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Guide to Smart Lighting

Smart Lighting: A Complete Guide

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
Apr 6, 2021

In the course of just a few short decades, household lighting options have exploded onto the scene. Gone are those simple, energy-hogging incandescent bulbs replaced by a seemingly endless array of energy-efficient smart lighting gadgets. LED lighting not only drastically reduced the energy consumption of households across the country but also opened up a whole new array of unique, customized lighting options for homeowners.

According to one recent market analysis, the smart lighting market had an estimated value of USD 16.2 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 74.30 billion by 2026. That amounts to an almost 30 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years. The increasing popularity and acceptance of smart home technology are certainly helping to spur on that impressive growth. Smart home technology continues to find innovative ways to integrate with our home lighting systems. With this, new possibilities for unique, customized, functional, and energy-efficient home lighting schemes will continue to hit the market.

This short Rise article will offer an in-depth product guide on the dozens of different smart lighting options available to the homeowner today.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is Smart Lighting? 
  2. What Types of Smart Lighting Are Available? 
  3. What Are Smart Light Bulbs?
  4. What Are Hub-Controlled Smart Lights?
  5. What Are Smart Switches and Dimmers?
  6. How Much Energy Can You Save with Smart Lighting?
  7. Can Smart Lighting Improve Your Health?
  8. How Long Does Smart Lighting Last?
  9. How To Install Smart Lighting 
  10. What Are The Best Brands of Smart Lighting? 
  11. Are Smart Lighting Starter Kits Available?
  12. What Else Might You Need?
  13. What Are The Benefits and Drawbacks of Smart Lighting?
LIFX Smart Bulb
LIFX Smart Bulb. Photo Credit: LIFX

What Is Smart Lighting? 

The word "SMART" in technology refers to "self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology." Smart technology does allow the lighting fixtures in your home to increase their scope and functionality. At the most basic level, smart lighting systems can be controlled remotely, most often via an app that you operate on your smartphone or computer. For this to work, smart lighting generally relies on different types of wireless transmissions to send and receive their signals. Smart lighting can connect to your smart home hub via built-in Wi-Fi radios to connect directly with your router or Bluetooth connectivity.

Other smart lighting options incorporate motion and lighting sensors that will automatically turn on and off, given the amount of detected light or the presence of people and movement in a given space. These simple features can reduce wasted energy that comes with accidentally leaving lights on when the home is unoccupied.

Some of the most advanced smart lighting systems also incorporate certain types of machine learning techniques. The lights automatically monitor and learn the everyday lighting patterns of people who live in the home. This "learning" allows the lights to automatically turn on and off at certain times of the day, given the occupants' everyday habits, thus giving the impression that people are at home when the house is left empty for extended periods.

What Types of Smart Lighting Are Available? 

There are dozens of smart lighting options for homeowners to choose from, including smart switches and dimmers, smart light bulbs, and lamps to whole home smart lighting systems.

Below, we will briefly review a few of the most popular types of smart lighting options.

Yeelight Amazon
Yeelight Smart Bulb. Photo Credit: Amazon

What Are Smart Light Bulbs?

An individual smart light bulb can be connected to an existing socket and subsequently paired with your home's Wi-Fi system at the most basic level. This feature allows homeowners to control these individual bulbs from a dedicated smartphone app. You can choose how many individual smart light bulbs to install and which room they could be most helpful. Different smart light bulb products offer several additional features, including adjustable brightness, programmable scheduling, and mood-based lighting schemes.

Smart Home Hub

What Are Hub-Controlled Smart Lights?

Hub-controller smart lights are generally larger in scope and can act as a whole-house smart lighting system. You need to carefully source this type of smart lighting system to ensure it is compatible with the smart home hub that you use. For homes with several different smart gadgets, incorporating hub-controlled smart lights can allow for several IFTTT (if this, then that) applications. For example, you can program your smart lighting to change hues given interior temperatures or even outside weather events (purple rain, for all those Prince lovers, for example).

Yeelight Smart Dimmer
Smart Dimmer. Photo Credit: Yeelight

What Are Smart Switches and Dimmers?

