The 7 Best WiFi Light Switches
7. Ankuoo NEO
- can check light status on your phone
- invisible mode to restrict control
- not compatible with 3-way switches
|Model||Wi-Fi Light Switch|
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
6. WeMo F7C030fc
- allows for on-off light scheduling
- power light indicator on the plate
- doesn't have a dimming feature
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
4. WiOn 50052
- great for programming holiday lights
- reliable and easy to configure
- doesn't include a wall plate
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
3. Lutron P-BDG-PKG2W
- sends push notifications
- comes with in-home remote controls
- has a dimming feature
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
1. Plum Lightpad
- switch lights up when you approach
- beautiful modern aesthetic
- controls all bulb types
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
The Many Advantages Of WiFi Light Switches
If your electricity bill regularly shocks you into calling the power company and asking if there has been a mistake, you may be wasting energy in unknown places. Research has found that the United States is only 42 percent energy efficient, meaning they waste over half of their power. Most of the loss can be attributed to the industrial sector, but light bulbs (something residential and commercial buildings both have) are a big part of the problem. If you forget to turn off a light and leave your house for the day, or even for a long trip, you have no way of turning it off, and are throwing dollars down the drain. A WiFi light switch allows you to control your lights remotely from your smart phone or computer, wherever you are. So, you can turn them off when you're on the plane, leaving for your vacation.
WiFi light switches may help prevent burglaries, too. Some studies suggest that crime rates are lower on well-lit streets. It doesn't take a far stretch of the imagination to see how burglars may also pass by well-lit homes. While you may not want to keep your lights on all night, you could use your WiFi light switches to activate bulbs at strategic times. Scheduling lights to go on around the house throughout the night can make it look to the outside as if people are home, even when you aren't.
You can also use your switches to make your lifestyle and schedule a little easier. If you tend to get home after dark, you can program your WiFi-enabled driveway and porch light to turn on at sunset. This gives you a safe, illuminated path from your car to your front door. If your kids like to play in the back yard late in the afternoon, schedule your lights around their play to turn on at dusk. If your children can see better while they play, you can prevent a lot of injuries. Let your lights compensate for your forgetfulness, too. If you're in the habit of leaving the kitchen light on after cleaning up dinner, program those WiFi lights to turn off around bedtime.
Added Features To Look For In WiFi Lighting
If you're transforming your home into a smart house, look for WiFi light switches that are designed to work with other smart devices in your home like smart light bulbs and the Amazon Echo. In fact, smart light control is one of the most common ways people use Alexa. Setting the mood for romantic dinners becomes a little easier with models that have dimming capabilities. If you don't want to keep your smart phone by your side at all times, some WiFi light switches come with at-home remotes that you can place throughout your home and use to control them.
It's important to confirm your model is compatible with your current router, but try to find one that works with all major WiFi routers, so even if you switch providers, it will still function. Should energy saving be your main reason for purchasing WiFi light switches, consider some with built-in electricity usage monitoring. This can help you identify the problem areas in your home where you waste the most energy. If you live in a multi-person household and would like to make all of your family members more energy conscious, get a model that allows for multiple users. These allow several smart phones to connect to and control the lights, and can be a great way to hold your kids accountable for their energy usage.
You don't need to worry about your WiFi light switch interrupting the aesthetic of your home, since many models feature sleek and discreet control panels that will blend into your walls. No matter how great of a job you do at monitoring your electricity use, there is always the risk of an overload blowing your circuits. Fortunately, many WiFi light switches have built-in overload protection, and will shut off if they detect an overload risk. Don't forget to explore the associated smart phone apps of each light switch, to make sure you find them user-friendly.
A Brief History Of Smart Home Automation Systems
People have imagined a home that can run itself since long before modern smart homes existed. Of course, these once only appeared in science fiction works, like the 1950 short story There Will Come Soft Rains about a house that continued to take care of itself after its residents died, and Back to the Future, where Marty McFly had a smart kitchen. Fortunately, real-life smart homes turned out to be far more convenient than creepy. But they didn't come to be overnight.
In order for there to be smart appliances, there first had to be simple appliances. Before the robotic vacuum, there was just the first electric vacuum, created in 1907. Before there were smart refrigerators, there was the first self-contained refrigeration system, introduced in 1923 by Frigidaire. In the 1880s, John Henry Holmes created the first light-switch that used quick-break technology, which greatly improved the safety of electricity use in homes. Finally, in the 1970s, a product called X10 came on the market. This system used home power lines to allow several appliances to communicate with one another. Smart homes as we know them today didn't become possible until WiFi was invented in 1991. By the time WiFi was available, homes were more than ready to welcome smart automation systems. In fact, in 1984, the National Association of Home Builders had created a group advocating for smart technology in new homes.
The original smart devices were large and expensive, two issues the company Nest set out to improve upon in 2010. Started by iPod creator Tony Fadell, Nest introduced some of the first WiFi-enabled thermostats and smoke alarms. Nest prompted many of the competitors we know and patronize today, like Microsoft, Belkin, and Panasonic, to put out their own smart home systems and appliances.