Let’s talk about the elephant in the room — smart bulbs can be expensive. Replacing existing light fixtures is an added cost, so you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re purchasing, before spending around £/$10 – £/$25+ on a single bulb.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That’s not to say that all smart bulbs are overpriced — some are, but there are also plenty of affordable smart bulbs out there. In fact, there’s one way in which they can be cheaper than dumb bulbs: smart bulbs with no hub required.
We’ll talk about them shortly, first let’s understand why you’ll want to get smart lights.
1. Why you should get some smart lights for your home
Smart Lights or (Internet of Things) are the lights that are connected to the internet and allows you to control them using your smartphone.
They are easy to install and easy to use. You can
- Create scenes and timers
- Set a timer to turn them off after some time so that you don’t forget to turn them off
- Use your voice to turn them on/off or change the color
- Control them from anywhere in the world
Forgot to turn the lights off when you leave your home? Well you can use your phone to turn the lights off remotely.
You can even create different scenes to turn on/off the lights or change the color. For example, you can create a scene to turn all the lights on, or create one to change their color to red when the alarm is on.
2. Smart lights and smart assistants for voice control
You just finished eating and you’re ready to relax. But before you settle in to watch a movie, you want to turn off the lights. You don’t want to open up your phone, fumble with the buttons, and then turn off the lights. You just want to say, “Hey Google, turn off the lights” and have it done.
Smart lights and smart assistants work together to make your home more comfortable.
Most leading smart light brands work with the three main smart assistants
- Amazon Alexa
- Google Assistant
- Apple Siri
Which one you choose depends on which one you currently have installed in your home, with most leading smart light brands supporting all 3, though Apple Siri (HomePod) doesn’t have as many supported smart lights as Alexa and Google Assistant.
If you don’t have a smart assistant in your home already, we suggest looking to go with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, as you’ll have more support for smart home products, not just smart lights.
3. Smart light bulbs that connect to hubs or no hubs
This debate has gone on for years and will still go on for many more. What we’re talking about here is the difference between smart bulbs that connect to a hub in order to work, compared to hubless lights that work over wifi or bluetooth.
Hub connected smart light bulbs
- Advanced automation options
- Don’t tend to interfere with other wireless devices (such as phones, laptops and TVs)
- Lower power consumption (accessories like motion sensors grealy benefit from this)
- Extended range and “mesh” like network
- Easier control and grouping of lights
- Control them while out the house
Hub connected lights, like Philips Hue use Zigbee but there’s others that use Z-Wave, both protocols are quite similar, with Zigbee tending to be supported by big companies (Philips, Amazon).
Hubless smart light bulbs
Now hubless smart bulbs are what we refer to when speaking about bulbs that connect via WIFI or Bluetooth.
Their advantages tend to be
- Lower cost per-bulb
- No additional hardware required (apart from WIFI router and smartphone)
- Easy to setup and use
- Some WIFI bulbs can be controlled while out the house
They can be great for anyone wanting to “test” if smart lights are for them, before diving straight in.
You’ll find quite a substantial price difference between hubless (being cheaper) and hub enabled smart lights.
Though if you’re looking to invest long term and install a say 10+ smart bulbs into your home, stick with ones that connect to a hub, for easier control and automation.
4. How do you setup smart lights and how do they work
The first step is to set up the hub in a central location in your home, preferable near where you want the lights to be. The hub will need to be plugged into a power outlet and your WIFI router.
After that is done, you will need to download the app, which will guide you on how to set up your lights.
Once this is done, you can add the lights to a “virtual” room, to be easily controlled – essentially grouping the lights you installed. You can then turn the lights on and off with your phone, accessories like wireless switch, voice commands or even via automations you set up.
5. Should you buy smart light bulbs?
It’s tricky, while we do recommend smart bulbs to a lot of people they do come with a few downsides like being more expensive than “dumb” bulbs and requiring a bit of tech knowledge (only a little) to setup and operate.
However they can help you to stay on top of your home security and keep up a routine.
Smart light bulbs can also help you to reduce your energy bills, by giving you a way to turn your lights on and off from a remote location and set times – like leaving for work or going to sleep.