Buying and installing smart lighting can be confusing, so we’ve got some tips for you here. We also have a separate guide on how to use smart lighting to transform your child’s bedroom.
Finding the ideal placement for your smart lighting will maximize the impact. Be aware of possible reflections, especially if you’re installing them in a living room or office, because you don’t want your smart bulbs reflected off a TV or screen. You should always run a cable to an outlet, so consider cable management to hide it as best you can. Plug in the lighting and connect it via the app before installing it. Make your design with panels first and make sure you’re happy with it before trying to hang it on your wall.
Most smart lighting panels and strips come with adhesive on the back. You have to prepare them well before sticking. It’s critical to clean the wall before installation and follow the instructions to the letter to make sure it sticks and stays (if it says “press for 30 seconds,” do it). Be sure to lock your curious cat or dog in another room while you set it up!
Removing panels and strips can damage your walls. I have suffered from cracked paint and dimples in the plaster when removing smart lighting. Going slow and applying heat with a blow dryer can help reduce the risk of damage, but the difficulty of this process is a good reason to be careful with your setup.
The brightness of lighting is measured in lumens. For example, a standard 60-watt incandescent lamp provides about 800 lumens. Since most decorative smart lighting is not designed to be the main light source, it is often quite limited in brightness, so keep this in mind.
RGB (red, green, blue) is standard and mixes those three to create other colors. RGBW contains a good white in addition to red, green and blue, which offers more flexibility and is important if you want high quality white light. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K) and displayed as a range (e.g. 1200K–6500K). This range determines how warm or cool your lighting can get. Perhaps counterintuitively, red and orange are at the bottom of the scale, and blue at the top. The last thing to consider is the Color Rendering Index (CRI), a score out of 100 that indicates how effectively a light can mimic daylight. It affects how the colors of illuminated objects appear. For example, with low CRI scores, red may appear brown. A score of 80 or higher will work just fine in most situations.
Most smart lights connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and are controlled by an app on your phone. You need a decent WiFi signal or you need to be within Bluetooth range. While it may seem desirable for simplicity to have lights connected directly to Wi-Fi or to use Bluetooth, there are benefits to systems with dedicated hubs. With Philips Hue, for example, lamps can be connected much faster and respond to commands via the Hue Hub than via Bluetooth in the app. Most smart lighting can be controlled by smart voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, but be sure to check compatibility before purchasing. You probably want a smart speaker or smart display in the same room as your lighting.
Think of physical checks. Smart lighting must always be plugged in to respond. If it’s only app-driven, it can be difficult for kids in the house or visitors to turn the lights on or off. Many light strips and panels also come with a control unit with physical buttons and sometimes a button to cycle through colors or effects – this is worth looking for if you have children in the house.
Check how many zones your smart lighting supports. Smart light strips on the cheap side of the market may only have one zone, meaning the entire strip can only display one color at a time. If you want multiple colors or animated effects, you’ll want multiple zones (the more, the better).
For light strips, please check the length and measure in your space before purchasing. Cheap light strips may lack protective covers for the LEDs, which will affect the lifespan. If you want to cut a light strip to a certain length, make sure your preferred option allows it and follow the instructions carefully. Some light strips are also extendable, but always check before you buy.
There can be privacy concerns with smart lighting. The ambient lights here that offer a reactive mode that changes the lights to the beat of the audio in your space have microphones to make this feature work. It’s something to keep in mind, though the companies claim they don’t record or send audio anywhere, and everything stays on the device.\
This post 8 Best Smart Home Lighting (2022): Decorative Panels, LED Strips, and Mood Lights
was original published at “https://www.wired.com/gallery/best-smart-lighting/”