The technologies we use to handle common household functions are evolving, including home lighting. Smart home lighting can be a useful way to make life a little more convenient, but some homeowners may be unclear on how to get started. Here, we’ll discuss the basics of smart lighting for homeowners.
Ways to Use Smart Home Lighting
Homeowners have several options when it comes to incorporating smart home lighting into their homes. For starters, there are three ways to connect smart lighting to your existing system:
- Wired – These mechanisms connect directly to your home’s wiring system. Installation can be more complex, but wired systems allow full control of your whole home’s lighting. One example of this option is a smart light switch.
- Plugin adapters – Devices that plug into the wall. These adapters allow smart lighting control for any fixtures connected to them.
- Individual bulbs – Separate bulbs include individual control mechanisms that allow for remote interaction.
The type of system you choose depends on the way you hope to use smart lighting in your home. If you want to control just a handful of lights, individual bulbs or plug-in adapters would usually be best. On the other hand, if your goal is to achieve smart lighting throughout your home, a wired solution would typically be the most cost-effective.
Some homeowners may enjoy going overboard. If you hope to go beyond simple home lighting to a full Vegas-level display, then professional installation will typically be necessary.
Smart lights also provide a wide range of control options. Some homeowners may opt for touch pads or central control panels. Others may want something connected to sensor switches, allowing lights to turn on automatically whenever you enter a room and shut off after you leave. It’s also possible to control lights through a dedicated remote or a smartphone app, depending on your preferences.
Some brands offer starter kits that make installation simple. These can be a great way for homeowners to get started with smart home lighting, though they can be a bit pricier than individual bulbs or switches.
Setting Up a Smart Lighting System
The setup you choose for your smart home lighting will depend largely on your end goal. Some homeowners want to work up to something that will cover their entire home, while others just want some remote functionality for a couple lights.
Regardless of the options you choose, you’ll very likely need a smart hub to connect them. Some options come with their own dedicated hub, while others simply connect to existing systems you may already own, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. Some types may not require a hub at all, but may still be compatible with one.
Installing Smart Bulbs
For individual lights, smart light bulbs are one of the least expensive options available. They’re simple to install—just screw them in and add them to your device. Some bulbs use a dedicated app, while others rely on a smart hub.
One way to use a smart bulb is in a door lamp—as you get home in the evening, just turn it on with your smartphone. They can also be a good option for basement or cellar lighting so you don’t have to fumble around for a light switch each time you go down.
Using Smart Plugs
Smart plugs simply plug in to your outlets, allowing remote control of any light fixture you connect to them. This can be a much more cost efficient way to handle fixtures that use multiple bulbs, such as certain lamps.
Wired solutions like smart switches replace existing light switches. Some allow you to dim lights as well as turn them on or off, and they can also facilitate control with dedicated remotes or connected apps. Smart switches are typically the best way to handle fixtures that are wired into the walls or ceiling.
With any of these options, you’ll get dedicated instructions with the product. If you’re not comfortable setting these up yourself, hiring a professional may be best, especially when it comes to the more complex options.
Brands and Options
Homeowners have many brands to choose from when selecting smart home lighting devices. Some of the most highly recommended brands include the following:
- Phillips Hue – This brand is famous for smart bulbs, some of which include color changing capabilities.
- Eufy – Eufy Lumos smart bulbs don’t require a hub, but they are compatible with Amazon Alexa.
- Lutron – Lutron Caséta wireless switches are among the best in the industry, and they have a wide range of compatibility options. They tend to be pricey, though.
- GE – Their C starter set doesn’t require a hub, and it makes a good standalone option for installing a smart home lighting system. Their in-wall lighting controls work through Z-Wave, which needs to be purchased separately if you want integration with other smart home systems.
As you select the brand and system you want for your home, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:
- If you already have some smart home functionality, will the lighting device you choose be compatible with it? If not, would you mind having it operate as a separate system?
- What types of functions do you need? Does the device provide that functionality?
- Can you handle the cost of the device? Would you make good enough use of its features to justify the price tag?
- Is the brand reliable? While a cheap starter kit may seem like a good idea, it generally won’t provide nearly as much satisfaction as a higher-end brand.
As with any home technology upgrade, it’s important to do your research first to determine which devices are best for you.
To protect your lighting system, a home warranty may also be in order. Home warranties cover a wide range of appliances and systems, including your electrical wiring and light fixtures. As such, they can provide some coverage for your home lighting.