Welcome back loyal readers and welcome for anyone who's reading for the first time.
This week is going to be a little different than previous weeks as I'm going to be doing a spotlight on another company and their line of products we use. I had planned to include a video demonstration to go along with this, but it's still in editing so stay tuned to our social channels later this week to check it out!
Levven is an Edmonton-based company (#supportlocal) that produces a line of smart home technology and works with builders and trades to get them into new-build homes at no increased cost.
Instead of traditional wiring from panel to a switch and out to another switch, etc. with light "group" loads coming off each switch in the line, Levven products require us to wire from the panel to a light "group", and out to another light "group, etc. bypassing switches all together. A light "group" is any number of lights that will be controlled by the same switch. Nothing else really changes, it's the same number of lights on the circuit from the panel, just no switches.
But wait, how do you turn the lights on then?!
So, the wiring side I talked about above is pretty boring technical stuff, although the implications are pretty great. No metal or plastic boxes for the switches, which means less vapour barrier penetrations and less cutting for the drywallers (and less chance of a box not getting cut out). There's less drilling holes through the wall tops into the attic for us, so less sealing work to be done and less all around time being spent doing the work, which is what allows for us to be able to put these in at no increased cost, because it decreases cost elsewhere.
Anyway, to get back on track and answer my own question above. The first light in a group is the "controller" light and in that light box, we install one of the Controller or Dimmer modules seen below.
The modules receive power from the circuit and when they're activated, they send power out on the load wire to the light "group".
Cool, but how do you activate the module?!
Levven produces two types of switches; a decora switch very similar to what most of us have in our current homes and a designer switch which is a lower profile, clean look that comes with a low profile cover plate.
Both of these switches are battery-powered by a Cr2032 "watch" battery and can be paired to the control modules. A switch can also be paired to several modules (If you wanted a switch in the walk-through pantry that turns your kitchen, island and undercounter lights ALL on but still maintain your regular switches on the walls in the kitchen). A module can also be paired to several switches (just like regular multi-location switch systems. Because these switches are battery-powered and mount to a wall... we've been able to affix them onto tiles, cabinets, under-cabinets, stone, etc... there are very few limitations to where they can be located (or re-located if you choose, which would just requires a but of putty and paint to fill the screw holes).
That's pretty neat, but what makes this a smart home system then?
This is the where things start to heat up! Up until this point in the installation, what they've done is create a lighting control system that feels no different than a typical home. There are switches and they turn on lights; sure we saved some wire and boxes and reduced some waste and time, lowering the environmental impact and saving some time, but it's really nothing special. In comes the Levven Q! This device plugs into power and your modem via ethernet port (we usually locate it at the panel location) and pairs to the controllers on your home. Then you download the "Levven Controls" app and watch as each light module in your home appears on your phone. From the app, you can monitor the battery of your switches, change the configuration of your switches, turn your switches into timers, etc.
The best part about the whole system, is that it's getting installed in some builders' homes as a standard over traditional wiring, which means these benefits are coming to the home buyers at no additional costs and with the exception of the style of the switches and the batteries, you almost wouldn't even notice that anything is different.
Also, since we've started installing these in homes a couple years ago we have already seen improvements and updates unlocking new capabilities in the products, so you never know what functions and features might be opened up in the future. While every new product does have a few issues as they start off, we've only seen minor, easily fixable issues with them and those issues have become fewer and farther between as time moves on.
I wanted to cover their Audio products as well, the Soul Play, but my blogging app is warning me that I've been too chatty again, so I'll cover that another time. Let's end this off by saying I'm really looking forward to the future of these products and seeing what they'll be able to do and how far Levven will take them.
As always, thanks so much for reading! Tune in next week, when we'll go over Ground Fault Protection in your home. What's it for, why we do it and how to properly use it.
If you have any questions, comments, feedback or suggestions for future topics, then definitely send me an email at Blog@rkayelectrical.com! I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time, have yourselves a great weekend!