Smart switches and dimmers are other smart lighting technology types that give homeowners more control over their lighting fixtures. These smart switches and dimmers can generally exist with your existing light bulbs and tend to be less expensive.

Smarth Lighting App

How Much Energy Can You Save with Smart Lighting?

One of the most critical advantages of smart lighting products is that the increased controllability reduces energy consumption. Smart bulbs connected to an app, for example, can alert you if a light has been left on in the home when no movement is detected, allowing you to turn off the light. Almost all smart lighting products are made to work with LED lighting fixtures, 75% more efficient, and last 25 times as long as traditional incandescent bulbs. The exact amount you could save by switching to smart lighting depends on the type of lighting fixtures you currently have in your home and the homeowner's behavior and habits. If people in your household regularly forget to turn off lights, smart lighting will most likely lead to immediate savings.

Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750 DAB
Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750 DAB. Photo Credit: Lumie

Can Smart Lighting Improve Your Health?

Some smart lighting products can do more than reduce your energy bills and allow you to come home to a lighted-up home. There is a lot of recent research looking at how blue lighting negatively affects our melatonin levels and sleep patterns. The cold, white light of many LED fixtures has been shown to disrupt circadian rhythms. Over time this can lead to health problems associated with a lack of regular sleep habits.

Several companies are beginning to develop smart lighting products that change hues during the evening and night to help lull us to sleep with warm colors. Dedicated night modes on smart bulbs and lamps offer a unique ambiance. They employ warm, red hues that do not disrupt our circadian rhythm but rather help us get ready for a deep night of sleep.

How Long Does Smart Lighting Last?

As we mentioned above, smart lighting products are almost universally designed to work with LED lighting technology. This fact means that the average smart light bulb will last for anywhere between 15 to 25 years or 15,000 to 25,000 hours. In some cases, smart LED lights might have nominally shorter lifespans than non-smart LED bulbs. However, they continue to be much more durable than older incandescent bulbs.

How To Install Smart Lighting 

Installing smart lighting can be as simple as taking the smart bulb out of the box and screwing it into your existing socket. Most individual smart light bulbs are compatible with any existing light fixtures and switches, making installation a breeze. To get the added level of control, you will need to download the bulb's dedicated app. Almost every product will give detailed instructions on the box for how to download and operate the app.

For whole-house systems or hub-controlled smart lighting systems, installation can be slightly more complicated. You will first need to ensure that you choose the smart lighting system compatible with the smart home hub you use. If your hub allows IFTTT applications, you can experiment with different custom modes for your smart lighting fixtures.

What Are The Best Brands of Smart Lighting? 

There are dozens of different companies and brands producing a wide diversity of smart lighting products. Below, we offer a few suggestions for some of the top brands and products on the market.

Wyze Smart Bulbs
Smart Bulbs. Photo Credit: Wyze

What Are the Best Smart Lights for Value and Ease of Use?

Perhaps the lowest cost smart lighting solution is the smart light bulb. If dozens of color settings and IFTTT applications are a bit too much for you, the Wyze Bulb offers a cheap and easy-to-use smart light bulb option. This no-frills bulb is controllable from an app, dimmable, voice-activated, and available for under $10.

philips hue
Photo credit: Philips

What Is the Best Whole-House Smart Lighting System?

Phillips Hue is a leader in several different types of smart lighting products. Their smart sensors and switches can be coupled with smart bulbs or other types of smart lamps and fixtures for a smart lighting solution in every room in your home. Without a doubt, the Phillips Hue smart light bulb is one of the most well-known products on the market in this category. Phillips Hue bulbs work with many different smart home devices such as Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home. The Phillips Hue white starter kits start at around $70 and allow you to turn on and off your lights from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a Wi-Fi signal. If you wanted to add some color and ambiance to your home, you could purchase the multi-color starter kit described below.

However, a few other companies are giving Phillips a run for their money with new, more cost-effective offerings. Other smart bulbs on the market include the LIFX Color, Yeelight LED Bulb 1S, Globe A19, and Wyze Bulb lines of smart bulbs. These bulbs connect over your home Wi-Fi network (without a separate hub being necessary) and give you many different light colors. With the downloadable apps, you can even program these lights to automatically turn on and off when you are not at home to confuse potential burglars. These are all compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and Yeelight is also compatible with the Apple HomeKit.

