On our latest IoT Podcast episode, we take a question that Tommy left on our IoT Voicemail Hotline. Tommy is looking for a new house and he has “a ton of smart home stuff” including Philips Hue lights, other bulbs and more. He wants to know what approach he should take in the new home to fully integrate everything and what to look for to do this. Tommy is willing to include smart fixtures, switches and more in the future.
Obviously, just about any home can handle smart bulbs, such as the Philip Hue lights Tommy is already using. They’re easy to install and they typically work well.
The downside of these and other smart bulbs is that they need to be powered on for voice or app control. And if you have automations for those lights, they need power for your smart home to run those automations.
That’s why we generally recommend buying and wiring up smart switches. These provide constant power to any bulbs or fixtures, so automations will run even if the switch has been flipped to an off position. And if you’re worried that they’re too difficult to install: Trust me, they’re not. You’ll also gain valuable skills by learning to wire up connected devices.
Stacey and I are big fans of Lutron switches, which offer rock-solid reliability. These work with standard, non-connected bulbs; you don’t want to mix smart switches with smart bulbs.
If Tommy wants to stick with his Hue bulbs then, Philips Hue wireless switches are an option for the new home. He also needs to remember that one Hue bridge only supports up to 50 lights. You can add another bridge for more lights but the bridges don’t communicate to each other. So there’s a little more device management involved in that scenario.
The Philips Hue switches can be placed anywhere since they’re wireless. You could put them next to the standard switches in any home, for example. And to ensure power to the bulbs, you might want to cover the wired switches so the lights always have power.
Lutron does make a wireless dimmer knob called the Aurora that costs around $41. It fits over an existing switch so the power is always on to the bulbs.
Generally, Stacey and I both use Lutron switches for lighting fixtures because we want power to those on all the time. For our lamps, we use smart bulbs, often made by Philips Hue. We just leave the power switches on to them for automations and control. So you can create a hybrid solution in any home with this approach.
To hear Tommy’s question, and our discussion in full on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: