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Smart lighting: a brilliant next step in home automation

A look at why smart lighting may be your next step in home automation.

The number of Canadian households equipped with a smart home device has grown considerably. In fact, a recent study by market research and consultation specialists Parks Associates has concluded that smart device adoption by Canadian households (equipped with broadband internet) has more than double over the past year. With a 5% adoption rate in 2015 skyrocketing to an 11% adoption rate in 2016, it’s clear that Canadians are beginning to enjoy the idea of a connected home.

Research has shown that a large portion of the increase is due to the popularity of smart thermostats, such as the Nest, closely followed by smart home surveillance products. With the practical leanings of these smart home devices, we believe that this points to smart lighting being the next catalyst that brings Canadians ever-closer to embracing the concept of fully connected homes.

What is Smart Lighting

Smart lighting allows homeowners to control anything from a single lightbulb to an entire household lighting system via smartphone or tablet. These products can be remotely accessed and programmed to activate and reactive as needed, change colours, dim, and in some cases even play music.

While at first glance, smart lighting may seem like technology solely aimed at diehard technophiles, there are practical reasons for the average consumer to adopt. For instance, imagine having the ability to program different lights in the home to activate and deactivate while you’re away on vacation. Or what if your home’s lights could automatically sense that you’re on your way home and illuminate once you reach certain proximity parameters on your street?

For some, this added layer of security is much more than a cool piece of tech, but rather an important security feature for their house and family.

Here are 4 simple reasons why you should consider getting into smart lighting:

  1. Security

Control house lighting from home, work, or while on vacation to ensure safe arrival or deter potential thieves.

  1. Mood and Décor

Dimming and colour changing technology allows you to change the feel of a room. Create optimal lighting for reading or applying makeup. Inspire romance, relaxation or add a festive feel to any room.

  1. Convenience

Program your home’s lights to turn off and on whenever someone enters or leaves a room. Not only is this option convenient, but it can help you save energy.

  1. Excitement

Smart lighting brings us one step closer to that futuristic home many of us have spent out lives dreaming about. We think that it’s perfectly ok to adopt new technology based on the fact that it’s really cool!

Smart Lighting Options

There are three options available to anyone looking to add smart lighting to their home.

Smart Bulbs

smart lighting

Source: Meet Hue


Smart bulbs pack the technology directly into the bulb itself. There are various brands of smart bulbs, from makers like Philips, GE, Belkin, and others, with Philips presently leading the pack.

Most smart bulb brands use a wireless lighting protocol called ZigBee, which is presently not a language understood by your smartphone. This means that in addition to your smart bulb, you’re also going to need to purchase a smart home hub, as well. This hub or bridge (as it is also called) translates ZigBee for your phone. With that in mind, if smart bulbs are on your must-have list, you should look a starter pack that combines the bulbs and the hub.

Smart bulbs are the most affordable foray into the world of smart lighting, with a single bulb starting out at around $14.99, and a starter kit (includes two bulbs and a hub) coming it at $69.99 from major retailer.

Smart Switches


smart lighting

Source: Belkin


Smart plugs and switches do not have the plug and play ease of installation that you’ll experience with smart bulbs. Both plugs and switches need to be wired in, which may deter some people, or at least require the services of a professional electrician.

Smart switches place control in the wall switch, rather than directly into the bulb. Like the smart bulbs, most smart switches use the ZigBee lighting protocol and require the purchase of a hub. However, there are some smart switch brands that use WiFi –making it possible to use them with a hub.

Choosing a smart switches and plugs enable you to use any type of lightbulb. This is ideal if your lighting fixtures require irregular bulbs sizes, such as chandelier bulbs.

Cost-wise, smart switches are less affordable than smart bulbs, with a basic switch retailing for around $50. Not too expensive if the goal is to convert a single room to smart lighting. However, if you want to convert your entire home, adding smart switches may prove to be costly.

Smart Outlets

smart lighting

Source: tp-link

Installing a smart outlet required little more than simply plugging it in to a standard outlet. The benefit here is that in addition to having the ability to automate your lighting, you can automate an assortment of small items such as radios and coffeemakers. Add in some simple motion-sensing tech and you could start your morning coffee simply by approaching the kitchen.

When shopping around for a smart plug, be sure to take a look at what you’re buying, because some plugs are rated for lighting only.

In terms of cost, you should budget at least $30 each, for a basic smart plug.

Getting Started

The beauty of smart lighting is that it isn’t an all or nothing technology. If you happen to be curious, but aren’t quite ready to completely automate your entire house, simply buy a single bulb, switch or plug and give it a try. If it seems like a fit with your household, then you can gradually phase it in room by room, or take the plunge and fully automate.

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