Smart home systems light up with customizable exterior lights

While she shot the big 0-4 in August, McKinley Annoni is in what her mother calls her “pink and purple little girl phase.”

On McKinley’s birthday, her parents increased her joy by lighting up their entire Farmington home with a special twinkle display featuring her favorite colors.

“We’re known in the neighborhood as the people with the cool house lights,” Elizabeth Annoni said. “We stand out.”

When the Anonnis worked with the builder of their new two-story, they added a custom exterior accent lighting system. Mounted in permanently installed panels on the soffits and rooflines, the colors and brightness of the LED lights can be changed in the blink of an eye via a smartphone app.

“They were installed on a rainy April night and we sat in the car in the driveway and played with the presets,” Nick Annoni said.

Since then, the couple have performed “fun moving patterns” that pulsate, sparkle and more. When they compose a favorite called “The Worm”, one color seems to chase the others. It has been successful in selecting specific hues for the holidays: red, white and green for Cinco de Mayo, pastels for Easter, rainbow colors for Pride Month and red, white and blue for the 4 July.

But if you ask the couple when it’s time for them – or rather their house – to shine, October is when they decorate their garden in the spookiest way. And this year, their new lights provided the perfect backdrop.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday,” Elizabeth said.

Smart home innovation

Over the past decade, half a dozen national companies offering permanent outdoor residential lighting have sprung up. Most of them are from western states where programmable systems have gained popularity.

More recently, at least five installation companies specializing in smart home lighting have sprung up in Minnesota, giving homeowners who love tech and Christmas lights the chance to decorate their halls year-round.

Matt Mueller’s cousin started a home lighting business in Arizona three years ago. Inspired by that success, Mueller founded GLO Lighting in Wayzata last spring and has since installed light panels in the soffits of about 100 homes in the Twin Cities area.

The majority are in suburban subdivisions, where, Mueller said, homeowners like to create a unique look to differentiate their homes from other similar properties.

“Each light has its own address and can be adjusted for color and brightness. Some people like to adjust the lights every day, but we can make a holiday schedule [the homeowner] wants on a schedule, schedule it and it automatically updates the displays so they never have to touch the controller,” Mueller said.

Mueller works with licensed electrical contractors who install the accent lights, which are mounted in an aluminum track painted to match the trim of the home.

His customers typically spend $3,500 to $6,000 on a whole-house system, but, he said, the long-lasting, energy-efficient LED lights burn so little they have minimal impact on the utility budget. public from an owner.

“It’s a very social product. People who like to put pictures on their Facebook,” he said. “A lot of them like to light up the house on game day with the colors of their favorite team.”

Whether illuminated for holidays, special occasions, game days, or as a backdrop for everyday ambiance, outdoor lighting is just the latest element of smart home innovations that have become more prevalent. . A May report by Connected Economy found that 32% of US consumers now use smart home or automated task technologies in their daily routines, a number that jumped 4% in the previous six months.

Today, consumers can use Wi-Fi enabled features and sensors to automate, customize and remotely update a growing range of functions in their home. Using apps or voice commands, they can manage their security systems, thermostats, kitchens, and even the water temperature of their smart showers.

“Smart home technology is evolving and becoming simpler and more transparent. These systems are becoming an expectation among young homeowners, who are the biggest adopters of smart technology and actively seek out the latest and greatest,” said Allie Martin, design trends manager for the California-based New Home Trends Institute.

Martin thinks customizable outdoor lights have special appeal for generations of family members.

“It’s just a fun idea, and millennial couples love something they can customize to delight their kids,” she said.

Guide lights

For the past 14 years, Kevin Polski has owned a business dedicated to installing traditional holiday lighting in residential and commercial properties. It updated its offerings two years ago. Today, permanent LED lighting installation sales dominate its year-round business, now renamed Trimlight Minneapolis.

While his customers have used the lights in unexpected ways — one couple used color to reveal their baby’s gender — he finds it’s the seasonal red and green lights that drive people to buy a system in the first place.

“Glass incandescent Christmas bulbs should fall out after about a year; they become brittle and don’t last in the sun,” he said. “With this, they can program the movement to make the color advance or flicker in different patterns.”

Polski said that unlike more traditional C9 outdoor holiday bulbs, the lighting systems installed by his company are not visible to the naked eye, which he calls a “huge selling point”.

While the systems are all the rage, Polski insists that programmable exterior lights are not a fad.

“I would say 95% of our customers use them every night, sometimes just white light. It adds appeal and security. They can control it remotely from anywhere in the world if they are out of town,” he said. “The lights point downwards to illuminate the house without causing light pollution.”

Polski said the main selling point of the systems is the positive emotional response the lights seem to create in homeowners who purchase them.

“Lights make people happy, it’s as simple as that,” he said.

This held true for the Annonis and their three children.

“I’m sure some people, including my parents, think it’s silly to spend money on lights,” Elizabeth said. “But they’ve always made our house festive for the holidays, and now we’re the adults and we can do it for our kids. They’re literally gasping when we drive home when it’s all lit up.”

Nick has a more practical reason to be happy with the system.

“On our first house, a little hiker, I was comfortable putting Christmas lights on the roof,” he said. “Now our second story seems pretty big and out of my comfort level. I’m glad I’m not climbing the ladder.”

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