The truth is there’s a lot more to smart lights than meets the eye. If you’re thinking of installing any of these lights in your house or workplace, you should know that they can serve many different functions. What you need them for, will determine which ones you should buy.
If you’d like to know all the different functions smart lights can perform, you’ve come to the right place. In our ultimate list, we will break down everything from the most basic functions these lights perform, to things you may have never guessed they were capable of. Then we’ll wrap things up by giving you our recommendations based on your needs.
- 1. They Can Use Smart Devices With Controllers
- 2. Many Are Fitted With Motion Sensors
- 3. Lighting Systems Can Be Made Up of Smart Lights
- 4. You Can Have Autonomous Smart Lights
- 5. Smart Lights Can Boost Security
- 6. They Can Work as Pathlights
- 7. You Can Use Them in Combination With Other Devices
- 8. Smart Desk Lamps
- 9. Smart Lights Can Network Via Wifi
- 10. They Can Be Used to Improve Your Sleep
- 11. They Can Be Used for Solid-State Lighting
- 12. Smart Lights Can Be Fitted With Ultrasonic Technology
- 13. Smart Lights are More Energy Efficient Than Alternatives
- 14. Some Smart Lights Can Even Forecast the Weather
- 15. They Can Have Hubs or Be Hubless
- 16. You Can Use Smart Light Strips
- 17. They Can Make Great Outdoor Lights
- 18. Smart Lights in Commercial and Industrial Use
- 19. Smart Switches for Your Smart Bulbs
- 20. You Can Sync Your Lights to Your Music System
- 21. You Can Set Your Smart Light to a Schedule When You’re Gone
- 24. Best Smart Lights for Any Situation
- 25. Smart Lights Can Be Used As Grow Lights
- So Really, What Can Smart Lights Actually Do?
1. They Can Use Smart Devices With Controllers
Who would want to get up to turn on or off the light when you can just do it with your smartphone. In fact, you could use many different smart devices to connect to controllers/switches, to gain full control over your lights no matter where you are.
The term controller can be misleading, so it’s worth defining. These aren’t like remotes or video game controllers where you press buttons to make things work. Controllers (also known as switches) are devices that help connect your smart lights throughout the house via wifi. These are also what allow you to use your smart device as a sort of remote.
Smart devices that can work with controllers include:
- Smart Watches
- Works via Apple Home Kit and comparable products
- Smart Phones
To use your phone, tablet or watch with the best results, you’ll need to set up your controller. There are setups available like Voice or Switchmate, as well as the big brand products from Apple, Amazon and Google. Many of them attach to your already existing light switch or power outlets and allow you to use their app on your device to control the lights.
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2. Many Are Fitted With Motion Sensors
Does someone in your house forget to turn off the lights? No problem. Many smart lights come equipped with motion sensor technology, which allows them to tell if anyone is in the room and act accordingly.
We’ve listed the three major types of sensors below, along with a brief description of what they do:
- Gradual Dimm: Ever turn off the lights in your house at night only to realize you can’t see to get to your bedroom? Well, a gradual dimmer will prevent that from happening by slowly turning your smart lights off on a delay. This should give you the time to make it to your bed comfortable and happy.
- Occupancy Sensors: These are the sensors we referenced above. They pick up on whether or not someone is in the room and adjust the lighting accordingly.
- Universal Dimmers: These can pick up on what kinds of lightbulbs you’re using in your house, then adjust the brightness for the most efficient use of energy.
All of the various types of sensors for smart lights will pay off in the end. Some, like the occupancy sensors and universal dimmers can save you money. Others like the gradual dimm can save you headaches. It’s a win whichever way you go.
3. Lighting Systems Can Be Made Up of Smart Lights
If you want to have all of your lights linked up so that you can turn them on and off with a simple command, you’ve got to check out all the lighting systems available for smart lights.
Lighting systems allow you to centralize the control of your lights to one source, when you need to use them that way. Many of these technologies, such as Ring Smart Lighting for example, allow you to connect to your Alexa or other such device and use it for voice controls.
Prominent lighting systems include the following:
We should also note here that there are lighting kits available for you to set up on your own as well.
