Upgrading your lights to smart lighting
There are several ways to go about upgrading your lights into a smart lighting system. The most obvious would be to order a whole in one system, which comes with smart men and women who will design, choose, install and possibly programme it for you. You will be left with a smart hub through which you will operate your new system, with the additional option of controling it with your smart phone or tablet while you are away. Since this option is also the most drastic and expensive one, it might be worth taking a look at more affordable, partial, and step-by-step ways of smarting up.
Starting at the basic level
What many people just entering the world of home automation are unaware of, is the fact that many existing features can be upgraded into smart ones with simple smart plugs. They are just what they seem - plugs which act as an intermediary between the energy source and your device, in this particular case, your light source. Smart plugs are very versatile and can be used with any traditional device, but they are perhaps most easily implemented with lights. All you need to do is connect them to your wall mounted switch and you instantly gain the ability to control your lights remotely. Another great option are smart dimmers, which can be installed behind your existing wall mounted switches, and work much in the same way as smart plugs, with the added dimmable feature.
Smart lights save energy
Perhaps the best feature of smart lights (including smart light bulbs) is their ability to save energy. As they can “read” the environment, they adapt to changing daylight conditions in real time and only use as much energy as needed to achieve a desired level of luminosity. They can also be pre-programmed. As counterintuitive as this may sound, since we are usually present in the room and can decide on the level of lightness or darkness we prefer at the moment, light is not really something we think of constantly. Too often we find ourselves in poorly or over illuminated rooms just because we fail to register the need for adjustment.
Switch controllers in a mesh network
Lights are basically controlled through switch controllers. Smart switch controllers can be turned off or on from anywhere, not only inside your home, but also from your office or even while you are away on vacation - this gives the impression that your house isn’t empty and wards off burglars. Smart switch controllers can also be connected in a network and managed all at the same time or in different groups. Setting a desired lighting atmosphere suddenly becomes a breeze with this type of arrangement. One of the more popular choices is z-wave wireless communication protocol, which connects all your switch controllers (and other smart devices) in a mesh network, as opposed to a hierarchical one. In a mesh network, each device connects with the one closest to it. This greatly expands the reach of your network.
Compatibility shouldn’t be a problem
Z-wave protocol offers many benefits, one of them being the wide interoperability of smart products by different manufacturers. The protocol was devised by a Dutch company at the start of the new millenium and has since become the preferred protocol for many companies, not least because its open-source policy allows users to adapt their networks to best suit their needs. Nevertheless, you should always check for compatibility when deciding on any new smart solution.