LED Lighting and the Smart Home
If you’re familiar with LEDs, you’ll know how much a game changer they’ve been for the lighting industry. Many people have improved the efficiency of their homes, saved money on their energy bills, and stopped worrying about constantly replacing bulbs all the time. One important thing they’ve done, though, is to help to make smart buildings and smart homes a much more viable and affordable technology.

As more and more residential areas around the country are seeing smart homes pop up, it’s not a surprise that many people are curious about just what these smart homes are, as well as how these buildings function and what kind of lighting they use. The emergence of LEDs as a critical technology in lighting efficiency has played a huge part in making smart lighting technology available to a wider market.

What was once a technology for only the rich has finally been made available to the average consumer. This is due to the dropping price and availability of LEDs, which were once prohibitively expensive and not manufactured to the highest degree of quality as they are today. But LEDs don’t only make smart lighting more efficient, they also add customizability and control in several surprising ways. To get a better idea of how LEDs work with smart home lighting, let’s talk about just what smart home lighting is. 

First of All, What is a Smart Home?

A smart home is a residential space that utilizes a connected network of devices as part of one overarching system. The devices connected to this shared network can collect, receive, and send data, which allows them many important functions, such as the ability to be remotely controlled as well as adjust on/off functionality and energy usage depending on factors such as human presence and temperature settings.

Some of these devices include appliances such as dishwashers and laundry machines/dryers, garage doors, fridges, ovens, as well as connected lighting devices such as bulbs, light switches, and plugs. All these devices are often connected over a shared network, which can be routed and controlled through a smart hub. Then, you can use an app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer to control your smart devices, check in on their status, or set new schedules and functions. The aim of a smart home is to allow the homeowner to achieve higher degrees of both efficiency and convenience.

Most of the smart bulbs and light fixtures that come equipped with smart technology are LEDs, which over the last decade has become much more popular as a lighting option. The high efficiency and long life of LEDs, along with a few other factors, have contributed to their association with smart technology, and can help make your smart home into the efficient machine that you’ve been dreaming of.

Why LED Lighting is a Central Part of Smart Home Lighting

The reason that LEDs have become the choice technology for smart home lighting systems is a combination of factors including efficiency, lifespan, and flexibility. These factors make LED technology perfect for a smart home, where such characteristics are highly valued and essential to the system. Most users of a smart home want to save money on their energy bill while also adding convenient controls to their system. LEDs allow them to do just that.

Efficiency

The most obvious reason LEDs are commonly used in smart home lighting is their efficiency. LEDs are much more efficient than traditional lighting technology such as incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. This efficiency will pay dividends down the road, saving you money on your energy bill. When paired with smart technology, the efficiency of your home lighting system can get even better, as smart technology allows you tight control over when your lights operate, whether this through manual controls, lighting schedules, or sensors. This you’ll waste less energy and save more money on every home energy bill.

So how much can you actually save with LEDs? A lot, it turns out. In the same amount of operating time (25,000 hours), an incandescent bulb cost $180 to operate compared to $30 for an LED bulb. Magnify this difference by the amount of bulbs in your home, and you  could be saving a lot of money by switching to LEDs. LEDs are even more efficient than fluorescents: Over the same $25,000 hours a fluorescent cost $42 compared to LED’s $30.

Lifespan

In a side by side test completed by the website The Simple Dollar, the three main types of bulbs on the market today - incandescent, fluorescent, and LED - were compared for lifespan, efficiency, and total cost. At the end of the test’s duration, they found that the incandescent lasted 1,200 hours, while the CFL last 8,000 hours and the LED lasted 25,000 hours. 

When it comes to a smart home, having a bulb that lasts a long time is critical. Since smart bulbs and other smart devices are considerably more expensive than their normal counterparts, having a bulb that will last for many years will save you a lot of money and trouble. Since most LEDs last at least 25,000 hours and some even last up to 100,000, investing in a smart LED bulb grants you efficient lighting control for years to come.

Flexibility

Because of their long life and color variation, LEDs can be used in various applications in the home, from warm lights in the living room to bright, white lights for the garage or kitchen. Shine Retrofits, for example, offers a selection of LED lights that come with the ability to switch color temperatures from warm to cold, allowing you to choose what mood you want to set in that space. To get a closer look, check out Shine Retrofits’ selection of LED decorative ceiling fixtures. You could also install LED rope lights to accentuate a certain area of your home, or install LED bulbs under your kitchen cabinets for more work space illumination. With LEDs there are lots of options, and with the ease of smart home technology you might find yourself dreaming up new ways to illuminate your home.

How LEDs Connect to A Smart Home Network

You can connect your LED bulbs to your smart home network in several different ways. The first, and simplest, method is to smart bulbs, which have wireless connectivity built right into the bulb itself. That way you can connect to the smart bulb over your Wi-Fi or through a smart home hub. This way you could slowly replace all the bulbs in your home with smart bulbs and build a smart home lighting network piece by piece.

Another option is smart plugs, which control the functionality of any device plugged into it, such as a lamp. The bulb in your lamps wouldn’t need to be smart, thus allowing you to use normal LEDs to the same effect. Smart plugs are usually connected through Wi-Fi or a smart home hub, and can perform functions such as scheduling, dimming, and on/off switching. 

The same goes for smart light switches, which control any light fixtures that are wired to them. These do require a little wiring to get them going, but are a great way to connect existing LED bulbs to the smart home network. Smart switches can also provide sensing functions in the house, such as vacancy and occupancy sensing, allowing you hands-off energy-saving control of your lights. 

Shine Retrofits would love to help guide you in your smart home lighting purchases, as well as with setting up your smart home system. Our lighting experts are well-versed in the ins and outs of lighting technology, and can answer any questions you might have about what the best products for your lighting project are. You can reach our customer service team at 1-800-983-1315 anytime Monday through Friday from 6am to 6pm, Mountain Standard Time. We can’t wait to hear from you!