Smart Lights & Bulbs
What are Smart Lights / Bulbs?
The obvious benefits of installing the smarts in the switch or bulb are to reduce or eliminate changes to existing infrastructure. It's a fantastic proposition for homeowners but comes with a high price.
A regular home has 20 or more light fixtures. For a cost of $50, you could be looking at $1000 for some cool lighting or marginal energy savings. The value add for domestic users is therefore mainly in terms of convenience, ambience and overall coolness.
The savings on the electricity bill will likely not yield a return on investment in three to four years, depending on whether you have switched from incandescent lamps. Blogosphere confirms that the majority of early adopters are not retrofitting entire homes but only changing out some bulbs and switches.
The motivation for smart lighting in commercial/business settings used to be solely about energy savings. Commercial buildings have lighting costs that average 40% of all energy costs.
However, there is increasing attention to the potential for new lighting applications. Commercial buildings may need a few hundred fixtures per level, so $50 per fixture might be prohibitive. Smart lighting systems connect the smarts to the network.
This allows for central management and lowers the cost per bulb. The vendors are claiming savings of between 40-70% in lighting energy costs, with a payback period of just one year.
This is a great time for smart light bulbs and switches to be installed in your home. But, read this first. Nowadays smart lighting is trending in smart homes. They can be used for light bulbs, plugs, light switches, and wall panels.
There are many options available, including smart lights (LEDs) that cost less. You might even be tempted to make the smart home smarter. Go for it! A whole-home connected lighting system is a great option.
It offers many benefits, such as automated vacation mode lighting that makes it appear you are home even when you aren't, the novelty of color-changing bulbs, or the ability to turn off all the lights your children left on by simply speaking a word before you go to sleep.
Get the best smart lights & bulbs for your home and, it's important to fully understand how smart lighting works before you start shopping. Go through this list of tips before you make a purchase.
4 Things To Know Before Buying Smart Light Bulbs
They are cheaper than you think
Not too long ago, people paid $20 to $50 for regular, non-connected LED lights in their homes. It was easy to see that an average LED will add approximately a penny to your annual energy bill, compared with $7 for a similar incandescent.
With a single smart light LED, you will save $6 per year over an outdated bulb. LEDs also last for many decades so paying for one upfront was a smart long-term asset.
In 2014, increasing efficiency standards along with market-moving backings pushed the industry into motion. This led to many new alternatives in lighting. This new competitor brought down prices while consumers demanded more innovation.
The result was LED light bulbs, which kept getting more affordable and promising. Recent efforts to roll back efficiency standards won't alter this fact. The lighting industry has driven us into the LED era and there is no indication that it will go back.
This buyer's market also extends to smart lights & bulbs. You can find great options from brands like Wyze Smart Bulbs and Sengled Smart Wi-Fi Multicolor Smart Lights LED as well as great choices like Philips HUE for under $15 per bulb. A decent smart light switch shouldn't cost more than $30. You can get fancy color-changing bulbs at a fraction of the cost with reliable brands such as GE which is available for under $30.
Picking a platform is key
Before you purchase smart lights & bulbs, the first thing you should ask yourself is which platform you would like to control them. Many options have their own control apps, which allow you to group lights and set them to turn off at certain times.
But there is a high possibility you will want to do more than that. If this is the case, you should consider a larger smart home platform that can handle all the devices you may use.
The most favored way is to pair smart lights & bulbs with voice assistants. You can use any of the three most popular voice assistants, such as Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri, to control your home. It's easy to add lights to your home that your assistant can control, such as cameras, thermostats, and smart security systems.
Sleep better at night
Our brain is very sensitive to light, which plays an important role in our sleep cycles. Our brain signals us to go rest when it gets dark. Our brain detects the sun rising and becomes brighter and tells us to get up.
Smart lights & bulbs are able to simulate a slow sunrise and help you get out of bed in the morning.
Lifx bulbs are an excellent choice for such use cases, as they have the best integration with IFTTT which allows you to activate a personal fade using a voice command.
Philips Hue is also a great choice, as its bulbs can automatically connect with your Google Assistant alarms each morning. Simply turn on the feature and set an alarm with Google Assistant. Your bulbs will gradually fade up for 30 minutes.
Yes, you might need a hub
Smart lights / LED / bulbs transmit and receive signals wirelessly. Different bulbs use different technologies for this. Many of them use Wi-Fi radios built-in to allow you to control them remotely from anywhere you have an internet connection.
Bluetooth radios can be used to connect with your phone from within 50 feet. You will need a Wi-Fi hub to relay signals from distant bulbs to your router, and then to the cloud.
Zigbee is another option. It's a local wireless network that connects to your smart home devices. Many smart lighting products use Zigbee for their signals. If so, you will need a Zigbee Hub plugged into your router to translate the signals to your home network.
Although most Zigbee bulbs come with their own hubs, setting them up is not difficult. However, it can be a bit more expensive.
Things are getting easier, however. Philips Hue, the most well-known Zigbee brand, has recently added secondary Bluetooth radios to its products.
This allows you to connect directly with your phone and skip the hub for basic control. Multiple smart home devices can double as Zigbee hubs, including the Amazon Echo Plus or Echo Show (2nd Gen). These two devices can convert Zigbee smart bulb signals into something your Wi-Fi router can understand.
What's inside Smart Lighting Systems
The market for smart lighting is growing at 22% CAGR. According to which report, it is projected to reach $20-$47B by 2020. Even though it is only a small portion of the market, it is still huge.
Smart Light Bulbs have been a huge hit in Smart Homes, with models that include wireless speakers and motion detectors. Commercial sector has the greatest potential to reap the benefits, including huge energy savings and new applications.
Smart lightbulbs have seen a lot of innovation since their introduction in 2010. They can now be controlled independently via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or ZigBee, as well as complete lighting control systems that use Powerline, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and other wireless technologies.
These are suited for indoor and outdoor commercial applications.