Shortly after moving into my home, I found places I wish I could snap my fingers and have it rewired. I’m not much of a DIYer, but I was willing to learn more. Rewiring the house was not on that list, however. One example is that I have several exterior lights that are controlled from wildly disparate locations in the house. There are two primary areas I’d like to light when guests are expected, but the switches are pretty far apart, so that rarely happens.
Those were my humble beginnings: I wished I cold have lights controlled from different locations. I didn’t expect to ever do anything to realize that wish.
But I did upgrade a couple of switches to dimmers (one was a single switch, one was a multi-switch situation) and even a motion sensor. Then I learned some lessons from those installations (which in all fairness, my nephew did for me, so the learning curve for me wasn’t quite what it could have been). For example, I had no idea the lights in my mudroom are fluorescent – which doesn’t do well with fast/frequent on/off changes, as caused by a motion sensor. The sensor turns off after just a few seconds without movement, which meant lights would go off while tying shoes. That was annoying and inconvenient.
I started to research my frustration, and that’s when I learned that fluorescent lights are meant to be turned on and left on for a while. Frequent on/off shortens the life of the bulbs. And they take a while to warm up. So I started looking at alternatives, such as how to compare incandescent, fluorescent, and LED lights.
LEDs and incandescent bulbs can survive frequent on/off situations, so they might be appropriate when paired with a motion sensor. LEDs last a lot longer than the others, but they’re also more expensive. Over time, the cost difference ends up favoring LEDs, but they’re not perfect. For one, you have to be able to spend the money on the bulbs: that can be pretty expensive in my situation, where a lot of my switches control several bulbs each. I want each bulb on a switch to be the same type. Then I learned that LEDs are still not quite mainstream for higher intensity lights.
And then I learned that lighting can be automated and controlled from a smartphone. Awesome! Exit humble beginnings and enter the-sky’s-the-limit mode. I spent the next several weeks wandering my house and assessing the current capability of every light switch. I imagined what improvements I would like, from dimmers, timers, control from another room in the house, color-changing, ambient light, etc.
Tune is as I outline several phases of my project. It’s exciting to think of inducing so much change to the usability of lights in my house. I used to take lights for granted. Not now!