Smart lighting solutions: Here are seven options to choose from
Having a smarthome isn't just about clever appliances or smartphone-controlled heating, there are also robotic vacuum cleaners, Bluetooth-enabled showerheads and music-playing mirrors to consider introducing. But that's not all. You can also get clever lights too and that doesn't just mean smartphone control, it means all sorts of smart features to show off to guests.
You switch lights on or off everyday and they can play an essential part in creating an ambience in a room. Some smart lighting solutions enable you to recreate the colours within a particular image, while other solutions just mean you don't need to get up off the sofa to turn the lights off.
We have rounded up seven 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, 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 iOS smartphone to not only switch the LED bulbs on and off, but pick the colour and brightness you want , as well as recreate colours within a specific image, such as a sunset you uploaded to Instagram for example.
You can program specific times, for example waking everyone in the house up at 7am every day with bright lights and the Hue system also has a party mode for flashing in time with your music. Additionally, Philips Hue is compatible with the IFTTT service, meaning you can create all sorts of recipes that will take your smart lighting to a different level, such as making them flash blue if you get a Facebook notification.
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
AVAILABILITY: Available from the Apple Store.
READ: Philips Hue review
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, like Philips Hue, 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. The WeMo LED bulbs have also recently been updated to offer compatibility with IFTTT, meaning you can create various recipes like the Hue system.
Belkin also has 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: £79.99 for Belkin WeMo Lighting Starter Set, £24.99 for WeMo Smart LED Bulb, $49.99 for WeMo Light Switch
AVAILABILITY: Belkin WeMo LED Lightbulbs available now in the US and UK through Belkin. The WeMo Light Switch is currently US only.
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 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 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 through Maplin.
Elgato launched the wireless light bulb, called Elgato Avea, in 2014. Elgato Avea pairs via Bluetooth Smart and doesn't require a hub, but it is currently only compatible with iOS devices.
You control Avea through an iPhone, iPad or the Apple Watch and the app has various preset color scenes. Seven of those scenes are preloaded, though users will be able to adjust the bulbs to their preferences. There's also a wake-up feature that gradually increases the lighting to simulate a sunrise. Multiple bulbs can also be grouped together in the same scene.
Avea uses 7W and has 430 lumen brightness and matches Hue's 25,000-hour estimated lifespan.
PRICE: Avea costs $49.95 / £39.95.
AVAILABILITY: Available now from the Elgato online shop and select resellers.
GE Link Smart LED
GE Link is a connected LED lightbulb that you can remotely control and sync to other connected devices. Link works with an app called Wink - the same app for Android and iOS devices that controls GE and Quirky's Aros air conditioner.
You can use Wink to control one Link or a group of Links and there are three varieties of bulbs to choose from. You'll find options to set timers, turn lights on or off by location, dim or brighten lights, among other features.
The GE Link light bulbs connect via the Wink hub to the Wink app on your mobile device, which means you can control the bulbs from anywhere, dim or highlight for a specific setting, and automate lighting to fit your schedule.
PRICE: The Ge Link light bulbs range from $15 each to $50 starter kits (which includes the Zigbee-compatible Wink hub that plugs into outlets)
AVAILABILITY: Available now from the select retailers such as The Home Depot.
Originating on Kickstarter, LIFX is an LED light bulb that can be controlled using a smartphone app - but over your Wi-Fi network, rather than your phone's Bluetooth. From an Android or iOS app, you can turn your LIFX lights on or off, adjust brightness, change the colour, and even create a light show to go with your music.
Like many of the smart light solutions available, LIFX also offers a wake-up feature, allowing you to wake up naturally each morning with automatically increasing light, or drift off with slowly dimming lights. There are three models comprising the White 800, The Original and the Colour 650.
A single LIFX bulb isn't cheap, but it is said to last up to 27 years. Other technical aspects include 17W at full brightness, a 130-degree beam angle, 1017 lumens, and colour options that include pearl white and gunmetal grey.
PRICE: Light bulbs range from $99 each to $910 10-pack kits.
AVAILABILITY: Available now from LIFX's website.
Tabu Lumen Smartbulb
The Tabu Lumen Smart Bulb combines the practical utility of a standard LED bulb with multi-coloured lights and easy control via a smartphone app. The Lumen Smartbulb uses Bluetooth, so you won't need to fork out for a Wi-Fi hub, as you do with some others and the bulb itself is said to consume one-sixth the power of a 40W bulb, while delivering comparable light.
You can adjust the brightness and colour (16 million options) using the app and multiple bulbs can be controlled at the same time, with several options available including mini bulbs and lighting strips.
The Lumen Smart Bulb has a range of features include a call alert mode, in which the light can notify you of an incoming call, synchronisation with your music, along with proximity. The latter allows the light to know whenever (and wherever) you are nearby.
PRICE: Light bulbs start at $45.
AVAILABILITY: Available now from Lumen.