Being in sync with your lighting fixtures without ever having to flick a switch sounds like a dream come true for many homeowners. For them, wifi-enabled light fixtures represent just another step in technology, the ease that comes with manipulating their house to be even more how they intended it.
This post will be divided into two: the easy way and the more technically involved way. The latter isn’t any more difficult than the former, only that those without electrical and computer knowledge may find it so. Because of that, we’ll be focusing more on providing information for the easy way to do it so homeowners can just plug in and play.
Wifi-Enabled Lighting: Set Up and Go
There are several different companies that make wifi-enabled lighting, each one giving homeowners a simple process in setting it up. The method may cost homeowners a little more, but it’s made up for with convenience.
Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting: Homeowners can buy a starter pack of three bulbs for $199.95 plus free shipping on either Amazon or Apple, and extra bulbs are $60 each. All that’s needed is to plug the lights into sockets (up to 50 bulbs can use the same gateway), plug the gateway into the router, and install the Hue app on either an iOS or Android device. Note: the timer system to control the lights remotely is only available for iOS.
LIFX: The same concept is in play here as with the Philips bulbs, except the pricing scheme is a little different. They offer individual bulbs for $99, as well as multi-packs at $380 for four or $910 for 10. The biggest difference, though, is you can earn free bulbs for referring friends through their LIFX Ambassador program.
Spark Socket: This company doesn’t sell special bulbs, but rather wifi adapters that screw onto the bottoms of bulbs ($59). After you’ve attached the adapter, you download the app that comes along with it and control the lighting from your smartphone. For more advanced users, they also sell DIY kits, which dovetails with the next section.
Wifi-Enabled Lighting: Build Your Own
This section is for homeowners who would rather save money and build the adapters themselves. It’s not nearly as hard as installing lighting from scratch, but it does require more acumen and tools.
Arduino: Before you can enjoy controlling the lighting from your smartphone, you’ll need to build the system first. This link here takes you through 22 steps, starting with designing your board and soldering the components to writing the code that makes it all happen. Each step is detailed and comes with pictures, but it’s definitely an afternoon project for the budding DIY homeowner. And how much this costs depends on what homeowners have lying around their houses or what their local hardware store charges for parts.
X10: This option is a little easier than the above because you can buy a Firecracker 4-piece kit for only $44.99. Once that arrives, you follow the same idea, building the circuit board and writing code to connect the hardware with your smartphone. This link takes you on a step-by-step journey through creating a web interface, enabling port forwarding, and then showing off your new lighting system to your friends.
The future is here, and it’s in the form of wifi-enabled lighting. What’s great about this is it’s available to everyone: the tech geeks, those gifted with working with their hands, and homeowners who value simplicity and convenience over everything else.