The first specific automation ability I would like to discuss is that of taking control of your in-home lighting in advanced fashion. Automating your lighting is a fairly easy project to tackle and it can really assist homeowners with their bills if setup correctly. So, without further adieu, here are three steps to automate your lights.
1. Buy a Smart Hub – Preferably SmartThings
The key to setting up your modern light control – and any other form of automation – is to buy a good smart home hub. Two years ago, I invested in a hub called SmartThings. At the time SmartThings was a startup company and I was actually one of the early adopters. This hub is a jack-of-all-trades that can connect to a variety of products which use frequencies from Z-Wave to ZigBee. The device’s capabilities proved so effective that the company was purchased by technology giant Samsung after just over a year on the market.
There are plenty of other hub options out there, such as Wink and Vera devices. However, I can’t recommend these to you in good conscience because I have not used them myself. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be considered in your search, obviously.
Once you have your brand new hub in your possession, you will need to set it up in the same spot as your router and modem. The hub will come with ample instructions to show you how to get all connected.
2. Determine a Plan
The second step in this process should be to formulate a plan of how you want to approach connecting your lights. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to start small to try it out, or go for a full-scale change?
- What kind of lights do you want to automate? Lamps? Overhead lights? Outdoor lights?
- Do you want to replace your kitchen lights with cool, color-changing Philips Hue lights?
- Should you take your system to the next level and get a voice controller like Amazon Echo?
You should have a clear idea of what your end game is when you set out to automate your home lighting. This will help you when it comes to actually buying the tools needed to make it happen, so you are prepared for the prices of everything that you will need.
On the most basic level, automating your homes various lamps and other plug-in things is much easier of a project than taking on the in-wall fixtures. For those looking at the simpler option, companies like Samsung and GE sell Z-Wave outlet modules that are designed for supporting lamps and other appliances. These go for about $35.
To automate overhead and in-wall lighting, you’ll need to purchase a Z-Wave or ZigBee switch. These switches are just like the typical light switches found in every house, but have the abilities to connect to your hub. Such switches also have dimming capabilities, though you’ll have to make sure you read the fine print to double-check before buying.
3. Buy Smart Gadgets and Begin Setting Up
Once you have an all-encompassing plan to control the lighting in your house, you can begin to start purchasing your various devices. Here are the various products that I recommend in this area:
- GE Z-Wave Smart Lighting Control Smart Dimmer Switch, In-Wall (LINK)
- GE Z-Wave Smart Lighting Control Appliance Module, On/Off, Plug-In (LINK)
- GE Z-Wave Smart Lighting Control Outdoor Module, On/Off, Plug-In (LINK)
- Philips Hue White A19 60W Equivalent Starter Kit (LINK)
- Samsung SmartThings Outlet (LINK)
A lot of the setup is actually pretty straightforward. The companies do a good job of providing clear instructions to their customers. I’ve found that their customer support, particularly with SmartThings, has been extremely helpful and friendly.
When you set up these devices, the best way to approach it would be to start with the ones that are closest in proximity to your hub and work your way out from there. The reason is that a lot of these gadgets help expand the wireless range, so by going inside to out you increase the chances of your further devices connecting without having to buy an extender.
If part of your setup includes some in-wall switches, consult an electrician/someone who knows what they are doing before messing around with all of that wiring. The last thing the Pate Realty Group needs is for someone to electrocute themselves off the recommendation of this blog post.
As soon as you are done, you will be able to take steps towards automation through the SmartThings app. Some of the things you can do are as follows. Have all lights automatically turn off at 11:00 p.m. and whatever time you leave for work to make sure you are saving energy. Another thing you can do to save energy is to set automatic dimmers at evening times when not every bit of light is needed. There are practically infinite ways you can automate these lights to make your life easier and save your energy. The SmartThings app functions as a fantastic guide to show users everything they can achieve.
Thanks for reading this post on how to get started with automating your in-home lighting. If you have any questions or topic requests, please leave them below in the comments.