Here’s the moment you realize that smart lighting is the smart home device you really need. You’re snug under the covers in bed, falling asleep, when you remember the downstairs lights are still on. You struggle to get up and wince when your feet hit the cold floor. You make your way downstairs and flip the forgotten light switches off. Then you trudge back and slide between now-chilly sheets.
It’s a good bet your household has come to rely on smart speakers for weather updates and music. You have possibly installed a security camera doorbell to check out who’s on the front porch. But maybe you’re not sure about the benefits of smart devices to control the AC thermostat or lock the doors or start the morning coffee. Among all the gizmos that beckon us into the future that is now, it’s smart lighting you’ll be using countless times a day.
Smart lighting is lighting you can control from an app that’s usually on your Apple or Android phone or tablet. The app enables you to change the brightness of smart bulbs and even the color. The dimmer switch option lets you dim the lights to watch movies or flood the room with light to read.
The apps on your phone for some smart lighting systems can set schedules to automatically turn your porch light on at dusk and off at dawn. Some systems also let you control the lights when you’re away from home so that you can once again turn off your lights from your office.
The ability to activate smart lights hands free really kicks the fun up a notch. You can control any light in the house with a smart speaker or even the voice assistant on some phones without moving from the couch. Stumbling over a sofa in the dark when you come in with your arms loaded with groceries? Never again. Motion detectors can be added so that you don’t even have to tell your smart speaker to light your way.
If you doubt you can handle the complexity of setting up a smart lighting system, don’t worry. It’s as easy as screwing in a light bulb. First, rest assured you can use your current light fixtures and lamps if you choose a lighting system that puts all the important electronics in the bulbs themselves.
Philips Hue and LIFX are two brands that use smart bulbs. You don’t have to make modifications to your home to install these lighting systems (renters will rejoice!) and you’ll do most of the setup using an app on your smartphone.
The toughest Philips Hue setup requirement asks you to plug a smart hub box into a wall. You press a button when the smartphone app gives you the go ahead, and that’s all there is to it. LIFX lights are slightly more expensive but they require no hub. The LIFX platform just connects directly to your Wi-Fi, so this system is only as reliable as your Wi-Fi.
Both Philips Hue and LIFX work with Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. So forget the clap on-clap off, and go the voice activated way!