4. You Can Have Autonomous Smart Lights
Autonomous smart lights essentially put your lighting system into autopilot. They can adjust the amount of energy distributed to a system of lights, appropriate to given situations automatically.
Autonomous smart lights do this by using a complex set of sensors. These sensors can pick up everything from how much external light (light from windows etc) is coming into a given area, to whether or not people are currently working. They then adjust the lighting accordingly and don’t waste all the energy traditional lighting setups do.
If this were to be implemented globally, some estimate that it could reduce the worldwide consumption of energy dedicated to lighting by 80%. This is not only good for business owners, managers, and workers, it’s good for the health of the planet as well.
5. Smart Lights Can Boost Security
Smart lights can be used for security because of their dynamic interface and ability to work without an operator right next to them. At home, you can set them up to scare away burglars with motion censored action. However, if you really want to get serious about security, there are a number of other ways to put them into action.
The following can be used in conjunction with smart bulbs for stronger security:
- Cameras: There are some great security cameras available that have smart lights attached to them. The lights will generally come on due to their motion sensors. This allows your camera to get a better view of the intruder and it also deters and scares them away simultaneously.
- Spotlight: These are usually motion sensored. They will cast a bright blinding light at anyone who approaches your property in the night. Usually, that’s enough of a deterrent to getting people to leave your property alone.
- Nightvision: These lights are incredibly bright, often utilizing thousands of lumens. Many of them are connected to cameras and also have infrared sensors so they can see further in the dark.
Many of these security lights and cameras rely on what are known as ambient light sensors. Ambient light sensors pick up on the lighting in an area and report it back to you. They can alert you when your lights go off outside so you can react accordingly.
6. They Can Work as Pathlights
If you like to take a midnight stroll or you just get home really late and need to be able to find your way to the door, smart pathlights are probably for you. With these lights you get all the benefits of normal pathlights, plus the ability to dim or dull them as well as use voice commands to control them. You can even incorporate a motion sensor so they save energy.
The following places are some of the best for using smart pathlights:
We should note here that there are also 360 pathlights. These can go around your home, or really any area you want to be able to see in through the dark.
7. You Can Use Them in Combination With Other Devices
Because they can transmit information in a way other lights cannot, smart lights work well in combination with other devices. They are often combined with these devices and sold as a single unit.
Below we’ve listed some of the most common combinations you can find for smart lights and other electronic devices:
- Lamp: Due to the fact that they connect wirelessly to the systems that allow you to control them, smart lights can be used in combination with just about any old lamp. You can update your space while keeping that familiar look.
- Speaker & Wireless Charger: There are smart lights available which have speakers and wireless chargers attached to them. Talk about convenience.
- Raido: There are small smart lights that come attached to a radio. Now you can listen to your favorite station without searching at night.
- Music: Some smart lights can sync up with your music and change colors and pulse rates accordingly. We’ll discuss this in further depth in the section on connecting to music systems.
These combos are really great for convenience. Most of them fit in small spaces and they have such a variety of uses that makes them worth their cost.
8. Smart Desk Lamps
A smart desk lamp might be just the thing you need to boost your productivity. They can usually connect to your voice service (Alexa, Google etc) and be operated via commands. Many of them can change colors, adjust brightness and even charge your phone while you work.
9. Smart Lights Can Network Via Wifi
Smart lights can link up, and even transmit data, via your wifi network. This allows them to send signals to each other so that they work in unison. It also affords them the ability to all connect to the same controller.
The following can be achieved by linking your smart lights together via your wifi:
- Data transmission: Smart lights transmit more than just the voltage required for a bulb. They can transmit data as well. This can be useful when trying to diagnose a problem.
- Connectivity with other devices: Via wifi you can connect your smart lights to devices like iPhones or Alexa, and use them for controls.
Connecting to wifi, opens up the possibilities of how you can use your smart light. It gives you the versatility you need to maintain and get the most out of them simultaneously.
10. They Can Be Used to Improve Your Sleep
The quality of our sleep is highly dependent on our relationship with light during the day and nighttime. Light is what helps our body regulate the production of melatonin (a neurotransmitter that tells us it’s time for bed).
Smart lights are able to adapt to your exact lighting needs so that you can get the best night’s sleep possible. The following smart light technologies will help ensure you start getting better, more consistent sleep.
