What are smart lights? Illumination for a connected home

Ditch the switch with connected lighting and control your space like never before. 

Shed some light on your home with smart lights, another addition to the ever-widening Internet of Things.

What are smart lights? 

Like other ‘smart’ devices, smart lights have built-in wi-fi connectivity. This allows them to be operated remotely, as well as be programmed to turn on and off at certain times of day, or even switch back and forth between colour schemes.

Using an app, smart lights allow you to check from your mobile phone that you have remembered to switch everything off, so long as you have connectivity, no matter where you are in the world.

You can also program some smart lights to fade in and out or even flash at specific times. For example, when it is time for your children to go to bed, or when you’ve got precisely ten minutes to make it to the bus stop in the morning. 

It could also seriously liven up a house party playlist, so long as you check your guests will be ok with flashing lights beforehand. Newer makes of smart lights will even change colours.

Your options when choosing smart lights are to go with a model that you can install yourself or to work with a qualified electrician to set up your lights as part of your automated home solution.

Smart lights available in Australia 

The USA and other parts of the world have plentiful smart lights on offer. So far, only a few have made their way to Australian shores. 

Wi-fi enabled and energy efficient, this lightbulb can be controlled by smartphone or tablet, has a dazzling 16 million colours to play with and is available in a range of sizes.

Users can program the LIFX to dim slowly at night and then gradually increase brightness in the morning to ease you into the day.

The bulbs operate the same way as a normal bulb (simply twist it into the socket) and are ultra long lasting, with the manufacturers claiming that for the $82 price tag they’ll stay lit for 40 thousand hours.

Controlled via a ‘bridge’ that plugs into your home network, your Hue lights allow you to choose ‘light recipes’, via the app, created by experts to achieve a particular mood (think Arctic Aurora, Tropical Twilight and Savannah Sunset).

Once you have the bridge up and running it is possible to add globes all over your home, wherever you have a wi-fi connection, programming them to help you to feel ‘switched on’ in the mornings or to encourage you to wind down at night.

Working indoors and out, the Hue system can operate lights individually, collectively, or room by room.

You can control these screw-in bulbs, which illuminate from dim right up to 600 lumens, from your phone, tablet or Apple watch. Turn them on and off from the couch, the office or the pool deck on your tropical holiday.

Belkin has a range of IoT options for your home, including security cameras as well as lights. This range has the benefit of being available in screw or bayonet style to match the fittings in your house.

Connect the WeMo ‘link’ device and you can remotely operate up to fifty light bulbs individually or as a group.

With options to simulate home occupancy, create a romantic ‘restaurant’ environment and to set up daily schedules for your lights, WeMo Smart LED Bulbs are compatible with most modern home wi-fi routers, iOS 8 or higher, and Android 4.1 or higher.

Operating via Bluetooth, these light bulbs can be remotely operated using an iOS or Android device.

They only provide a choice of seven colours, including ‘vivid yellow’ and ‘deep red’, but the added bonus is a built in speaker that will also play tracks from your connected device.

At only $19, these are an amusing novelty item, perfect for when you’re expecting guests for a light-hearted event.

Compared to the lights we have all been relying on for decades, most smart bulbs do represent a financial investment, with kits often starting at a price point of around $200 or more.

However, some do claim to operate for over 20 years (if they’re used for an average of 3 to 4 hours per day), making sure you should never be in the dark when it comes to your connected home.

Lights aren’t the only smart tech going – check out our piece on Smart Locks, which use your phone as a key, and can even let you open your house up for friends and family without you needing to be present.