If you recently got an Amazon Echo or Google Home device then you are likely starting to look into all the other cool add ons you can get to make your home a Smart Home.

Generally, the first thing people look at is lighting. There are two main solutions each with their own pros and cons.

Smart Plugs

Most will start out with a few Smart Plugs. These handy little devices are essentially a modern take on the old fashioned timers that would allow you to switch on and off lamps at a preset time to make it look like someone is home.

Once the Smart Plug is connected to your network you get some additional options. You can set routines to turn on or off the lamp at set times. You can use voice commands to turn them on or off at will. They are a simple and cheap solution that can make your home a little smarter, but they do have some limitations when it comes to lighting. You can only turn them on or off, there is no ability to dim or change colours.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Easy to set up and use

Cons:

  • Limited to on-off (no dimming)

Smart Bulbs

Smart Bulbs are great in the right situation. There are lots of different options, standard bulbs, ceiling bulbs such as GU10s, light strips, and even some external options. But they can be expensive and have their own drawbacks when it comes to human interaction.

After trying a few different bulbs I’ve found the Philips Hue to be the best option. They are expensive, but when it comes to bulbs you really do get what you pay for.

The best thing about the Smart bulbs is they give you a lot more control over the lighting. Depending on the bulbs you can turn them on or off, set timers, change colour, change the temperature, and dim them.

The main issue is they will only ever be bulbs. While a Smart Plug can be moved to numerous different locations or devices, a bulb is pretty much just a bulb. You also have to battle with a lifetime of habits. People walk in or out of a room and hit the light switch. You need to have this switch on at all times to send power to the bulb. Once someone heads to bed and knocks off the light switch in the same way they have always done, your bulb is rendered useless.

Pros:

  • Gives lots of control
  • Easy to set up and use

Cons:

  • Constantly getting turned off by people
  • Expensive


Conclusion: Each option works well in the right situation and most people end up with a mix, so don’t worry about making the wrong choice early on.

I started with some smart Plugs and used them on Lamps, I have since upgraded to Smart Bulbs for the lamps in the sitting room. I prefer the level of control over the temperature and light levels for that room. But I don’t use them in the main big light as they are constantly getting powered off via the switch on the wall.

The Smart plugs are still used all over the house on other lamps where I don’t need the extra control. Such as in the hallways and kitchen. They were great over Christmas for tree lights that can be easily turned off without climbing behind the tree. In general I have moved the plugs to sockets that are hard to reach but frequently used. 

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