Today, I want to take a moment to shine a light on the topic of home automation. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). 🙂

We at InPeak Properties and Home Automation Nation have been wading through the smart home waters since we started the podcast back in late December 2015 and we have learned a tremendous amount since then. But of course, there’s always more to learn, especially in such a dynamic business where there are always new gadgets coming out.

Something we hear quite a bit is how confusing the topic is. Or things like, “What’s home automation, anyway? Isn’t it expensive?”

I will say yes, it can be confusing. And expensive. But it sure doesn’t have to be confusing or expensive to integrate a little bit of smart home technology to brighten your day without spending a ton.

LIFX color bulb

Light bulbs are probably the easiest way to make your home a little smarter and more automated, starting at around $15 for the most basic bulb. (Of course, you will still need WiFi, and most likely you’ll also need to download an app). Once you have at least one bulb, you can start having some fun.

A few things you can do with smart light bulbs:

  • Set up programs that will turn on/off bulbs at certain times, or when things happen. For instance, in our kids’ room, we have a motion sensor that turns the light on when he’s in there, and turns it off after 3 minutes of inactivity.
  • Set “themes” so you can turn your lights on/off, or change the color based on an activity, like watching a movie.
  • Create “If This, Then That (IFTT) recipes” that make lights turn on/off, flash, or change color when something happens for bulbs and other smart home gadgets that may not normally be integrated.
  • And more, of course…

Getting Started

Of course, you can spend as much or just about as little as you’d like. But if you’re looking for a super-basic setup, grab a few basic bulbs like the GE Link, Cree Dimmable LED Light Bulb, or OSRAM LIGHTIFY LED Light Bulb. They run about $15-$20 each. If you want to go a little more fancy, try Philips Hue or LIFX Color 1000 A19 Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb, Adjustable, Multicolor, Dimmable, No Hub Required, Works with Alexa colored bulbs, but note that the Philips Hue bulbs do require the Hue hub to work. The colored bulbs are also more expensive, running about $50 each (plus the hub for Philips).

Here’s what you need to dabble in smart lighting:

  1. WiFi
  2. Smart light bulbs
  3. OPTIONAL: A hub, like Samsung SmartThings Hub, 2nd Generation and/or voice control (like Amazon Echo)
    1. Whether or not you need a hub depends on the bulbs you choose and if you want to add more to your smart home setup in the future.
  4. Smart  phone (for control)

See? Not much! And for the most part, they are pretty easy to setup. At least if you’re only doing a few. Give it a try, and let us know how you like it!


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