For smart home beginners, smart lighting is one of the easiest ways to dip a toe into the bright new world of smart home tech. An off-the-shelf smart LED lightbulb is fun to control through an app, easy to install, and can be had for less than $100.
If that's as ‘smart' as you ever want your home to get, it's a good buy. But if you see yourself jumping aboard the smart home trend as it goes mainstream, buy your smart lights as part of a smart home system.
Connected seamlessly to other devices through a central platform, and installed either at the switch or with a simple plug-in module, this approach gets you more from your smart lighting. Here are four considerations that make it a smarter choice.
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As part of a smart home, smart lights can deter burglars by making your home look occupied when you're not there. As well as controlling them remotely, you can set realistic schedules that mimic real life, such as having your lights come on at sunset, or at slightly randomized times. You can also take advantage of motion sensors to turn front porch lights into motion-triggered security lighting.
Most off-the-shelf connected devices need their own app to control them. By consolidating your smart lights and other devices around a single platform and vendor, you get a single app for everything in the home. This unclutters your phone and makes it simple to interact with your home. When you go to bed, for example, you can turn off your smart lights, check your door locks, and arm your security system via a single screen.
The other advantage of the ‘whole home' approach is that other devices will share their intelligence with your smart lights. This enables them to do proactive, helpful things based on an understanding of what you're doing. For example, you can have your porch lights turn on automatically when you remotely unlock your front door's smart lock – a great feature on dark evenings when you're loaded down with groceries.
Off-the-shelf smart lightbulbs are expensive because the ‘smart' technology lives in the bulb. While great to install as special features, they're expensive to equip your whole home with.
With Alarm.com, the special hardware typically lives in the wall switch. Once that's installed, your smart lights can incorporate a huge range of bulbs, from specialist LED bulbs to cheap fluorescent. That's great value, especially when you have multiple lights controlled by the same switch.