“Alexa, turn on the party lights.” It sounds a little like science-fiction, but being able to change your room’s lighting color, brightness, and more with a simple voice command is no longer something from the future. Thanks to the new smart light bulb, you have more choices than ever for making your home comfortable and customized.
Today, we’re giving you a bird’s eye view of your options plus helping you decided how to buy the best smart light bulb for your home. Ready? Let’s go!
A New Kind of Internet?
If you’ve done any research on smart light bulbs already, you’ve probably come across the phrase, “the internet of things.” Like most things tech, it seems vague and hard to understand, but the term has been around since the 90s, technically, and simply refers to the wide variety of devices connected to and exchanging data with each other.
The term covers things like as large as virtual power plants and as small as heart implants and is estimated to be worth about over $7 trillion by 2020. Where do we come in? That’s right, with smart light bulbs, which do in fact fall into the internet of things category.
Today, the internet of things and homes has combined in devices like Nest thermostats, Alexa from Amazon, and even your smartphone. Connecting all your devices (including speakers, surveillance cameras, and even locks) can take some time and setup muscle; are the benefits worth it?
Let’s take a closer look at smart light bulbs and see if we can shed some light on this issue (sorry).
The Bulbs Are All Grown Up Now
Smart bulbs are designed to be connected to a hub (sort of like a wireless router for your internet of things) via Bluetooth, wifi, or your in-home network. They vary regarding what they can and can’t do by model, but here are some of the features you’ll encounter:
- Dim the lights
- Schedule lights to turn on and off
- Change the light color
- Be controlled via an app on your phone (you can be on the other side of the world and turn your lights off)
- Be controlled by Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa (or, sometimes, Apple’s Siri)
- Syncs with other devices, like your thermostat or locks
- Motion controlled settings
- Cameras and speakers inside the lightbulb
The list of smart light bulb’s potential features is long (and updating constantly), so at the end of the day it comes down to what you need and want in a bulb. It’s easy to view smart light bulbs as frivolous or superfluous, but we’re about to show you why that might not be the case!
Dim Those Lights
Dimming is probably the most basic feature you can find in a smart light bulb. In fact, you probably won’t find a smart bulb without this feature. In the past, if you wanted to dim the lights, you had to instill a dimmer and (potentially) locate a new light bulb.
Thanks to smart light bulbs, dimming is a breeze. If you didn’t have the tech knowledge beforehand to install a dimmer, you don’t need to worry about hiring somebody now. The most difficult thing you might encounter is setting up a hub–but instructions are usually straightforward, and there’s almost always an internet tutorial available if those don’t work.
Dimming lights can change the mood or ambiance in a room with a simple light change. Soften the light at the end of the day as you wind down for bed; lighten it if you want to keep the party going all night long!
Another widely available feature is a smart bulb’s ability to change colors, not just brightness. Before the smart bulb arrived, you had to pick your bulb’s color–and keep that color. You were out of luck, for example, if you wanted your light to be bright white in the morning and soften to a more golden, traditional glow in the afternoon.
Now, however, not only can you change the quality of the white light in your home, but you can add hues of blue, yellow, green, or any other color! Don’t like your wall color? Now you don’t have to repaint; just adjust how it appears by adjusting your smart light bulb!
Plus, color changes are a fun way to celebrate holidays (pastel purple for Easter or Christmas tree green for December!) or just have fun in general–you can even find some lights that will change colors based on the music!
Let Me Pencil You In…
Scheduling your lights might seem a little ridiculous, but it can help you conserve energy and save time and money.
Let’s say you’re going on vacation; instead of installing a light timer, hiring a friend to go to your house to turn lights on and off, or just keeping a light on the entire ten days you’re gone, now you can schedule the lights to turn on and off while you’re away–from your smartphone.
Have kids that are horrible about turning off the lights when they leave? Your new smart light bulb will help you solve that by putting the house bulbs on a timer. Keeping the lights off all day will save your home energy, something your bank account is sure to love!
Connect Your Life
The other thing we love about most of these new smart light bulbs is that they connect to the tech you’re already using–whether that’s your Amazon Echo or your phone.
Once you’ve got things set up, you’re good to go, and you can continue to manage your life using one interface; no shuttling between different devices and trying to remember how to use which application.
Play It Again, Sam
Another feature included in some smart light bulbs? A speaker! That’s right, the light bulb you install in your ceiling or your lamp might also double as a speaker. Not all light bulb speakers have the best audio quality, so if that’s important to you, you’ll need to do careful research.
However, if you love the idea of your music following you throughout the house, installing a smart bulb with a speaker in each room you frequent can allow you to enjoy your favorite music wherever you are, without lugging around a wireless speaker or purchasing multiple speakers to set up throughout the house.
Science Helps You Sleep
We are also big fans of how some bulbs are combining the latest in sleep and light technology to help you get more rest at night. Some bulbs change up their color temperatures so that your melatonin production and circadian rhythms aren’t disrupted during the day.
Other bulbs allow you to use light to help stimulate your body to produce more melatonin at night when you need it. For those of us who are stuck indoor, on screens all day, this can boost health and overall well-being immeasurably.
Are Smart Light Bulbs for Everyone?
Just like any other technology, smart light bulbs might not be for everyone. If technology generally stresses you out, for example, and you won’t have help getting a smart bulb set up, you’ll probably be happy with a traditional LED light for quite a few more years.
That said, smart light bulbs can be very simple to set up and if chosen well tend to add comfort to your life rather than diminish it. Overall we’re fans–except for one thing. Security.
Are Smart Light Bulbs Safe From Hackers?
Because smart light bulbs are connected via a network, they are a potential point of weakness from a security standpoint, also known as an attack vector. Passwords, encryption algorithms, wifi details, and more can be obtained without the homeowner being aware.
What’s a homeowner to do? Should he or she avoid smart light bulbs altogether? We don’t believe that’s necessary. Instead, make sure before purchasing that you research the bulbs you’re interested. Are they known for their security vulnerabilities, or are they general considered to be impervious from attack?
Make sure your vendor keeps their software up to date, and make sure you use an isolated network that doesn’t run important (and sensitive!) info, such as your bank account.
Are Smart Light Bulbs for Everyone?
The new smart light bulb, part of the rapidly growing internet of things, might seem complicated or frivolous, but most are very simple to install and setup–and they can bring loads of extra comfort you didn’t even know you could achieve!
From utilizing color technology to allowing your favorite music to follow you through your house to increasing your home’s overall security, smart light bulbs are the brand new tech you didn’t even know your home needed.