issues.

A Smart Lighting System, wired or wireless (note we are saying wireless not Wifi – there is a huge difference here), does not suffer from any of the above issues.  If the system is wired then it is always connected and there will not be any issues with commands being lost. If the system is a Smart Wireless Lighting system such as Rako, then each light is still wired internally.  The wireless wall switch is controlling a dimmer module by a proprietary wireless communication which uses a completely different set of frequencies from your Wifi and as well as being robust and fast is almost immune to any interference – so commands always get through. Therefore, your home will have one Wifi service but could have multiple wireless systems which are completely separate and different.

What is Smart Living?

How much does Smart Living cost?

Defining an exact cost of Smart Living can depend on a number of variables and therefore the cost varies from person to person depending on what elements they are looking for.

There are many factors that can affect the price such as the number of rooms, what systems you want to include, quality of components, where and when the project will take place, and so much more.

The simplest answer we can give would be to say that the level of investment for one of our systems can vary from £5000 to £50,000.

One example would be a 4-bedroom house with Smart Lighting, Smart Audio, Surround Sound in the lounge, some Smart Security around the perimeter of the property, Smart Heating Controls and the all-important cabling would be around £25,000.

John Ross Smart Living will work with you to find the best possible solution for your budget so we can all live smarter together.

What is a Smart Home?

Smart Living is our philosophy of using technology to make life easier.

A Smart Living system offers the freedom to play music throughout the house or isolated in individual rooms all from your mobile phone. It’s the ability to turn your heating on as you leave the office – or turn it down when the teenagers have been left home alone! Forgot to turn the bathroom light off? No problem, simply switch it off from your mobile device. From increased security to a heightened sense of comfort in the home, Smart Living provides solutions to everyday chores and worries that need never cross your mind again.

We like to think about it as imagining your home having its own brain that is dedicated to thinking about your needs and what would give you the best experience everyday. The benefits are endless and often different for everyone – but you will certainly benefit, without a doubt!

Do I need to buy the whole Smart Living System at once or can I do it in stages?

It is possible to stage your Smart Living System but it is important to keep in mind that certain parts of the system are essential and therefore need to be installed in the early stages of the project.

For instance, once a design concept has been agreed, it is vital that the cabling must be installed at the outset of your project, regardless of the project type. If the correct cables are not installed early on, some of the Smart Living system may not be possible without mess, expense and redecoration.

It is understandable that your budget during the build may not stretch to cover all aspects of your dream Smart Living System. With this in mind, we are always happy to adopt a planned approach so that the things that your priority systems are installed first, and anything that is lower down in the list can be fitted once your budget allows.

Will my Smart Home require to be replaced after a few years due to technological changes?

The honest answer is yes – some of it may. 

Technology changes swiftly and is constantly moving forward so what is leading edge today may not be in 5 years time.  Software is continually being updated and our systems are capable of being upgraded in this way with a fairly long-life expectancy. Products do wear out over time so will need replaced due to age but may also need replaced due to software becoming too advanced for them. 

There are two types of upgrades/replacements that may need to be considered – a little like a car – the normal wear and tear on an item and the fact that the item may not have the capability of running the most up to date software.

A good installer should advise their clients that some form of update or replacement will need to be considered after 5 years and probably before 10 years is up.  They should also recommend some form of maintenance option to ensure that your system is kept updated as and when required but also to be proactive with regards to replacements etc.

How much does maintenance cost on a Smart Living System?

This is a very good question. 

As with most things the answer is that it will vary depending on the system size, complexity etc.  In our experience it is simply based on the size of the installation and the level of initial investment – so can be anywhere from £100 per year up to many hundreds.

There are different levels of service depending on the client and system, which can vary from remote only support to a regular 3 monthly call to site to check the system.

And on a last note – you don’t need to have maintenance in place, this is entirely up to the you, but like everything peace of mind is less stressful!

What are the main solutions that make up a Smart Home?

Core to a Smart Home is the structured cabling, which is the backbone of the system, and the connectivity, which covers incoming internet and the internal network including wifi.

The main solutions that make up a good Smart Living system could include:

Cabling – the backbone of the system – no system can work without this

Connectivity – extremely important because all communications between devices, you and the outside world are carried by this part of the system

Lighting – Smart Lighting is key to having a great Smart Home

Audio – music in one, some or all rooms – have it where you want and when you want

Entertainment – TVs, Home Cinema, Surround Sound systems etc

Comfort – Blinds, curtains, heating etc

Security – cameras, door or gate entry, door locks, garage doors etc

Will a Smart Home investment increase the value of my property?

Any investment in a property is an investment regardless of what it’s for. Some people may spend £3000 on a kitchen and others may spend £50000.  A Smart Living system will not age like other parts of your house – so the really expensive kitchen that you buy now will lose its sparkle in 10 years time – but the Smart Living system will still be doing its thing regardless.

So – the honest answer to the question of “Will a Smart Home system increase the value of my property” is probably, but there are too many other factors to give a definitive yes or no.  What a Smart Living System will do is increase the desirability of your property and raise it above others around you in the same marketplace.

Would a Smart Living system be beneficial to someone who has a physical disability?

Yes, absolutely it would.  And not just physical but mental disabilities too. Relatives and friends of dementia sufferers greatly benefit from being able to keep an eye on the person from afar without intruding on their life.  There are many parts of a Smart Home that would be beneficial to anyone with a disability such as music, Video Doorbells, automatic door locks, external security cameras and many more.

Check out for some more information on a Smart System that is dedicated to helping people with disabilities and their friends and relatives.

How cost effective is a Smart Living system with the current energy crisis?

This is an interesting question and one that is highly emotive due to the spiralling costs of energy.  Although there is a certain level of investment required for a Smart Living system, this can be offset by some of the energy saving that will be experienced.

Smart Lighting systems can save energy by reducing the amount of time lights are on, and by reducing the level to which they are turned on. When you switch a light on in a conventional home, via a simple on/off switch, the light is either fully on or fully off.  When the same light is switched on by a Smart Lighting system it will never be fully on but will be operating at a lower level depending on the scene selected and even if turned on fully will typically only be on at 75%. 

;So even in its simplest form a Smart Lighting system, installed by an experienced Smart Living Company, will save you around 25% of the energy used by a conventional system.

Smart Living heating systems are another good source of energy savings as they will be working in the background, via the system, to optimise your home heating use and therefore your utility costs.  They do this in various ways, but the simplest form is when they detect that no one is home so will set back the heating and then bring it back up when you arrive home – or even before.

In addition, the combination of various Smart Home functions working together can fully optimise your energy usage. For example, if it is very sunny outside then the system may raise the blinds and open the curtains, switch off the heating, and allow the sun to warm the room.

Do you have a show room or test products that I can view the technology before potentially buying?

We have something better!  We have a fully functional Smart Home in Rural Angus which is available to rent as a holiday home or for a short visit to see how Smart Living actually works.

The house is fully equipped with:-

Smart Lighting – in every room

Smart Audio – we have music in almost every room as well as the patio and Hot Tub areas outside

Smart Security including CCTV, Smart Door Locks and Video Doorbell

Smart Home Cinema room with 8ft screen, High Definition Projector and 5.1 Surround Sound

Smart Curtains and Blind integration

Smart Heating

And we even have a pop-up TV.

And all the above is managed by Control4 technology – seamlessly, reliably and very simple to operate.  In fact we have now had over 30 different guest groups staying at the property in the last year and feedback has been incredibly positive with no issues and specifically very positive comments about the ease of use of the Smart Home technology installed.

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