Why Switch to Smart Lights?

Many homeowners and renters switch to smart lights because of the many benefits beyond simple convenience.

Smart lighting can save time and money spent on energy bills to do more of what you love. It’s also undeniably gratifying to give a simple command to Alexa or Google Home and watch your home light up around you. Investing in smart lighting is perfect for people who like customizing their home to whatever their specific needs are.

Surprisingly, smart lighting is pretty natural fit, but there are still some variations you might want the help of a dedicated professional to install.

Today, we’ll help you learn what type of smart lighting product is the best fit for you and your home.

Why Switch to Smart Lights?

Access From Anywhere

Out of the leading benefits of smart lighting is being able to enjoy remote lighting (link) access from anywhere in the world at any given time. Whether you’re relaxing in a lawn chair in your backyard, at your son’s soccer game, or on the beach in Cancun, you can access your smart home from virtually anywhere. Install your device, connect the hub to the internet, sync with Alexa or Google Home and you’re away.

Dim your lights

What’s your favorite Netflix or Hulu show? Nothing beats dimming the lights, enjoying a nice glass of Cabernet and binge-watching The Office. And if you want to dim the lights even further, just command Alexa, “Dim the lights to 50%,” and you won’t need to move. If you don’t have a voice assistant, that’s no problem either. Only open up your home automation app and dim lights from there.

Some Change Colors

Gain access to millions of colors with certain brands like LIFX and Phillips Hue. Light bulbs can change color depending on what brand you have and the mood you want to create. The LIFX offers multiple cool scenes so you can change the color of your lighting and alter the ambiance in the mobile app. Some colored lighting can promote relaxation, easing your central nervous system and contributing to more stable and induced sleep. When you want to relax, set a scene during the evening to stablize your nerves indicating it’s time for bed.

Create Cool Scenes

If This, Then That (IFTTT) is a free app allowing your devices to communicate with one another. You’re a home automation enthusiast also passionate about gaming, why not create scenes where your lights flash when you get a Twitch follower? If you don’t hear the doorbell ring, set up a sensor to trigger the lights and make them blink. Another cool idea is to have lights turn on as you walk into the house, so you don’t need to press the switch every time. If you have kids who forget to turn off the lights when they go out, smart lighting can save energy  by turning off the lights when there’s no body home.

Command Your Home

Automating your home gives you more control. Tell Alexa or Google to “Turn on all of the lights” if you’d like every single light in your house illuminated. How about a particular time of the day? Do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning? If you find it tempting to keep hitting snooze then end up rushing to get ready for work, smart lights can be a great help.

At the sound of your alarm, have all of the lights turn on to indicate, you better get up for work.

Smart Light Bulb

Smart light bulbs are one of the most straightforward products to install. They make a simple way to start building your home easier. With a smart light bulb, you can control lights from your phone, tablet, Apple Watch, or digital assistant. While standard light colors are yellow and white, LIFX changed things up with multiple colors. Connect to WiFi and control your bulbs or use Bluetooth from a shorter distance. Some smart light bulbs even play music.

Now you have an overview of why you should switch to smart lights; we’ll walk you through some of the very best bulbs and lights to help increase your home’s IQ.

LIFX

Requiring no hub interface, the LIFX bulb gives a staggering 16 million different colors to choose from. Replacing your ordinary dumb light bulb, with a highly intelligent LIFX couldn’t be simpler. Just unscrew the old bulb, replace and connect. LIFX bulbs are fully dimmable, and you can control them from a variety of different devices. With a few quick touches and taps, gain complete access to set schedules and much more. The LIFX bulb works with Alexa, Google Home, and Siri along with other Nest products.

Phillips Hue

Most Phillips Hue products require a hub which is sold separately. However, the inexpensive hub shouldn’t hold you back from the endless benefits Phillips Hue. Offering  easy installation to extremely affordable kits, you can use the product from any IOS and Android device. Choose from 16-million different colors, set schedules of when you want the lights to turn on for energy efficiency uppermost. Allow your lights to gently brighten to replicate the sunrise as you begin to wake. If you’re a writer, smoothly play some classical music and choose soft colors like light blue to inspire your inner creativity.

TP-Link

Another bulb offering broadly similar features to the best smart bulbs, TP-Link. Requiring no hub, the TP-Link pairs directly with WiFi. Just screw in the light bulb, hook up to WiFi, download the app and enjoy. Save energy by up to 80% using these LED lights bulbs and enjoy full control via cell phone or tablet, Alexa or Google Assistant. The key difference is you don’t get to access 16-million different colors but do you really need them?

Key Takeaway: While these smart bulbs may seem the same at a glance, they operate with subtle differences so it’s worth spending the time to determine which would make the best fit. LIFX is among several emerging brands looking to take over the smart light bulb market. While it might seem more expensive than the Phillips Hue, the difference is negligible by the time you buy the hub.

While bulbs are a bit easier to install, you can’t control a fan with a light bulb. The smart switch can give you control over a variety of enhanced functions, so we’ll dive down further into those right now.

Smart Switches

Smart switches can be a pretty complicated part of the smart lighting ecosystem. There are 2 forms of smart switches: dimmers and on/off. While the price of these switches is similar, functionality differs. If you have a fan or some types of fluorescent lights, the on/off smart switch is ideal for your needs.

