How to Control Lights with an Android or iPhone
Smart home lighting is often the first step homeowners take on the journey to automating their homes. Nowadays, you don’t have to get up to switch the light on or off. In fact, you don’t even have to be at home to do it. Thanks to your phone, you can control the lighting even when you’re miles away.
If you’re interested in learning how to control lights with your phone, you’ve come to the right place. This article will explain what you’ll need to get started.
How to Control Lights with an Android Phone
If you have an Android phone, you’ll be happy to know you can use it to control lighting in your home. However, you’ll need specific software that enables you to do this.
Here are the essential factors you need to consider:
The most important component of a smart home lighting system is its technology. Here are the most popular ones:
- Wi-Fi smart lighting systems – Such smart lights use your Wi-Fi router to operate, which means you can control them remotely. However, keep in mind that if your internet is down, you won’t be able to control the lights.
- Bluetooth-based lighting systems – These smart lights operate locally and use BLE-enabled smartphones. Bluetooth smart home lights can also be controlled remotely, but only if you have a Bluetooth hub that connects the lights to the internet.
- Lighting systems that use ZigBee or Z-Wave – ZigBee or Z-Wave lights use a local wireless network to operate and usually require a hub that connects to your router. Most such lights come with their own version of a hub.
Mobile Phone App
If you want to control your lights remotely, you’ll most likely need an app designed for your Android phone. Such apps are divided into two types: single-tasking and multitasking apps.
Single-tasking apps control only your smart lights, while multitasking apps manage all smart home devices.
Here are the most popular Android apps for smart lighting:
- Smart Life – This generic app enables you to control lighting and other smart home devices.
- Philips Hue – The app is designed to manage Philips Hue smart lights and accessories. Besides switching the lights on and off, this app enables you to adjust the brightness, temperature, color, personalize the schedule, etc.
- Hue Disco – If you want to turn your room into a dancefloor, this app is everything you’ll need. It connects the lights to the music, so the colors change depending on the beat.
- Ecobee – This app is great for controlling the temperature and smart home lighting in your home.
How to Turn Your Ordinary Home Lighting into Smart Lighting
If you want to have a smart lighting system, you’ll need to invest in at least one of the following:
Smart light bulbs are designed to replace your ordinary bulbs without any modifications or repairs. They’ll fit right into the existing fixture. Most smart light bulbs can connect to your Wi-Fi network, so you don’t have to purchase a hub. Other options, such as the light bulbs that operate on ZigBee, do require a hub.
Smart light bulbs come in all sorts of sizes, colors, shapes, and configurations, giving you plenty of choices for finding the perfect one for your home.
You can enjoy smart home lighting with ordinary light bulbs. However, you’ll need to replace the in-wall switches with smart switches. These switches get integrated into your home’s electrical system. Installing a smart switch can be a more cost-effective solution than smart light bulbs if you have recessed lights controlled by a single switch.
Unlike regular smart switches, smart dimmers offer the dimming feature. They can also be controlled by your Android phone.
Smart plugs turn your ordinary standalone light fixture into a smart device, thus enabling control over the phone.
Depending on the technology you opt for, you may need to purchase a hub. Without it, you may not be able to control your lights using your Android phone.
How to Control Lights with an iPhone
Controlling smart home lights with your iPhone is usually straightforward. But, before getting to it, it’s important to understand the basics so you can make an informed decision regarding the technology that suits you.
When deciding on a smart home lighting system, it’s important to consider the technology and the mobile app suitable for your operating system.
Smart home lighting systems can use different technologies for operation. Here are the popular ones:
- Wi-Fi smart lighting – Such smart lights connect to the internet using your Wi-Fi router. This enables you to control them remotely.
- Bluetooth-based lights – These smart lights use Bluetooth technology, enabling you to control them locally. Such lights can also be controlled remotely, but you’ll need to use a Bluetooth hub to connect them to the internet.
- Lights that connect to ZigBee or Z-Wave – Some smart lights connect to low-power mesh networks. Like Bluetooth lights, these require a hub if you want to control them remotely.
Mobile Phone App
If you want to control lights with your iPhone, you’ll need an app. Nowadays, you can find numerous apps with different features on the market. Which one you’ll choose will depend on what you want from the system, but also on the type of lighting you’re using. Here are some of the most popular iPhone apps:
- Smart Life – Smart Life is an excellent app for controlling all your smart home devices. It offers numerous customization options and enables you to create schedules that suit your routine.
- iConnectHue – This app is ideal for organizing Philips Hue lights. It allows you to create groups and lists of favorite colors, set timers, reminders, etc.
- Hue Disco – Hue Disco enables you to connect your Philips Hue lights to the music and sync with the beat. This app is excellent for parties.
- Wemo – The app controls your lights and other smart home appliances. It features an “Away mode” option that randomly turns the lights on and off when you’re not at home. This feature can deter potential intruders and protect your property.
How to Turn Your Ordinary Home Lighting into Smart Lighting
Besides the technology and app, you need to consider what kind of lights you want. There are several choices:
Smart light bulbs are the most popular option for turning your ordinary lights into smart lights. They are mounted into the existing fixtures and don’t require modifications, making them easy to set up for everyone. You can find them in numerous sizes, colors, and shapes.
Most smart light bulbs operate on your Wi-Fi network, in which case they don’t require a hub. However, if you purchase light bulbs that use a low-energy wireless standard such as ZigBee, you’ll need a hub to transfer those signals into Wi-Fi network signals.
You don’t need to replace every lightbulb in your house to enjoy smart lighting. By installing smart switches, you can keep using traditional lightbulbs and enjoy smart features. Smart switches are wired into your home’s electrical system and replace your existing switches.
When are smart switches a better option? If you have recessed lights controlled by one light switch, installing a smart switch is a more convenient and cost-effective solution.
Smart dimmers are similar to smart switches, except they offer dimming features. They can also be pre-programmed and controlled remotely.
If you want to control a standalone light fixture (for example, a lamp) with your iPhone, you can use a smart plug. They enable you to control a fixture without replacing the light bulb or the switch.
A hub that enables you to control lights with your iPhone may be necessary, depending on the technology you choose. Of course, you can always opt for lights that don’t require a hub.
Let the Light In
Smart lighting is convenient and easy to use, so it’s no wonder many homeowners are considering installing it. Besides the cost, there are numerous factors you should consider before purchasing the system.
We hope this article explained what you’ll need to control lights with a phone. If you’re not sure what the best option for your home is, talk to experts, and they’ll recommend a solution.
What smart home lighting options are you considering? Have you tried any of the smart home apps we’ve mentioned? Tell us in the comments section below.