- Reading Light: Smart reading lights are better than their traditional counterparts because the LED’s they use tend to cast a more even light on the page. They usually have adjustable brightness and a longer lifespan than other reading lights. You won’t have to throw off your circadian rhythm by turning on a regular light or using too much.
- Daylight Sensing: With daylight sensing your smart light can automatically begin dimming the lights near bedtime and brightening them in the morning. This helps your body recognize when it’s time to sleep, making your sleep schedule easier to follow.
Remember, while having these lights can make a night’s sleep easier to get, you also want to avoid screens an hour or two before bed.
If you can avoid blue light, like that which comes off of television screens or phones, your smart lights will be more effective at regulating your circadian rhythm.
11. They Can Be Used for Solid-State Lighting
Smart lights are illuminated by things like LEDs, PLEDs and OLEDs instead of the traditional plasma or fluorescent sources. This classifies them as “solid state lighting.” Unlike plasmas and fluorescents there are no fluctuations in the amount of light cast.
This can have a number of benefits, in that these technologies last longer than the traditional ones and aren’t as harsh on the environment. Plus the light they cast is more consistent–though still adjustable–than traditional lights because they use LEDs. LEDs produce a cleaner, brighter light than incandescent or fluorescent.
12. Smart Lights Can Be Fitted With Ultrasonic Technology
There are smart lights fitted with ultrasonic technology so that they can pick up on anyone in a room and adjust their brightness appropriately.
The ultrasonic technology acts as a kind of sonar, bouncing signals off the walls to detect if anyone is moving around. This is useful because you don’t have to be right in front of the sensor to be detected.
13. Smart Lights are More Energy Efficient Than Alternatives
While their upfront cost may be greater than that of traditional bulbs, smart lights are far more energy-efficient. Generally speaking, smart light bulbs can last up to 25 times longer than their incandescent counterparts and use 25% to 80% less energy. This adds up to bulbs that pay for themselves in the end by reducing your electric bill and remaining useful longer.
We should note here, there are also smart lights fitted with renewable energy technology. Oftentimes these will use solar panels to provide energy when there isn’t a need to use up regular power. For example, some places have started doing this with street lights.
14. Some Smart Lights Can Even Forecast the Weather
There are smart lights available that can connect to online resources for the weather and change colors when it’s likely to rain. If you’re the type who sometimes forgets to check the weather in the morning, this could make your life much easier.
15. They Can Have Hubs or Be Hubless
There are many options when it comes to picking the right smart lights for you. One of the most important decisions you can make is whether you want your lights to have a hub or you just want them to be hubless. Still, what exactly does it mean for a smart light to have a hub and what difference does it make?
Hubs lead to greater connectivity between your smart lights themselves. However, critics argue that this leads to a less direct transmission of information than just using wifi and being hubless.
The benefit of being hubless is that data is transferred directly from the wifi to your device, and to whatever lights you have hooked up. The lights themselves are less directly connected, however they can still perform the same functions.
16. You Can Use Smart Light Strips
Smart lightstrips are a great way to light up a workspace or shaded areas like the countertop in your kitchen that sits under cabinets. They can also be used to decorate a room.
If you’re using them as a decoration, you can get ones that change colors or even flash designs. These are great ways to introduce yourself to the world of smart lights.
17. They Can Make Great Outdoor Lights
Smart lights can be ideal for outdoor use for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they can work on a timer or with a motion sensor. The timer will make sure that your lights turn off when they’re not needed, even if you forget. The motion sensor can allow them to come on and work as a security feature, to deter people from trespassing on your property at night.
There are multiple types of outdoor smart lights you can use. Depending on what you need your light for the following may be right for you:
- Automatic & Porch Lights: These can be great as a security feature at night or as a way to make sure you’re not wasting power when night falls.
- Weather Resistant Bulbs: If you live in a place that receives inclimate weather frequently, this may be the way to go. However, some features, like the automatic on/off, may be limited depending on the model you buy.
Outdoor smart lights save you money, keep your house safe and work better than most ordinary incandescent light bulbs. They can come with many features or be extra durable. If you need outdoor lighting they’ll make a sound investment.
