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Devices for Your Goals Smart Lighting

A ceiling fan with wooden panels and a light fixture build in against a white ceiling.

What It Is

Smart lighting includes both smart light bulbs as well as in-wall smart switches and dimmers. See also smart plugs, which can control plug-in lamps.

Smart light bulbs make any lamp or light fixture smart. They may be dimmable, color-changing, and available in a variety of wattages. They can be controlled by smart speaker or mobile app, and can easily be integrated with other smart home technology for automations and routines. Smart light bulbs are a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to make your lighting smart.

In-wall smart switches and dimmers are hardwired into your home’s electrical system (read more about when to hire help for installation) to replace traditional light switches. They can control hardwired lighting fixtures and ceiling fans, and can be controlled by smart speaker, app, or by the switch itself.

Choosing Between Bulbs and Switches

While smart switches are more expensive and take more work to install, one benefit is that they make it possible to turn lights on and off by voice, app, and by physically touching the switch.

Smart bulbs, on the other hand, require that the wall switch stay in the on position so the bulb has power and can be turned on and off by voice and app. This means if you install a smart bulb in your bedroom and your caregiver uses the physical wall switch to turn off the light, you won’t be able to turn it back on by voice or app – not until power is restored to the light fixture.

How It Helps

A smart light bulb, switch, or dimmer can make it possible to adjust your home’s lighting by voice, app, and automation. Here are some examples of what you may be able to do with smart lighting:

  • Control your lights by voice.
    From your bed, ask your smart speaker to turn off a bedside lamp or the ceiling light fixture.
  • Pair multiple smart lights and create different scenes where certain lights turn on, off, or dim for different activities and to fit your mood.
    Create a voice command called “movie time” where the overhead lights turn off in the TV room, the hallway light dims, and the TV turns on.
  • Schedule lights to turn on and off at certain times of day while you’re away to save energy or deter burglars.
  • Use a smart switch to control a ceiling fan using your voice or an app.
  • Check whether your lights are on or off by voice or app.
  • Create automations and routines where other events trigger lighting changes. For example:
    • Set a smart doorbell at your back door to trigger a smart bulb in your home office to turn green when it detects a visitor.
    • Set the light inside your front door to turn on when you unlock the front door after a certain time of day.
    • Automate a hallway light to turn on when a motion detector senses movement.
Smart Lighting
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Choosing Your Device

Choosing the right device for you depends on many factors, including:

  • What you want to do with the device
  • How you want to do it
  • Your accessibility needs
  • The layout of your home
  • Your internet connection
  • What devices you would like to integrate together

Use our self-assessment to review your unique situation and needs, then read our top tips on how to choose your smart home technology.

Product Reviews

Once you have a good idea of what you want and need, research which products can help. Reviews can be very useful to understand each product’s strengths and limitations.

The following guides from Wirecutter review a number of smart home devices, including smart lighting:

Below are some of our favorite review websites. Many of them have “best of” lists for smart devices, as well as in-depth reviews of specific products. Try performing a search online using the name of the website plus the device type and the year. For example: Gizmodo best smart switches 2021.

Fund Your Smart Home

Know what device you want but not sure how to fund it? Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) can help.

Learn About Funding