When it comes to light automation, most smart home owners are, well, left in the dark. In fact, smart home lighting might be the most underrated home-tech feature available today. Not only are lights one of the most frequently used utilities in a home – they might be the most necessary.
After all, aside from a romantic candlelit dinner, you can’t do much without them (and to be blunt, once you see some of these smart lighting options, you’re not going to opt for the candles).
Smart Home Light Automation
As homes become increasingly ‘smart’ and connected, there’s no reason for their lighting to be stuck in the dark ages. Remember those street lamps from Mary Poppins that some guy would light with a long stick every evening? Yeah, your on-off light switch is starting to look like that.
Smart lighting hooks into your home router and lets you customize and manage the whats, ifs, and whens of your lighting needs. You can customize your home by the room, choosing your light color, brightness, timing, and more, depending on the rig you have set up. And you can control it from your smartphone, tablet, desktop computer, or voice-activated personal assistant.
Light automation systems allow for control and options you may not have been aware of, or even considered possible. As with most products, some offer a bit more than others. But we say that with a smart lighting system, you really can’t lose. Here are a few of our favorite picks on the market today.
The Philips Hue is the 800-pound gorilla of the bunch. Hue systems allow you a full spectrum of lighting color and intensity that you can pre-program for each room or play with on command for any occasion, such as a gentle glow at certain hours of the day to go to sleep or wake up to.
Because it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, and Google Assistant, you can adjust settings through a variety of ways, including voice control.
And, in a move set to secure it as the most luxurious of the systems, Philips also just announced that you’ll be able to sync up Hue with games, media players, and movies, and it will match what you’re seeing onscreen. It already interacts with music players and even has a disco feature.
Hive Active Light also lets you control your lighting from your smartphone, and is compatible with Amazon Alexa voice-control, too. It offers fewer light bulb models and doesn’t quite pack in the amount of features as Philips Hue, but Hive is actively working on expanding their offering.
Osram Lightify is cheaper than Hive and Hue, but has many of the same features as both. Osram’s system also falls short of Hue’s feature-richness, in that you can’t synch your lights to music or TV – but it’s no slouch, and pretty good value for the money.
And of course, IKEA offers smart home light systems too (is there anything they don’t carry?), which they call TRÅDFRI. Their product is definitely affordable and great with plug-and-play simplicity and long-lasting bulb life, but falls short on color range – as of now, they only offer a spectrum of white-light bulbs. This is a good budget smart lighting system and technically gets the job done, but it definitely lacks the panache that the higher-end systems have.