Home Automation with Smart Bulbs - A How-To Guide

You've probably heard all the home automation buzzwords–smart homes, smart bulbs, smart home technology, and even smart assistants. But if you're still wondering what all of that means and how this new technology can help you, read on to discover everything you need to know to become smarter yourself!

 

Choosing the Right Bulb for Your Home

Smart bulbs are different than the old-school incandescent lights you had growing up. Of course, they light up a room when you turn on the switch, but that’s not all they do. Smart bulbs are a unique and integral part of your home automation system and come with extra features conventional bulbs don't. They connect to your Wi-Fi, phone apps, and automation assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Samsung Smart Things.

 

Connectivity

If you're thinking about switching to smart bulbs, you might be wondering how connectivity works. The first thing to know is that the bulb will work with your current light switch and socket. You don't have to get anything new there. But, since smart bulbs are part of a smart home network via your Wi-Fi, you'll want to leave the switch in the "on position" all of the time. Then, you can turn it on or off with your phone, tablet, or voice assistant like Amazon Alexa.

 

And don't worry, having your switch in the on position won't use more energy because you now control it using your home automation system. Instead of turning the lights off at the switch, you'll turn them off with your voice or app.

 

Smart Assistant Integration

You'll need a home automation hub to connect the devices you want to control with your smart apps. Here are examples of things you can connect: the stereo, lights, garage door opener, door locks, stove, plugs, and switches. Consider the hub the main switchboard that controls the devices on your network. 

 

Popular smart home technology hubs are:

  • Amazon Alexa
  • Google Home
  • Apple Siri
  • Samsung Smart Things

 

The top builders are now building smart homes with Wi-Fi that connects your devices to whatever hub you choose.

 

Other Features

Smart bulbs can perform incredible smart home technology tricks like:

  • Changing colors - For example, if you have a Christmas party, you can paint one wall green by controlling one smart bulb. Or if you have a baby shower, tint the room pink for a girl or blue for a boy.
  • Dimming - With smart bulbs, you can dim the lighting without jumping up and going to the switch. Just tell your assistant to "dim the lights" and create a relaxing and romantic atmosphere. The great thing is you don't need an extra dimmer switch; it's all controlled through your smart home automation hub.

 

Save Power with Smart Bulbs

Smart bulbs save energy, and that means you save money. Old incandescent bulbs aren't manufactured any longer because they used so much more power and gave off heat. Although the initial cost is higher, LED bulbs reduce your electricity bill because they don't give off heat. Here's what Energy.gov has to say:

  • ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs save money and energy over traditional incandescent bulbs. LEDs use 20%–25% of the energy. And, they last up to 15 to 25 times longer.
  • Regular LEDs also save energy and money compared to halogen incandescent bulbs. LEDs last 8 to 25 times longer and use 25%–30% less.

 

Smart Bulb Wattage

In the past, with incandescent light bulbs, it was easy to tell how bright a light would shine. The wattage was on the package and the lightbulb; the more watts, the brighter the bulb. But with LED bulbs, instead of watts, they measure brightness in lumens (lm).

 

When you buy LED bulbs, here's an idea of how lumens and watts compare.

 

Incandescent vs. LED

  • 100 watts = 1600 lm
  • 75 watts - = 1100 lm
  • 60 watts = 800 lm

 

As you can see, if you didn't know there was a big difference in how brightness was measured, it would be confusing once you got to the store. But now, many manufacturers are also putting 60 watts on the package to indicate it's equivalent to 60 watts and make it easier for the shopper. Keep in mind that although many smart bulbs say they are comparable to a 60-watt incandescent bulb, some are brighter than others. Try a few to see which you like the best.

 

Set Routines with Your Assistant

When you have a home automation hub like Amazon Alexa, Echo, Google Home, or Apple Siri, you can set up a single task or group of automated tasks. A phrase or single word triggers smart assistants to do the function or functions.

 

For example, instead of using individual commands like this:

  • "Siri, turn the lights off."
  • "Siri, lock the doors."
  • "Siri, turn the thermostat down."

 

You can set up a group of morning tasks and control them with one command. Like this:

  • "I'm leaving the house now." That phrase can trigger specific tasks you've set up. For example: raising or lowering the thermostat depending on the time of year, turning the coffee pot and lights off, and locking all the doors.
  • "Time for bed." This command can trigger other commands like – turning the TV and lights off, lowering or raising the temperature, and locking the doors.

 

The routines are entirely customizable for you and your lifestyle, and it's enjoyable to set them up. Automated tasks are smart home technology at its best.

 

Home automation can make life easier and your home more secure. Want to learn more? Discover all about Pulte smart homes.

 

 

Contributed to Your Home blog by Carol Youmans

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 11.13.19

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