Ask the Expert: Benefits of smart lighting
Great question Patrick, but first let’s explain what a smart bulb is and how they work. When we talk about a smart light bulb, we’re referring to an internet-capable LED light bulb that allows lighting to be customized, scheduled and controlled remotely using a smart phone, tablet, or smart home automation system via an app. The app enables you to change the brightness of the bulbs, and if the bulbs have colored LEDs you can change their colors, too. Smart bulbs require a smartphone, tablet, or home automation hub to operate because they use wireless communication standards such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or ZigBee to connect to an app on your device or to your automation system.
More expensive, but more features
Compared to LED bulbs, smart light bulbs give you access to a host of features far beyond flipping a switch on and off, and can be used in existing lamps and fixtures. While smart light bulbs are more expensive than traditional light bulbs or even regular LED bulbs, they use less energy and should last as long as traditional LED bulbs (that’s around 10 years). They are available in standard white or with a color-changing feature, depending on brand.
Benefits of smart lighting
Smart lighting is lighting that you can control from an app, usually on your Apple or Android phone. It is designed for energy efficiency. This may include high efficiency fixtures and automated controls that make adjustments based on conditions such as occupancy or daylight availability. The app enables you to change the brightness of the bulbs, and if the bulbs have colored LEDs you can change their colors too.
Smart lighting incorporates many technologies so that either indoor or outdoor lights will work automatically under certain conditions. Different smart lighting networks do different things, but some of the more popular solutions feature smart lights that are capable of instantly switching on when someone enters a room or changing color when something occurs. Smart lighting networks often allow lights to interact with each other, so that they can be calibrated as a group, or even individually through a remote control setup.
Overall, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that smart lighting allows you to upgrade your space with features like dimmers and the ability to turn lights on and off with the touch of a button. Cool, yes, but even better, these features will actually save you money on your energy bill when you use them wisely. Just a few examples are:
- Dimmers: Dimming lights means you use less power. Particularly when it comes to LEDs, using them with a dimmer cuts down on energy at a 1:1 ratio; dimming it 25% will use 25% less energy, and so on.
- App Control: Remotely turning lights on and off when you enter and leave rooms means you can become your own personal movement sensor. Need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night? Avoid stumbling or leaving on a night light, and instead, control the bathroom light from bed with your smartphone.
- Exterior options: Outdoor lighting is a major consideration for homeowners since a dark yard is a perfect place for unwanted things to hide. When you need to take the dog out late at night, you can easily turn lights on and off – without having to install a complicated system – making sure you always feel safe, minus the cost.
Energy savings potential
When you go from an incandescent to an LED bulb, you’re going from let’s say 100 watts down to 12 or 15 watts. That’s where the savings are. Squeezing out more energy savings with smart controls is tough because LEDs are so efficient on their own. There are not many studies on the energy savings of residential lighting controls, including switches, dimmers, timers, and vacancy/occupancy sensors. However, in general, controls can save energy if you’re motivated and the system is properly setup.
Smart lighting for Small Business
Smart lighting technology is available for businesses as well. As the number of smart devices connected to the Internet of Things continues to grow, new innovations in technology will allow lighting solutions to become smarter and more adaptable, enabling consumers and businesses to save more on energy and customize how they brighten or accent spaces with light.
This may include high efficiency fixtures and automated controls that make adjustments based on conditions such as occupancy or daylight availability. One of the more popular solutions features smart lights that are capable of instantly switching on when someone enters a room, such as an office restroom or conference room. Smart lighting networks often allow lights to interact with each other, so that they can be calibrated as a group, or even individually through a remote control setup.
In addition to benefiting the environment, smart lighting reduces installation costs related to modern lighting systems as traditional wiring setups are bypassed in favor of wireless retrofit systems.
From business being able to program specific schedules for their light fixtures to run on, to smart grids with street lights that react to traffic patterns and dim when they aren’t needed, smart lighting technology will aid cities and businesses in reducing their energy consumption by giving them the power to control their lighting and utilize it when and where they need most.
There are vendors in most markets that can offer smart lighting solutions for your business, from more basic controls to full lighting fixture retrofits along with the controls to offer higher levels of energy efficiency and bill savings.
Florida Power & Light offers rebates for specific lighting improvements. Go to https://www.fpl.com/business/save/programs/lighting.html to learn more!