Photo Credit: Sleepace

What Are the Best Smart Lights for Unique Lighting Schemes and Setups?

Lumie Luxe offers a wide variety of smart lighting products that promise to "revolutionize your daily routine with light therapy." Their colored lighting is designed to help improve your mood, protect your sleep, and wake you up. Sleepace Nox Light offers a smart night light that can monitor, track and improve your sleep quality.

Wemo Smart Dimmer
Wemo Smart Dimmer. Photo Credit: Belkin

Which Smart Light Switches Are The Best?

Perhaps you've already invested in LED light bulbs (but not smart LED light bulbs) and don't want to replace them before the end of their useful life. Then, a smart light switch might be a better (and potentially less wasteful) solution. Or consider the scenario where you have multi-bulb fixtures or lighting combinations with many light bulbs all tied to one switch. In that case, a smart light switch may be a more intelligent and less costly alternative that will give you similar results. Smart light switches make all the connected light bulbs smart. Smart light switches allow you to have the same control as smart light bulbs without adding color. Belkin WemoLeviton, and Koogeek are widely available and have switches in the $40-$70 range.

Another great way to exercise greater control over your electricity use is through smart wall plugs and outlets. These devices allow you to turn on and off any lamp or home appliance plugged into a wall socket from anywhere in the world.

Sengled Kit
Sengled Kit. Photo Credit: Best Buy

Are Smart Lighting Starter Kits Available?

Several complete smart lighting starter kits are available for folks who do not want the hassle of picking out individual light bulbs, wall plugs, and other accessories for a home lighting system.

The Philips - Hue White and Color Ambiance LED Starter Kit uses the smart bulbs reviewed above and includes three bulbs with color technology, a Hue bridge that manages up to 50 other lights, and a dimmer switch and sells for around $190. A similar kit by Sengled is available for just $89. It also includes three color bulbs, a hub, switch, a power adapter, and an ethernet cord.

Apple HomePod
Apple HomePod. Photo Credit: Apple

What Else Might You Need?

To make the most out of the smart lighting system in your home, you can invest in a voice control system such as Amazon Alexa, a Google Home device or, an Apple HomePod. The new fourth-generation Amazon Echo is compatible with many smart lighting technologies and will retail for $129. The Apple HomePod retails for $299, has a powerful speaker, and will connect seamlessly to all your Apple devices. The Google Home line is similar in that it works with all sorts of smart lighting products. You can get started with a Google Home Mini for $49. Or, you can jump to the Google Home Max for $229. This device has a screen that can be used for many purposes, including video calls, YouTube, and Netflix.

Range for GE Embrighten Motion Sensor
Range for GE Embrighten Motion Sensor. Photo Credit: Home Depot

Motion Sensors are another accessory that you might want to invest in to complete your smart lighting system. Instead of having to turn on lights with a switch, these sensors will turn on the lights when you're in the room or when an unexpected guest makes their way into your home. The Phillips Hue Motion Sensor starts at just $40. Some smart switches also come with motion sensors now - like the GE Engrighten Z-Wave Plus, which retails for $50 and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

Globe Electric Smart Bulbs
Smart Bulbs. Photo Credit: Globe Electric

What Are The Benefits and Drawbacks of Smart Lighting?

Smart lighting products can help homeowners cut back on their energy use and ensure that lights are not left on during long periods away from home. Sensors and remote-controlled technology also allow homeowners to control their lighting even when away from home. These features can add a layer of security to homes and ensure that you never have to fumble your way around a dark house searching for the nearest light switch. Smart lighting can also help add a customized color scheme to your home to improve your home's ambiance and mood. These features can also avoid disrupting your circadian rhythms.

On the downside, smart lighting products, especially hub-controlled systems, might require a larger investment for homeowners who do not already use other hub-connected smart home gadgets. Also, in some cases, smart light bulbs might use a bit more electricity and have slightly shorter lifespans than regular LED lighting, though the difference is minimal.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-11-19T04:01:56+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.

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