Adding a smart touch enables automation such as automatically turning on the porch light at sunset or dimming the bathroom lights late at night. The traditional method for making your lights smart is to replace the bulbs individually, using a system such as Philips Hue or IKEA Tradfri lighting. These systems are convenient because they can be controlled from a smartphone app, but they are expensive at about $50 per bulb.
There are cheaper alternatives though. Smart lights use technology such as RFID, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth to connect to smartphones and other devices. Some smart lights can be controlled directly from your phone's web browser while others require an application software program to be installed on your phone. All in all, smart lights offer more functionality than traditional incandescent or fluorescent lamps but they are not as easy to use as traditional lamps. For example, you cannot simply walk up to a lamp and turn it on or off; rather, you have to get close to it for it to recognize your command.
Smart lights are becoming increasingly popular and their cost is coming down. In fact, one study showed that you could buy a smart light for under $20 which will save you $10-$15 per year on electricity bills!
The main advantage of smart lights is that they can be controlled from a distance.
Some dimmers, such as those sold by Phillips Hue, may be operated via applications as well as a remote supplied with the product. If you have a standard light fixture with a conventional bulb, you can still use the smart dimmer to manage the light's on and off position. Just connect it up in between the lamp and the wall switch like any other dimmer. The Philips Hue app will then be able to control the brightness of the lamp.
If you have a lighting system based on LED lights, your local utility company may offer programs that allow you to control some or all of your LEDs from the grid-side conductors. Check with your local utility company before you install your system to make sure. These programs usually allow you to set daily limits on how much energy each LED unit consumes. If you go over your limit, the system will turn off to prevent further abuse of the network.
LED light bulbs are more efficient at converting electricity into light than traditional incandescent lamps, so they require less current to operate. This means that a driver circuit built into the base or connector of an LED light bulb can use a single wire connection to both power and communicate with another device. A wireless remote control car key fob uses radio frequency (RF) signals to transmit commands to open or close its electrical circuits.
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Sticking with smart bulbs will provide you with the most possibilities (and, for the most part, the lowest rates) while looking for smart lighting. Smart light switches are less difficult to install than you may think, and they can save you money if you have a large number of light bulbs attached to a single switch. If you're just starting out with smart home technology and don't want to spend a lot of money, consider getting started with smart lights instead of trying to make the jump to smart everything.
Connecting your Christmas lights to a smart socket is the simplest and easiest method to make them smart. These helpful aids just plug into your wall outlets and make whatever you attach to them instantly available on your phone via an app.
There are two types of smart sockets: those that work with wireless sensors and those that don't. Those that don't require a wire connection will detect changes in temperature or humidity and then automatically switch on your attached light source. These types of socket can be found at non-live locations such as by a heat pump or air conditioner, in case they need to be turned off during maintenance procedures.
Smart sockets that require a wire connection work differently. They'll still turn on when they sense a change in temperature or humidity, but they will also stay on if someone has access to their live circuit. This means that if someone pulls out your sensor cable or otherwise interrupts the communication between it and the socket, the light will still stay on even if there's no power reaching it from outside the house.
So whether you connect to a wireless socket or one that requires a cable, making your lights smart is easy and convenient. You can now control individual bulbs from your smartphone, simply by tapping into its vast resources of apps.