Five smart lighting solutions
Having a smart home isn't just about clever appliances or smartphone-controlled heating, there are also robotic vacuum cleaners, Bluetooth-enabled showerheads and music-playing mirrors available. However, and perhaps more importantly, you can also get clever lights too.
You switch lights on or off everyday and they can play an essential part in creating an ambience in a room, but once you are comfy on the sofa, the last thing you want to do is get up to turn the light off. Therefore, we have rounded up five of the best smart lighting options to consider installing that will ensure once you have sat down to watch that film, the only thing you'll need to move for is getting the popcorn out of the microwave.
Philips Hue has been around a while now, but it doesn't just offer a clever way to control your lights, it sets a new precedence when it comes to creating a mood in a room.
The wireless system allows you to use your smartphone to not only switch the LED bulbs on and off, but you'll also be able to pick the colour and brightness you want them to be.
Additionally, the system lets you program specific times so if you want everyone in the house to be woken up at 7am every morning by bright lights, this is possible, although you might not be favourite for doing it.
The Philips Hue starter pack offers three light bulbs and a wireless base that can control up to 50 bulbs but you can add more £50-a-pop bulbs as time goes on. If you are lucky enough to have a house that has more than 50 bulbs, bear in mind you'll need an extra wireless base.
PRICE: £179.95 for the starter pack, £49.95 per bulb thereafter
READ: Philips Hue review
MK Electric Astral
The MK Electrical Astral system from Honeywell will enable anyone with an iPhone, iPad or iPod to turn their lights on or off, as well as dim their lights from their device.
Astral doesn't require you to change your lightbulbs to work but you will need to swap your existing switches for Astral units and connect a Smart Interface to your router, after which the power of the lights is in your hands, literally.
The app will let you see which lights are on, allow you to turn them on or off remotely and you will also be able to set "scenes" so if you have a particular preference for movie watching, you can create this.
The Astral system also offers a holiday mode so you can make people think you are at home much easier than Macaulay Culkin did in Home Alone.
PRICE: From £45.99 for a 1G Dimmer Fascia
AVAILABILITY: Available now from Z-Wave Products.
Belkin WeMo Smart LED lighting
Belkin offers all sorts of WeMo connected devices and included within the range is the WeMo Smart LED bulb and the WeMo Light Switch, both of which allow lighting control from an iPhone or Android device.
The WeMo Smart LED Bulb will need to replace your existing bulbs but you will be able to control, schedule and fully dim them from anywhere using the WeMo Link, Wi-Fi and the WeMo app.
They can be controlled independently or in groups and like the Philips Hue base, the WeMo Link can handle up to 50 of the 60W bulbs, which according to Belkin last up to 23 years.
Belkin also offers the WeMo Light Switch that is designed to replace a standard light switch in your home and allow you to turn your normal lights on and off from anywhere using a smartphone.
PRICE: $99.99 for Belkin WeMo Lighting Starter Set, $39.99 for WeMo Smart LED Bulb, $49.99 for WeMo Light Switch
AVAILABILITY: Available now in the US through the Belkin website, UK availability said to be coming this year.
LG Smart Bulb
LG announced a Smart Bulb earlier this year that will require you to replace your existing lights like the Belkin Smart LED bulb and Philips Hue options.
The LG Smart Bulb will be controllable by iOS and Android devices and you will not only be able to set timers to decide when the bulbs switch on or off, but you will also be able to control the brightness.
The company claims you will get over a decade use from the bulbs if they are left on for around five hours a day and although there are no colour changing controls, the LG Smart Bulb will blink when you get a phone call so you'll have no excuse for missing any.
Those with an Android device will also get the benefit of Party Mode whereby the bulb will offer a brightness and blink effect complementing the music coming from the smartphone – clever right?
AVAILABILITY: Currently not available in the UK but we did find it on eBay with free international shipping.
READ: LG Smart Bulb hands-on
LightwaveRF is not just about lighting, it's about controlling your entire home whether that be heating, electricity or lighting.
It's a clever system to say the least and all it requires you to do is swap your sockets and switches for LightwaveRF units that offer push-buttons and LED indicators.
Once you have installed the system, you just use the switches and plugs as normal but you get the additional functionality of being able to remotely control and monitor your lighting, power and energy usage from an internet-enabled device.
The LightwaveRF app will let you to set routines based on your usual daily activities and because everything can be controlled while you are away, you can make it look like someone is home when you're on holiday to help deter unwanted visitors. If you want heating control too, you'll also need to add units to your radiators and boiler but this system has the potential to make your home completely smart.
PRICE: From £26.99 for a 1G 250W Light Switch
AVAILABILITY: Available now through Maplin.
Smartphone-controlled lighting isn't the cheapest upgrade you can do to your house, with many of the kits costing over £100, but once you have the convenience of it, you'll probably think it's the best money you've ever spent.