Smart lighting offers various ways to be controlled. Some initially appear traditional, like a simple light switch, but the options we nowadays have to switch to our preferred lighting scenes, go way beyond only turning lights on and off.
For a general introduction to smart lighting, see: Introduction to Smart Lighting: A Very Brief History of Light.
In this post, we look into the different options of controlling smart lighting, taking Philips Hue as an example. We will cover programming schedules and rules, as well as apps and switches and of course voice control.
Everybody has different preferences when it comes to controlling lights. The easiest way to interact with smart lighting is not to interact with it at all. Once we have programmed our routines, smart things will happen automatically.
For location-based programming with geo-fencing and motion sensors, see the Presence controlled Smart Lighting post.
In the posts Sleeping Better with Smart Lighting and Natural Smart Lighting, we look into programming schedules and timers, which work automatically and don’t need any additional interaction from your end.
Apart from initially setting your lights up and occasionally tweaking your settings, smart lighting does not need manual control. However, it’s always good to have a fallback, in case you occasionally want to deviate from the programmed routines.
Control Smart Lighting with an App
We associate the “smartness” of devices with our ability to pull out the smartphone, open an app and control our lighting by selecting scenes in configured rooms, changing color and brightness to our liking. Though this approach still gives you the most flexibility in what you can control, it is by far the most inefficient. Anyway, we have to become familiar with these apps, to program our smart devices to work automatically.
Some apps offer widgets – e.g. Apple Home app even offers a control center integration – to reduce the swipes and taps required to activate a scene or control a smart device.
Still, having to pull out your smartphone or fumbling with an Apple Watch app to control your home, wears off pretty quickly and works mostly only for you and not your family and guests.
Use your smart home apps only to program your lights to the maximum extent. There are more efficient ways to control smart lighting.
Control Smart Lighting with a Switch
Resembling traditional light switches, smart taps and dimmers offer you, your family and guests traditional control over your smart lighting.
Additionally, you have the option to program what happens when you click multiple times or press and hold a button as well as defining time slots in which a button click triggers a specific lighting scene.
You can switch through your “energize”, “concentrate”, “read”, “relax” scenes by repeatedly clicking a button or you can program that a click between 6:00 and 11:00 triggers “energize”, between 11:00 and 16:00 “concentrate” and so on. For a full configuration, see our Natural Smart Lighting post.
Last but not least, if your switch is HomeKit compatible – like the Philips Hue Dimmer in our example – you can control any HomeKit device with it. In this case, you need to create the automations in your Apple Home app.
There is a good reason, why we are focusing on voice control in our Assistants posts. There is no need to look for your smartphone or head over to a smart switch to control your smart lighting. Our quickest and most natural way to control smart lighting is to tell Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, to which scene of the many it should switch to. In case you feel like you need that too often, make sure you optimize your automations.
A combination of programmed automatic control through schedules, which run throughout day and night, together with voice control, in case you occasionally prefer something different is definitely the most efficient setup for you and your smart home. Having taps and dimmers programmed and in place, gives you, your family and guests a traditional fallback in case your assistant is on strike.
An ideal setup requires some planning and preparation, but it quickly pays off, once the system runs the way you have envisioned it.
How do you control your smart lighting? Share your experience or drop your questions below.