Smart lighting is an odd concept, but it can become remarkably useful in your home, as TechRadar (opens in new tab)'s James Peckham explains. So whether you're a smart home tech newbie or just want to discover the best smart home lighting products, read on.
What can smart lighting do?
Instead of using the traditional wall switch as you enter each room, you can ask your smart speaker to turn on lighting or instead use your phone to turn them on.
You can even set up smart sensors in each room so it knows when you walk in and will automatically turn on the lights.
Many smart lighting systems allow you to change the type of lighting in your home too, so you can fiddle with the brightness, colours and much more.
Want to have your lighting set up on a timer so it’ll be turned on when you get home at night? It can do that. Want to put the lights on in your home while you’re away on a holiday to make it look like someone is home? You can do that too, by using you the app on your phone.
Below we’ll run you through some of the best smart lighting solutions you can use around your home and run through the benefits of each.
Perhaps the biggest name in the smart lighting market, Philips Hue (opens in new tab) offers a vast array of smart lighting options including individual bulbs and standing lamps that you can install around your home.
Hue is particularly user friendly, making it a great choice for smart home newbies with a system that’s simple to set up and control from your phone. As with most smart lighting, it can be difficult to work out exactly what you want around your home as there’s so much choice in the Hue range.
One thing to bear in mind is that Philips Hue is one of the most expensive options on the market, and you may find it costly to replace your entire home lighting system with smart lights if you opt for the top-end Philips Hue products.
It has fantastic integration with other services though, so no matter what smart speaker you have or other tech you want to use with your lighting, it can probably be connected up together to make for a fully automated home.
LIFX (opens in new tab) is another lighting range with support for all the major voice assistants – Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri – plus the bulbs come in a variety of different shapes and sizes to suit all areas of your home.
The app and voice assistants will allow you to control the temperature of the bulbs – that’s how bright and intense they are rather than actual heat – as well as the colour they’re glowing. You’ll likely use them regularly on their natural white setting too.
Once you’ve set up the LIFX system in your home, you should be away and easily able to control your smart lights through your phone or over the voice assistant inside a smart speaker too.
Your friendly local Swedish furniture maker is also in the smart lighting market, so you can pick up a system alongside a whole new home's worth of furniture on a Saturday afternoon Ikea trip.
Ikea Trådfri (opens in new tab) doesn’t offer the top-end experience some other lighting systems on this list do, but it’s more affordable than a lot of the alternatives out there. We especially like what Ikea offers with the Gateway kit, which includes two bulbs, a smart control system and what’s called a gateway that works to connect everything to get you up and running.
The set up can be a touch fiddly, but if you’re looking for a basic set of smart lights, this should work well in your home. There are tons of different brightness and intensity settings to choose from, too, but you won’t be able to change the colours to match your room or mood.
Unlike at launch, you can now control your lkea lights through the Apple Homepod or an Alexa speaker as well.
Hive Active Light
Looking at installing the Hive Active Heating 2 system (opens in new tab) in your home? If so, you may want to get your smart lighting from the same manufacturer so you can control the lights in your home all from one handy app.
You can use also use all smart assistants to control the lighting with ease if you feel like using your voice and the help of a smart speaker.
It can be expensive to fully embrace this system as the cheapest bulbs are already around £15 and if you want higher end tech it will cost more. There’s a large variety of options though that include fully colour changing bulbs – these are the most expensive – or just ones you can change the brightness of to your taste in your room.
You may be spending a lot to get the Hive Active lighting (opens in new tab) system, but with a huge variety of smart bulbs and choices out there you may find this the best smart lighting system for your home.
Nanoleaf Light panels
Unlike the other options on this list, the Nanoleaf Light Panels (opens in new tab) aren’t designed to replace the traditional lighting you already have illuminating your home. Instead, these are designed as a tool to decorate, and are perfect for a feature wall in your living room.
The default Nanoleaf package comes with nine different modules that are all triangular lights that can be connected together in any order you want. The best bit is you can move them around whenever you want to change it up.
You can then buy extra modules in packs of three if you’d like to extend your design further. Each of the triangles can be turned into a different colour within the app so you can decorate using a variety of shades, and you can even set up schedules that automatically change the designs throughout the day.
For a bit more money, you can buy an add-on called the Rhythm module that will listen to music you’re playing and create its own lighting routine designed to work with whatever you’re listening to. It will do this for any genre too, so you can turn your home into a mini nightclub or just have some innovative lighting to watch when you’re relaxing to classical music.