Join me today for a detailed look at Smart Outdoor Lighting and a discussion of what all it can do and why it’s a great addition to your outdoor space. If you’re new to smart lighting, or haven’t yet fully embraced this still relatively new technology, today I’m going to help you see what you’re missing out on.
What is smart lighting?
You’re likely already familiar with smart lighting, but if not, or if you could use a refresher, smart lighting is an automated system of lighting (both indoor and outdoor) that allows you to manage and control all of your lights from pretty much anywhere. Smart lights generally use significantly less energy than other traditional forms of lighting, meaning they’re as cost-effective to use as they are convenient.
Part of what makes smart lights convenient is that they use Bluetooth technology to connect to your smart phone for close range control, or they connect to your home’s Wi-Fi Internet connection to allow for smart phone control from anywhere. This control is made possible due to the various brand-specific smart phone apps.
Smart lights can also be controlled by other means, such as by voice commands if you have a smart speaker or display with one of the popular smart voice assistants (Siri, the Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa). Or, you can control your smart lights via in-app scheduling. This means that you can set your lights to a timer for coming on and going off, which allows you to get the most out of your lights in terms of efficiency (as in only having them come on at the most appropriate times). Of course, you can also turn them on or off in the app with the simple press of a button/icon.
Smart outdoor lights are also frequently subject to motion sensing, meaning they can be set to come on whenever motion is detected, thus preventing you from having to turn them on yourself when approaching or leaving your home at night. Control through motion detection is also a great security feature, as I’ll discuss shortly.
Why your home needs smart lighting
Whether or not your home needs smart lighting is, naturally, your own decision. But consider what all you’ll be missing out on if you choose not to have smart lighting in your home. You’ll be missing out on robust lightbulbs that can last for up to 25,000 hours of use, thus paying for themselves multiple times over during their lifetime.
You’ll also be missing out on the opportunity to alight your home in any of over 16 million different colour options. And then there’s the smart light conveniences and energy efficiency already discussed above, as well as the useful security features I’ll discuss below.
Smart lights also come in a variety of different forms, with all shapes and sizes available—everything from outdoor wall lanterns to path lights to string lights to the standard lightbulbs you’d use in any table lamp or ceiling fixture. No matter the style of lights you enjoy having in your home, there’s a smart light version available, both for indoor and outdoor use.
Where to put smart outdoor lighting for security
Home security should be a concern for all of us. Unless you live in a high rise building or some other elevated apartment, protecting ground level property or some sort of yard is likely a part of that concern. How you go about lighting this area depends largely on its size, layout, and other physical features. However, there are some key areas that you definitely want to cover.
Most people light the immediate area around their front and back doorways, any walking paths on their property, and at least part of their driveway (if they have one). You may also want to light any shadowy areas that give you concern or provide a good place for trespassers to hide. And it’s always good to look for smart outdoor lights that are motion activated.
This will not only scare off any potential trespassers, but it could also alert you to their presence if you see an outside light come on unexpectedly. There’s certainly peace of mind in knowing your property is under some sort of protection, and if you combine your smart lights with some form of video surveillance, you’ll really be covered against all manner of snoops.
Where to put smart lights for convenience
Outdoor smart lighting can also be super convenient, and not just to you, but also to your visitors, as is illustrated by the above photo. If your yard is particularly dark, path lights can make it easy for your visitors to find their way to your door without tripping over a lawn sprinkler or something that was mistakenly left outside.
This could not only prevent a serious injury to someone visiting your home, but it also just makes for a more pleasant visiting experience when someone doesn’t have to navigate an invisible minefield. Of course, you will also benefit from conveniently placed lights when taking out the garbage or doing other outside tasks in the dark.
How to set up smart lights for maximum energy efficiency
Setting up your outdoor smart lights for maximum energy efficiency is both easy and financially sound. After all, who wants to pay a higher energy bill than they really have to? One of the features that helps to cut down on energy costs is the ability to set your lights on a timer/schedule within the app.
This will allow you to specify exactly when the lights will be either on or off, so you can make sure they’ll only be on when it’s useful to you and you’re household. For example, your exterior smart lights need never be on when it’s past everyone’s bedtime. And when the sun starts going down later in the season as summer approaches, you can continually reset the timer so that they’ll never come on while there’s still daylight outside.
If you happen to have other Smart Home products, you can even get them all communicating with each other so that they’ll know things like when you’re out of the house. For instance, Smart Locks and even Smart Thermostats can be set up to know this sort of information based on technology such as the location settings in your smart phone.
In this way you can set your outdoor smart lighting up such that only some lights come on when you’re away from home, or none at all unless and until a trespasser sets them off through motion detection. There are so many ways to manage your lights for maximum energy efficiency that if you’re really interested in doing do, you can easily reduce your monthly or bi-monthly energy bills.
How is smart lighting essential for outdoor entertaining in the evening?
There are many different forms of outdoor entertaining at home, and some of them take place in the evening. Whether it’s an outdoor dinner party, a family get together at night, a romantic encounter for two, or just some friends coming over to hang out under the stars, you want that time to be comfortable and pleasant.
There’s nothing quite like stargazing with friends on a warm summer evening, so I would suggest having a well lit area as well as a space that’s dark enough to really take in the night sky. Of course, I’m no expert on outdoor entertaining at night—I just like to look at the stars and planets.
For additional ideas related to outdoor entertaining, check out Shadi Bozorg’s recent article on 7 tips for great outdoor lighting for entertaining.