The lighting control market, as well as the lighting industry as a whole, continues to evolve and no where is this more evident then on the CEDIA EXPO 2014 show floor. As the show opened, I committed to seeing what’s new and exciting in the world of residential lighting control, and a couple of dominant trends have burst onto the scene.
One of the biggest trends that isn’t elusive to the lighting control market is new, more cost effective solutions. Lutron has jumped onboard with their new Caseta system. It enables entry-level lighting control customers to experience a true lighting control system, without the standard price points that normally accompany proper, full-featured, lighting control systems. This of course includes the defacto standard ability to control the system via an iPad app. This system also has the ability to use it as a standalone system, or you can offer your clients the ability to integrate with other systems.
Creating solutions that fit entry-level market demographics is something that continues to expand the lighting control market in general, and the opportunity to reach a younger tech savvy demographic is key to growing the user base of these systems. Companies like Vantage are also getting into the act with some of their Equinox products being reduced by 30-40% due to savings in manufacturing. They also have new starting prices on some of their larger systems so that clients can get a proverbial foot in the door with a proper Vantage system. As manufactures seek to expand their user base, they are finding affordability to be a great starting point to begin the lighting control conversation.
Mobility is still an increased and heavily advertised aspect of the lighting control market. Everyone I talked with this morning has and is heavily invested in mobile control with companies like URC adding additional Android support to their lighting control application.
As much as being able to control your lights and shades with an app-based interface seems standard, everyone I've talked to continues to promote that aspect, and encourages dealers to utilize that feature with clients. Many of the manufactures are also offering new ways to use your mobile device when working with your clients. I spent considerable time with a new sales app from Vantage that not only allows the dealer to tell the story of lighting control to their client, but also spec out parts of the system from within the app. Other manufactures have apps designed to help with fabric selections for shades and show everything from product spec sheets and installation sheets to how different keypads look and can be configured. If you’re a dealer of a lighting control system and you’re not currently utilizing these sales app, it’s time you start considering them as a way to properly inform (and impress) your client.
One area that surprised me during my floor tour was how many dynamic keypads I found scattered around the floor. There seems to be a trend to augment standard keypads with dynamic keypads that allow the control of not only lighting systems, but also other aspects of the automation system. Both Crestron and Vantage showed ways in which they use dynamic keypads and mobile apps to maximize the effectiveness of the lighting control systems. Just as we’re seeing more cost effective options, we are also seeing more advanced options, like dynamic keypads, as standard in higher-end offerings.
With Crestron’s new Pyng platform, lighting keypads are taking center stage. They can easily be programmed to control other parts of the system, all from an iPad app. You can easily configure a keypad button to control a lighting scene one minute, and then with just a few swipes of an iPad app, trigger that lighting scene, while turning off an audio zone, or lock a door, or setback a thermostat, for example. There seems to be a shift towards more configurability of these lighting systems and how the lighting systems can interact with other aspects of the automation system as a whole.
LED lighting also continues to be a big boom to the lighting market. Just about every company has offered dimmers that control LED loads, as well as some systems that can control LED bulbs directly and individually. LED continues to be the way of the future. I’ve also spotted a few LED fixture manufactures on the floor which is something I don’t remember seeing in the past.
This year we continue to see major changes in the lighting control market and we can expect to see more down the road as LED becomes even more prominent.