“Smart lighting just isn’t about impressing guests, it plays a vital role in improving personal wellbeing.“
Remote working is on the rise and many of us are looking for ways to increase our comfort, happiness, and productivity at home. Studies have illuminated lighting’s profound effect on the human brain, proving that a simple switch to the brightness level of room can make people more relaxed or productive. Poor lighting, on the other hand, contributes to anxiety, low-mood, and procrastination.
With a smart home system, you can live your best life at the press of a button. Compare the shrill blast of an alarm to being gently nudged awake by lights that gradually brighten, or drifting off as the light and colours in your bedroom gently darken.
If you’re ready to make the switch to lighting that improves your daily well-being, read on to learn about lighting control for the home.
What Is Smart Lighting?
Intelligent lighting lets you control the light in your home remotely by using connected devices. Devices can include a smartphone or a tablet, or a central control panel within your home. Smart lighting integrates with other smart home devices like Google Assistant, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Amazon Echo.
A traditional light switch needs you to manually flick a switch on and off. A dimmer switch allows for some functionality, but in 2023 more people are opting for intuitive, wireless lighting throughout their homes.
More control over your lighting can also lead to a reduced carbon footprint and cheaper energy bills. But the real benefit is the improvement to your health.
Why install Smart Switches in your home?
Artificial lighting illuminates 90% of our lives. Hobbies like gaming, watching TV, or long hours at work mean we spend more time indoors than ever. But a lack of natural light can wreak havoc with our sleep, cognition, and overall mood.
Have you ever noticed feeling more lethargic on gloomy days but energised when the sun comes out? That’s because the human body’s natural circadian rhythm responds to light. It’s why many struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in winter as a lack of sunlight contributes to depression and low mood.
Since the invention of the lightbulb we’ve been ignoring our biological rhythms in favour of longer hours indoors. But it can come at the cost of our physical and mental well-being. Bright light at the flick of a switch might be convenient, but studies show it can make it harder to rest or conversely, impact how alert we feel.
That’s where intelligent, modern lighting comes in.
Boosting health with a Smart Switch
Humans are happiest working in tune with their natural rhythms. Smart switches and lighting systems are designed to mimic our circadian rhythm and be adjusted to suit the time of day and which season we’re in. Of course, they also provide colourful ambiance when you’re in an entertaining mood!
Boost your mood by adjusting not only brightness but the hue of your lights. Blue light is proven to disrupt natural sleep cycles. It’s high energy, slows melatonin (a chemical our body produces for sleep), and increases wakefulness. This is why we’re advise not to look at phones, tablets, or TV right before bed! Ensuring that there’s less blue light in your home before bed will help your body wind down natural for a good night’s rest.
Smart switches can be set up to reflect the amount of daylight outside, which helps you feel alert and energised in the morning and relaxed in the evening. As much as we’d like to be, humans aren’t designed to be ‘on’ 24/7, and staying up past our bedtime to work often produces diminishing returns.
What’s the difference between Smart Light Switches and Smart Bulbs?
Not all smart lighting is created equal. Before you upgrade your home, there are 3 types you should be aware of:
Smart light bulbs pair with a smartphone app and let you alter brightness settings and colours remotely. Smart lights bulbs can operate by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple HomeKit. Some, like the Philips Hue, use a special box that’s linked to the bulbs – we’d recommend this as a good DIY option! Smart bulbs can integrate with existing smart home systems like Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Amazon Alexa. However, a dodgy wi-fi connection can lead to lights not responding to voice commands.
Smart light switches replace traditional light switches in your home. The beauty of smart switches is that they can control light emitted by non-smart bulbs, so there’s no need to replace all the lights in your home. This might be music to your ears if you have tricky light fixtures or high ceilings with hard-to-reach bulbs! Smart switches are intuitive, letting you create the right ambiance in each room via convenient touch control. It’s also easier to replace multiple switches than every bulb in the house, puts less strain on your wi fi, and means you don’t need to whip out your smartphone every time you need to turn the light off.
Smart lighting systems are hardwired into your home. You can still operate the lights by remote control and integrate the lighting to other smart home devices, and the bonus is that the lights work even if the Wi-Fi is down. Lutron, Control4, and Rako are all excellent options.
When to install Smart Light Switches or a Lighting System
Moving into a newbuild or at the start of renovation is the best time to consider the type of lighting you need as smart lighting is wired differently from traditional lights. Often, homeowners see lighting as an afterthought. Smart renovators consider the lights early because if you need to hardwire your home it’s best done at the start of a project. It also gives you the opportunity to consider all the options, like a retro fit Smart Lighting system, which doesn’t require ceilings to be taken down.
