Considering the Switch to Smart Light Bulbs? Here’s What You Need to Know

by Ben SanfordOctober 17, 2018

Is It Time to Automate Your Home’s Lighting System?

These days, it seems we’re living quite comfortably in the twenty-first century. In many instances, our homes feature a plethora of conveniences that earlier generations weren’t in a position to enjoy. Now, homes are heated efficiently, cooled in a jiffy, and feature plenty of lighting.

Thanks to a recent push by designers and engineers to automate all of the contemporary home’s systems, you can now control your heat, cooling, doorbell, and even your lights without lifting a finger. In some cases, this is even true when you aren’t at home!

Smart appliances and home automation are hot trends right now. Speakers that you can talk to, home control smartphone apps, all networked with the various appliances and systems that make your home comfortable, are becoming more and more commonplace in the American home. But there is often a gap between when new technology is first made available, and when it becomes reliable and worth the cost of installation.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the arrival of smart light bulbs and examine the pros and cons of the feature at this stage of development.

smart lighting

What Designers and Engineers Have Gotten Right in Smart Lighting

The manifestation of the seemingly widespread desire to control the lights (and other home electronics) with sound is as old as the Clapper. But with recent developments, you can now control them reliably with your voice. For example, Cree Lighting makes a series of smart light bulbs that are compatible with the Alexa home speaker control unit.

You can also control the lights even when you’re not at home. LIFX is a brand of full lighting systems that work without a control unit, but with a smartphone app instead, so you can control the lights from across town or across the globe (provided you have Internet access).

These lights may be a great solution for those who travel often and want their home to look occupied when they’re away. They’re also a great option for those people who leave their pets home alone and want to provide a little light late in the afternoon or early in the morning without leaving the lights on all day.

Many of the automated lighting systems also come with color options that allow you to switch colors or even saturation of certain colors, producing whatever lighting effects you desire throughout your home.

smart lighting

What They Are Still Working on (or Can’t Quite Seem to Figure Out Yet)

For most manufacturers of smart light bulbs, the products are on the market but all of the bugs haven’t been worked out just yet. Syncing glitches with Alexa, Echo, or other home-control hubs; voice automation that ignores users or misinterprets commands; and unreliable app control are some of the most often reported problems from early adopters still sorting out the kinks.

There are also some shortcomings in many of the systems in terms of the types of features you might expect them to have. For example, dimming is not an available feature with most smart light bulbs at this time. The lights themselves often don’t have the capacity to get as bright as conventional light bulbs, either. Some systems even have proprietary charging systems that aren’t available without buying a whole new system, should you lose your charger.

smart lighting

Is Smart Lighting Worth the Investment?

So is smart lighting currently worth the investment? At this stage, this is a challenging question to answer. If you’re the type of early adopter who waits in line every time the latest edition of your favorite smart device is about to go on sale, then you probably already have a smart lighting system installed in your home. If, however, you are the type who waits for the manufacturers to get all the kinks worked out of new technology before you take the plunge, then the time isn’t yet right for you just yet.

The industry is somewhere between its infancy and having things all worked out and ready for the average consumer. So, with the right research and knowing what features are and aren’t important to you, you can probably find a perfectly viable smart lighting solution for your home now, or you can wait until some time in the near future when things are just the way you like them to be.

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About The Author
Ben Sanford
Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.