Smart light for home – what it is and how it works

Smart light meets literally from the threshold of a smart home. When you open the front door, the light turns on in a welcoming way. A useful feature, and by no means the only one, that appeared at the intersection of lighting, radio transmission and mobile devices. We understand what smart light is, what it consists of and how to control it at home.

How smart light works
The concept of a smart home involves controlling devices by voice or through a single application on a smartphone and creating automation scenarios. All this is true for smart light. Smart light itself is:

lamps – installed in the base, for example, E27;
local lamps – are included in the outlet;
recessed fixtures – powered directly from the electrical network, while the connection to it is hidden in the ceiling or wall. The simplest example is a ceiling lamp;
LED strips – work through power adapters, which in turn are connected to a power outlet.
Pay attention to the types of connection to the mains, this is important for understanding the many options for working. Each of the devices can be ordinary or smart. To make the device “wiser”, it is equipped with a wireless data transmission module. Most work over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or ZigBee.

The possibilities of smart light
Remotely you can configure such parameters of lighting fixtures as:

state (on/off);
brightness;
color;
Colorful temperature.
There are two main methods for controlling smart light: connecting a conventional device through a smart device (for example, a regular lamp + smart socket) or using smart lamps, dimmers, tapes, etc. directly. The options are summarized in a table for convenience.

A smart socket can be remotely turned off and on, thus manipulating the state of a standard lamp. Using a smart base or switch, you can do the same with a light bulb.

Smart socket Digma DiPlug 100
Smart Socle Redmond SkySocket RSP-202S
1 199 *
If the switch is dimmable, then you can change the brightness. This is a very handy option, but be careful and make sure the dimmer and lamp are compatible!

Another feature of the switches is battery operation, which allows you to scale your system without interfering with the power grid.

The smart relay is connected directly to the wiring, so that through it you can control the status of both the socket and the recessed lamp. It is better to mount such things at the stage of repair.

Smart lamps and fixtures are independent devices that can be fully controlled directly from a smartphone.

In this case, you can further vary the color and color temperature. Please note that the physical switches of such lights must always be in the “On” position.
In order for automation scripts to work, communication between all elements of the system is necessary. At the same time, smart home sensors (motion, light, door opening) are often used in scenarios. And they communicate using different protocols: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee.

Why not connect everything via Wi-Fi? The main reason for using other protocols is power consumption. ZigBee is more energy efficient, so the sensors last for years on battery. Wi-Fi devices, on the other hand, require a permanent connection to the mains. The second reason lies in the topology of the network. Classical wireless protocols are characterized by the “Star” type, which entails requirements for the placement of the switch. ZigBee was originally built on a mesh topology (Mesh) for deploying networks with a large number of nodes. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Mesh switches are now available.

The control unit, for example, Xiaomi Gateway 3, is designed to make friends with all smart devices. It works with all protocols, collects data from devices using them and transfers them to the router. If the number of gadgets is measured in tens, then intermediate Bluetooth and ZigBee gateways are used. So, the reference points of the architecture: sensors / devices – gateways – control unit – router – application.

Smart home control center Aqara Hub ZHWG11LM

Applications for management
We have reached the top level of control – applications in a smartphone. Its task is to provide the user with a convenient interface for adding devices, controlling their parameters and creating scripts that will work automatically.

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Recall that you can add a gadget either directly or through a gateway. In the first case, this is a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth device. In the second – ZigBee or Bluetooth.

Not all gadgets are supported by the gateway and app. Be sure to check device manufacturer’s specifications before purchasing. Ideally, it should be indicated with which specific software the smart device of interest works.

The most common smart home apps are Mi Home from Xiaomi and HomeKit from Apple. It is also worth noting the domestic manufacturer Rubetek, as well as the Philips Hue Sync application, which differs in that it is designed specifically for smart light technology.

From the point of view of “omnivorous” Mi Home leads by a wide margin. In addition to a wide range of Xiaomi’s own products (represented by sub-brands Aqara, Mijia, Yeelight), third-party smart lamps such as Philips and IKEA are supported. Some of these gadgets can be connected to the HomeKit ecosystem, again through the Xiaomi gateway.

The most interesting thing in the application is the automation scripts. There are several built-in and you can create your own. They are created according to the IFTTT principle – a list of conditional “if, then” commands.

Alice, fire up!
Do not forget about Alice and her colleagues in the voice assistants shop.

Only Alice can understand Russian, so it’s difficult to talk about the convenience of using others. From a technical point of view, nothing complicated – Yandex supports five manufacturers, including the mentioned Rubetek, Philips and Xiaomi. When connected to the account of the latter, all available devices will become available. Then you can work with commands already known to Alice, also combining them into scripts.

Smart speaker Yandex Station Mini black
Here are some examples of cool scenarios:

Dawn simulation. Gradual increase in brightness and color temperature. It turns on according to a schedule or according to data from a smart alarm clock. Yes, this is also possible;
Sunset simulation. Smooth decrease in brightness and color temperature and decrease in brightness. Automatically turn off the light when receiving a signal to fall asleep from a smart alarm clock;
Full retreat. According to the schedule or on Alice’s command “Turn everything off”;
Party. On command, the lights are dimmed and the colors of the LED strip change.
Smart light is one of the key technologies of a smart home. Modern lighting fixtures provide a gentleman’s set of options to control and how to control them. This allows you to use ready-made and create new lighting scenarios for your living space. The smart light system is becoming more accessible, scalable and dependent only on a flight of fancy.