Looking for a way to make your home smarter and safer?
Look no further than home lighting automation!
With this technology, you can control your lights with the touch of a button, or even from your smartphone.
This can provide peace of mind when you’re away from home, and can also save you money on your energy bills.
Smart lighting will eventually be used in new buildings and structures, but for the time being, most houses will need to be retrofitted.
Smart Home Lighting Design Options
When it comes to smart home lighting, there are a variety of design choices available.
You may use existing lighting control standards; wall switches in fixed locations are one possibility.
Alternatively, you could opt for a “no switch” option and have everything monitored by your smartphone or smart home assistant (Google, Alexa, etc).
There are also battery-operated switches that are becoming increasingly popular.
These need no wiring and can be placed anywhere in your home.
What’s more, they often come with features like dimming and color-changing, so you can really get creative with your lighting!
The major benefit of this design is that it is simple to grasp for visitors and future homeowners when selling the property.
This does not mean that the switches are not smart, but it does mean that there is a physical switch to turn on or off the lights.
With these types of switches, you can also use a smartphone, home assistant, or motion sensors to control the lights.
No Switch Design
This choice has the benefit of no wall switches and hence no wiring to wall outlets.
Lights are controlled by a mobile phone app, Alexa/Siri, or presence sensors, among other things.
Battery-powered switches may be set up in rooms, but they might be confusing.
The major disadvantage is that someone needs to have the app and be familiar with the system for it to work.
If you have a babysitter they’ll need to know your voice commands to turn off the lights for example.
Lighting Control Options
Smart Home Bulbs
One of the most common ways to automate your home lighting is with smart bulbs.
These are LED bulbs that can be controlled wirelessly, and often come with features like color-changing and dimming.
Smart bulbs are a great choice if you want to save money on your energy bills, as they use less power than traditional incandescent bulbs.
You can also control them with your voice, smartphone, or smart home assistant.
These Bulbs are equipped with Wi-Fi, Z-wave or ZigBee, if you opt for a Z-wave or Zigbee smart bulb you will need a hub.
Advantages of Smart Bulbs
- Easy to install
- No changes to existing wiring
- The bulbs are expensive often over $20
- May not work with dimmers
- May not work with all light fitting types
- You have to leave the light switch on permanently.
Smart Light Switches
As I mentioned earlier there are two main types of smart switches:
Wired switches are connected to your home’s mains electricity so will need an electrician to install, them unless you are confident and understand electrical work.
Wireless switches often come as a battery-operated switch that can be placed anywhere in your home, no wiring required which makes them very versatile.
Some kind of wireless technology is used in most home smart lighting systems. The following are the most frequently used:
Hard Wired Switches With Wireless
The existing switch is replaced with a smart switch.
They’re wired identically to the old switch and can be used in the same way.
However, because they include an integrated wireless transmitter/receiver, they may also be controlled from a distance with a smart device or motion sensor.
These switches are an excellent drop-in replacement for a standard switch, even if it functions as a two-way switch.
When shopping for new switches check to see if they require a neutral wire, in older homes and in some countries it’s not common to have a neutral wire in the lighting.
- Easy to install in an existing installation
- Makes a simple switch smart
- Gives local control even if the internet is down
- It may require a neutral wire
Wall Wireless Only Switches
Switches with a touch-sensitive surface operate on low voltage, whereas wall-mounted battery-operated switches require a receiver in the switch line to handle the actual switching.
Note: Kinetic switches are available that don’t require a battery.
The switch as it currently stands isn’t enough to control the lights. To do this, you’ll need an in-line switch.
These switches are usually Wi-Fi, Zigbee or Proprietary RF (433Mhz).
By using a mobile app on Android or iOS, or a home automation system such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, most of it can be controlled.
- Not restricted to lighting
- Can be used to easily add another light switch in a more convenient location.
- Works with all light fittings e.g. candle fittings
- The receiver needs to be Installed.
- Have to leave an existing light switch on permanently so that it can be controlled so not suitable to replace an existing wired switch unless you change the wiring.
- RF433Mhz wireless cannot be controlled via the home network and is not considered smart but very useful in homes that don’t have Wi-fi and the Internet
Wireless-only switches are ideal for a new build or when doing major rewiring.
Wireless Switches that use mains power but don’t have an actual switch can be useful. These are often used in commercial applications where the light is turned on and off by a sensor or timer rather than manually.
They are also great for timing lights as they may be simply updated to work with other bulbs and appliances, as well as control numerous lights.
Low-cost RF433 wireless in-line switches will become popular in non-smart home installations, especially among the elderly.
Because smart bulbs are expensive and light bulbs are consumable items, I don’t think that they will be as popular as smart switches or in-line switches in the future.
Home Lighting Automation
Turning on/off a light remotely or without wires is not automation.
Automation involves the automatic turning on/off of lights in reaction to certain occurrences such as a motion sensor detecting movement.
Some type of home automation system will be required for this.