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  • Writer's pictureGregan McMahon

Let there be Lights! (and power...)

In our last blog post we looked at the basic building blocks of a Smart Home - the internet connected Smart speakers, or hubs, available from Google, Apple, Amazon and others. In this blog we are going to have a look at home you can use these to start controlling your physical environment.

One of the most common things people use their smart home hub for is to control their lighting.

This is especially useful for people with physical disabilities which may make it difficult or unsafe to control their lights physically. For instance having to get out of bed at night and turn on a light can be hazardous. There's a video case study we did HERE that may be of interest.

Smart lighting (especially outside the house) is also important from a safety and security perspective. Being able to switch on outdoor lights before you get home can give enormous peace of mind.

The the last 12 months the availability of "Smart Bulbs" has soared while the price has dropped dramatically. Smart lighting solutions are now readily available at Officeworks, Bunnings, JB Hi Fi - as well as K-Mart and Big W.

The prices range from around $14-$15 for a basic light bulb (which looks pretty much identical to all of the other lightbulbs you've ever used. What you get for this is a bulb you can connect to wifi, which is both dimmable and "tuneable" from cool white to warm white.

It's important to note also that a basic set-up doesn't require a Google Home or Alexa or the like - just a wifi connection. This will allow you to control the light via you phone using an app.

Brilliant Smart White Light Globe available from Officeworks - $14.

For a better known brand such as the Phillips Hue - expect to pay around the $20 mark for a similar product.

Lights that allow the user to set the colour to any colour they like, the cost of the increases to roughly double that of a white bulb.

Lenovo Smart Bulb - multi-coloured available from Officeworks - $29

Many newer homes, however don't rely as much on bulbs, with low voltage halogen down lights being the preferred option. This doesn't present a problem however with most bulb manufacturers selling the full downlight assembly as a smart light, so that with a bit of care and perhaps some plaster dust you can replace the entire light fitting without requiring the services of an electrician.

These aren't as readily available as the bulbs, but most specialist lighting suppliers can order them in if need be. These down lights will set you back fro $35 to $50+ depending on brand and whether you are happy with white or want to go full-colour.

The old switcheroo

Another option which works well for lamps and other simple appliances such as fans, is a smart switch. This is basically an internet connected double adapter (well single adapter).

It has a plug on one side that goes into your normal powerpoint and a socket on the other side where you plug your appliance - and shazam - it's now smart (well after you go through the process of setting it up in the manufacturers app and then linking it to your home hub if you have one!).

Another option that might be better in some instances (especially where there are a lot of lights on a single switch) is to replace the light switch on your wall with a new smart switch. While this my save on the cost of bulbs, a licensed electrician will be required to install.

Thanks for listening!


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