Automated lighting is one of the best, and easiest, ways to start saving energy and time. This can be as simple as screwing in a light bulb or more involved, such as changing out all of your switches. Here are a few ways you can start to think about automated your lighting:
Light Bulbs –
One of the easiest ways to start automating your lighting is by changing your light bulbs. Start by changing your bulbs out to LED bulbs with built-in wireless communications. The Philips Hue White LED bulbs are around $50 and controlled with your smartphone and the Philips Hue Bridge. Philips Hue also integrates very well with IFTTT, opening up endless possibilities such as having a bulb blink when you get a text or email. There are many alternatives with other wireless protocols such as the Aeon Labs Z-Wave Bulb which is in the same price range as Philips but works with Z-Wave controllers.
Plug-in On/Off and Dimmer Modules –
A very easy way to control the power to lamps and small appliances is by using plug-in modules. Please be advised of the basic differences between a dimmer module and an on/off module. The dimmer modules do not typically come with the 3-prong ground and are only intended for lighting. The on/off switch plug-ins have a ground and acts an on/off relay. The WeMo Wi-Fi Module runs about $35 each. If you have a Z-Wave controller, there are many different options for plug-ins.
Light Switches and Dimmers –
Changing switches and dimmers throughout your house is one of the best ways to automate the lighting and upgrade those old flip switches. If you are going to change out switches and dimmers, you should do a lot of research into which technology will work best for you and your home. We advise hiring a licensed electrician to change any switches or dimmers. If you choose to work with any high voltage in your home, please be sure to shut off the power from the breaker. You should never use dimmers on fans. You can save a lot of energy and have the capability to turn off all lighting with one button with smart light switches and dimmers.
Outdoor Modules –
Many people want to control their landscape lighting with timers and triggers. Outdoor modules are a perfect way to accomplish this, plug in any outdoor lighting or even Christmas lights. You can then set a timer to turn the lights on and off relative with the sunrise or sunset.
LED Light Strips –
LED light strips are relatively easy to install and control. Most RGB kits come with an IR receiver and a remote. This allows you choose from different colors, blink rates, and modes. RGB LED strips comprise of 3 different color bulbs (Red, Green, and Blue) at varying power levels to change to any color. RGBW contains an extra white bulb and offers brighter white with another set of colors. Philips Hue makes some easy-to-use strips that work with their Bridge. There are many ways to integrate into existing systems such as a Fibaro RGBW Controller to integrate into your Z-Wave Network.