How to Light, IoT/Smart Lighting

How to Light: How do smart lighting systems work for the home?

This question was answered by the technical team at Aurora Lighting.

It would help if we started with an understanding of what we mean by ‘smart’. This term has become a cover-all for anything that can be connected to the internet (the ‘internet of things’), but there’s more to it than that. Early ‘smart’ systems provided connectivity as promised, but came with such complicated programming baggage that some systems proved unworkable for non-technical users. Smart controls were often uncontrollable with  poor connectivity.

The latest generation of smart controls have gone further. Today’s smart lighting systems, such as Aurora’s AOne, connect to the real world as well as the virtual world.

Any smart lighting system for the home should provide certain basics.

  • The system should be capable of connecting to existing lighting.
  • Control of the lighting system via a smartphone app should be intuitive for the user.
  • It should be possible to schedule lighting to turn on or off automatically.
  • Lighting should be controllable from inside and outside the premises by more than one person.
  • The levels of control (individual, circuit or scene setting) should be easily understandable.
  • Smart lighting should be affordable and secure.

The smart world has a multiplicity of ‘assistant’ devices to help us in our lives. A good, hub-based smart lighting system will interface with digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. It should also be flexible, based on user requirements, with just a few components required to get started:

  • A hub, which is the device that connects to the internet router and provides the connection between users’ smart device(s), the lighting system and third-party solutions
  • A dedicated in-line dimmer that controls the existing non-smart light fittings on one circuit (requiring one per circuit to be controlled), that receives instructions wirelessly
  • An iOS or Android app to enable room control, on/off switching or dimming, scheduling and scene setting.

More evolved systems should incorporate:

  • Smart inside light fittings, with integrated wireless control that enables individual control for full flexibility
  • Smart wall control and remote controls to replace the existing light switch, pairing with the app to control on/off, scene setting and dimming
  • Smart sensor range – PIR door or window devices for security and full lighting automation
  • Smart dimmers to replace an existing dimmer switch and provide the link to the app and hub.

For the basic installation, the only electrical work required is the fitting of the in-line dimmers (or relays for switching only) into new or existing lighting circuits where the fixtures are dimmable. Then it’s a matter of plugging the hub into the router, downloading the app to the handheld device (usually phone or tablet), and pairing the devices.

The app provides levels of access to the lighting installation, either to individual circuits or groups of circuits to enable multiple light levels within a room. The user can create as many groups and lighting scenes and instructions as required.

For the technically minded

The Aurora AOne is powered by Gooee SmartSpaces and uses the Zigbee platform, an open global standard for wireless technology that has been designed to use low-power digital radio signals for small and medium-sized projects.

It is a low-power, low data rate network based on the IEEE 802.15.4 personal-area network specification.

A question of security

Local communication security is one of Zigbee’s strengths. The protocol implements a security model along the lines of the one defined in IEEE 802.15.4, providing mechanisms to control access to network devices (authentication), encryption and integrity, using message integrity checks (MIC) to ensure that the signals transmitted are not manipulated. Data packets are encrypted with 128-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption.

When it comes to personal data and security in the cloud, Gooee is the first ecosystem to be certified under TUV’s IoT privacy and security certification. This covers all aspects of data compliance, GDPR advanced data security and management for end users’ peace of mind.

To see other lighting questions answered by experts, click here.