Making Dumb Lights Smart: It’s Easy When You Know the Options

My son was the first in our family to adopt smart home tech despite the fact that I taught him everything he knows about technology. His starting point was smart lighting. It was easy enough to understand and cheap enough for him to get started with. Best of all, he learned how to turn dumb lights into smart devices.

It may be difficult to understand the benefits of smart lighting if you have never seen it in action. But I’ll be honest: I would never go back to traditional lighting having experienced what smart lighting can do first-hand.

4 Ways to Make Dumb Lights Smart


I plan to get into the many possibilities that come with smart lighting in due time. But first, it is important to discuss how to make dumb lights smart without putting your home through major construction. Below are four ways to do it. At least three of them can be utilized by apartment renters as well.

1. The Smart Light Bulb

The easiest and most popular choice is arguably the smart light bulb. These are bulbs with smart technology built in. You do not need any other devices to act as intermediaries. The bulb itself is the smart device.

Smart light bulbs are LED bulbs you screw into light fixtures as normal. But they come with a companion mobile app for easy control. In addition, you get something with smart bulbs you cannot get with any of the other three options: the ability to change color and light intensity.

2. The Smart Fixture


If you are not interested in spending more money on smart light bulbs, you can turn your dumb bulbs into smart devices with a smart fixture. What is a smart fixture? It is a fixture that gets installed between an existing fixture and your light bulb.

Unscrew a light bulb, screw in the fixture in its place, and then screw the light bulb into the fixture. The fixture now acts as an intermediary of sorts between the bulb and the permanent fixture. With a mobile app, you can turn the light on or off remotely. You can also program it.

3. The Smart Light Switch


A third choice is to install smart light switches. They can be used in conjunction with smart fixtures or smart bulbs. Some can even be used with standard bulbs and fixtures, but they need to be installed as a replacement for existing switches. A smart switch gives you wireless control via a mobile app or hub.

4. The Smart Plug

Last but not least is the smart plug, a modern interpretation of the mechanical timers that people used to program lighting several decades ago. A smart plug works basically the same way as smart fixtures and light switches. It sits between a lamp and its source of power.

Again, I prefer the smart light bulb because it maximizes both features and control. If I were going to invest in smart lighting, I would definitely go with the bulbs. They cost a bit more, but you also get more for your money.

Remote Accessing and Programming


Now that you know the four ways to turn dumb white into smart lighting, let us talk about some of the reasons you might want to do so. First and foremost is remote access.

With standard lighting, you need to physically be in a room to turn the lights on or off. You need to reach out and flip a switch. Not so with smart lighting.

Smart lighting can be controlled with a hub or mobile device. From the upstairs master bedroom, a homeowner could use his phone to turn the lights on downstairs. When he comes down first thing in the morning, he comes down to a fully lit space.

In terms of programming, smart lighting offers tremendous possibilities. Vivint Home Security explains that lighting can be controlled by time of day or through specific lighting scenes.

Programming by time of day would mean setting up your lights to turn on and off at a particular time. As for lighting scenes, they control the color, intensity, and location of the lights you want on at any particular time.

Remote access also means controlling lights while you’re away from home. Imagine getting a notice that one of your security cameras has detected motion. While you are watching a live feed on your phone, you can also turn the lights on in that room for a better look.

Controlling Lights With Your Voice


I have seen smart lighting do a lot of amazing things. My favorite is voice control. My first introduction to smart lighting was at a friend’s house during the Christmas season.

This friend had established several different lighting scenes featuring festive colors and warm tones. Each end every scene could be activated with a simple verbal command.

One command set the scene in the dining room. It was a perfect lighting scene for the formal dinner we were about to enjoy.

Another command turned the patio lights on as we made our way outdoors for coffee. Yet another command turned off the kitchen lights so they would not continue burning while we were outside.

I am a big fan of voice control. Being able to turn lights on and off simply by speaking really appeals to me. In the single-story house I now live in, there is a single switch that controls lighting in the hallway. It ison the opposite end of the master bedroom.

I would love to be able to issue a command to turn on those lights when I get up in the morning. No more walking down a dark hallway to find a switch.

This post could continue on indefinitely. However, space dictates we close here. The most important takeaway is that dumb lights can be made smart thanks to modern technology.

They can be made smart without any major construction or a steep financial investment. Smart lights are cheap, easy, and bursting with potential.