Smart Lights Are the One Smart Home Gadget for Everyone
Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home have brought the
dream of a fully automated smart home closer to reality more than ever
before. Yet, one question hangs in the air: Do you even need a smart
You could get a video doorbell that shows you who’s at the door. But
maybe people don’t come to your door that often. You could get a smart
thermostat and let it adjust your AC automatically. But maybe your
basic, programmable thermostat does the job just fine.
Most smart home gadgets, no matter how useful, tend to appeal to a
subset of people, but smart lights are a different story. If you’re
frequently moving from the couch to turn off a light, or forgot you left
the lights on in a room hours later, it’s easy to imagine how smart
lights can improve your life. To nudge your imagination, though, here
are a few key benefits.
You could probably install a new thermostat if you watched a tutorial on
YouTube, but we trust you already know how to screw in a light bulb.
The best smart lighting systems, like Philips Hue and LIFX, put all the
important electronics in the bulbs themselves, so you can go ahead and
use your existing lamps and light fixtures.
Over at Wirecutter, the product review website owned by The New York
Times, senior editor Grant Clauser prefers Philips Hue, not just because
it’s easy, but because it’s flexible and reliable.
“Among smart bulbs, I prefer Philips Hue because it has a wide ecosystem
of products, including basic white bulbs, color changeable bulbs,
wireless dimmers, strip lights and outdoor LED lights,” he explained.
“Hue lights require a Zigbee gateway, which creates a mesh network in
your house that’s more reliable than some of the other smart bulb
systems we’ve used. If you don’t want to use the Hue gateway, an Amazon
Echo Plus can serve the same purpose, and it also plays music and tells
Philips Hue requires a smart hub with a relatively simple installation.
Plug the box into the wall, press a single button when the app tells you
to and you’re good to go. LIFX lights require no hub at all, though
they’re a bit more expensive and only as reliable as your Wi-Fi network.
For both, most of the setup process takes place in an app on your
smartphone. Since you don’t have to modify your home to use them, even
renters can get in on the fun.