Home is Where the Smart Is Part 3: Lighting

Ever since electric lights made their way into homes there’s been someone, usually Dad, exhorting family members, usually kids, to turn them off. But now there is a host of clever devices to free Dad from light duty so he can concentrate on other things…like keeping doors closed.

These devices range from timers and sensors to voice-activated assistants awaiting your beck and call. Here’s a look at what’s out there to help you raise your home’s lighting IQ.

Timers and Sensors

Clock-based timers have been around for decades and can control everything from sprinkler systems to coffeemakers and table lamps. But their settings are fixed and they’re usually limited to corded appliances that plug into an outlet on the timer.

On the other hand, switches with passive infrared (PIR) sensors, which have been in widespread commercial use for several years, are making their way into more homes as focus on energy conservation awareness (and convenience) increases.

These devices use a motion detector similar to those on outdoor security lights. For indoor use they add convenience features such as manual override, dimmers, and a warning beep to let you know when they’re about to turn off.

They are especially convenient in areas like laundry rooms and workspaces where both your hands may be full when you enter a dark room. They’re inexpensive, fit in standard switch boxes, and are easy to retrofit. And while they may not save tons of energy, at least they give Dad one less thing to worry about.

Wi-Fi and Voice Control

Recent developments in home automation have given us a huge number of “smart” devices and ways to control them. Most rely on Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth connections, and other networks to integrate computer, tablet, and smart phone apps with data-enabled items. Most recently, this includes light bulbs that can be controlled over home networks. They also integrate with voice-activated digital assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Now instead of yelling at the kids, Dad can simply ask Alexa to turn a light off. Controls are usually limited to single bulbs, but as smart bulb apps evolve we can see them becoming able to control the lighting in entire rooms in multiple ways.

Smart bulbs run around $30 each, and many systems require separate hubs to integrate with touch-screen and voice controllers. For more information about smart bulbs, see this article in our Resources section.

Energy Savers

Even if you’re not ready to “go smart,” you can be smart. The average home has fifty light bulbs and switching to low-energy bulbs will save over $300 annually on your electric bill as well as reduce the environmental impact of energy generation. And with the increasing options for LED lighting (and its rapidly dropping prices) you can tailor home lighting to the quality and comfort that’s right for you.

If you’re thinking about adding smart lighting to your home or business, take the time to learn the choices that are right for you. And if you need electrical work to support your smart home, the pros at Allstar Electrical Services are just a click or call away.