It seems so simple doesn’t it. A short cut into making your lights ‘smarter’, with no need to re-wire anything or even look at a screwdriver. Unfortunately almost every brand has adopted the connected light build as their go to smart home tech and I’m here to tell you that’s completely the wrong approach.
I’m late to the game with smart home technology, I was waiting for Apples HomeKit to actually be available before diving in. That is still a bit of a sore point, but I caved recently and like many others before me started spending far too much money on all sorts of smart home things I didn’t really need.
Amongst a couple of Amazons Echo Dots, a Ring door bell and a few smart plugs I dived straight into connected lights. Surprisingly, these are available pretty cheaply from every brand you can think of. However in order to get both Alexa and HomeKit support you have no choice but to opt for the expensive Philips Hue light.
It doesn’t really matter though, you can go for any of the brands available, they all work on the same principle. A box plugged into a power socket and/or your router and each bulb has wifi built in. You can then turn your lights on and off with your smartphone - or voice assistant if it is supported. This is where things start to break down.
Pulling your phone out to turn the lights on and off is literally one of the worse ideas someone could think of. It begins feeling like you’re living in the future and quite quickly becomes tiresome. Voice commands are marginally better granted, but unless your whole family is as much of a geek as you, you’re going to get puzzled looks and shakes of the head quite soon.
Then comes the realisation that your old trusty switches, that you have years worth of muscle memory from using, are pretty much useless.
Although it seems obvious with hindsight, no-one actually tells you that all of your switches now need to be left on all the time. If you forget, or just don’t want to pull your phone out to do the simple task of flicking a switch, it begins to get annoying. To summon light you must now turn the switch off and back on again. Upon doing so you are blinded by ungodly amounts of light as they revert back to 100% bright white light.
Don’t worry though, you can buy some switches to go with your connected light bulbs. For a bit more money you can add in switches, or sensors to turn on your connected bulbs. They don’t replace your switches like you think they would, oh no, you must now have two switches!
Or you can just turn on your regular unconnected light bulbs like a normal person. At worst buy connected switches like you should have done in the first place.