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Striving for the Ultimate “Smart” Home: Smart Home Improvement! Lighting Part 4

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Home Improvement Starts with Smart Home Lighting

A line up of hue soft white light bulbs.
Smart LED Light Bulbs

Adding to the list of intelligent items within the house would be my use of smart lighting, or more specifically, home improvement through smart home lighting. There are many options available to us consumers. I currently use several options from Philips, their Hue branded line of smart lights. I had made the investment in my last home and quickly replaced all of these bulbs before moving with standard LED lighting. There was no way we would make our move to the new house and not bring these Hue lights.

Let me first say owning smart lights is an investment. Start small and then branch off to other rooms in the house. There are other options open to you, with smart switches and plugs being a few others. Smart switches are excellent but require a little more installation know-how, given it involves working with electricity, as opposed to unscrewing and screwing in an alternate light bulb. Smart switches need you to shut off the power to the outlet you are replacing and remove it. Depending on the light switch and the number of things it controls will determine how it must be wired.

A pair of light sensors that sense when you are in the room and when you are not
Occupancy Light Sensors

I have kids, and they are the most complacent individuals on the planet. Enter a room, turn on the lights, and immediately leave the room with lights remaining on. Such is the daily routine of young kids. Memories of my parents yelling at me to “turn off the lights as electricity is not free” echo within my head. Certain rooms lend themselves to occupancy switches rather than intelligent lighting. In my mind, I still view occupancy sensors as being smart. They are relatively easy to install and eliminate the need to yell at our kids for not turning off lights in specific rooms. They are perfect for stairways, mudrooms, laundry rooms, storage rooms in the basement, and other rooms you deem necessary. These are excellent for walk-in closets, provided the light switch is located within the closet. Our current closets have controls on the outside of the closet. With this came a new challenge. The last thing we wanted was to walk by the closet and the lights to go on in the closet every time we entered the room.

A pair of ceiling lights with motion detection.
Closet lighting

Our closet solution, replace the light fixtures with occupancy sensor ceiling lights. The light itself has the sensor built-in and comes in handy in the morning. With this came better lighting as the lumens can be adjusted, and the pricing was very reasonable. My goal was to test these out before installing the same units into my son and daughter’s rooms. After a few weeks of use, I am happy to add these to all bedroom closets. Word to the wise, not everyone likes the brightest setting. Just know ahead of time, you may have to adjust this to your liking. This could involve removing the light again to adjust. My personal preference is brightest is best, but that is just me. We may be adjusting my wife’s light in the future.

Standar white bulbs from Philips hue.

Lights in the other rooms, I have found, are best served by the previously mentioned Hue lights. I remember walking before running when I bought the entry-level kit. It included a few white bulbs and was complete with the hub. It is important to know Hue has made some strides in lighting since my initial investment several years ago. It is no longer mandatory you buy the hub to get the new lights to work as they have included Bluetooth capability. Just know the Hue hub will unlock additional lighting capabilities. I believe my initial investment was strictly for the less expensive, non-colored version. This allowed us to adjust any range of warm to cool lighting.

Colored hie lighting from Philips Hue

I later branched out to specific rooms having the ability to change to any color. It was a novelty to be able to adjust the colors based on a holiday. There are a few applications that work well with certain Holidays. For example, you can synchronize the lighting with scary music for Halloween. Bright reds, vivid oranges, and glowing yellows flash in tandem and intermittently, creating a pretty unique sight depending on how many lights you have synchronized. While the colored lights add a certain dimension, you can get similar effects from the white lights.

Strip lighting available through Philips Hue

The Hue offering has grown over the years as they have expanded their offering to all sorts of lighting for the indoor and outdoor enthusiast. You can buy landscape path or spotlight lighting, outdoor wall lighting, indoor/outdoor accent strip lights, indoor recessed lighting, pendant lighting, and table lamps, to name a few. You can buy a few accessories as I have been tempted to buy the Hue Sync device. This device allows the lights to extend your TV viewing experience. The lighting of the movie/TV show is replicated in unison with whatever lighting option you have, provided it is a fully enabled color option. Unfortunately, the item is over $200, and I can’t justify the expenditure based on how little television we watch. Couple this with possibly Hue’s light strips, and you have a pretty powerful TV companion.

Motion sensors, switches and dimmers, smart plugs, and outdoor wiring round out the available accessories. The amount of money one can spend on lighting is almost endless with the market and the competition expanding almost daily. A word to the wise, once Pandora’s box is open, it is tough to shut. I recently discovered another lighting company I have become intrigued with. Nanoleaf has put a different spin on things, and I have begun to dabble with their lighting scheme. Their offerings are a good companion option or total replacement of the Hue offering. The item I was driven to buy was the Canvas lighting system.

Nanoleaf wall patttern lighting on a black wall.

The canvas kit is a system you can buy and explore your artistic self. Arrange the squares in a pattern of your liking on your wall creating all sorts of designs. The starter kit comes with nine squares to start. If you want to branch out, you can continue to add to the design “canvassing” your wall. The designs and color options are endless. This brings a whole new dimension to mood lighting. Do you need this at your house? Absolutely not! Am I excited by my needless expenditure? You betcha! Part 5


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