Review the below FAQ to learn more about how smart lights work, understand important shopping considerations, and empower yourself to choose the best smart light bulbs for your home.
How do smart light bulbs work?
Smart light bulbs work by using a wireless connection in your home. Often, they connect to a multipurpose smart hub, such as an Amazon Echo, or a special hub for the lights alone, such as a Philips Hue Bridge. Sometimes, they can work on Bluetooth or WiFi alone using the manufacturer’s mobile app.
After you screw in your light bulbs, you’ll need to download a mobile app. The app will walk you through how to install the hub if necessary, connect your smart bulbs to your home internet (such as identifying which bulbs are in which rooms), and preprogram any schedules or scenes.
What are the benefits of smart lights?
Smart lighting systems help you fine tune the lighting in your home for additional comfort, convenience, and security. They’ll automatically light up your bedroom in the morning to help you wake up more easily, dim to make movie watching more enjoyable, or turn off when you’re not using them.
One of the obvious benefits to smart light bulbs is their convenience. You don’t have to walk over and turn the switch off and on anymore. You can turn multiple (or all) of your lights on or off, simply by speaking a verbal command or tapping a button on your phone.
Preprogram schedules according to your daily habits, and your smart lights will automatically turn on or off, dim, or change color accordingly—preventing you from even having to use your voice. Some bulbs use the GPS on your phone to determine whether the lights need to be on in a specific room or in your house as a whole, depending on your location.
There’s also a matter of security. Whenever you go on vacation, you can assign a schedule for your smart lights to randomly turn off or on, making it appear as if you are home. You can even use the mobile app to make adjustments during vacation, so it doesn’t appear pre-programmed. This is much more convincing (and a lot cheaper) than leaving all the lights on, like you’d be forced to do with a standard bulb.
Finally, many people enjoy the futuristic feel of having smart light bulbs. If you’re already outfitting your home to be more modern, by investing in smart security cams or smart speakers, smart light bulbs are just one more step toward a smarter home overall.
How can a smart lighting system help me sleep better?
As much as it helps us get things done, modern lighting is one of the biggest hindrances to our sleep. As diurnal animals, our sleep-wake cycles roughly follow the rising and setting of the sun. The decrease in sunlight in the evening is one of many environmental and biological factors that signals to our brain when it’s time for us to fall asleep.
However, with indoor lighting that shines bright well past sunset, our brains can become confused as to what time of day it is. This light, especially from our electronic devices, keeps us up later than normal.
When you use smart lights, you can have them automatically begin dimming in the evenings, signaling to your brain that it’s time to prepare for bed. Moreover, many smart lights can adjust the color temperature to remove blue from the light, replacing it with red tones. It’s a similar effect to using the red light night filter on your smartphone.
In the morning, your smart lights can do the opposite, introducing bright blues to help you wake up more naturally than a piercing jolt from your alarm clock. This is especially the case if you sleep in total darkness (as you should). Smart lights can naturally brighten your bedroom to mimic sunrise, preparing your body to wake up right in time for your alarm to go off.
Many smart light bulbs actually come with sleep and wake settings preprogrammed, so all you have to do is opt in to elect to use these as a supplement to your alarm clock.
There’s one last benefit smart lights offer your sleep. When turning them off is as quick as uttering a verbal command, you don’t have to waste time walking around your house turning them all off before bed!
How much do smart lights cost?
Smart light bulbs cost significantly more than a standard LED bulb. Standard LED bulbs can cost around $5 each, while the cheapest smart bulb is more than double that. When you get into additional features, like scene programming and multi-system compatibility, smart light bulbs can range from $20 to $60 each.
Smart light bulbs do have a significantly higher upfront cost than traditional bulbs, especially if you haven’t already purchased a compatible smart hub. However, they provide significant cost savings in the long run.
Smart lights turn off or on according to where you are in your home, reducing your overall electricity use. Smart light bulbs allow you to manage your home lighting efficiently, even when you’re not there, by using the app on your phone. Finally, since they use LED technology, smart light bulbs are already designed to use less energy to work.
Do smart bulbs need a hub?
It depends; some smart light bulbs require a hub to function, while others function independently.
The biggest thing you need to consider when purchasing a hub is whether you’re willing to “commit” to that brand. Non-branded lights typically will not work with a branded hub. Many brands let a smart home device serve as their hub, while others, most notably Philips, require you to use their particular hub.
How long do smart light bulbs last?
Smart light bulbs last as long as a non-smart version of the LED light bulb, up to 20 years. You can expect to enjoy this functionality for a long time.
How do I install smart lights?
Installing smart light bulbs is generally a pain-free process. You start by screwing in the light bulb like any other bulb you’d purchase. Then, you’ll need to download the manufacturer’s mobile app to pair the bulb with the hub, WiFi, or Bluetooth connection. From there, the app will walk you through how to identify the bulbs in different rooms in your house, group them into rooms, set up your schedules, pre-program scenes, and plug in your sleep and wake times.
Will my smart light bulb work with the rest of my smart home devices?
Most smart light manufacturers design their bulbs to be compatible with the most popular smart home systems, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings. Before purchasing, review the compatibility of any smart light bulbs you’re considering to avoid having to make a return.
Should I use WiFi or Bluetooth to control my smart lights?
Many smart light bulbs can operate using both Bluetooth and WiFi. The advantage of using a WiFi connection is that you’ll be able to make adjustments remotely whenever you want, whether or not your Bluetooth-connected device is in range.
However, if you choose to use a WiFi connection, that means you’ve now introduced one more device onto your home wireless network, which will eat up some of your bandwidth. If your internet goes out, you will not be able to adjust your light bulbs.
How can I save money on smart light bulbs?
Although they last the same amount of time, smart light bulbs cost more than traditional LED bulbs because of their enhanced functionality. The upfront cost can be even higher if you don’t already own a compatible smart hub. Fortunately, there are ways you can save money on smart lights.
You can buy smart light bulbs in the same big box retailers you purchase traditional bulbs, including The Home Depot or Best Buy. You can save money during certain times of year by watching when these stores have sales, such as during Black Friday weekend.
Or, you can save year-round by purchasing online. Many smart light bulb manufacturers offer discounted pricing for multi-packs on Amazon, and Tuck readers can save even more by using the affiliate links we’ve provided above.
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