Light controls are one of the most basic smart home features. However, with the influx of smart devices being sold online, we get very confused clients mixing up concepts of smart lights vs smart switches. Let us debunk the difference between smart lights and smart switches in this blog!
Smart Light vs Smart Switch
Smart lights are connected via software to automate itself, on/off, color tuning and even color changing. To a certain extent, switches can be excluded from the equation. Smart switches on the other hand, eliminates the need for a smart light. Both smart lights and smart switches has to be mutually exclusive from each other.
When should you use smart light and when smart switch?
Smart lights is more complex; allowing users to on/off and change colors via software application. However, smart lights will require connection to individual light/driver. i.e. more connections to the hub as compared to smart switches. Smart switches control a single point, creating contact points to the circuits wihtin the switch. Allowing for multiple lights to be controlled by a single switch point.
Smart switches are more concise and efficient in my point of view, if you have a huge home, doing smart switches will be way more efficient than having multiple smart lights.
Different protocols for smart light
Wi-Fi Smart Lights:
Wi-Fi smart lights require a connection to the router, which in turn will be constantly connected to the cloud server. Wi-Fi is suspectible to interferences and is often limited to a single Wi-Fi channel, chances of the ligths being disconnect is relatively high. Hardware issues are also a concern as connecting the Wi-Fi lights to a weak rotuer will mean higher chances of connection drop-outs. One reason why Wi-Fi smart lights are sold vastly in light shops is its ease of use. i.e. you need not have an additional gateway to connect to these lights, making set up easy with less steep learning curve. Also note that Wi-Fi usually requires higher energy consumption.
System using Wi-Fi Lights: Most Tuya Smart lights, Xiaomi Desk Lamps, Yeelight Smart Ceiling Lights
Zigbee Smart Lights:
Zigbee Smart lights was pioneered by Philips HUE. While Smart lights connected via Zigbee drivers are often overlooked, we feel that this is a lesser evil amogst all smart light protocol. While Zigbee drivers require a Zigbee gateway to function, there is no need for it to be constantly connected to the router or even the internet to function. Advancement of Zigbee also allows for Zigbee mesh, allowing for long range signalling. With a new standard Zigbee 3.0, Zigbee devices will be recognized by a single Zigbee hub, unifying all Zigbee devices.
Also note that Zigbee is a low-energy protocol, meaning to say you will spend more efficiently on your LED brightness than the smart connection.
Systems using Zigbee: Philips HUE, Home-A-Genius Smarter Light
Thread, unlike Wi-Fi is known for its low energy consumption. Known for its lightning fast communication, Thread does not requires a hub and allows for meshing effect.
Unlike Wi-Fi & Zigbee Protocol, Thread is very new and is not widely used. With the support from Apple, Thread is one of the protocol for Matter and is readily available if you have an Apple Homepod.s
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE):
BLE is often used in the lighting industry as it eliminates the use of an additional gateway, while allowing users to control their lights with low energy protocol. BLE leverages on the fact that every smart devices (our mobile phones and tablets) is equipped with bluetooth, hence allowing users to control smart lights efficiently. However, we noticed that multiple devices cannot connect to the lights at once, meaning to say this system is only applicable for small households. Also for BLE lights to function remotely, a BLE hub is needed. Else, BLE lights cannot be controlled remotely.
Smart light protocols are important
While smart lights are here to assist you within your household, having an ecosystem with an overworked router, restricting bandwidth of the other devices is not the ideal solution for any smart home systems. On top of that, variables such as the size of the house, number of lights, load of the lights, all matters to which protocol best suits the solution. Leave this to the experts!