In a word, Reliability
Wireless systems which use radio waves to communicate from the switch to the dimmers, are great for retrofitting to an existing property with the minimum of disruption. However, when you have the opportunity to pull in cables, on a new build or extensive refurbishment for example, it makes sense to do so. Here’s why wireless lighting control is a compromise:
Affected by interference
Even the best wireless system will sometimes lose messages or delay the transmission of a message due to interference and the subsequent need to re-send. While this doesn’t matter too much when pressing ‘play’ on a DVD player it is a real nuisance with lighting. With lighting we expect to flick a switch, and the lights to operate – first time, every time.
FlexiDim™, being a wired system, gives that level of certainty.
Reliance on batteries
Wireless systems often rely on batteries in the ‘switch plate’. No matter how long the battery lasts, it will fail when you don’t have a replacement to hand and the shops are closed. Murphy’s Law explains why this is so, along with all other inconvenient and unexpected events!
Wired systems, such as FlexiDim™, do not rely on batteries in critical components such as the light switches.
Limited range, which varies considerably
Wireless systems have a limited range, which is particularly affected by the type of house construction used. Efficient houses, using foil backed insulation, are especially prone to range reductions and a system may often be working at the extremes of its effective range. Most difficult to anticipate is a wireless system that works fine when installed but then becomes intermittent. Batteries running low are often the cause of intermittent operation, which can also be caused by the addition of other electrical devices, furniture or even people in the house.
FlexiDim™ does not suffer from these problems as the wiring has no maximum range to worry about (for the pedantic, the maximum is actually 1000 metres per cable, which covers most eventualities). Moreover, as every switch can communicate with every lighting circuit (regardless of how far away it is in the house), there is no restriction on which switch can used to control which light.
Even transmitters using the latest wireless technologies, such as Zigbee™, will have a range limit. Zigbee™ extends this range by hopping messages from one device to the next, until it gets to its destination. However, each ‘hop’ has a time associated with it, and these can add up to significant delays. These types of technology are perfect for central heating thermostats, but not so great for light switches where you want immediate results when you press a button.
You’ll be wiring anyway
Unless somebody finds a way to get the mains electricity to the light fittings without wires, you will have to wire the mains cable anyway! The additional Cat 5 data cables for the switches in a wired system such as like FlexiDim™ are a small part of the wiring effort and cost.
FlexiDim™ does use wireless technologies for certain peripheral components such as remote controls. We believe that this is the best use for radio, i.e. communication to/from mobile devices which simply cannot have wires. For the core system components, where reliability simply cannot be compromised, we use wires.