Getting ‘Smart’ About Smart Lighting - The Complete Guide
When Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to the world in 1879, could he have imagined that 135 years later, we’d be able to control our lights from a wireless portable device?
Smart lighting is not a novel concept, but with the rise in home automation technology and interest in energy efficiency, the appeal of smart lighting is growing stronger. How can you say ‘no’ to a light bulb that you can control from your smartphone or desktop without having to get up and walk across the room to flick a switch on or off? What if you could also adjust the brightness and color of that same bulb with just a few taps of your fingers? There are lots of exciting possibilities for smart lighting systems, not to mention the incredible benefits!
First of all, smart bulbs consume far less energy than the common incandescent bulbs without losing their functionality. Smart LED lights convert more electricity into actual light energy instead of giving it off as heat, making them much cooler to the touch. Using smart bulbs also means you have to change your light bulbs out much less often, because their lifespan is far greater than your average household bulb. Having a smart lighting system gives you the power and flexibility to dim the brightness of your light bulbs to your liking with the touch of a button.
Convinced yet? Well, we have provided you with a guide to showcase some of the brightest players out there (pun intended) to help you decide which system best meets your needs!
Belkin WeMo [$49.99 Light Switch]
- There is no minimum wattage limit, so you can use your WeMo switch with all incandescent, halogen, CFL, fluorescent, and LED light bulbs, and you can even control ceiling fans.
- There are no batteries to replace, and the WeMo Switch remembers your settings even when your house loses power.
- Installation was designed with Do-It-Yourselfers in mind, so even if you are not an experienced electrician, you will be able to install your new WeMo switch with ease.
- The WeMo Switch works with the entire family of Belkin WeMo products as well as IFTTT, so the possibilities to customize your smart home are limitless!
- Also available: the WeMo Smart LED Bulb ($29.99) and Starter Set ($99.99), which contains 2 smart bulbs and a WeMo Link.
Philips Hue [$199.99 Starter Kit (contains 3 hue bulbs and a bridge)]
- Want to relive that breathtaking sunset from your summer vacation? You can recreate color palettes from a photograph or a video and save it to use again later using the hue mobile app.
- ‘Light Recipes’ can help you set the tone whether you are focusing on preparation for a big presentation, reading a book, or simply relaxing after a long day!
- Set alarms, timers, and alerts by using IFTTT rules—so your hue will let you know when you receive an email or when the new Game of Thrones™ episode is about to start.
- Hue produces up to 600 lumens while using a miniscule amount of power, and hue bulbs come in a variety of sizes, so you can outfit just about any light fixture in your home with hue.
- Developers can take advantage of hue’s open API to personalize your hue to you!
LIFX [$79.00 per Light Bulb (Original)]
- There is no starter kit or hub required to use LIFX. Just screw your LIFX bulb into your light fixture, download the LIFX app, connect your bulb(s) to your home network, and you are good to go!
- There’s 16 million colors to choose from in the LIFX mobile app, so you can transform your space to set the perfect mood. Plus, LIFX bulbs produce over 1,000 lumens that will brighten up any room in your house.
- LIFX gives you the control to set your lights to slowly increase in brightness to wake you up in the morning or slowly decrease at night to help you ease into sleep.
- With LIFX's open API, developers have the freedom to create awesome new apps and features to make your LIFX system your own!
INSTEON [Starting at $29.99 per Light Bulb, $129.99 Hub]
- INSTEON bulbs are fully dimmable and can be controlled with your smartphone (together with the Insteon Hub), as well as any INSTEON Wall Switch, Keypad, or wireless Mini Remote.
- Having the right color is important, so each INSTEON bulb is color calibrated to 2,700K to give you that nice warm white.
- Bulbs are designed to last up to 52,000 hours… That’s over 30 years without changing a lightbulb!
- INSTEON’s network features dual-band technology, allowing your devices to communicate by combining wireless radio frequency (RF) with the home’s existing electrical wiring. This means you have a more reliable connection, which equals less frustration for you!
Plum [$89.00 to pre-order the Plum WiFi Lightpad Dimmer]
- Plum’s wifi-enabled Lightpad features a simple multi-touch interface, similar to that of your touch-screen smart phone. Just a swipe on the screen, and you are in control!
- Each Lightpad contains an energy meter, so you can monitor your usage and adjust your habits to save energy and money!
- You can set the lightpad to glow (in your favorite color!) as you approach, making it easier to find at night.
- While you are away, you can set lighting schedules that mimic the appearance of someone being at home using an away mode that turns on and off specific lights in your home.
Emberlight [$49.00 to pre-order an Emberlight socket]
- Not crazy about paying the high prices for smart bulbs? With Emberlight, you can make any dimmable light bulb into a smart bulb!
- Talk about your easy installation—-Just screw in your favorite dimmable light bulb and configure it to your WiFi! No special switches or hub needed.
- The Emberlight app will alert you if you leave the lights on at home and let you turn them off while you’re out, so you can keep your energy costs down.
- Got your hands full? Emberlight uses its BLE proximity feature to turn lights on and off for you by detecting the Bluetooth in your smartphone.
- Each of these products offer unique and useful features that can help you make your home into a ‘smart home,’ and with the WigWag Relay, you don’t have to choose just one—you can have them all! The relay is designed to communicate with all of the devices you’ve just seen and more, allowing you to control one device at a time or all of them at once—the choice is up to you.
We offer Lighting Starter Kits that each include a WigWag Relay to help you get started adding sense and control to your smart home. Our kits start at the low price of just $199 for a set of 4 Filament bulbs and a Relay—a perfect balance of value and functionality.
So whether you are new to home automation or you are just looking to add to your smart home, we hope that this guide helps you find what works best for you and your home!