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How to Light a Home Theater Effectively

Lighting plays a crucial role in setting the right atmosphere for your home theater. Your video display's picture usually looks best when the room lights are off (or significantly dimmed), the doors are closed, and the shades are drawn.

Here are some ways you can enhance the lighting in your home theater:

  • Wall-mounted dimmer switches allow you to control the intensity of an individual light or series of connected lights. In most instances, this is a simple and very inexpensive way to change the room's ambience.

  • A complete lighting control system is designed for controlling lights in one room (your home theater). From a wall-mounted keypad, a remote control, or both, you can turn on/off, brighten, dim, or otherwise control each light fixture in the room.

    If you choose a sophisticated lighting control system, you can program the system to do some elaborate lighting tricks. For example, you might set up a preshow mode that has lights on all over the room, maybe accentuating your bar area or couches, if you have them. Then you might have a viewing mode that would dim the sconces, cut the overhead lights, initially highlight the front of the home theater, and then fade, open the curtains in front of your home theater, and start the show. (These different lighting modes are known as scenes.)

  • Remote controls can further integrate your electronics. In preshow mode, for example, you can control the music, and in viewing mode, you can control the projector or display. With a good system, the macros you can set up are limitless.

  • New construction and retrofit solutions are available for lighting control, depending on whether you are building from scratch or making a system fit your existing space with existing wiring. Systems can communicate via wireline signaling (using existing AC power lines) or wirelessly.

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