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Smart Lighting Guide

Good lighting design can transform your home and smart lighting is no different. With lots of options from a rapidly growing market, this guide explains the basics of buying and installing smart lighting in your home. Smartstart can also help you choose the right product and even install it for you.

Benefits of Smart Lighting

Enhanced Security

Automate lights to come on and off at specific times, when triggered by motion or at sunrise/sunset even when you're not home.

Energy Efficiency

Smart lighting technology uses minimum energy by turning off when not used and can be dimmed to further reduce energy usage.

Convenience

With many ways to turn lights on and off, you don't need to manually control lights. They can even be turned on and off from anywhere in the world.

Wellbeing

A well designed lighting system can wake you up in the morning and help you fall asleep at night. Custom lighting scenes can improve mood and enhance daily activities. 

Pink Roof

Features to Consider

  • Bulb type: With more and more options available, most household bulbs have a smart light option (only a few of the very small ones don't...yet). Recessed lighting, hanging lights and ceiling fixtures can cover a wide area, where light strips and lamps provide accent lighting to allow you to build lighting layers to maximise their effect.

  • Control method: Smart lights can be controlled in many ways such as scheduling, motion activation, sunrise/sunset, app control, voice activation, by a standard switch or controller. It's worth thinking about how you want to control them before you start so that you get the best outcome. 

  • Colour options: There are literally millions of colours available, but this may not be necessary for your space. If you only need white or ambient lighting, cheaper bulbs are available that don't offer so many options.  

  • Outdoor/Indoor: Ensure you purchase the correct lighting if you will be using lights outside as they will need to be weather proof. There are many options for exterior lighting and they can be used to enhance your outside space as effectively as your inside. Paired with motion sensors, you can trigger lights to come on as you approach your home. 

  • Smart home compatibility: Choose smart lighting that integrates with your existing smart home system (e.g., Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Home). This is worth considering if you already have existing smart home technology or plan to purchase more in the future.. 

  • Control of existing lights: If you don't want to change your existing lighting (or are unable to), alternative options like smart plugs and switches are available. They can normally be integrated into other smart home platforms and be controlled as easily as a smart bulb.

  • Connectivity: Typical smart lights connect to either Wi-Fi (using the 2.4GHz band, but premium models can use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, offering better connectivity), or via a smart home hub, which will simplify set up and improve overall security. 

  • Bulb lifespan: Typically you can expect between 15,000-25,000 hours which equates to about 15-25 years of average use. The higher lifespan bulbs tend to cost more, but work out cheaper in the long run. Lifespan can also be affected by temperature, quality of your power supply and how many times it's been turned on and off.  

Purple Podiums

Smart Lighting Brands

Philips Hue

The most recognisable brand in the smart lighting market and were one of the early pioneers in this field. The quality of their lighting products are premium and the app experience is about as good as it gets. They have a massive range of products too, but are also one of the most expensive lighting brands.

Lutron

Another premium smart lighting company, with many products on offer. Their focus however is more on lighting control (switches, plugs, dimmers etc.) rather than replacement lights themselves (like most others). By utilising your existing lights, you have the freedom to have any light you like, while still being able to integrate it smoothly into your smart home. 

Nanoleaf

Big innovators in the smart lighting field, offering unique lighting panels that transform a space. They also have a large range of products that allow you to create a customised feel to your home. Prices are competitive and the quality is very good. 

TP-Link - Tapo

With a pretty wide range of products and very reasonable prices, TP-Link have created high quality alternatives that are starting to get a lot of attention. They don't have lights for everything, but what they do offer are very good. 

Govee

A relatively new player in the UK market, this company has grown very rapidly as they offer Philips Hue style products that are considerably cheaper. There is a wide product range and the quality is surprisingly good. The app experience may not be as good as Philips, but that may improve over time. Definitely one to consider. 

