Iain Shaw, Partner of Brilliant Lighting explains the ins and outs of the recent VAT announcement and the impact this will have on our industry.

For once we have some good news from the VAT man. The August update to VAT Notice 708 (Building and Construction) from HMRC confirms that central controls for light, heat and ventilation, including intelligent lighting systems, have been added to the list of ‘ordinarily’ incorporated items in dwellings.

“Sub paragraph 13.8.1 has been amended to include central controls for light, heat and ventilation as examples of articles ‘ordinarily’ incorporated in dwellings. Intelligent lighting systems are also accepted but not the accompanying remote control handsets.”

This small change highlights that there is a significant shift in the thinking around lighting control systems and residential development. What this means is that where a new build or renovation is eligible for a reduced rate of VAT, any lighting controls installed may also be eligible for a reduced rate. This makes lighting controls more affordable in a residential context, which has to be a good thing. When designed and installed properly, lighting controls can make a well-designed lighting scheme easier-to-use, energy-efficient and contribute to improved home security.

Intelligent lighting systems are great and clients love them. However, if it is installed without any consideration to the lighting they are being asked to control, then the client might not be too pleased. Intelligent lighting systems are only intelligent when they are linked to good lighting. They should be an enabling technology; it’s not their job to take centre-stage. A well-mannered lighting control system’s job is to control beautifully designed lighting schemes intelligently and unobtrusively. When the control is prioritised over the lighting itself, you end up with pointlessly complex controls and totally baffled and angry clients.

So we have a great opportunity. Lighting controls are recognised as an everyday, “ordinarily” incorporated item in dwellings. Let’s make the most of it.

To download the UK VAT Guidance Notes for Home Technology Professionals white paper, click here.