Smart lighting is a new technology that is changing the way we light our homes, both inside and out.
In this article, we will use our expertise in smart home technology to give you a rundown of the best smart lighting on the market, the best smart light bulbs, and how to integrate smart lighting with a Boundary smart home security system.
What is smart lighting?
Gone are the days of the on-off switch and clunky manual timers; now, you can control your home’s lighting remotely via an app or voice command and have different colours at the touch of a button. Link and set routines for your entire home lighting system,or sync with your sound systems to create a party vibe or relaxed mood.
Types of smart lighting
Smart bulbs are similar to regular bulbs except they are controlled via an app, remote control panel, or linked to other smart devices via Google Home and Alexa.
These lights come in all different shapes and can be fixed on your wall.
Thin strips of LED lights can be cut to size or bent to fit anywhere in your home. Popular around the edges of children’s bedrooms or as a soft back light hidden above the kickboards of kitchen cupboards or as uplighters inside bookcases.
Smart light switches
These switches work in a similar fashion to regular light switches, but are connected to the cloud, meaning you can control them remotely from your mobile.
The best smart light bulbs, panels & LEDs
Philips produced one of the first smart bulbs to appear on the market. Their Hue range of white bulbs, colour-changing LED bulbs, and wirelessly controlled lamps are simple to use, easy to set up, and some of the market’s best smart lights.
To connect your smart bulb to your home’s network, all you need is the Phillips Hue app. For multiple lights in your household you will better with a Philips Hue Bridge. You can have up to 50 lights and accessories on one bridge, and any internet device can control the Hue system. This includes smartphone apps or other smart home devices like home automation voice command.
Philips Hue bulbs come in 3 colour types; white, white ambience, and colour ambience, allowing you to adjust the colour temperature from bright daylight to soft, warm white. The white and colour ambience displays the same white light and an incredible 16 million colours.
In 2019, these bulbs became compatible with Bluetooth, meaning you can control them via the Philips Hue Bluetooth app rather than with the Hue Bridge. A variety of formats are available including simple bulbs, light strips as well as the lights themselves, all with the accessories you need, and there are even Philips Hue starter kits to make installation simple.
The Philips Hue collection was awarded Best Smart Lighting and Best Outdoor Lighting in 2021 and has added some fantastic new products to its collection. These include the Play Gradient Light Strip, which allows for multiple colours in a single LED strip, and the Philips Hue + Spotify, where you can create a lighting experience that fits your music.
The range includes mood lighting, motion sensor night light, office, daily activity, and ambience lighting. Not only does the collection include smart outdoor lighting and entertainment lighting, but it also features Smart Secure lighting, where you can set your lights to come on when you’re not home, a factor known to improve smart home security.
- They can be fitted to your regular light fixtures, meaning there is no need for re-wiring.
- They have a vast variety of indoor and outdoor lighting. LED strips, sensors, and entertainment light strips with thousands of colours.
- The app is simple to install and use and is incredibly responsive.
- They can contribute to your home’s overall security.
- Your energy bills may go down.
- The bulbs are quite expensive
- The bridge is one more electrical device that needs to be plugged in.
Nanoleaf is a company with energy efficiency at its heart. From creating the most energy-efficient bulb in the Nanoleaf One, to the breakthrough Nanoleaf light panels, which were created with the idea of playing with lighting as LEGO.
Nanoleaf has continued to revolutionise the world of lighting. They created the Rhythm Music Visualiser, a fully immersive light and sound fusion, and the Nanoleaf Canvas Squares, the first-ever touch-intuitive lights.
In 2020, the company launched its Nanoleaf Shapes, the first-ever interconnecting modular smart lights. If you’re looking for smart light panels that are guaranteed to get people talking or get the party started – look no further.
These light panels come in different sizes of interconnecting shapes, such as hexagons and triangles. Create designs on your walls by connecting the light panels together for a totally unique look.
They are so simple to put up; just decide on your design and stick them to the flat surface using the double-sided mounting tape. There are 16 million colour combinations, so you will never get bored. Plus, you can even link up to your music to have the colour change in time, creating a disco effect. Ideal for teenagers’ bedrooms whether they’re into gaming or music.
No additional hubs are required, and you can turn them into touch-reactive panels to control all of your Homekit products at once with a simple touch. Lighting is easily managed via the Nanoleaf Mobile app, which similar to Philips hue includes customising colour combinations and motions.
Nanoleaf lights are compatible with Google Assistant and Apple Homekit and have a 25,000-hour life, meaning you could keep them on for 12 hours a day for six years. As interactive wall art they are unique making them some of the best, most creative smart light bulbs on the market.
- They are simple to install using double-sided mounting tape.
- There are endless combinations of designs, with all the shapes fitting together in any random combination you like – making them a unique addition to any room.
- They are an energy-efficient smart lighting system and are very reliable.
- They are very expensive.
- They may damage the wall if you want to rearrange or move them.
LIFX smart bulbs
LIFX launched the first-ever LED smart Wi-Fi multicoloured light bulbs and since then has created a range of smart light bulbs and strips that are all compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings. Their lights work via your Wi-Fi network and can transform any room or occasion.
They have the Mini Day and Dusk smart light bulb that takes its inspiration from the sun with its 800 lumens of brightness and over 1000 shades of white, from cool to warm. Or, for a little extra added security, the Nightvision smart bulb with integral infrared light helps you see more clearly in the dark, even though the light looks off to the naked eye.
