Nowadays, it seems every gadget has a “smart” label stuck to it — from smart refrigerators and smartphones to smart cars and even smart toilets. In fact, we previously compiled a list of ‘10 Smart Home Devices to Turn Condo into a Futuristic Hub’, which includes artificial intelligent (AI) assistants, a video doorbell, smart thermostats, and smart plugs, smart locks, an automatic watering system, and even robot vacuums.
While all these devices paint a picture of a convenient, futuristic future where everything is a voice command away, the reality is that some of them are just flashy, expensive stuff you don’t really need. But if there’s one thing that actually does have the potential to make your home life easier and more comfortable, it’s smart lighting.
What Is Smart Lighting?
Smart lighting is basically lights that you can control from either an app or a smart hub. The system lets you change the brightness of the bulbs, and if they’re coloured LEDs, you can switch between colours too. You can also control the lights depending on a chosen activity, whether it’s for movie nights, dinnertime, or even for reading.
Smart light controls aren’t limited to apps and hubs, either. If you have home AI devices like Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Homekit, or Google Home, then the lights can be controlled via voice commands. Depending on your presets, you can say something like “Alexa, lights on” or “Siri, set the lights for reading” and the smart bulbs will respond to your commands.
The Benefits of Smart Lighting
Besides the convenience of never having to touch a light switch, smart lighting has plenty of other benefits. Here are some of them:
All smart bulbs come in LED form, which means they consume less power than your traditional bulb. For comparison, a typical smart spotlight bulb consumes around 9.5W, while an incandescent bulb will consume around 60W.
Longer Life Span
The average incandescent bulb has an average lifespan of 750 to 2,000 hours, according to a comparison on Tom’s Guide. On the other hand, LED smart lights can work continuously for about 35,000 to 50,000 hours, and even more when you turn them off when they’re not needed.
Plenty of smart lighting systems offer motion detection as one of their features. As such, they can be programmed to send mobile alerts when there’s unwanted activity happening in your home.
Smart lights can also notify you when there’s a guest. For instance, if you’re having a party with loud music, it’s possible that you won’t hear the doorbell, much less someone knocking. Smart lights can be programmed to blink if a guest is at the door.
Installing Smart Lighting into Your Homes
Choosing a Smart Bulb
The bulb costs vary depending on the type of smart features you’re looking for. For instance, a Sengled Smart LED bulb by Amazon ($7.99) is one of the best quality, lowest-cost smart bulbs that you can get. Wyze smart bulbs are a bit more expensive ($12), and they’ll work with nearly any AI assistant. On the other hand, if you’re looking for maximum energy efficiency, then Kasa states that their smart bulbs are 80% more efficient than most commercial brands, at a cost of $17 each.
Calculating the Upfront Costs
Smart lights may save you energy, but their upfront costs aren’t so easy on the pockets. Not only do you have to pay for the bulbs, but there are also the costs of switches, wires, and other pieces you need to consider. CNet presents a rough estimate for every part: $60 for (all) switches, $15 for every bulb, and a whopping $1,100 for the actual installation. Of course, you can save money by forgoing the switches if you already have in-house AI. But it’s really not recommended as you won’t be able to control your lights if your internet connection fails.
You can also do your own installations for bulbs (as this part requires no technical knowledge). However, you still need to call a professional to install your switches since it involves tampering with wires.
The Future of Smart Lighting
With all these tech advancements underway, it can seem like we’ve reached the peak of development, but there’s so much more potential to grow. In fact, an article on Medium states that we’re on the verge of a potential future where electricity itself is wireless. If this is true, it will reduce common issues associated with lighting your home, with HomeServe putting loose wire connections as the number 1 light switch issue homeowners often have to deal with. Motion sensors also rely on light to track movement, so Den Garden explains that they tend to face the same faulty wire problems regular lights do. The good news is that smart lighting is the first step toward a truly wireless lighting setup, which will both save time and money in the future.
So at this point, is smart lighting worth buying? The answer is yes, and not just because of lower utility bills. From telling Alexa that you’ll be heading off to bed to set the mood during a dinner date, smart lighting makes every experience much more interesting. Plus, some of them have neat features too, like motion detection. And while more advanced offerings like wireless lights may not be available at the time of writing, ongoing developments assure that they’ll come sooner than you think.