Buying Guide: Choose the best smart lighting options for your home
So, you’ve heard about LED lighting. What’s next?
Smart lighting is quickly gaining popularity. Smart plugs, switches and bulbs can help you manage the lighting in your home through your smartphone or any other connected device.
Still, before you go all-in on lighting gadgets, think about what you want your smart lighting to achieve in your home. What problems are you trying to solve? Whether it’s preventing lights from being left on, making your home more secure, or helping you combat the winter blues by mimicking outdoor light, there’s a lighting solution for you.
What types of smart lighting are available?
It’s important to do your research to see which smart lighting option suits your needs. Here are the basics to get you started.
Smart plugs and receptacles
Smart plugs are an easy, inexpensive way to get into home automation. They plug into your standard wall outlets and can be configured using an app, allowing you to control any device, light or appliance that is plugged into it like a lamp fixture, fan or microwave. Some smart plugs have features like monitoring energy consumption and providing reports that can help you optimize its use to save money.
If home security is important to you, look for a smart plug that has an “away” mode, which simulates someone being at home by turning lights on and off at random during a set period of time. This is great if you are a frequent traveler or are away from your home for most of the day. Smart plugs can also be programmed to run simple tasks like shutting off a lamp at sunrise and turning it on at sundown.
Alternatively, you may want to engage an electrician to replace your current wall outlets with smart receptacles to get that clean, built-in look. They can also be controlled with a smartphone and are compatible with home assistants.
Smart switches replace existing traditional switches.
You’ll still be able to turn lights on and off from a wall switch, but with added benefits like dimming and remote control through a dedicated app connected to Wi-Fi or data if you’re away from your home.
In fact, if you have LED light bulbs installed, dimmers reduce energy consumption approximately equal to the amount it reduces light output. For example, lights at 50 per cent brightness would use approximately 50 per cent of the power.
Smart switches are especially worth considering if you have switches that control many lights. For example, if you have several lamps connected to one switch, it may make more sense to change out the switch instead of changing out multiple lightbulbs. Some have built-in occupancy and vacancy sensors, which will help you save more energy since they’re only triggered by motion.
Don’t forget, switches can be tricky to change out. To make sure everything is installed correctly, you may consider an electrician who can help.
Smart bulbs have a large range of benefits, including dimming and helping you sleep better. Like smart plugs and switches, smart bulbs let you adjust lighting in your home remotely, as well as set schedules and timers for lights.
Smart bulbs use LEDs, which last at least 15 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use about 70 – 90 per cent less energy. Additionally, a key feature of some brands’ smart bulbs is the LED colour types they employ, which can be used to set the mood for any occasion, including parties and holiday gatherings.
If you’re looking to automate lighting to fit your lifestyle, you can also program the colour of lights beside your bed to put you to sleep and wake you up. To get in the game, simply replace traditional light bulbs with smart bulbs, which screw into existing sockets in your home.
If you only want a handful of smart bulbs in your home, consider getting ones that connect directly to your Wi-Fi network. If you’re managing more lights, a hub-based smart light system may be better.
Don’t forget to think about the technology that is already part of your daily routine. Ensure that tablets, phones and smart thermostats you use are compatible.
Smart lighting is a great place to start creating a smart home. It can help you save energy, increase your comfort, feel more secure and give you peace of mind when you’re away.