Their range of smart bulbs has billions of colours, and the bulbs themselves are long-lasting. There is no need for a hub or bridge; they work using Wi-Fi. Controlling and customising your smart light bulbs is easily done via the LIFX app. Plus there’s the option to set your smart lights to react to voice commands via Google Assistant, making life easier still.
- Straightforward to set up.
- The app makes it easy to customise your smart bulbs and control their settings.
- You don’t need a hub or bridge, just a Wi-Fi connection.
- They can sometimes lose connection.
IKEA has a selection of smart light bulbs controlled via their Tradfri gateway. These can be connected to your smart lights and controlled via the app or your smartphone using the gateway.
Compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Homekit, this system allows you to customise your smart lights from IKEA’s smart bulb ranges and control the colours and warmth of the light in your room.
To connect to the gateway, you need Wi-Fi. Then, you need to purchase a wireless motion sensor, wireless dimmer or remote control from the devices in the Tradfri range to connect your lights correctly. The major plus for this range is that it is easy to install and reasonably priced. Lights are easily controlled via the IKEA app or using voice control.
- Very reasonable price.
- The system is easy to install.
- The app is simple to use.
- These bulbs will only connect to your home Wi-Fi.
- They can be unreliable and can disconnect.
Hivesmart light bulbs
Hive has a range of award-winning smart bulbs, including the Hive Cool to Warm smart light bulb, the Colour Changing smart bulb, plus Dimmable smart bulbs. They can be controlled via the award-winning Hive app, no matter where you are.
It’s possible to customise colours, dimming and tone remotely, but you must purchase a Hive Hub to streamline the process. Hive smart bulbs can be used to replace your existing light bulbs, making it an easy switch to smarter lighting in your home.
- It works with other Hive smart products for a whole-home system.
- The app is award-winning and easy to use.
- The Hive system is compatible with the Philips Hue range.
- You need to purchase a Hive hub.
Govee LED strips
Govee has a range of smart light products, but the brand is known for making some of the best smart LED light strips.
Their LED strips enable you to light up any area of your home in a colourful and customisable way, transforming your living space. With millions of colour combinations, each strip comes with its own remote control to change colours, or you can link it to your music using the music sync mode.
Link it to your home Wi-Fi network to control your lights from anywhere in the world or simply use voice control. The strips are compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant.
The LED strips can be cut to any length and placed anywhere in your home using the super-strong adhesive. They can be plugged into the wall using the pin to pin connector. Under cupboards, round the back of your television, or under your bed frame to change the atmosphere in any room in all sorts of creative ways.
- They are thin strips that can be placed anywhere in the home.
- These LED strips only use a small amount of power.
- They can be customised to fit any space in your house by cutting the length or bending them.
- They can be expensive.
- If one of the LED lights doesn’t work, you will either have to cut it out or replace the whole strip.
How to choose the right smart lighting for your home
Smart lighting is becoming the norm. There are now smart lighting options for almost every type of lighting in your home. It will be a consideration with every major room renovation you do from now on. Smart lighting is more expensive, so in order to future proof your investment you probably want to think about your house as a whole. What do you need now and what might you want to add over the next few years? Do you need a system that features internal as well as external lights? Or, would you simply like to replace bulbs so that you can control your lighting for security reasons remotely?
How Boundary can integrate with smart bulbs
Boundary connects with 100s of other devices such as smart bulbs using smart home integrations to make your home smarter, more efficient and helpful.
Boundary works with Alexa and Google Home, and is listed in the Alexa Skills catalogue. Here are just a small handful of ways to integrate your smart bulb with your Boundary alarm.
- Set your lights to turn on when your alarm is activated – Using IFTTT, you can set any light to go on if there’s a potential burglary in progress. This is a great additional security measure.
- Have your lights triggered if there is an intruder – Many smart bulls have multi-color capabilities, so you could trigger your smart bulb to flash red when your alarm is triggered.
- Set your lights to turn on or off when returning home – Returning home at night and you want the hallway lights to come on? No problem with our IFTTT applets the minute you disarm your alarm and walk in through your front door hallway lights are turned on. Likewise, if your lights were already on, you can trigger this to be turned off as well.
How do smart light bulbs work?
They are LED bulbs with smart technology built inside, which can link to your Wi-Fi or via a hub or bridge. They are typically controlled via an app or voice control.
Can you put a smart bulb in any lamp?
All smart bulbs will fit into a standard light fixture like a ceiling light or lamp. Whether that’s bayonet bulbs, Edison screw candle bulbs, or GU10 light bulbs. Always make sure you research the right bulb type and fitting for your lights before making a purchase.
Are smart bulbs worth it?
They are generally three times the price of a standard light bulb. However, there are two very big advantages. Firstly, they give you a brilliant security option – allowing you to turn the lights on or off remotely to make your home look occupied when you are away or even late home from work. Secondly, there are some very clever integrations and routines you can set up to ensure that lights are turned off automatically when you leave your home. A big energy-saving plus that will begin to offset the higher purchase price of the bulbs over time.
Financial and security benefits aside, smart lighting gives you creative freedom too. With countless colour switching options and different types of mood lighting it’s easier than ever to transform the atmosphere in a room. How about dim, soft warm light for date night and colour changing blocks dancing in time with your music for friday night?
Which is better, LIFX or HUE?
Philips Hue offers some of the best smart light bulbs on the market. You won’t go far wrong with Philips Hue if you want to create the best smart lighting system. On the other hand, if you’re only looking for one or two smart lights, the LIFX range is affordable and reliable.