It’s worth pointing out that you don’t need to choose between smart bulbs and smart switches, or hardwire every light in your home. Many homes opt for a hybrid lighting system. You can install smart lights where you think they’ll make the most impact e.g. lounge, kitchen, dining room, hallway, stairs, and master bedroom.
What is a 3 Way Smart Switch
A 3 Way Smart Switch lets you control light from two different locations e.g. you can switch your bedroom lights on from the hallway. They’re often used in bigger houses and can help reduce your energy bill.
3 Way Smart Switches connect wirelessly to your Wi-Fi without the need to rewire the entire house. They can be operated by voice control, and most are simple enough to install yourself. 3 Way Smart Switches also integrate with security alarms for peace mind while you’re on holiday.
Do Smart Light Switches work with Dimmer Switches?
Smart bulbs don’t work with traditional dimmer switches. This is because they have their own dimming function. If you try to use a smart light in tandem with an old dimmer switch the two mechanisms can make the bulb flicker or strobe. You’ll achieve better brightness control by using a smart light’s built-in dimmer function.
How to connect a Smart Light Switch
You have 2 options for installing smart light switches:
- Hire a professional
- Do it yourself
Hiring a professional might be more expensive but it’s the quickest and easiest way to achieve lighting control throughout your house. Skilled lighting professionals know how to troubleshoot problems and conduct electrical work safely.
DIYing your lighting is absolutely possible. We’d recommend using a starter kit like the Phillips Hue which covers the basics. Further down the line, you can add more lights or extend your smart network to include security. Most smart bulbs and switches are compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
However, the more elements you add the more complex things become. If you’re a tech newbie you could find configuring your smart hub downright infuriating. There’s also the safety risk to consider when dealing with live wiring.
There’s no shame in hiring a professional. Lighting engineers and designers have many years of training and hands-on experience, enabling them to get the job done so you can move on with the rest of your renovation. Professionals can also set up a home network that includes security and home entertainment.
How much does Smart Lighting cost?
Costs vary depending on whether you want wireless light switches throughout your house, a hybrid system, smart home system, and whether you choose to hire an electrician or DIY.
Here’s a rough guide:
Smart bulbs: £7 – £50
Smart light switches: £20 – £60
Dimmer switch: £20 – £60
Smart lighting for whole house: £3,000 – £10,000
Also factor in an electrician’s hourly rate if necessary.
Who installs Smart Light Switches and Lighting Systems?
As discussed, you can install smart light switches and bulbs yourself.
If you don’t have the time or skills, you can hire a company with a team of trained professionals to install your smart home hub.
John Ross Smart Living is one of Scotland’s leading installers of smart home technology. We’re a trusted company working nationwide to bring Smart Living into peoples’ homes. We help homeowners design smart lights that work with their lifestyle to create harmonious homes with ambiance. We offer ongoing maintenance contracts because there’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with technical issues.
Why is it important to work with a professional?
In our opinion, working with trained professionals and lighting designers is the best way to light your home.
Not only will a reputable company know how to handle tricky wiring and install the best smart light switches and compatible devices, but they also intuitively know what type of lighting best suits different areas of your home.
Downlights in the ceiling, up lights set into flooring, wall lights, feature walls and pendant lights are all useful to create ambiance in your home. Lighting designers go the extra mile to create lighting scenes that energise you in the morning and help you wind down and rest come nightfall.
Can Smart Lights integrate with Smart Home Systems?
The short answer is yes!
If security is one of your priorities, smart gate and door entry systems can turn lights on as you arrive at the house. If smart light switches are connected to smart speakers, your favourite song can play automatically when you enter the front door, or first thing when you wake up. Smart light switches can also be used to control outdoor lights.
Imagine the convenience of using voice command to dim lights and play relaxing music from the comfort of the sofa or asking Alexa to illuminate the hall en-route to a midnight snack.
Smart Switch Summary
The best smart home light solution depends on your budget, how much remote control you want over your lights, and probably how big your house is.
The best smart light switches integrate seamlessly with your other devices and are an easy option to upgrade an existing switch. You’ll be able to operate the mood and brightens of your home via voice commands and might be able to install smart switches yourself.
If you live in a big house, need more than one switch, and are interested in a holistic lighting design that integrates fully with your entertainment and security systems, paying a company like John Ross Smart Living to professionally install a lighting system throughout your home is worth the investment.