Hello, in first part, we have established that we want a smart home and that we want to do it cheap and simple, so everyone can do it. Which means, we’d give up things like all kinds of hubs and base units. Or overpriced lights like Phillips makes (yes, looking at you Hue line). Let’s go with smart light bulbs.
There’s an incredible ammount of smart lightbulbs now by all kinds of manufacturers. So how do you decide which ones you should get?
There’s a good chance you have atleast two different types of bulbs in your home. Mostly if you have spot lights, you’ll have GU10 bulbs in there. They look like this, with the two legs at the base and with a reflector on top. These are generally used for spot lighting, but some types even make diffused light. There’s a good chance your fixtures uses more than one bulb. So do yourself a favour and choose some from a reliable producer, should one fail, you’d need to purchase atleast a similar looking one, or a full damn set. My main light fixture uses four of these, so whenever one fails, I usually use the rest in bathrooms and such and purchase a whole set of new bulbs. That’s quite annoying and wasteful, what do you think?
One little side note…if you’re really unsure about your bulb type, remove one, there’s usually some small text on the base of the bulb, or the bulb itself which identifies it.
Most other types of light fixtures will use the E27 screw type bulb. You’ll see that the base of the bulb has a screw. This type is used in most pendant lights, wall-lights, or flood type kind of fixtures. The good thing is, that mostly the fixture covers the bulb, so you can’t see it. Which means you don’t have to worry about it’s design and mostly, these are also a bit cheaper.
Other bulb types include MR16/G9/G23/GU10/E27/B22/E12/E14 LED, generally these are a bit less used, so if you encounter something, that doesn’t look like pictures above, you better remove one and check the texts on it.
There’s a good chance that any reputable shop near you has an offering of these. I mentioned before that you might want to go into some reputable brands (if you can see the bulbs that is), but there’s all kinds of parameters you’ll want to know.
First of all bulb type, that’s explained above, so… yeah. Now, light output, that’s measured in lumens and generally for about 4-5 W GU10 you’d want something like 400-450 lm. The E27 bulbs usually come with output power of about 10W and a decent one should give you about 900-1100 lm. That’s about your average 60W normal lightbulb (edison style).
Even though the label might say “SMART” there’s a few things to worry about when choosing. Smart bulbs can do one of the following:
Now you’ll want to give a thought to where you use the bulb, because the features also dictate the price a bit. If you’re just about to get some for your garage or a hallway, you might just get the first kind, that’s the easiest. For any living quarters where you spend a lot of time, I’d recommend you get full colour ones with E27, or this option with GU10 base.
Why? It’s amazing how colour of light will affect your mood and you can set up your own scenes, make the light glow, or simulate a fireplace style lighting. So that’s that. Some of these can even simulate a sunrise and wake you up in a most natural way.
So far we have established, that we’d use Google Home, it’s by far the easiest platform, you’ll want to check that your bulbs are compatible with it. Generally it’s even on the packaging of the bulb, in most e-shops you’ll notice the “Works with Google Assistant/Home” logo.
Connectivity means how you want to connect your smart bulb to your existing network, so…that’s indeed WI-FI. We already established we don’t want to bother with hubs, or central units.
You bought them, you installed them and flick the switch hoping a magic genie will do everything, right? Now it kind of did, they light up, don’t they?
To use the smart features you need to show the bulbs where to connect and how. Most likely there’s a manual to show you how to do that. In general, you’ll download the manufacturers app (yea, u can ditch it later) and do a pairing process. Now, this is easy, about as easy as pairing your phone with a hands-free thingy. This is a screenshot from TP-Link’s Tapo. Basically you flick the switch, wait for three blinks and then tell the app what wifi the bulb should connect on, what the password is and boom, you’re almost done. Now you can check the bulb-specific functions. Tapos for example can make up for how the daylight fades off. So it will light only a little in the afternoon and slowly fade to full light in evenings. These bulb-specific things can be only operated from the manufacturers app.
But don’t worry, if you don’t care for it, or if you automate it in a different way, you can ditch the manufacturer app completely and use only Google Home or Assistant.
No, he’s not and this is basically the great thing about all I’ve so far typed here. The Google Home app, if it doesn’t come with your phone, install it from the playstore.
Now the last thing for now, try telling your assistant something like “Ok, Google. Can you turn on the light in the living room?”
It will say “Yes, turning on one light” and it will be on. You can ofcourse use the switch in Home app, if you feel weird talking to the assistant.
Later on in other parts of the Smart Home journey, I will show you about routines and all kinds of scenes and automations! That’s all to come 🙂