Smart bulb vs smart switch

Ever thought about home lighting automation? There are many ways to do this - let's talk about how to choose the one that works best for you.

Smart home lighting is attractive enough: when you get home from work, the lights are automatically turned on for you, which is very convenient; when you go on holiday, the lights can be turned on and off in safe mode to simulate the situation of someone living. It's not too difficult to automate a light. Just replace the smart bulb with a built-in Wi-Fi such as the Lifx White 800, or plug it into a smart plug such as a Belkin WeMo switch. But what if you want to automate the lights of the entire home?

This is the challenge facing CNET Smart Home Life Lab. We (CNET) will test, explore and build future connected homes in the lab. This is a 5,800-square-foot house with a variety of lighting fixtures and switches that form a networked lighting system that delivers service in the best and most intelligent way, which can be a daunting task.

The good news is that we have a lot of choices: color-changing Philips Hue LED bulbs, automatic switches and sockets such as Lutron and Insteon. The bad news is that choosing diversity means we need to pick it out so we can make the best plan.

But this is the whole idea of ​​CNET smart home. This is a real place, and if you start using smart home technology , we will delve into these challenges in the same way. In any case, we will record the whole process and hope to help you with your smart home upgrade and purchase decision.

To do this, let us look at the choices of smart lighting and find out their strengths and weaknesses.

Smart light bulb

The first concern for connected lighting is the light bulb itself, which is replaced with a smart light bulb with built-in wireless communication. Some bulbs like the Lifx and LifxWhite 800 LEDs have built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth – so you can connect directly to your phone or tablet without the need for a center or control unit. In a small area, this kind of plug-and-play is really simple and attractive, but each bulb is often expensive and expensive to use on a large scale.

The more common wireless lighting protocol is ZigBee. ZigBee uses Philips Philips Hue LEDs, OSRAM Lightify LEDs, Belkin WeMo LEDs, and GE Link LEDs, Cree Connected LEDs and other $15 bulbs. Your phone doesn't recognize ZigBee, so you need some kind of central device or device that acts as a converter.

There are many packages that contain center or bridge equipment. The price of the package may vary, with a TCP dual-light package of around $50, and a three-bulb Philips Hue for $200. The price of each bulb varies, from $15 to $50 or $60, and higher-end bulbs can change color as needed.

The good news is that there are more and more products at the lower end. In many cases, different brands of bulbs can be mixed and matched under one control unit. The Philips Hue Bridge controller is the best example, and it works well with third-party bulbs, including the $15 GE and Cree bulbs. You can use the WeMo plug-in bridge to connect the OSRAM Lightify LEDs and control the Belkin LEDs simultaneously on the WeMo application. Like systems like SmartThings and Staples Connect, you can also plug these bulbs into larger smart home settings by using a dedicated center.

Advantages: The setting of the bulb is relatively simple, and it is easy to move to another device if needed. With a wide range of options, it won't cost you a lot of use or a few more lights. You can buy a versatile light bulb for a little more money: changing colors, motion sensing, transmitting audio via Bluetooth, or acting as a networked camera.

Disadvantages: Most smart bulbs are A-shaped bulbs with a standard E-type screw-in base, so if you need a bulb like a candelabra, you're not lucky. If the device is connected to the brightness control switch on the wall, the smart light bulb may flash and hum. There are not too many choices for brightness and color temperature. Of course, if the switch is off, the bulb will not work.

Connected lighting to smart home settings, smart bulbs are the fastest and easiest, so they can be used wherever they are. Many devices in CNET smart homes require small spiral bulbs, however, there are dimmer switches that compete with them. This means we need to look at other options - this is our right:

Smart switch

If you are willing to roll up your sleeves and play with the lines at home, you can easily replace the light switch with a smart switch. Automated is the switch itself, not the light bulb, which can be set to open/close.

Like smart light bulbs, most smart switches don't use Wi-Fi or ZigBee. Wi-Fi mode such as Belkin WeMo lighting switch can be connected directly to your home network (mobile phone is also OK), and using ZigBee will require some kind of center or control device. There are also many high-end options for Lutron, the company uses its own proprietary Lutron signal for intelligent lighting control.

Most smart switches are around $50, and smart bulbs can be $15, and they can be bought more. In contrast, smart switches are more expensive. There are no smart bulbs to choose from. If you want another smart light, you need to reinstall the replacement equipment.

Some smart switches have built-in smart dimming, which tends to cost a little more. You may also find that some smart switches have full-color touch screen displays, or built-in speaker and microphone walkie-talkie features, although not yet a major manufacturer. The closest target to WinkRelay, incorporating the smart switch and Quirky's control center, cost millions to buy it back. Unfortunately, Quirky recently filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to sell Wink, the highest bidder.

Advantages: Smart switches, you can use any light bulb you want - if you have requirements for lighting, or if your equipment requires the size and shape of the light bulb, or the style of the smart light bulb does not match, the smart switch is perfect. It is. In many cases, the preset lighting changes will work even though the switch is off.

Disadvantages: Installation is more complicated than smart bulbs. If you want to move to a different device, you need to repeat this process. Expanding the size of the system is not as cost-effective as smart bulbs.

Many CNET smart home devices are a switch-controlled multi-lamp; for small spiral candelabra bulbs, we will use smart switches to control the lighting. The smart switch is suitable for the guest room because it does not require the guest to turn the light on in order for the dynamic sensing lighting system to work.

Smart plug socket

Another smart lighting option worth considering is the smart plug or the smart socket on the wall. The premise is simple: automate any device with a plug or remotely control the switch via a smartphone app. Most smart plugs support all devices, but some are dedicated to the light with built-in dimming control.

The most common thing with a smart plug is the light. In general, it is sensible and feasible to start a smart home from the light automation – if the plug is connected to a motion sensor, the light in the bedroom opens as soon as you enter the room. That's why I always think that the $80 Belkin WeMo switch + Motion combo pack is the best smart home to start with. New plugs such as iDevices Switch are also compatible with Apple's own iOS platform, and smart voice-activated Siri can be played. The Belkin WeMo switch is compatible with Amazon Echo voice-activated smart speakers, so you can also turn it on or off with a verbal command.

Of course, being free can also automate things other than lights. Other small appliances, table fans, small heaters, coffee machines, etc. are also suitable for automation. You can also plug a smart plug or socket into a power strip to automate the device that plugs into the power strip at the same time, and automatically turn off the media center at night to prevent energy consumption and is very practical.

The smart plug can also be used to experience the simplicity of plug-and-play smart light bulbs. The plug is also very flexible. If you want to change the settings, just unplug it and move it elsewhere, or insert a different device. Smart sockets are obviously not as flexible as they need to be fixed to the wall, but give you a more seamless, integrated, fully smart home feel.

Advantages: The setting of the smart socket is very simple, it is very easy for the smart home newbie to get started, and the smart socket seamless design, built-in smart home aesthetic design. In addition to automated lights, with a smart plug, you can automate any small appliance. There are a variety of smart sockets to choose from.

Disadvantages: The installation of smart sockets is more complicated than changing bulbs. Because the devices plugged into the socket can be automated, smart sockets and plugs can't control hardwired lights and equipment. Like smart switches, the price of each plug/socket is usually higher than the price of a single smart bulb. Some plugs may also be priced at the same price as the entire outlet.

We are more likely to choose smarter bulbs and switches because they are more seamless and beautiful. Smart sockets also meet those standards. As for the smart plug, it will also be used when needed.

Which solution to choose depends on which system is used to control the equipment at home. We plan to install multiple devices from multiple manufacturers, so we want to find the possibility to get all the devices working together.

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