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Smart bulbs, plugs and switches: Which one is right for you?



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Tyler Lizenby / CNET

When it comes to launching a smart home, lighting is one of the easiest ways to get started. You might think that this starts with an intelligent light bulb, but there are other ways to add Smart to your lighting

Smart light bulbs, switches and plugs can all contribute to a well-lit, well networked home. Every kind of intelligent lighting is different, with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Let's take a look at the options and the best ways to use them.

Intelligent Bulbs

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Philips Hue lamps come with a hub that connects to your router.


CNET

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Lutron Smart Switch controls your existing lights.


Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Smart bulbs come in many shapes, sizes, colors and configurations. With intelligent light bulbs, you can beautify any existing light such as a kitchen pendant light or a bedside lamp. They are great for single-bulb lights or small groups of lights that you want to add Smart (or even Color-Changing Capabilities ).

You can buy smart bulbs one at a time, but many come in starter kits (like this one from Philips Hue ), which contain a bridge to connect the lights to your Wi-Fi. This allows you to control your lights with remote controls, apps or voice assistants.

Other smart bulbs, such as those from Lifx do not require a bridge, but connect them directly to your wireless network.

Smart light bulbs can be integrated into other smart home technologies in scenes and routines with Amazon Alexa Google Assistant or Siri .

Smart Switches

Smart Switches are a great way to make your lighting smart without the expense and effort of replacing any light bulb in your home. For example, if you have one or two switches that control many recessed lights, choosing a smart switch is likely to be more cost-effective.

Wired smart switches such as those from Lutron and Wemo replace your existing switches and are plugged into the power of your home.

Lutron's switches also require a bridge that connects to the router of your home. From Philips Hue one even speaks of completely batteryless, wireless switches.

One thing to watch out for: Some smart switches do not work with three-way lighting setups (where a light is controlled by two different switches in your home).

Take a look at what you have at home and, as always, make sure you turn off the circuit breaker before performing any electrical work, or consult a licensed professional.

Smart plug

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There are a number of smart plugs.


CNET

If you want to make your own lights like lamps smart, consider a Smart Plug . Without having to replace the bulb, you can connect your lamp with smart plugs to voice assistants and smart home hubs.

Smart plugs not only turn products on and off; There are some very useful features that are hidden in smart plug apps. Some intelligent plugs monitor the energy and provide a real-time and daily, weekly or monthly report on how much energy is being consumed.

The absence mode, which is available in many smart plugs, simulates someone at home by switching devices on and off arbitrarily for a specific time window. This is a useful way to deter intruders while you are out of town.

The biggest disadvantage of smart plugs is the design. Some smart plugs look good, but block adjacent sockets with their size or shape. Other plugs are extremely ugly, but they do a good job of keeping adjacent ports free for other purposes.

If you're looking for a space-saving connector, a mini model might be right for you.

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Upgrades and Accessories

Many smart bulbs, switches, and plugs can be connected to motion detectors via their apps or IFTTT (if that, then that) to help them flashlight through your house. These smart lighting options can also be scheduled at specific times or upon your arrival.

The Smart Lights and Internet Integrations options are broad and support loads of cool use cases. For example, at the CNET Smart Apartment we have color changing lights that match the air quality report for the city on that day: green for good or yellow for a warning.

No matter how you choose to beautify your lights, you will not want to wander around your house to turn off all lights before going to sleep, or stumble across the hall to find the light switch for a midnight snack ,

This is your complete LED Buying Guide

Do you want to buy a smart plug? Please read first


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