On/Off Switch

Insteon

Finished in white, ivory, or light almond, the Insteon on/off switch has a powerful 1800-watt capacity enabling you to control fluorescent lights, fans, and motors. A super-reliable unit allowing for a great deal of customization you can use the Insteon switch at your home or business. You can control the on/off switch from just about anywhere with the Insteon Hub. Insteon creates very customizable products. There aren’t any bulky plug-in modules, and the device is intended for lamps and appliances. Connect to the Insteon hub and control through the Insteon App through your smartphone, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

Leviton

The Leviton switch is easy to replace a single pole, and a multi-switch with the new 15A Univeral LED Decora. Running on WiFi, the Decora Smart Switch simplifies your home with the app available for both iOS and Android. Connect to Alexa or Google Home to access voice control.

Wemo

The Wemo light switch allows you to assume control of your lights from anywhere in the world. The light switch is an on/off module replacing a single pole switch, but it doesn’t work as a 3-way multi-location switch. You don’t need a hub for the Wemo, merely connect to WiFi, download the app, and you’re ready to roll. It’s important to note the Wemo light switch does call demand for a neutral wire. If you don’t have this neutral C wire, you’ll need to call in an electrician unless you’re entirely comfortable carrying out this kind of electrics.

Dimmer Switch

A smart dimmer switch is an alternative to a smart light bulb. The critical difference is that dimmers have a direct line of power and are always on. Smart lighting can come with dimmers to control settings in different rooms. From commanding Alexa to turn on the light, or ordering Google to cut the lights back to 50%, a dimmer switch takes it all in stride. Most dimmer switches are mostly similar but can be customized in various ways to make the time to determine the model you’re considering will do precisely what you need.

Insteon Dimmer Wall Switch

Many cool functions of the Insteon wall switch lie nestled within the technology itself. Insteon uses radio frequency and power lines to help communication between devices. These communication waves mean your home automation devices aren’t reliant on WiFi 24/7. Aside from the technology, Insteon does a great job with packaging, comprehensive installation instructions, and dependable customer support. You won’t be left hanging to figure out devices on your own.

Wemo Dimmer Switch

From the striking modern aesthetic to the reliable technology it’s grounded on, the WeMo Dimmer switch has universal appeal. With night mode enabled, you can dash for your midnight snack without the kitchen being fully illuminated. Paired with the Nest Wifi Thermostat, you can then access home and away settings. Although a solid choice, the WeMo dimmer switch is the most expensive option unless you don’t need to buy a hub in which case the price compares favorably to the competition.

iDevices Dimmer Switch

Wifi and Bluetooth enabled, the iDevices dimmer switch is multi-functional. Intelligent features like brightness memory and its sleek, integrated design, will transform any house into a smart home. Make sure you purchase the iHome Kit along with the dimmer switch for best results.

Smart Outlet

Yet another alternative to smart lights comes in the form of smart outlets. Uniquely customizable, you can control both the upper and lower portion of the smart outlet. You’ll be able to control not only your lights and appliances but also heavier duty fixtures like AC units. Smart outlets can be controlled using your smartphone, digital assistant, or via a manual switch. There’s no right or wrong answer here, simply a case of choosing what works best for you.

There are 3 broad categories of smart outlets:

  • On/Off
  • Dimmers
  • Plug-In Modules

A. On/Off

Control your home with an on/off switch. You use these switches for more than just appliances. Depending on the wattage, they can work with a variety of different devices.

General Electric

The General Electric smart outlet uses the incredibly reliable Z-Wave protocol. It integrates well with larger appliances like air conditioning units and other bulky appliances. You get the full benefit of the rock-solid General Electrics customer service and warranties along with exceptional smart products. Keep in mind you will need a neutral wire for this device.

Insteon

The Insteon Wall On/Off outlet is a tamper-proof product that prevents any potential shock. You can install this piece anywhere in your home with perfect ease. Remote control your lights from anywhere in the world with a connection. An excellent way to get started with smart lights is to invest in the Insteon Home Kit if you don’t already have Alexa or Google Home.

B. Dimmers

Just like other smart light devices, you won’t be able to control your appliances from a dimmer outlet. The difference between an outlet dimmer and a switch is that it works with more plug-in type devices like desk lamps, standing lamps, and a few other light fixtures.

Insteon Outlet Dimmer

Winner of the 2012 Electronic House Products, the Insteon OutLinc has an immaculate and understated look and offers superb control of your lights. Create schedules and timers, or control both the upper outlets for maximum flexibility.

  1. Plug-in Modules

Two core products in the plug-in module series of smart home products, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Plug-in modules are rather bulky and not the prettiest. Ask yourself if that will make much difference when you’re asking Alexa to hit the lights. These plug-in modules are a great way to dip your toes into smart home waters without too much expense or commitment.

Insteon Outdoor Module

Outdoor modules work wonders if you have poolside parties or do a lot of entertaining in the garden. Wow, your guests by barking orders at your digital butler who will adjust the lights accordingly.

Next Steps

You should now have a sound understanding of the subtle differences in smart lighting and an idea of what would work best.

Take plenty of time to do your research rather than just launching in, and you’ll soon be asking smart home how to make your life easier and save money on your electricity bills into the bargain.