Smart Lighting

Modern lights are getting smarter. With built-in sensors, they not only create optimal lighting conditions in the room, they also react dynamically to their surroundings and adapt to human needs. Presence sensors ensure that lights dim automatically or switch off when no one is present. Brightness sensors enable the light intensity to be adapted to the ambient brightness:

This creates a natural lighting atmosphere and saves energy at the same time. Lights with Dynamic Daylight Control change their light colour and intensity over the course of the daylight, tailored to the human biorhythm. This can generate a more pleasant atmosphere for living and working.

What can you do with smart Lights

  • Lights: Operate your lights via the app. For easy recognition, give each bulb a name and a symbol.
  • Rooms: Control the light in entire rooms, such as in your kitchen or living room.
  • Scenes: Set lighting moods such as "cozy evening mood" and switch them on with a tap of your finger.
  • Favourites: You can set up each luminaire as a favourite so that you can use it quickly.
  • Color control: whether RGB + W, Tuneable White or just dimming, immerse your room in the right mood.
  • Time switching: presence simulation or automated processes, practical for your needs.

Finding the best Smart Home Lighting System

There are many smart home lighting systems and it is felt that more manufacturers are entering the market every month. Consequently it's not easy to keep track of which system offers the best value for you.

What's the best Smart Home Lighting system?

Philips hue is perhaps the most popular smart lighting system on the market, and easily the most fully featured, using a modified zigbee system their bulbs are opensource and can be controlled with any zigbee hub. Ultimately the best bulb will depend if you want to go hubless, use Bluetooth, zigbee, or z-wave devices. The most popular bulbs on the market are produced by:

  • Philips HUE
  • Ikea TRÅDFRI
  • Innr
  • OSRAM LIGHTIFY
  • LIFX
  • TP-Link Smart Home
  • Xiaomi Yeelight

At Innr, Philips, Ikea and Osram you also have to purchase a so-called bridge in addition to the special light sources. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages.

Benefits of using bridge/hub lighting

  • + More reliable and responsive
  • + Accessories such as wireless switches available
  • + Bulbs are usually a little cheaper
  • - Bridge incurs additional costs and requires additional space

Benefits of using Wi-Fi/hubless lighting

  • + More flexible to use
  • - higher energy consumption
  • - Reliability depends on the WiFi signal strength

If you are planning to equip an entire house with smart lamps, I would generally recommend using a system with a bridge. If you are only looking for one or two bulbs, a smart lamp which can be integrated directly into the WLAN may be cheaper and better.

Ikea TRÅDFRI

Ikea is still quite new to the smart lighting market, but has already achieved some success here. This is of course also due to their incredibly competitive pricing policy Ikea TRÅDFRI lamps, bulbs plugs, etc. are dirt cheap.

Innr

Innr products are highly compatible with Philips Hue. Innr does not hide this either, on the contrary. Innr advertises very aggressively with its Philips Hue and OSRAM LIGHTIFY support.

OSRAM LIGHTIFY

OSRAM LIGHTIFY is actually the biggest Philips Hue competitor. Similar to Philips, the selection of light sources and lamps is very large. However, the general price level is medium to low. Unfortunately for us the Lightify system was always a bit the cheaper and less reliable than Philips Hue. In the past the system had numerous bug problems and rough edges. Most of these problems have now been eliminated.

Like Innr, Ikea and Philips, Osram also relies on the ZigBee standard. Accordingly, a bridge is also required here, which, so to speak, mediates between the lamps and the smartphone.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue is without question the flagship system when it comes to smart lighting. This is of course largely due to the very large range that Philips has now built up. A suitable lamp can be found for almost every lamp base and often in different versions, RGB, different shades of white or just one colour. If there is no suitable socket, there are also plenty of complete lamps including Hue bulbs.

The Hue system consists of two parts, the bridge and at least one lamp. In addition, there are also various switches and buttons, so that the light can also be switched on comfortably outside the smartphone app.

LIFX

LIFX is rather less popular, presumably as only very few users have ever heard of LIFX, but LIFX is definitely a very interesting provider! These rely on WLAN technology, so a WLAN module is built into each bulb, which allows direct communication. A bridge or the like is therefore not necessary.

Unfortunately, the prices for LIFX lamps are by far the highest in comparison, which of course puts the inhibition threshold quite high. But the quality of the LIFX lamps is very, very good! The LIFX smartphone app is not our favourite visually, but functionally it is pretty much the best app of the systems here in comparison. In addition to the usual features such as group formation, colour control, brightness control, etc., there are also various blink and light effects available.

TP-Link Smart Home

TP-Link is still very new on the market with its Kasa WLAN light bulbs. However, at first glance you have done a lot right here! I am referring to both the light source itself and the TP-Link Kasa app. As is usual with WLAN lightbulbs, no bridge or similar is necessary with the Kasa lightbulbs. Communication takes place directly via your home WLAN network.

In addition to smart light bulbs, the Kasa app also supports, for example, TP-Links smart sockets. Just like the light bulbs, the app is modern and stylish. The range of functions can be described as good! In addition to the basic functions, there is also a timer, a function for monitoring power consumption, etc.

Xiaomi Yeelight

Xiaomi's Yeelights are clearly the exotic ones in the truest sense of the word. Xiaomi Yeelight lamps are actually not intended for the European market. Accordingly, these are only regularly available in Asia. However a number of suppliers import these and they have a solid fanbase! A simple E27 RGB light bulb with WLAN, so no bridge is necessary, costs just £15. This of course makes it very cheap to equip the entire house. In addition to E27 bulbs, there are also LED strips and various complete lamps

Networking and diversity

If you opt for a smart lighting system, you will invest a lot of money in it in the medium term. If you do not want to be left with several smart home systems, you should therefore decide directly on a system that offers you the complete variety you need.

For example, in TP-Link's Smart Home System there are only E27 bulbs. If you need or want E14 bulbs you have a problem. The Philips Hue system now has a suitable light source for almost every imaginable socket, and Philips Hue also offers various complete lamps.

The Philips Hue system offers the greatest variety without question. On the one hand, Philips offers mountains of its own light sources and lamps, on the other hand, the light sources from Osram, Innr and Ikea are compatible with the Hue system and vice versa. Ikea is also busy bringing light sources and lamps onto the market. Some Ikea cabinets even have TRÅDFRI LEDs integrated.

Light and colour quality

The Philips Hue White & Colour Ambiance is the clear winner followed closely by the LIFX E27 RGB lightbulbs which offer the highest performance on paper with 1100 lumens and, in practical terms, they are by far the brightest.

The TP-Link LB130 and the Innr RB 185 C E27 Smart LED lamp are of course very strong.

Which is the best lighting system for a Beginner?

If we had to make a universal recommendation, it would for Philips Hue. Philips Hue System is the system with the broadest support in terms of software and offers consistently high quality. The range of bulbs and fittings are the widest available and you can use bulbs from other providers within the Hue eco system. In addition, as the system is opensource you don't have to worry that this system will disappear from the market after x years even if Philips decided to drop support down the line.

It's not easy to select the single best smart home lighting system, as ultimately, this depends very much on personal requirements but for now at least Hue makes the most sensible universal choice.