Thinking to go and buy some smart lights soon? This article will share with you 5 tips for buying your first smart lights.
Smart lights are getting cheaper and more available than ever. Most of us choose smart lights as some of the first smart home devices to try in their homes. You can buy them online or in popular retail stores. They are not hard to apply and will make a real difference to your house.
When you go looking for smart lighting you will probably find light bulbs, light switches, plugs, wall panels, smart LEDs, etc. Which ones you need and how to combine them all? Which will work with each other and which ones don’t? Can you use them to set up different modes such as vacation mode (lights go on to pretend people are at home when you are on vacation) or party mode (lights switch colors to create more fun environment)?
1. Before all, choose a platform
Before you buy your first smart sights, you should decide which platform would you like to use. Most of the different brands offer their app to connect and control their devices. If you buy various brands you might need to download many different apps. Not the most convenient option to switch them on/off or set up schedules and routines.
In case you would like to add more types of smart devices to your house later, it would be great to have a suitable platform for that. You could consider a smart speaker such as Google Assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa. If you already have one of those, it will be easy to connect compatible lights.
To use smart lights with Zigbee or Z-Wave, which are some of the most popular low energy protocols used in smart home technology, you will need a hub or bridge. Most of the popular speakers on the market come with built-in WiFi or Bluetooth only. Therefore you should find a hub that can translate the communication between all the different protocols. If you are not sure which hubs to choose, but sure you are interested in connecting many different brands and types of devices, check out hubs such as Wink, Smartthings, or Mixtile.
2. They cost less than you think
The price decrease of LED lights has been huge over the past years. LED lights have become both better and more affordable, moreover, some of them have become smart. When we go back to 2015, smart lights were affordable for only selected people. For example, popular Philips Smart light bulb cost in 2015 was about $60 which has now dropped to around $40. Moreover, there are many different suppliers on the market offering smart bulbs from down to $15-20. Before you buy a cheaper less known brand, make sure they are compatible with your platform and hub so you can integrate them with other smart home devices in your home.
3. They can help you sleep better
Our brains are quite sensitive to light. It is natural for our brains to tell us to go to sleep when it starts to get dark and wake up when the light comes up. Smart light can help you regulate your sleep cycle better as it is possible to make the lights fade out slowly in the evening at time we should go to bed and slowly come back when it is time to wake up. This feature is especially useful when your daily routine do not match the actual sunrise of your timezone. Also, many users claim it has helped them to fall asleep faster in the evenings.
4. Use a mix of bulbs, switches and plugs
While smart light bulbs are a good start, take a look also at switches and plugs too. Smart witches can automate any lights you have in your house already. So you do not need to really replace all the lightbulbs. You could replace some regular switches with smart ones to get a control over your already existing lights. For example, when your living room has many design lights that you do not want to change yet, you can keep using them with a switch that can help to control and automate them.
Also, smart plugs are a good option to turn on and off different lights from distance or involve them in different routines. For example, the smart plug can be placed to a garage, when you enter garage a motion sensor will detect movement and send a signal to smart plug to turn on the old light you have in your garage. When you leave the room and no more movement is detected, the smart plug will switch off the light.
5. Smart bulbs and dimmer switches
There have been issues with using older dimmer switches with smart bulbs. New smart lights have inbuilt dimming mechanism which is sufficient for this function. When combing old-fashioned dimmer switch with smart lights there can be unexpected issues.
However, there is no need to worry as dimming capabilities of these new bulbs are in most cases working excellent. It is also possible to find now more smart dimmer switches that are compatible with smart lights. This is an extra investment could be worth it.
Before You Buy Your First Smart Lights, you should know that different types of dim differently. Some of them dim faster than others and the dimming range can be wider. When you combine many smart bulbs in your house and like to use dimming functions, it is worth to check which ones work similarly. For example, when you want all the lights of a big room dim simultaneously, it would be great to use the same type of bulbs for this room rather than combining bulbs of various providers.
Hope these 5 tips will help you make better choices before you buy your first smart lights, and get started with your own smart home. However, feel free to experiment and let us know in comments if you have some more great tips to share.