8 Best Smart Home Lighting (2022): Decorative Panels, LED Strips, and Ambient Lamps

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Buying smart lighting and installing it can be confusing, so here are some tips. We also have a separate guide on how to use smart lighting to transform your child’s room.

Finding the perfect location for your smart lighting will maximize its impact. Be aware of possible reflections, especially if you install them in a living room or office, as you do not want your smart lights to be reflected on a TV or screen. You should always connect a cable to an electrical outlet, so consider cable management to hide it as best you can. Turn on the lighting and turn it on using the app before installing it. With the panels, make your design first and make sure you are happy with it before trying to put it on the wall.

Most smart lighting panels and strips come with adhesive on the back. You need to prepare them well before you start gluing. It’s crucial to clean the wall before installation and follow the instructions to the letter to make sure it sticks and holds (if it says “press for 30 seconds,” do so). Be sure to lock your curious cat or dog in a different room while you install it!

Removing panels and strips can damage the walls. I’ve suffered from cracked paint and chalk cracks when I pulled out some smart lighting. Going slowly and applying heat with a hair dryer can help reduce the risk of damage, but the difficulty of this process is a solid reason to be careful with the installation.

The brightness of the lighting is measured in lumens. A standard 60-watt light bulb, for example, emits about 800 lumens. Since most smart decorative lighting is not designed to be the main light source, it often has a fairly limited brightness, so keep that in mind.

RGB (red, green, blue) is standard and mixes these three to make other colors. RGBW includes a suitable white along with red, green and blue, which offers more flexibility and is important if you want a high quality white light. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins (K) and is indicated as a range (e.g., 1200K – 6500K). This range determines the heat or coolness that can reach your lighting. Perhaps counterintuitively, reds and oranges are at the lower end of the scale, and blues at the upper end. The last thing to keep in mind is the color reproduction index (CRI), a score out of 100 that indicates how effectively a light can mimic daylight. Affects how the colors of illuminated objects appear. With low CRI scores, for example, reds may look brown. A score of 80 or higher will work well for most situations.

Most smart lighting is connected via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and controlled by a phone app. You need a decent Wi-Fi signal or be within Bluetooth range. While it may seem desirable for simplicity to have the lighting connected directly to Wi-Fi or use Bluetooth, systems with dedicated hubs have advantages. With Philips Hue, for example, lights are much faster to connect and react to commands via the Hue Hub than via Bluetooth in the app. Most smart lighting can be controlled by smart voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, but be sure to check compatibility before you buy. You probably want a smart speaker or smart display in the same room as your lighting.

Consider physical controls. Smart lighting must be connected to the power supply and turned on at all times to respond. If it is only controlled by the app, it can be difficult for children in the home or visitors to turn the lights on or off. Many light strips and panels also include a control unit with physical buttons and sometimes a button to go through colors or effects; it’s worth looking for if you have kids at home.

Check how many areas your smart lighting supports. Smart light strips at the cheap end of the market can only have one area, which means the entire strip can only represent one color at a time. If you want multiple colors or animated effects, you want multiple areas (the more, the better).

For light strips, check the length and measure it in your space before you buy. Cheap light strips may not have protective covers for LEDs, which will affect longevity. If you want to cut a light strip to a specific length, make sure your preferred option allows it and be very careful to follow the instructions. Some light strips are also extensible, but always check before you buy.

There may be some privacy issues with smart lighting. Ambient lights that offer a reactive mode that change the lights to the audio beat of your space have microphones for this feature to work. It’s something to keep in mind, even though companies claim that they don’t record audio or send it anywhere, and that everything stays on the device. \

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