Lighting can aid our lives in many ways from giving good bright light for hobby and intricate tasks, everyday lighting for everyday tasks and lighting for other times including subdued as night lights or mood lighting, whilst watching a movie, perhaps.
So how can we integrate all the above options, you could have different lighting with bulbs in different rooms – but that could be a little impracticable. There is an option to have a wide range of lighting options in each room with a single bulb or a set of them working independently or together as a group.
Traditionally lighting was made from incandescent bulbs – single filaments of wire that are encased in a glass bulb structure (without the bulb encasing the filament it would burn out due to oxygen being present in the air – in an oxygen-depleted atmosphere, a controlled burn of the filament is allowed, this allows for longevity of the ‘bulb’ as well as a constant rated candlelight level.
Candlelight level, you say? Yes, there are different scales of light brightness output, including the hues, they are measured in candlelight: 1x traditional wick flame burning candle that is lit equals 1 candlelight, 5000x candles lit at once together would produce 5000 candlelight combined…
You can read about the worlds longest operating filament light bulb (since 1901) at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centennial_Light
In December 2013 and 2014, incandescent light bulbs started to be phased out globally due to their inefficiency with compact fluorescent bulbs being more favorable, the problem with these is the hue they give out, it is a very flat light with little warmth, great for when a good light level is required but not very cozy, it is possible to get lower (output) wattage models but the light color hue, is still on the upper brightness scale.
It is still possible to purchase the older type of incandescent bulbs as stocks of them are backed up globally, but no more (should) be being manufactured for sale. After some time, existing bulbs will burn out and not be able to be used any more, so what to do? Buy CFLs, regular fluorescents? or go for another option? Let’s go to the modern option!
Nowadays it is possible to install ‘smart’ lighting, they are no longer bulbs per se but rather use ‘Light Emitting Diodes’, these are a semiconductor source that produces visible (or invisible) light when electricity is passed through them. (Look out for an upcoming article on LEDs and their functionality as they are a very useful and interesting technology)
Ok so that’s the nitty-gritty, let’s get on to the lighting options. There are different manufacturers of smart lights but I am going to concentrate on the Philips Hue range.
What makes them ‘smart’?
Smart capability means that the lighting options can be linked as a home automation system, the lights (through an app on a mobile phone or tablet) can be voice controlled, set to turn on or off at certain times, or randomly if you are out to create the illusion that the space is occupied (for security). They can also be controlled to cycle through the visible color ranges; from red, green and blue – and all in between! If you are watching a movie, it is possible to set the lighting to 6500k, this is the ideal hue to have as background light in these circumstances.
As I mentioned above when certain light conditions are required, this is possible with the app and lighting configurations. Routines can be set as well as random colors across single or all the lights. You can also set the lights for special occasions, like at Halloween or Christmas with ‘themes’, all operated from a mobile or tablet device.
There is much more these lights and the intelligent apps can do aside from the above, your imagination is literally the limiting factor – there are also some third-party apps available as the tech is open source.
For the lights to communicate they utilize a wifi connection, this is linked to a central ‘hub’ that controls the smart lights/devices. You can then log in with a mobile or tablet device for an overview and to control or customize the system. (it is possible to have more than one hub for the lighting groups (rooms, normally).
It is worth mentioning that you can procure ‘white’ and ‘color ambience’ kits, I will be referencing the latter as see no point in getting shades of white when we can get a pretty much full spectrum of colors for not much more outlay, this further options massively.
Thankfully you can buy color starter kits that include a hub, bulbs, and a wall mounted dimmer switch from https://amzn.to/2B1KkoP. This little set will get you up and running in minutes and as the bulbs are of a bayonet standard, it will connect to UK and other countries light fittings. Should you have an Eddison screw fitting, go for https://amzn.to/35qwYAI
If you have recessed LED lights with the GU10 spotlight fitting, go for the set at https://amzn.to/35pC3cr – they may be small but can still display 16 million color combinations as is the same across the other Philips Hue lighting range.
So that is the overhead lights as well as table lamps sorted, Yay! Let’s take a look at other space placements such as the ‘play’ dual lights from https://amzn.to/2q3kMW9 – you can just about put these anywhere, in coves, under stairs, above artwork and so on. A single portable version with a rechargeable battery is available from https://amzn.to/2M43mkK – they communicate with the hub as with the other lighting options listed here, they really are plug and play!
Have you seen those TVs that have backlighting? You can create this look and feel easily with the 2 metre (6.56 feet) light strip from https://amzn.to/35qQOvz – carefully curved and shaped around the back of the television really does add to the atmosphere when watching a good flick or just dimmed for a nice cozy feel. The light strip can be used under shelving, around windows for shop and commercial displays and so on.
There are also outside options with the 5 meter (16.4 feet) kit from https://amzn.to/2oBNBsi, imagine your garden or outside space with these lights acting as downlighters, dimmed or bright with amazing color options! If you require a floodlight (with 16 million color combinations) go for the unit with high output from https://amzn.to/2MxszDf. There are some smaller PIR activated units at https://amzn.to/2MvfNFi – motion sensitive for security. Let’s not forget the uplight spotlights at https://amzn.to/2VywhjY – these are rated for outside use to a military standard for longevity.
Whether you go for one bulb or up to 12 per hub, you can expand the system as you like with dimmer switches, hue tap or the motion sensors, they can be voice controlled and work with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Nest and Samsung SmartThings.
You really only have to see these lights in use once and you will surely never look back. They can be a bit on the expensive side but a lot of tech is packed in these units as well as the long life and robustness of the LEDs, then there is the energy efficiency paired with good output and choices.
Have fun lighting up your space with dynamic lighting from Philips hue!