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Smart tech lighting is a great place to start when building your smart home. Today I’m going to tell you about 4 things that you should know before installing smart switches.
If you are turning your dumb house into a smart home, the smart tech lighting is a great place to start, especially if you are a “Do It Yourself” enthusiast.
But before you go all-in, possibly creating some smart lightning mess, take a minute and try one smart bulb or even a set of lights, it will be easier and less disruptive for the first experience.
When considering smart lighting, the most regular and convenient approach to innovate your house is by installing smart switches. Even when you have trouble connecting to the network, they can actually work as expected from a regular dumb switch and if you don’t chose one of those with a futuristic design, people in your household can barely notice that they’re introduced.
When it comes to smart lighting, one of the most seamless and natural ways to upgrade your home is with smart switches. They work as intended, even when the internet goes out and you can barely see the difference.
However, before you go headfirst on smart switches, there are some things you should know.
Switches, smart bulbs, or plugs?
To begin, you need to choose the right kind of smart lighting to fit your needs and for your home. Smart switches are certainly a great option respecting to smart lightning. They can be found in every good home improvement mall.
Although smart switches are a excellent option, but they aren’t the only good option to apply for smart lightning at home. There’s also other excellent choices when it comes to lightning for upgrading your home. Smart bulbs and smart plugs are also two very effective and popular options and no one size fits all answer for which is the best.
Smart bulbs, for instance, not only let you control the lights remotely or schedule their activation, but there are many models that offer you also to change the color of the lighting on the fly just with a touch on your smartphone or using it’s remote control.
Smart plugs, on the other hand, allows you to keep your existing lamps with regular and dumb light bulbs into ones that you can turn off and on from anywhere. Most of them allow you track energy consumption, as well.
Both of these options are very easy to install yourself, even when you’re not used to. First one is trivial like changing a bulb on your lamps and the second one is just by plugging it to an outlet and then plugging your old lamp into it.
Smart switches, are not as plug-and-play as the above options but still the most natural to use. You need to install it like any other light switch on the wall, it requires some simple electrician work, that is still possible to do by yourself, but in the end you will control the lights from the wall switch like you are used to, and you will get some added benefits, like dimming the lights or control it from a remote or from a smartphone, giving you easier manual control of your lights.
Smart switches will also work with existing light fixtures with regular light bulbs. This, installation is much more hands-on and permanent.
What’s the best option for smart lightning at your home? It’s up to you to decide which solution fits for your needs. Neither these options are the only choice. You may also decide to use a nice combination with all of them.
Google, Alexa, Siri, …?
After the lights, is common to look for a “brain” to your smart-home. These are just some examples available on the market. Do you have a preference already?
I’m not going further on these assistants today, but they are also an important piece to take into account when choosing smart lightning.
When choosing which smart switch to use, you shall consider also about it’s compatibilities.
If the smart switches you choose can communicate with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings or Google Home, you are going to enter to a whole new experience with your smart home.
You will quickly discover that being able to tell your chosen assistant like Google Home or Alexa speaker to “Turn on lights on the living room” is much more convenient, easier and faster than reaching the switch or looking for one app on your phone to switch it on. You will be able to program your lights to integrate daily morning routine like switching it on to help you to wake up, or dimm the light at night so you know when it’s time to go to bed at night. And, one of the best, “Alexa, turn off all the lights!” when going out or after you enter the bed to sleep.
Are your light bulbs compatible with smart tech lighting?
Like any dimmer switch, some lights aren’t compatible with it. It is a good idea to check it when changing to smart switches, be aware that you may have to change also some bulbs you’ve installed with new ones, especially some led bulbs. Some manufacturers offer compatibility tools to check it.
If you’re planning to install smart switches for sockets which have already smart bulbs, you need to swap these smart bulbs with dumb ones. This happens because smart bulbs need to be powered even when turned off and a smart switch will cut off it’s power.
It is not a typical scenario, but it happens often during home smartification especially when you try smart bulbs in some place before diving into smart switches. If this is your case, you still can move that smart bulbs to use in another place in your home.
How much will smart tech lighting cost?
This is a big and painful point. Smart switches aren’t cheap, neither smart bulbs when comparing to redular dumb switches or bulbs.
A dumb switch may cost a few bucks in comparison to smart switches you can buy for around $50. The comparison for bulbs is similar, you can buy some dumb light for $1 or less and s smart bulb for around #30.
If you are making this change in your entire house. Smart tech lighting will be pricey. But you don’t need to swap neither all the bulbs not all the switches. If you install a smart switch or a smart plug, that light shall remain dumb. On other way, if you install a smart bulb, you won’t need a smart switch for that circuit.
Given this, you can possibly opt for some plugs and smart bulbs around the house to save money.
You can use some smart plugs instead of smart light bulbs.
To be fair, not every light on your house needs to be smart, some of them you rarely use, a dumb switch on these is still enough. And there is also some redundant switches like those you may have in both sides of a corridor to control the same set of lights, in this case if using a smart switch, you don’t need another one on the other side. With these considerations, the cost will have a considerable decrease.
On the other hand, if you are thinking of installing smart lighting throughout your home, you should also buy smart-hubs. These devices allow you to control all smart devices within the perimeter of your home even when you lose your internet connection.
Although it is not an equipment required for the installation of 2 or 3 lamps or smart switches, more than that it will bring performance and availability constraints to your control since it is dependent on the internet and IFTTT services in the cloud.
Do not confuse smart hubs with smart assistants, I will not delve into the difference between the 2. In short, assistants are speakers who interpret voice commands and send the commands to their smart devices, while smart-hubs are devices that bridge the gap between the controlling device and the controlled device.
Very often those who go through the process of making the smart home go overbudget because they forget to include this type of devices. Smart tech lighting is not an exception!
In short, when choosing how to turn your lights into smart tech lighting, you should consider:
- The type of installation (smart switches, smart bulbs or smart plugs), each one has it’s pros and cons, and neither of them fits all the needs.
- The compatibility with the assistant you’ll prefer to buy later. If your choices are not compatible, you may have to change it later or you don’t be able to use plenty of it’s benefits.
- Compatibility with in place light bulbs. You may give them another use within your home, but still being a concern when choosing these type of system.
- Cost. Last but not least, rather the opposite, Cost is a real important concern when planning to make your lights smarter, but we’ve seen several scenarios to avoid spending too much, and I hope that this article helps you to be smarter in your choices about smart lightning.
Did you like this article? Have you already tried some of these smart lights at your home? Please tell me about your experiences.