18. Smart Lights in Commercial and Industrial Use
Smart lights are increasingly popular within workplaces in large part due to their versatility, durability and energy efficiency. In fact, in 2018 they were ranked as the “most widely adopted” technology in the industrial market.
One reason they are preferred over older alternatives like fluorescent lights is that they give off a more consistent light, aren’t as hard on the environment, and last five times longer.
Smart lights save a lot of money in the long run. In fact, it’s been found that over time smart lights can reduce energy costs by a whopping 90%.
19. Smart Switches for Your Smart Bulbs
Smart switches essentially replace your normal light switches to give you more control over how bright your lights are and when they’re receiving power. They even allow you to control things like ceiling fans, if they are attached to your lights.
You’d have to leave an ordinary light switch on to enjoy the use of your smart lights because they need that current of electricity to stay on and connected to your wifi. If you have a smart switch on the other hand, you can turn that current on and off, easily enough, with your smartphone.
This gives you more control over how much power your lights are consuming as well as a greater degree of convenience when you want to flip the switch.
20. You Can Sync Your Lights to Your Music System
If you’re planning to throw a party or you just like having fun on your own, syncing your smart lights to your music can really liven things up.
There are entire lines of smart bulbs, which are specifically designed for these kinds of uses. For example, the company Phillips has a line of color-changing bulbs called Hue, which have grown in popularity due to their ability to sync with the music.
21. You Can Set Your Smart Light to a Schedule When You’re Gone
Nobody likes to get back from a vacation and find that their house was broken into. A way to combat this is with apps like Caséta’s Smart Away.
Smart Away allows you to set certain lights that are visible to the street, to turn them on at specific times during the evening. This will give any passing would-be-intruders the impression that you’re at home.
Basics & Troubleshooting Guide to Smart Away
Using Smart Away is simple and straightforward. Once you have connected to your wifi and lights select each of the following options on the app to get started:
- Select the Settings Icon
- Select “Arriving/Leaving Home”
- Select “Smart Away”
- Select “Lights to Include” and pick the lights you want to come on.
- Go back
- Enter in the time you want the lights to activate
- Go back to the home page and press done. Now you’re all set.
If you run into problems, start by making sure that your wifi connection is working properly. If it is, try hard resetting the app and then double check that your lights are registering.
24. Best Smart Lights for Any Situation
So, now that we’ve gone over all of the major features that smart bulbs can have, let’s discuss which are best for specific situations. There is no smart bulb that is perfect for everything, as your lighting needs in one area can be significantly different than those in others.
Therefore, we’ve put together a list of the most common places people use smart bulbs, alongside our recommendations for what kinds of lights to look for:
- Desks: The best smart light for a desk is one that’s not too in the way but can also add a sense of decor. The Phillips Hue line has some great options available. When you’re doing business it will give you the light you need and when you take a break it can sync with your music and change colors.
- While Breastfeeding at night: For this you’ll want a light that’s bright enough to be able to see but not so bright it messes up your sleep cycles anymore than they already are. Smart night lights are great for this.
- Bathroom: For bathrooms, you’re probably going to want a soft yellowish-white light that will ensure you can see yourself more accurately in the mirror. You should look at both smart ceiling lights and smart bathroom lights.
- Household/Building: For your house or a building, you’ll probably be best served by finding a soft white light or a yellow-white light. These colors can be inviting and calming without being tiring.
- Studying and Productivity: There are studies which suggest that cool light actually increases your ability to concentrate and get things done. Aiming for a white smart light, or one that at least has that option, is probably the best route.
Don’t be afraid to use your instincts when trying to find the right light for you. Our suggestions are based on what the average person would find appealing or useful. If you like something else, don’t let us stop you from trying it instead!
25. Smart Lights Can Be Used As Grow Lights
So Really, What Can Smart Lights Actually Do?
Smart lights are some of the most versatile amenities you can have in your home or workplace. They can function well on their own via things like motion sensors or they can give you complete control over how they work through controllers, switches and your wifi.
Their uses are too many to count. They have the ability to cut down on your electric bill via self-regulation, the ways they can be used for security are ever-expanding and their lessened impact on the environment compared to similar products makes them great for everyone. Practically speaking, they make your life easier by putting all of your lighting needs at your fingertips.
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