Planning and building a smart home is great fun. There’s an expansive range of options to use around the house and garden available at JB – the only limit is your imagination. Be warned, though: like buying vinyl, once you start, it’s difficult to stop!
You can have the best smart lighting throughout the house and the top-of-the-range cameras on the front of it, but if your home network is insufficient, it’s all in vain. A substantial home Wi-Fi network is essential for smart home success, so if you’re still running the router your internet provider sent you six years ago, it’s time to upgrade. Consider setting up a mesh network. Here a single router sends the Wi-Fi signal to satellite devices positioned around the house, boosting the Wi-fi signal.
Smart lighting is a great place to start if you’re interested in what the smart home has to offer. For around $20, you can invest in a smart globe and start your smart adventure. If once you dip your toes in, you decide to take the full plunge, the smart lighting world really is your oyster.
Smart lighting is the art of convenience. With a touch on a smartphone, you can switch them on or off and change the lighting mood. Lights can be scheduled on a ‘scene’ to come on at a specified time and operated remotely; convenient for saving running costs if you have a habit of leaving the bathroom light on when you rush out the door. And if you come home in the dead of night, some smart lighting features geofencing, a feature that works with the GPS in your phone. When you get within a certain distance from home, the lights will come on. It can also work as a safety net when you leave home, ensuring everything is turned off in your absence.
LED lights have a low thirst for electricity and will last way longer than traditional lighting. Replacing all of your old lighting with new smart LEDs is not only friendly to your back pocket in the long run, but it’s better for the environment.
Lights are added via an app with a smartphone or tablet. It’s easy to do, and once added, smart lights can be controlled through the same devices. If you own a smart display or smart speaker, look for smart lighting that is compatible with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa so you can call out from the couch, “Hey Google, turn the loungeroom lights mauve,” and marvel as the colour changes right before your eyes.
Do your homework
Some smart bulbs will need to connect via a hub such as the Philips Hue Bridge, which must be purchased separately or as part of a pack. However, other bulbs connect directly to Wi-Fi and others even via Bluetooth.
LIFX White to Warm Downlight
Have you ever stepped into a house where all the downlights are smart? It’s positively awe-inspiring. LIFX white to warm (available in colour, too) 100mm downlights are connected via Wi-Fi and used through an app. The best part is that they’re voice compatible across Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.
Available as both a bayonet or screw fitting, the LIFX Clean acts with all the functionality of smart light. It can also emit High Energy Visible (HEV) light onto smartphones, tablets, keys, killing any bacteria on the surface. Put the bulb in a lamp, direct at the device you want to sterilise, and let the HEV light work its magic.
Philips Hue Outdoor Lily XL Spot Light
One for outside, the Lily XL throws elegant, mood lighting at a tree, across a wall, along a pathway, or against the side of the house in white or one of 16 million colours. It’s an effective way to bring your outdoor space to vibrant life after dark and can even be controlled by Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Homekit.
Twinkly: The New smart lights on the block
This company is doing some exciting things with its extensive range of smart lighting. Controlled via an app, users can customise effect patterns, integrate existing Twinkly smart lights and control the complete array with a voice assistant.
The best way to describe the Flex is a bendable 2 metre length of neon light. The LED tube can be shaped in any design you can think of, and every LED in the tube can be individually controlled to produce different colours and gradients.
Like the Flex, this LED light strip offers complete control over individual colours, effects, and gradients. Put it behind the TV or along a kitchen bench to bring the space to life.
Perfect for parties, the Festoon is a chain of min bulbs with all the connectivity mentioned above, plus the ability to sync to music! They’re easy to chain together, and each bulb can render 16 million colours.