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Buying smart lighting or lamps: Everything you need to know

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Buying smart lighting or lamps: Do you want to buy smart lighting? In this article, we list everything you need to know about smart lighting, lamps and accessories.

We’ve already written extensively about smart motion detectors , smart smoke detectors and smart cameras , but one of the most popular smart home categories is smart lighting. This lighting can be used anywhere in the house, can be controlled remotely and can often communicate with other smart home equipment. In this article, we’ll list everything you need to know about smart lighting and lamps.

What is smart lighting?

Smart lighting comes in different shapes and sizes, as well as in different price ranges. We distinguish four different types of smart lighting or smart lamps; the smart lamps, the smart fittings, the built-in receivers and the smart plugs.

Smart lamps

Smart lamps are the stand-alone lamps that you can turn into an existing fitting and that are themselves continuously connected to each other and to your smartphone, with or without a hub. These lamps can be controlled remotely, can be dimmed and in many cases can also be set in a desired color. The lamps are available with the most common fittings, including recessed, with fixture and spotlights. Operation takes place via the wall switch, associated accessories or the associated app. Examples of smart lamps are Philips Hue and LIFX .

Incidentally, more and more LED lighting in the form of LED strips is being used . These strips can, for example, be pasted under or in a cupboard to create extra atmosphere. LED strips can be extended up to a few meters and are connected to the socket by means of an adapter. This adapter also ensures communication with the other lamps, the hub and the smartphone.

Smart fittings

There are also manufacturers who market smart fittings. These fittings are actually lamp holders that are placed in a fitting and they ensure that the lamp can be switched on or off remotely. In some cases the lamp can also be dimmed. Operation takes place via the wall switch, corresponding accessories or the accompanying app. An example of this is the Somfy lamp holder.

Flush-mounted receivers

If you want to leave the lamps alone and prefer to remotely control everything behind the scenes, the wireless built-in receivers are an option. You place these behind the physical switch or in the ceiling and respond to the wireless signal that you send with your smartphone, for example. The linked lighting can be operated using the wall switch, associated (wireless) accessories or the associated app.

Smart plugs

Smart plugs are accessories that are placed between the plug of your lamp and the socket. The smart plug is therefore only suitable for lamps (and other devices) that are connected to a socket by means of a plug. They also only have an on and an off position, so dimming is not an option. Operation takes place via the switch of the lamp itself or remotely via a corresponding app. An example of this is the TP-Link Smart Plug .

Placement and installation

The exact installation and placement depends on the type of smart lighting you choose. Smart lamps are childishly easy to screw into the existing fittings and work immediately after pairing with your smartphone and / or the central hub. Smart fittings can also be screwed in immediately and after adding the fitting to the relevant smart home system, it can be used immediately. Built-in receivers are a bit more difficult to place because you have to go into the wall or ceiling for this. This solution is therefore often only chosen when new buildings are being built or renovated.

Smart plugs can also be placed very easily, but keep in mind that they take up space. If you have a socket with multiple connections or use a power strip, there is a good chance that you will lose one or more connections. In terms of range, smart lighting should in principle work throughout your house, provided you have sufficient WiFi coverage in all places where the lighting is placed.

What can smart lighting do?

Smart lighting has the main task of course to illuminate a room and all smart lamps and accessories can ensure that the lighting is switched on or off. Depending on the selected type of lighting, this switching can be done via the wall switch, a corresponding accessory such as a remote control or motion detector, and the accompanying app for your smartphone or tablet.

Smart lighting can often also be used in scenes or routines. This means that when performing a certain action or at a certain time of the day, you have several lamps respond. For example, you can set the Philips Hue lights to switch on automatically as soon as your alarm clock goes off and also gradually get brighter. You can also have smart lighting switched on automatically when you come home or have all lamps switched off when you leave the house. The possibilities for these routines are endless and make it possible to largely automate the lighting in the home. These routines are set via the software (often an app) that belongs to the lighting or general smart home software with which various smart home products can be linked.

When we talk about smart lamps, for example those from Philips Hue or LIFX, there are some extra options. Because it concerns the lamp itself, it is easy to dim it remotely, for example with your smartphone. You can also leave the lamp at a specific brightness, for example when you go to bed. In addition, most brands that market smart lamps have both white and colored variants. The white variants can be adjusted in terms of ‘warmth’ of the light and brightness, the colored lamps can be given a million different colors. With colored lamps it is possible to create a certain atmosphere, for example a romantic atmosphere or an atmosphere that is ideal for reading a book. You can even throw a party with lights that keep changing color.

In addition, various manufacturers offer accessories for smart lighting. For example, Philips has released a motion detector with which the smart lighting switches on automatically. The company has also released wall switches with pre-programmed scenes so that you do not always have to have your smartphone at hand. Philips has also developed various fixtures that already contain smart lighting. Other companies such as Belkin, Osram, Fibaro and LIFX also offer accessories that make operation even easier and you do not always need to have your smartphone at hand.

Incidentally, smart lamps, smart fittings and smart plugs can always be switched on or off with the normal switch (which is linked to the lamp), but the problem is that the lighting can no longer be switched on wirelessly when you turn on the power via the switch off. It is then necessary to turn the switch again before the lamp can be operated wirelessly again.

Compatibility

As indicated above, many smart lighting products can communicate with other smart home products. Before you buy smart lighting, it is important to find out which other smart home devices the lamp, fitting, switch or plug is compatible with. Being able to control the lighting is fun, but having it work together with other devices and sensors makes life even easier. There are several companies that sell smart home equipment such as lamps, sensors and detectors, but in many cases communication between these devices is only possible if the lighting is of the same brand as the other equipment. That is also the reason that many companies offer complete packages; with detectors, sensors, lighting, thermostats, plugs and much more.

Yet it is not too bad with smart lighting, especially when we look at major brands such as Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo and LIFX. The products of these brands are compatible with a wide range of well-known smart home devices. For example, Philips Hue works with Logitech Harmony, Nest, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings and also Apple Home . The advantage of this compatibility is that you can, for example, have your lights flash when the Nest Protect smoke detector sounds an alarm, or you can have the lights switch on as soon as the Nest Cam detect activity. You can also control your lamps directly with your Logitech Harmony remote control. In short, it is important that you check carefully before purchase which brands and products are compatible with the smart lighting you want to purchase.

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