Building Your Smart Home: Phillips Hue, LifX, and other smart lighting

Welcome to the Building Your Smart Home series! In this series, I’ll be covering and explaining different groups of smart products you can use to make your home smarter, and also when to purchase them.

Usually one of the first purchases for smart homes is smart lighting. This allows for an easy way to learn about how a smart home works and gives you the chance to use automation. This was actually my first smart purchase and I absolutely love being able to have fun and be efficient with my lights.

Now what do smart lights provide over normal lighting? Three main things: efficiency, customization, and simplicity. Efficiency comes in with the fact that using smart lights supposedly saves on your light bills, while also giving you hardware that will last a long time (most bulbs last more than ten years). Customization is a key feature with the amount of different colors that smart lighting allows along with different types of lighting (bulbs, lamps, strips). Lastly, smart lighting is supposed to be simple, simple to use in whatever way you want to and also simple to control.

Most smart lighting systems have an app that you’ll use to control the lights to, or you can use devices like Echo and Google Home to control them with your voice. You’re also able to connect the lights to hubs and other smart home devices to automate actions such as turning them off when you leave your place, mood lighting, or certain scenes for a movie night.

Philips and LifX

You may have heard of the two main smart lighting companies, Phillips and LifX, but they are vastly different from each other. Phillips has their Hue line which includes bulbs, strips, lamps, and accessories for all. The Hue lights and accessories all connect to a central hub (which I talked about here) and each hub can handle fifty devices. LifX only offers a couple bulbs and a strip, but they don’t need a hub and instead interact with your devices independently.

There are a couple things to note about these companies. For one, they are expensive — for a multi colored smart bulb, expect to spend more than $40 per bulb. The Hue system has better connectivity within its lights and with other smart products, while LifX lights are much brighter than what Hue offers. I’ve started with Hue and like the range of products they offer, so I’ll probably stick with them. But LifX isn’t a bad choice, either, especially to start off with since you won’t need to buy a hub.

What should I buy?

Again, while these are the most popular ones, they aren’t the only ones out there. They are better for if you know you’re going to be getting into smart lighting and to start investing in a system. If you just want to try out a smart light, I suggest starting elsewhere, probably something cheaper just to get the hang of it.

In the next segment, I’ll be talking about security items, so be on the look out for that. Until then, check the links below to get some smart lights. The good news is that you might be able to combine this purchase with the previously talked about hubs, without it hurting your wallet too much.

Buy Hue on AmazonBuy LifX on Amazon