Since the first caveman learned to control fire, we humans have shaped and used light in an ever expanding array of technologies. Smart lighting is a lighting technology designed with energy efficiency at its heart.

High efficiency fixtures and automated controls are able to trigger actions or adjustments based on numerous conditions such as movement, occupancy, schedules or daylight availability.

Smart Lighting includes Smart Lightbulbs and Smart LED Light strips that allow you to control your lighting from wherever you are – even when you’re not home.  They can usually be controlled via an app on your phone, an automation, Smart Scene or voice-activated Smart Hubs and Speakers. With a tap of your thumb, a spoken command or a change in another device you could flip the lights on while you’re away or, if you’re home and want to impress your guests, you could dim the lights without even getting up.  

Many Smart Lighting products also come with some fun extras – like the ability to light your living room in all the colours of the rainbow or dance in sync with your music. After all, why not?! 

You could also automate your smart lighting, so lights come on and off, or turn more (or less) bright at certain times of day. This is a cool feature if you like the idea of your lights turning on gradually in the mornings – a bit like your own personal sunrise! 

Some smart light bulbs also work with voice-activated assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home. And of course, you can still turn them on and off at the wall, if you prefer the old-fashioned approach.

Some of the Benefits of Smart Lighting

Smart Bulb Colour Scenes

Add your own customised choice of colours, and even music to your lighting. Many Smart Light bulbs and LED strips come with extra bells and whistles. You could get colour-changing bulbs, and even sync the colours to your favourite tunes (or get a bulb that actually streams the music, too). Perfect for that home disco!

Wiz 4Lite Circadian Rhythm

Sleep (and wake up) better! You could use smart lighting controls to create lighting that works with your body’s circadian rhythms (the internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle). So rather than going straight from bright light to darkness, slowly dimming your smart lights helps you wind down through the evening, to help you get ready for bed (and vice versa).

Amazon Alexa 4th Gen

They could make your home more accessible. Some disabled people could reap the benefits of being able to use their phone (or voice control) to operate their lights. 

Occupancy Simulation Lighting

Deter burglars from breaking into your home. Leaving the lights on when you’re away from home is an old trick to fool would-be burglars, but by using your app to control the lighting instead, you can save energy, and use randomised settings to make it look more like someone’s really home. Alternatively you could use events to trigger different Smart Lighting scenes, such as flash lights red on Alarm event, or fire detection.

Connectivity

Does Smart Lighting work without WiFi?

The answer to this question depends on which brand of bulb you’re using, but no not in every case.

Smart bulbs do need to have some kind of connection to each other – and your phone – for their ‘smart’ features to work. Most smart light bulbs work by connecting to your WiFi, but there is a difference between Wi-Fi and connected to the Internet. Smart Lighting can connect via Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave or even a Bluetooth mesh. If you want to understand about these different protocols have a read of our article on What’s Zigbee, Z-Wave, Zebedee?

The good news is, if your Wi-Fi disconnects, you won’t be left in the dark. Smart bulbs will just work like regular light bulbs if they’re not wirelessly connected. You can also pre configure the bulbs do different things after a Power Outage, like always turn on, always stay off, or follow the last known state (e.g. either on or off). If all else fails will you could get up from the sofa to turn them on via a regular light switch.

Energy Efficiency

But hang on, don’t smart bulbs use power when they’re turned off?

Smart bulbs do use a small amount of power when they’re in standby mode sure. When devices use energy while they’re switched off, often referred to as ‘vampire power’. Your smart bulbs use vampire power because they need to stay connected to your Wi-Fi, Zigbee or Bluetooth network. This means that even when they’re ‘off’, they’re actually listening for a trigger command, making them ready to be turned on when you need them. 

That may not sound ideal – but smart light bulbs are still more energy-efficient than regular bulbs, because they’re usually LED bulbs – which are far more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs. And while smart bulbs do use slightly more energy than non-smart LED bulbs, the difference is negligible.  

It’s not all over yet, if any of that does not appeal to you, and you’re not ready for ‘smart’ wireless technology in your light bulbs, but still want to save energy, consider switching to LED bulbs, they’re cheaper than smart bulbs, and they’ll help you cut down your energy bills. You can add Smart Control by adding Smart Switches and Smart Plugs, without changing your light bulbs or fittings.

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