Everything seems to be “smart” nowadays – phones, cars and even lighting systems. Smart lighting usually refers to systems that can be controlled using your smartphone while you’re away from home. The system can be comprised of a simple smart bulb or a hub-based system that’s controlled with a smart dimmer switch. The benefits of smart lighting are numerous, but the major ones are convenience and the ability to save energy by being able to control your lights from anywhere. Further, the lights can turn on by themselves for security reasons, deterring potential imposters. And lastly, smart lighting systems add can add sophistication and style to any home. That being said, smart lighting systems can vary in design based on what components you decide to include.
Components of Smart Lighting Systems
Most smart lighting systems come with a central smart hub that can be plugged into a port on your wireless broadband router. This hub acts as a gateway that allows communication between the bulbs or smart dimmer switch in your home and your smart device. Many smart devices even use a mesh network for communication, whereas every smart device in the home connects wirelessly to the nearest neighbour passing on commands. Some smart systems don’t even require a hub, and they make use of your Wi-Fi network to send commands to every device in the home. However, the downside to these systems is that you are limited to the wireless network’s range.
As briefly aforementioned, the most common parts of smart lighting systems are smart switches and bulbs. Smart bulbs are quite simple, require no wiring or installation, and they’re pretty affordable. Many of them include built-in colour changing and dimming. The downside to smart bulbs is that they usually can’t be controlled remotely if the circuit that’s powering them are turned off at the light switch. That being said, smart bulbs are best suited for lighting solutions like table lamps that are powered from sources without manual wall switches.
What you can do is replace these manual wall switches with a smart dimmer switch or a smart switch. This allows you to monitor the status of the lighting even when it’s turned off at the switch, and you can control it both remotely and manually. Smart dimmers offer a convenient solution that’s easy to install as it doesn’t require extra wiring – you just have to swap it for your existing switch.
Smart lighting systems can come with a few more “smart” features that can be set up using a smart device application. For instance, the dimmers can be grouped together and create trigger devices, meaning that the lighting scenes that integrate multiple dimmers can all be triggered by pressing a button. Additionally, you can link the smart switches to web-based services like IFTTT that let you create a set of rules that allow you to control 3rd party devices, such as smoke detector, automated blinds, smart speakers like Alexa, Siri or Google Home.
Cost of Smart Lighting Systems
In the past decade or so, most smart devices and systems have dropped significantly in price, and smart lighting systems are no different. Smart lighting systems were considered a luxury reserved for those making big bucks, but nowadays, you can put together a system that costs just a few hundred dollars for your entire home. Obviously, the more components and features the system includes, the more expensive it will be. Luckily, you can start slow and keep adding fixtures and features to avoid paying significant upfront costs. Once you set up the central hub, you can add as many smart devices as you want and place them in key areas like your bedroom or living room.
Benefits of Smart Lighting Systems
The ability to create and change the lighting scene in your home with the push of a button is not just convenient and functional, but it’s very cool as well. You’ll impress family and friends with it. Security is another big benefit to having a smart lighting system. It allows you to turn your indoor and outdoor lights on and offer when you aren’t home to ensure your home doesn’t get any unwanted attention. You can even set the smart lighting system so that it turns the lights on and off at random times to make it look like your home when you aren’t. Furthermore, smart lighting systems can be linked up with other smart devices, allowing you to kill standbys, turn on your Wi-Fi or TV. People with mobility issues can greatly benefit from smart lighting systems, as they can control all the lights in their home from the comfort of their couch or wheelchair.
Saving energy and money is another major benefit that comes with installing smart lighting systems. Heating is one of the major household expenses, and smart lighting systems allow you to turn off your heating when you aren’t at home, or just turn it off in specific rooms that you aren’t using.