There are several types of connected lighting, some better than others. In the long run, while it's fun to remotely control your lights with your phone, you'll get more value from a solution that offers real automation, powered by a smart home platform.
Shopping for connected lighting? Our smart home guide can help you make the best choice.
Here's what you need to know about the three main types of connected lighting hardware.
Smart bulbs are what they sound like: bulbs that screw into your existing light sockets and connect wirelessly to your home's network or hub. They're simple to install but have little connectivity with other devices in your home.
How to install: Screw the bulb in, and connect to your home network. If you're comfortable configuring devices, installation should be straightforward.
Now we're getting smarter. These devices plug into a wall socket, with a lamp plugged into the device itself. Once you're configured, you can start automating the lamp based on your smart home platform.
How to install: Smart plugs are smarter because they tend to be part of a system, connected to the Internet and a platform via a hub. To install a smart plug, you'll need to pair it successfully with a hub. This can be tricky, requiring some troubleshooting and time.
For completely connected lighting, smart switches are the solution of choice. Unlike a smart plug, they can also control your hardwired ceiling lights. They also provide the best aesthetic look: they don't take up a wall socket, and look as good (if not better) than standard light switches.
How to install: Smart switches are hardwired into your wall like standard light switches. As this requires expertise with wiring, power and switch configuration, smart switches are best installed by a professional.
If you have your lighting professionally installed as part of a smart home security system, you'll get additional security benefits, including automated scheduling to deter opportunistic burglars.
What else do I need?
We've discussed the hardware, but there's more to a connected lighting solution. To enjoy the real benefits – like motion-activation, scheduling and real automation – you need connected lighting that integrates with a smart home. This means sensors, a great mobile app, and a powerful platform that connects them all.
To find out more, visit the Alarm.com homepage here.