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If you’re looking for an easy way to get into smart home technology, smart lighting might be the best entry point. While it is possible to create complex and extravagant themes and behaviors with smart lighting, there are also options that are very simple.
There is no shortage of great features that smart lighting has to offer, but knowing where to start can be tough. You’ll have to decide whether you want to use bulbs, switches, outlets, or a mixture of the three. There are also multiple methods through which you can control your smart bulbs.
We’ll get into all that as we go through this guide. For now, let’s talk about what smart lighting is.
What is Smart Lighting?
Smart lighting is a great way to make it appear as though you’re home, even if you’re not. This is just one of the wide range of reasons you should make use of smart lighting in your home. You can also set themes, or have lights come on when you visit the bathroom in the middle of the night.
If you’re interested in either of these scenarios or any other ways smart lighting can make your home life easier, then you’re in the right place. Smart lighting helps make your home look realistic without sacrificing quality or longevity. With smart lighting, you can set your lights on a timer, which helps hide the fact that things within your home are automated.
Smart lighting includes smart bulbs, smart outlets, and smart switches. It also includes smart lighting kits, which come with everything you need to implement smart lighting throughout your home. There are plenty of options when it comes to smart lighting, so whether you’re a novice or a smart home pro, you should have no problem finding something that fits your needs.
For example, you can set your smart lights to slowly come on and dim down at sunrise and sunset. This way you can slowly wake up or wind down each day. You can also automate your lights to mimic your behavior. So if you’re going on vacation for a while, you don’t have to worry about would-be vandals knowing you’re not at home.
What Do You Want to Control?
Maybe your goal is to control all of your smart home lights. While that might be a great ultimate goal, it might be easier to start smaller and work your way toward complete control. There are three types of controls for your smart home lights, which well discuss more a little later in the guide.
For now, just know that all three control different lighting types. We’ll address all three areas individually, but keep in mind that you can mix and match these as needed. You don’t have to stick with one or the other. If it makes sense to have one type of lighting in one room and a different type on another, go for it.
Do You Need a Smart Hub?
You can learn more about our Smart Hubs here, which will get you started with deciding whether or not it makes sense for you to have one in your smart home. However, if your intention isn’t to automate your entire home, then it might make sense to skip the hub for now.
On the other hand, if you want to integrate other devices besides just your lighting into your smart home, then you might look into purchasing a hub. A hub can help control smart devices like your thermostat, door locks, security cameras, and much more.
There are plenty of hubs available on the market right now, but if you need a good idea of where to start, please take a look at our guide for the best hubs. Just remember to get one that’s compatible with your devices and your lighting. It can be a pain to purchase all your components only to learn that they don’t work with one another.
What to Consider
When thinking about outfitting our home with smart lighting, there are a few things to consider. First, is your smart lighting going to be indoors or outdoors? Most people start with indoor lighting and then begin tinkering with outdoor devices after they get the hang of it. However, if you’re interested in outdoor lighting, BeOn offers a solid option.
Next, where do you want to start? Are you going to just replace a few bulbs in your living room? Do you want to replace a fixture? How about a switch or an outlet. Do you want to control the lighting in the kitchen or have it come on automatically when you get up at night to get some water?
How much money do you want to spend? Smart lighting is getting cheaper, but it’s not as cheap as running to Home Depot and buying a six pack of LEDs. Be sure to determine your budget before you set out, otherwise you might wind up spending way more than you anticipated.
Lastly, what type of control do you want? Some smart lighting options come with a remote. Some include a mobile application you can use with your smartphone or tablet. Still others will work with a voice assistant like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or Apple’s HomeKit.
Now that we’ve covered our bases, let’s get into the types of smart lighting you can expect to run into.
Smart bulbs screw into an existing lamp or fixture and connect right to your smart hub. Remember that smart bulbs aren’t cheap, so you may want to be careful about how many you initially purchase. For instance, you might want to just start by replacing the bulb in your living room or the lamp next to your bed. Once you get the hang of that, you can slowly add to your smart lighting system.
For instance, if you use the Philips Hue light bulbs, you can control them from your smartphone. So, if you’re coming home late at night and need to turn on the light, you can do so before you pull into your garage.
Additionally, many smart bulbs offer geofencing, which makes this experience even better. Instead of logging into an app, the bulb automatically comes on when you cross a pre-set threshold.
There are many options from which you can choose when making your selection. LIFX is another solid smart light bulb you can use to get started. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale and finished, take a look at the Haiku smart lights. These are more along the lines of fixtures but can provide a visual upgrade to any home.
