With the development of LED technology, new possibilities in lighting of stairs have appeared, according to Magic Stair Lighting. A new trend in stair lighting is multi-point, low-voltage LED 12VDC or 24VDC lighting with intelligent control, allowing for safe, effective, comfortable and energy-saving lighting of the stairs.
LED stair lighting looks particularly decorative if it is mounted in the central risers of the stairs, illuminating the plane of the step below. These can be special staircase luminaires or custom-made LED strips, mounted or glued under the toe of the stairs. If the structure of the stairs is attached to the wall, LED fixtures can be installed in the wall, usually 15cm above the surface of the steps, illuminating each of them separately. Surprising effects are produced by the lamps built into the plane of the step by the wall or by the balustrade, because when they shine upwards they bring out the texture of the wall or decorative elements of the railing. Some people also choose to illuminate the balustrade or the landing of the stairs near the floor.
The standard is white lighting (warm, cold or neutral) due to the greater usability and better lighting of the stairs. However, in interior decoration, there is sometimes a need to use coloured lighting and single-colour LED strips (e.g. blue, green, yellow, red) can be easily used.
Such multi-point lighting is very decorative. In addition, it allows for better lighting of individual stair steps than in the case of traditional overhead lighting, thanks to which the stairs are safer for people walking on them.
Stair LED lighting controllers
To control multi-point LED lighting of the stairs, special digital LED drivers are used, called intelligent LED stair controllers. Due to the properties of LED technology, staircase controllers can use the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) method to control the brightness of individual LED lamps. The use of LED stair controllers introduces new decorative possibilities to the lighting of the stairs, such as smooth lighting, gentle backlight after dusk and effective animations, turning the sometimes sad staircase into a real showcase of the house. By controlling the brightness of LED lighting using the PWM method, you can achieve various degrees of smoothness of switching on and off the lamps, from sharp to very gentle. Moreover, lamps can light up simultaneously or sequentially, step by step, creating an effective, flowing wave of LED light with varying degrees of its forehead and tail brightness. Stair controllers also introduce other, new functionalities, e.g. turning on the lighting only for a specified period of time, which gives the comfort of forgetting to turn off the lighting and saves energy, showing warning when lights are about to switch off, or controlling the illumination of the handrail.
LED stair lighting control systems
Stair controllers can work autonomously or be part of a smart home/building system. As stand-alone solutions they can be activated in a traditional way by buttons, but the best functionality is obtained in cooperation with specialised stair motion sensors and dusk sensors, with which they can create intelligent, automated systems controlling the lighting of stairs. As a part of a smart home system they are activated by potential-free outputs of the system. The stair controller reads signals from the control inputs and controls the lighting according to the program stored in its memory. Usually, motion sensors, buttons, smart building system outputs, a twilight sensor, or a programmable astronomical clock are connected to the control inputs of the controller, thus ensuring various control methods depending on the movement and time of day (evening, night, day).
The operation of staircase controllers can be influenced by changing the values of configuration parameters. Intelligent stair controllers usually allow to adjust the parameters of the controller to the implemented installation (the minimum is to set the number of lamps / steps) and to adjust the basic operating parameters to the user’s preferences (e.g. times of switching on, lights on and switching off phases; lighting on/off smoothness; brightness, backlight brightness, etc.) in different parts of the day. Most of the stair controllers on the market can be configured with the help of simple or more advanced configurators built into the controller, but the most convenient way – unfortunately available in only a few controller models – is the configuration using a mobile application that communicates with the staircase controller using Bluetooth Low Energy standard.
Stair motion sensors
Stair motion sensors are an important element of the stair lighting system. Good stair sensors should have a narrow detection angle and a well-defined, adjustable range so that they do not turn on the lighting when people pass by the stairs. For this reason, PIR sensors with an indefinite range, popular in alarm systems, should not be used to detect movement on the stairs. The function of stair sensors is very well fulfilled by optical reflection sensors, which, due to their one-element structure and well-defined, adjustable range, can also be used without any problems for the recently very popular open stairs, e.g. carpet stairs.
Smart stairs with a smartphone application
Smart stairs with a smartphone application is the most advanced system of modern stair lighting control, using advanced LED stair controllers and sensors as well as appropriate light sources, functioning independently or as part of a larger smart home system. A truly intelligent staircase communicates with the user via a smartphone/tablet application, ensuring convenient operation, intuitive installation configuration, adjustment to user preferences and access to diagnostic service functions. The purpose of intelligent control is to provide the user with decorative effects in line with his preferences and appropriate utility benefits, such as the right level of lighting on the stairs, safety, comfort, energy efficiency and durability.
Planning the installation of lighting for the stairs
It is best to plan the electrical lighting of the stairs before finishing the stairs. First, collect the necessary elements, including the appropriate model of the stair controller, LED strips or LED luminaires, stair motion sensors, then select good quality LED power supply, equipped with the necessary protection circuits, and then plan the arrangement of all installation elements and the location of the cables. When making cable connections between the controller and lamps, pay attention to how the individual lamps in the lighting system of the stairs will be controlled: each lamp separately or all lamps together.
Intelligent LED stair lighting control is a hit with many houses and apartments. In the past, stair lighting used to be almost exclusively functional, but with the development of LED technology and the emergence of new possibilities, also in the field of LED lighting control, the decorative function of stair lighting becomes increasingly important. It is more and more appreciated by decorators and interior designers. Properly selected multi-point stair lighting significantly affects the final visual effect of stairs, can emphasise the shape of stairs and bring out the beauty of materials used in their construction.