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Programmable lighting options

The growing use of LED bulbs and the proliferation of smartphones and Wi-Fi have brought lighting options to a new level. In addition to using less energy, many LEDs can be controlled from a smartphone app, making the LED more of a consumer electronic than a light bulb.

When shopping for new LEDs, you essentially have two options.

A less expensive LED still offers longer life, lower energy use and will work for most fixtures. However, consumers with older dimmer switches often find that they must replace switches to work with newer LEDs.

The second and more expensive option is a “connected” LED. These LEDs offer features like controlling lights remotely from a smartphone app or via voice control through an in-home speaker. They can also be connected to a home security system or dimmed to enhance entertaining.

Connected LEDs require a central controller or hub, like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple HomeKit. The hub can control other smart devices and become the center of a smart home system.

Consumers can choose from a variety of manufacturers when purchasing connected LEDs. Some bulbs are compatible with different hubs or systems, but if you’re planning a major overhaul to your home lighting, it’s best to buy one brand and stick with it.

Smart lighting options aren’t necessarily about saving energy, but if they can help you remember to turn the light off when you are not in a room, then a small amount of energy savings can be achieved.

As technology continues to advance, more smart home products will become available. Many of these products will include features that focus on home security and quality of life.

If you’re interested in smart technologies for your home, the key will be to research your options and understand how the system works with the other devices within your home.   Source: Brian Sloboda, NRECA

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