Additionally, you can consider the Loftek Sansi and BulbIT LED lights, both of which support wifi. Or if you want something that works with Bluetooth, take a look at the bulbs Ilumi has to offer. No matter what you’re looking for, it’s almost assuredly an option in the smart lighting world.
Smart Light Switches
Smart light switches are fun controls to use and install, especially if you’re comfortable with doing a little bit of electrical work. These switches are especially cost-effective if you spend a lot of money on LED bulbs. If you don’t want to go about buying new smart bulbs, find a smart light switch, like the WeMo light switch, to control your lights.
Essentially, you can use these switches to turn off existing lights controlled by the switch you’re replacing. These are great options since all you’re doing is replacing the light switch. Sure, it requires a little work, but instead of messing with a bunch of different bulbs, all you have to do is change out the switch itself.
For instance, if you have a lot of bulbs in a certain room, it might make more sense to just swap out the switch itself. You won’t have the granular control over every single bulb like you would have with a smart bulb, but you’ll be able to wirelessly control turning on and off the lights in the room.
Or, if you prefer the option to have dimmable lights, you can go with the Lutron Caseta. Many people like these because it provides control over the brightness of the light. So if your dimmer switch breaks in your kitchen, set the mood with a new smart switch.
Of course, there are more smart switches available on the market. The Ecobee Switch+ and the TP-Link switch are just a few examples. So if you’re looking to integrate smart lighting into a room with a lot of bulbs and don’t want to replace them, just replace your dumb switch with a smart one.
Smart Plugs for Lights
Smart plugs can be used for any electrical item you want to be able to control, however, they’re great for controlling lamps, night lights, or holiday lights as well. Most smart plugs go right on top of your existing outlet, although there are outlets you can purchase that replace the existing outlet.
This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a low-cost alternative to buying a bunch of smart light bulbs. It doesn’t hurt that they work with more than just your lighting needs. The nice thing about smart plugs is that they don’t require a hub, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility as long as you have wifi.
Some smart plugs with work with voice control assistant like Google Home or Amazon Echo. If you’re curious about all the different types of smart plugs available, check out our guide to the best smart plugs.
Smart Light Kits and Systems
If you’re new to smart home automation and looking for a good point of entry, using a smart light kit or system is a solid investment. Smart lighting offers many benefits to your home – like automating the lights when you’re on vacation – so it might make sense to consider a smart lighting system.
Smart lighting kits and systems aren’t as expensive as they used to be, and you can find a good one for an affordable price. Take a look at some of the best smart lighting kits currently available. And if you’re looking for something more robust, take a look at the best smart lighting systems.
Whether you’re new to smart home automation or an experienced user, any of these kits and systems are sure to work well with your needs. And even if they don’t, at least they’ll give you a jumping off point so you can get started with smart lighting for your home.
What Makes Sense for Your Home?
There are several options when it comes to getting started using smart lighting in your home. You can choose to have more granular control by buying individual bulbs or you can use smart switches to turn on and off all the lights in an entire room. There are also smart plugs if you don’t want to mess with bulbs or installing switches, and of course, smart lighting systems for your home.
Be sure to take your time before making a purchase. Determine what makes the most sense for your home. And don’t forget that you can mix and match these options. What works in one room may not work in another. Whether it’s mood lighting with a smart dimmer in the kitchen or ambient lighting in the bedroom as the sun comes up, there are a wide array of options available.
Below you will find a full directory of our expert guides and reviews for smart lighting:
- Best Smart LED Bulbs
- Best Philips Hue Alternatives
- Best Apps for Philips Hue
- Best Ways to Use Philips Hue
- Best Smart Home Smart Plugs
- Best Tesla Powerwall Alternatives
- WeMo Light Switch Review
- Hue Bloom Review
- Philips Hue Go Review
- Lutron Smart Bridge Pro Review
- Ilumi A19 Smart LED Review
- BeOn Smart Security Lighting Review
- Loftek Sansi Smart LED Review
- Haiku Smart Light Review
- WiFi LED Light Bulbs by BulbIT
- Philips Hue Ambiance Wellness Table Lamp
- Philips Hue White Ambiance Being Ceiling Fixture Review
- Nanoleaf Review
- Philips Hue vs LIFX Smart LEDs
- iLumi A19 vs Philips Hue Smart LED
- Leviton vs. Lutron Smart Home System