Best smart ambient lighting by room
May 24, 2023
By now, we're all familiar with smart lighting. Smart lights have the ability to operate on a schedule and do things like change color or be turned on or off with just your voice. A smart light bulb is perhaps the simplest form of connected lighting, but there are many more smart lighting options out there. In this post, we'll take a look at how you can achieve the best lighting effects for each room in your home.
The living room, family room, or rec room: whatever you call it, the vibe is definitely more relaxing. You want smart lighting that can help you chill out after a long day.
A great place to start with smart lighting, and particularly for the living room is the Philips Hue Starter Kit. This smart lighting kit consists of three smart color-changing light bulbs and a hub or bridge that connects to your home Wi-Fi network. It’s easy to set up and configure even for technophobes or newbies. Once you’re connected to Wi-Fi, screw in each smart bulb. Place them in overhead light fixtures and lamps, then you can control them all from the app or with voice assistance from Google or Alexa. You can adjust the color too; blood red for scary movie night, or cheerful peachy-pink on a dreary morning.
Gaming lighting calls for drama, and there’s no better dramatic ambient light kit right now than Govee Glide Hexa Pro 3D. This array of flat LED light panels can be configured for thousands of different colors, and can create dynamic light shows too. It can also listen and respond to your voice, a game track, or music, creating effects that match your room, beat for beat and boom for boom. Whether you want to use it as a dynamic backdrop for your livestreams or as an ambient light in the room behind your monitor, these lights can create cool effects. Nanoleaf makes a similar product too.
When it comes to the home office, we most often need two things: a task light and a video conferencing light. Kensington’s Bi-color Ring Light can be both, particularly if you clip it onto the Kensington Boom Arm. Point it down at the desk for ambient task lighting while you work, then flip it up and slide it over your camera for flattering light that makes your office look like a TV studio. Hate your laptop’s built-in camera and the Jabba the Hutt-neck it gives you? Toss Kensington’s webcam on the included mount in the center of your ring light and present yourself from way more flattering video angles.
If you’re new to the smart home game and intimidated by setting one up, there’s an easy way to sample smart lighting, and that’s with smart light bulbs that don’t need a bridge or hub. Cync by GE is a low-risk, high-reward lighting system since there are no extra components required. Just screw in the Cync by GE bulbs and use the Cync app to connect for wireless access. Adjust the color to a soft, sleep-enabling candlelight setting, and drift off to dreamland.
The backyard could be considered a room, right? The truth is, with all the time we spend outside in warmer weather, it's an easy space to beautify. While you could add some tiki torches or dollar store solar stake lights, we're here to tell you that smart lights can make all the difference to backyard ambiance.
Philips Hue makes a variety of smart connected outdoor lights, from bollards and spotlights to wired lighting fixtures and waterproof strip lighting. Whatever your configuration or need, there's probably an outdoor light for that from Phillips Hue. It has been my go-to system for outdoor lighting for several years now. I can also attest that the Hugh outdoor lights are able to withstand extreme temperatures and they've stood the test of time over numerous harsh winters.
If you're on a budget and don't want to splash out for dedicated smart lighting, you can always add brains to older lights. For example, those Edison bulb string lights that everyone likes to weave overhead in their yard; by simply plugging a string of these into a smart outdoor plug, you can get instant smart home control. One of the products I love for this application is the Cync by GE smart outdoor plug. It simply connects to an AC outlet, and it houses two additional plugs under its waterproof cap. You just connect it with the GE Cync app, and you can set daily timers, or sunrise or sunset on/off features; and use different timers for each individual plug.
Ring also makes dedicated outdoor lighting. There are different components and both wired and battery-powered options. These can connect with and intertwine with the ring home security system so that if your motion detector is tripped, lights and cameras can automatically start recording. If you don't need the full home security option, you can simply add some ring solar-powered outdoor lights. Ring makes Solar Wall Lights, Solar Steplights, and Solar Path Lights (stake lights). These are excellent for illuminating sidewalks or side yards without having to worry about needing to replace batteries.
From Philips Hue to LIFX, Cync to Govee, plus Sengled, Abode, and Wyze, there are so many lighting brands that can help you make the most of your space. If you have a favorite let us know which one and why in the comments.