Buyer’s Guide for Smart Home Lighting

2015 Jul 29
Posted in: Electrical

Shopping around for smart home lights? 

Also called “remote lighting” and “connected lighting” these lights are one of the many ways our lives are turning into the Jetsons. Everything is simplified, automated, and at our fingertips.  (Now we just need robot maids!)

Of course, shopping for this new technology is a pain because there are so many options. 

Let us simplify things for you. There are 3 options for smart home lighting: 

  • Smart bulbs
  • Smart plugs
  • Smart switches

We’ll explain what these are and their pros and cons. We won’t get into all their features, however, because those change from brand to brand. Instead, we’ll give you examples for a few products in each smart home lighting category.

Jargon alert: You’ll see us use the term “automation hub” or “hub” in this article. This refers to the device that acts as a bridge between your smartphone and all your home automation devices, including smart lights.   

Smart bulbs

What they are: These are LED bulbs you can screw into your current sockets. They usually come with their own app or can be used with your current home automation system if they’re compatible.

Examples:

Pros:

  • Easy to install. Just screw it in!
  • Some smart bulbs can work with your WiFi and therefore don’t need a hub to be controlled remotely.
  • Some bulbs offer thousands of color options, including complete control over the tone of white light.

Cons:

  • Some bulb apps are not user-friendly.
  • Can get expensive when buying lots of smart bulbs.
  • Flipping switches can reset lighting options.


Here’s a great article comparing the various smart bulb brands

Smart plugs

What they are: A device that turns any wall socket into a “smart socket.” Insert the smart plug into the socket and then plug your lamp (or another device, like a stereo) into the smart plug. Now you can remotely control and automate your lamp to turn on and off.

Examples:

Pros:

  • Simple to install. Just plug it into the wall.
  • Offers versatility with other appliances since you can use it for more than just lamps. 
  • Does not require expensive LED bulbs.

Cons:

  • For lighting purposes, it’s only useful for lamps.
  • Adds more “clutter” to your wall.
  • Usually needs to be paired with an automation hub.

Smart switches

What they are: A light switch installed into your wall in place of your old light switch.

Examples:

Pros:
Unlike smart plugs, smart switches can control hardwired ceiling lights, fan fixtures, and track lighting as well as other types of lighting.
Aesthetically pleasing since they look cool and are installed within your wall, unlike a smart plug which juts outs from the wall
Cheaper than smart bulbs. 

Cons:
Must be hardwired into your wall like standard light switches. So you need a professional electrician to install it. 
Switches only work for the zones they’re wired for. 

Do you live in Arizona and want smart switches installed? 

Contact George Brazil Plumbing and Electrical for smart switch installation. We serve the Phoenix metro area.