Smart Lighting: Our Smart Home Setup
November 27, 2019
“Hey Google, turn on the lights!”
In this post, we talk about product recommendations for smart plugs and smart switches, why we picked smart switches over smart light bulbs, as well as pros & cons of both.
In our home, we use the Google Home (now Nest) system. Everyone knows about turning lights on and off with your voice, but there are actually a lot more reasons to make your lights smart!
How We Use Smart Lighting in Our Home
Turning lights on/off with our phones through the app or using voice commands with our Google Home smart speakers
Turning lights on/off while we’re away from home
Automatically turning lights off at night at a certain time (we set it to 1am in case we fall asleep by accident and forget to turn off lights, which has happened many times!)
- Setting lights to randomly turn on/off when we’re away on vacation to make it seem like the house is not empty
- Automatically turning lights on when getting home (Note: we use additional software for this function, which requires more setup)
The easiest way to get started with smart home lighting is to get smart Wi-Fi plugs.
This would allow any lamp that plugs into the smart outlet/plug to become connected. Installation is a breeze — simply plug the smart plug into the wall outlet and connect it to Wi-Fi.
There are a whole bunch of brands and models to choose from, but we’ve really liked the smart WiFi plugs from TP-Link Kasa. They integrate perfectly with our Google Smart Home Speakers and are budget-friendly.
We use smart plugs for…
- Bedside table lamps
- Under cabinet lights in the kitchen (read this blog post for all the details about DIY under cabinet lights!)
- Our Christmas tree!
Smart Light Switch vs. Smart Light Bulb
When researching smart lighting, I was initially drawn toward smart light bulbs since this was the easiest way to connect any light fixture. BUT because the light switch has to ALWAYS BE ON in order for the smart light bulb to work, I changed my mind. For example:
- Light switch is ON — smart bulb is connected and is able to be controlled wirelessly
- Light switch is turned OFF — smart bulb is no longer connected and can’t be controlled wirelessly until the switch is flipped back on.
- This could happen by accident from a guest who isn’t aware of the smart bulbs or if you happen to turn off the light via the switch while exiting the room.
With smart switches, this isn’t a problem. Because of this, we chose to go with smart switches over smart bulbs for our home.
- Lights are still connected when manually switched off and can work as a regular light switch
- Generally cheaper – The cost can quickly add up due to the amount of light bulbs you may need. We would have had to buy 4 smart bulbs for our living room recessed lights but instead only needed to buy 1 GE Smart Dimmer switch.
- Installation — Most smart switches will need to be hard wired to the house and may require a neutral wire. I would recommend that you hire an electrician to install them if you’re not comfortable with doing basic electrical work. I was able to install them myself.
- Most smart light switches will require a hub since they don’t connect to Wi-Fi directly.
WHICH SWITCH TO BUY?
We loved the style of the Caseta by Lutron line, but they were a bit out of our budget at the time.
We found the GE and Honeywell lines much more affordable and achieved the same function. I actually think that the GE and Honeywell brand switches are the exact same switch. Because both brands go on sale fairly often on Amazon, we usually stock up on whichever one is cheaper.
The Samsung SmartThings Hub is a popular hub option to control the GE and Honeywell switches.
CONVERTING OUR HOME
We’ve been slowly installing smart lighting in our home a little at a time, starting with the main areas like kitchen, dining, and living room and now moving on to hallways and bedrooms.
Here are all of the smart switches we have installed:
- GE Z-Wave Smart Light Switch
- GE Z-Wave Smart Dimmer Switch
- Honeywell Z-Wave Smart Light Switch
- Honeywell Z-Wave Add-On Switch (for 3 way switches)
Smart home lighting has made a huge impact on our lives! Doing some research upfront and setting up and installing is so worth it to upgrade your home’s functionality to be automated, effortless, and convenient. Viv’s favorite part is not having to get out of bed to turn off the lights at night (she’s even more lazy now).
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WRITTEN BY: Tim
Tim works in the tech field as an Android Developer and is constantly finding ways to incorporate smart home function into our home. Stay tuned for more smart home content!
IN: SMART HOME · TAGGED: Lighting
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