Shine a Light (Remotely)

Light is one of those intangible things that is stuff and whatnot. Wait, no it isn't. It's light. As in, "Aziz, LIGHT!"

On the one hand, it's either on or it's off. On the other hand, it's half-on, half-off, and you've programmed it to go half-off and half-on again at the touch of a button.

If you don't have kids to turn lights on for you (or maybe you have kids, and they don't turn them back off), Lutron has a host of products to make life a little easier. How much easier is best explained by experience. Which brings us to the aptly named Lutron Experence Center.

With seven locations all over the country, Lutron's Experience Centers are beautifully designed and equipped homes that aren't really homes at all. Instead, they're perhaps the most attractive sales floors ever. Each "home" is incorporated into its surrounding sales space. You walk inside the Center, then a few steps later walk inside the "front" door of the mock home.

Each "home" has a different aesthetic, designed with a regard for regional flavors. The Southern California location that I visited, for example, has our typical mildly-mesa look to everything. The New York Center, alternately, is far more modern in its decor. It's a smart move, offering a customized design that's similar to what potential visitors are likely to have in their homes.

In addition to providing hands-on experience with lighting control, the Centers act as a sort of idea generator for interior designers. Most rooms have multiple lighting zones, addressable via wall keypads or a wireless remote control. Window shades add yet another level of light control to the lighting controls. And using mechanics similar to the window treatments, a small home theater features a retractable curtain revealing a 2.35:1 screen.

As we made our way through the rooms, we found that the bathroom held an iPad. Which held a Lutron app, with a graphical interface that's a step above any buttoned controller, no matter how cool.

Lutron's Experence Centers are open via appointment only, generally with an interior designer or contractor. They're worth a visit, even if it's just to see the potential of full lighting control. Check one out near you.