Aqara

Another big company that is growing very quickly, with many smart home options including lighting. The prices are very competitive and the quality is high, with lots of integration allowing users to build customised and powerful smart homes even on a budget. 

Alternatives

While the above are the big players in the smart lighting market, there are others that provide excellent products as well. For example, Eve, Eufy, Hive and Netatmo all offer some smart lights, but not with the same diversity as the larger lighting brands. They do however, offer quality lights that can still be integrated into most smart homes, meaning they're still worth considering.

When you start to get to more budget lighting brands like Lepro, Sengled and Meross, there are bargains to be had, but it's worth considering the features you get, the app experience and longevity of the product before racing out to buy them. Some are great quality, but you need to do your research first.

A quick search on Amazon will bring up lots of other lighting brands that are not as reputable and even more caution is required here. All companies start somewhere and you may find the next big thing, but check the security, support, customer service, smart home integration options as well as the app experience before looking too much into them. 

Pink Blocks

Other Considerations

Installation

Smart lighting can be as straightforward as replacing a light bulb, but with some manufacturers there is a bit more to it. You may choose to replace a light switch, set up a hub/app and add the lights to your smart home platform (Alexa, Google Home or Apple Home Kit). Generally speaking, most brands provide guidance which should allow you to do all these with relative ease. 

If you are planning something more unique or with more lights, then you may be looking at minor construction work for led strip lighting and recessed lighting. Every project is different though and will require consideration when choosing which lights to go for.

Cost

Smart lighting can range in price anywhere from a few pounds, up to many thousands, so having a clear budget will certainly help decide which options are right for you. If you already have lights that you like, but want to automate them, it might be cheaper and easier to change plugs or switches to 'smart' versions so that they can fit into the rest of your smart home. 

If you want to upgrade your existing lights with colour and dimming capabilities, you can then look at changing the light bulbs themselves with smart lights. While each bulb is more expensive than a standard bulb, you get control over the colour, dimming and on/off of each individual bulb, giving you much more control over your homes lighting. This can allow you to create scenes that are triggered at specific times of day or tailored events (sunrise/sunset, motion, temperature, light levels, etc). This will typically be more expensive than changing light switches and adding smart plugs, but will give you a more bespoke system that can be tailored to your individual needs. Also consider the rated lifespan of the bulbs too, as some go up to 25,000 hours which equates to approximately 25 years of normal use! These are typically more expensive, but pay for themselves in the long run. 

The most expensive option is normally when you want to change your existing lights completely by adding recessed lighting or led strip lights. It might be as simple as an under-counter light strip in the kitchen, to a custom designed system that's fully automated and integrated into your existing smart home. If the budget allows, your imagination will probably be your only limit. 

Security

It's worth looking carefully at the security options for smart lights, as a poorly set up or disreputable system can create security gaps that can pose a threat. It is important to make sure that you create an account with a strong password, but there are other things you can do.

Firstly, smart lights that connect directly to your Wi-Fi are more at risk, but if they connect to a hub before accessing the internet, they are considerably more secure. Definitely something worth considering when choosing which lights to purchase.

Finally, Thread is a new smart home protocol that vastly improves security by creating it's own mesh network amongst your various smart home products. By limiting the connectivity of each item to set paths which do not connect directly to the internet, you are able to prevent access to your network. Not all devices have this built in yet, but expect it to feature more and more over the coming years. 

How can Smartstart help

We're experts in all things smart home, so if you have any questions about anything above, we're happy to discuss and advise which smart lights will be right for you. 

If you need help with the installation and set up, we can help with that too. We can also integrate them into any existing smart home systems you already have. If you're looking to delve into the world of smart home, but don't know where to start, why not book a free home survey with one of our experts to discover the potential of your home.

 

We can set up a smart home that automates your everyday tasks, while remaining simple and easy to use. We can also save you up to £450 per year on your energy bills by turning your house into a smart home.

 

If you have any questions, or you would like to speak to us, get in touch today and we would be happy to chat.

 

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