I’m a Smart Home addict but I use a light switch.
Familiar with the term ‘there’s an App for that’? Most of us are. If you search for a lighting control App you’ll find plenty. Problem is it’s still far easier to go and flick that switch on the wall than to dig around in your apps, find that ‘app for that’, open it, log-in, find the right light and finally click it before your other half gets to the switch before you get to the app (believe me this happens in our house and I very rarely win).
TV remote controls: I’ll go and hunt for the remote rather than my phone even though I’ve got a smart TV and bothered to install one of those universal control apps on my phone- the ease of picking up the TV remote (usually it’s down the cushions where the children last stuffed it) and pressing just one or two buttons is easier than opening my phone (sometimes the fingerprint recognition works - more often not), finding that app and using its navigation to achieve the same thing.
There’s a few, usually very cheap, light bulbs around that come with a dinky little credit-card sized remote with all fancy colour-setting buttons - surely even easier to lose and still it’s easier to get up and go to the switch than try and find what the children last did with that remote.
Let’s face it, I still use a light switch. I’ve been able to use a light switch ever since I could reach it (maybe earlier watching my three year-old push a chair to the wall) and such a deeply engrained behaviour is going to be really hard to change.
The benefit of app-controlled lights isn’t to turn them on and off from the sofa - that’s not strong enough to justify spending 5x of a regular bulb (except of course those of us that just love testing out the latest tech - my favourite customer emails are from other enthusiasts saying they need to convince the other-half, often female, to get gadgets).
Rather the benefits are Ambience, Security & Peace of Mind as well as Comfort & Convenience.
Here are 7 ideas of what you can do with your lightings:
1) Get the ambience right for all sorts of reasons
The most you can do with a regular wall switch is dimming. Personally I hate buying new light bulbs as the colour always seems slightly different from everything else in the home. And the light never quite seems to be the right whiteness for the weather and time of year, particularly when I want a deep warm, not too bright colour in the winter. Getting the ambience right applies to many experiences - matching the lighting on film night, gently turning down the children's night light without having to go back into their room, turning down the landing light at night for the children, gently being woken in the morning or, of course, holding a disco for the children’s birthday parties.
Being able to have the colour automatically adjust to weather patterns and to sunset/sunrise, being able to set schedules and adapting to being away and the ability to change the ambience are really useful benefits.
2) Have them react to your presence
How often do you accidentally leave the light on? If you’re like me, going in and out of the rooms thinking you will be back in a second and you finally don’t, you probably forget and leave them on all the time. You just remember them again when you’re other half ‘reminds’you…! How easier would life be if someone can remind us to switch the lights Off so we don’t forget them? In this case, the perfect solution is to have the lights triggered either by motion or presence sensing when you are in the room or once you arrive home. Start having your light react to your presence for comfort and convenience and to save those fruitless arguments over who was last in the room.
3) Have them react to when you turn on the music
So it’s Saturday night and you are so excited to have your friends over for a drink before going out. You just want the perfect ambience for everyone to enjoy their time. Turn on the music and all the Lights will automatically switch to your colour of your choice making your home feel like the best club in the city. Your friends will just forget about going out!
4) Group them for a specific reason
In our house the light switches are in the wrong places. For some reason I have to cross the living room from the kitchen doorway to the hallway doorway as that’s where the one living room light switch is. And from the top of our stairs I can’t turn off the downstairs landing light. Light switches never quite seem to be in the right place.
With small wirelessly controlled devices wired directly into the lighting circuit I can decide which light switch does what all through simple settings in the app. If I want to I can even decide that the entrance hallway light switch turns on the hallway, stairs, living room, kitchen and outside light all at once.
5) Make the home appear Lived-in
Which light do you leave on when you go away - the living room; no looks weird outside of 6:00pm to midnight, the hallway; maybe but with no other lights on in the evening it’s a tell tale, the bedside lamp; nah - how often are you really awake all night every night. It’s a real dilemma.
Run some of those timers - what if the electricity fails for a few hours, now the timer's several hours out of synch - not good. So setting more than one light on a schedule and being able to check you got the schedule right even whilst you’re away is really useful.
6) For Security: Set them to react to a break-in
Another Important thing you can do with lightings for your security is to set them to react to a break-in. Making the lights go wild - try stumbling round the living room with the light rapidly cycling between bright red, green and blue will make the intruder question his choice of target. Plus the neighbours will really wonder what’s going on and take a look instead of, as usual, ignoring the wailing siren.
7) Put it all together – your Smart Home is more than one brand of lightbulb.
Integration: There’s a really good choice of lights available now and it’s growing rapidly - Hue, LIFX, MiPow, Awox, Aeotec, Zipato, Fibaro, Sengled, Osram Lightify and many more. And they are all compatible with nCube Home. You might be a fan of one of these but you’ll quickly find the other brands have their own designs which might work better in certain lamps so the ability to have everything working together matters a lot.
I still use a light switch - but there’s a lot of benefits to app enabling your lights for all sorts of reasons. We’d love to hear what app enabled lights you’ve got and all your ideas for using them beyond just turning it on and off of course.
The nCube Team.