Choosing The Right Smart Lighting System
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
** Please note we received Bulbrite Solana bulbs as a sponsorship. The opinions and commentary in blog post are our own.
During our renovation we really wanted to put in smart lighting. We wanted it to connect to our devices, set it on a schedule, adjust light levels from our couch, and have it integrated into other systems. By the time we got around to it we just lost steam on making decisions (there so many to make during a big renovation). We were looking at smart lighting options that required us to change switches, most of which required a neutral wire, which we didn’t install everywhere because our project wasn’t a total rewire of the electrical. It was too much to handle at the time.
So we took the easy way out and had our contractor just install regular switches, knowing we would get back to it. And here we are! Now, we think it was a great idea waiting to choose smart lighting. We have had the opportunity to live in our space and understand how we use the lighting in each room. We know where we need more adjustment in the brightness, where it needs to be warmer or cooler (it is amazing to be able to adjust that, more below!), what lights we want to adjust from our couch (all of them, duh!), and what is important to be on a schedule. Also, and this one is very important, it had to be easy to install. No neutral wire and no hubs. And it had to have a user friendly app interface.
We have different preferences in light brightness. Jordan likes it bright and light while Barry prefers lighting to be very dim and for each area to be contained in its own singular, perfectly crafted lighting source. It requires a lot of adjusting for us both to be happy throughout the day. We do have regular dimmer switches (Barry will not live without them), but it’s tough to find the balance.
Tired of the suspense already? Let’s skip to the decision so we can tell you all about what we chose and how it’s working for us. We went with Bulbrite Solana LED Smart Bulbs! Yep! No switches, no hubs, no screw drivers or turning breakers off, or fumbling with wires, or potentially electrocuting ourselves (high potential 🙄).
First of all, changing our light bulbs is a touchy subject for us. Recently the local power company had representatives on our street offering to change all of our incandescent bulbs to LED for free. Barry shoo-ed them away. We are suckers for the warm glow of incandescent Edison bulbs. They are all over our house. We know it’s incredibly environmentally unfriendly and we’re spending lots of extra money running them. We want to do better, but the thought of cold, bluish green LED bulbs the power company was going to provide replacing our beloved Edison bulbs was too much to bare. Bulbrite makes LED Bulbrite Solana bulbs that look exactly like Edison bulbs! We were very excited to try them out! Like we said, we want to do better! Ok...Barry was skeptical. So we did a side by side comparison. We were shocked. You cannot tell the difference. In fact, the Bulbrite Solana bulbs have a HUGE advantage which we have to skip straight to because it might be our favorite feature.
How? Who thought of this? I want to shake her/his hand. It’s genius. Not only do the Solana LED bulbs perfectly replicate a warm incandescent glow, you can adjust it to a snowy cold and clean bright white or anything in between! It’s actually very useful. It depends on the light fixture, placement, and time of day. In a chair lamp in the evening a nice dim warm glow is what we’re looking for, but in the frosted globes over our kitchen island the incandescent Edison bulbs we have in them have always seemed too orange, and the regular white bulbs we tried were too cool. With the Bulbrite Solana bulbs we can adjust it to the perfect temperature, anytime of day, and from anywhere. It is seriously amazing. We could go on about this but we have so much more to talk about.
We might have skipped ahead on the temperature control, but we had to, so let’s back it up. Once our Bulbrite Solana bulbs were installed (more on that below) they are all controlled through a very simple and powerful app. Very few clicks are required to make adjustments and they are extremely responsive. Everything you need to do is right there in a user friendly package. So this ticks a big box for us: Being able to control our lights from anywhere, especially the couch. Although there are others uses. There have been many times we have gone out thinking we would be back before dark and leaving our 86 pound baby Silver Lab, Zuko, home by himself. If we left without leaving some lights on for him we came home heartbroken he was alone in a pitch dark house for hours. Though he might not have cared a bit we feel like horrible parents. No more! So having everything in an easy to use app that we control from anywhere is important. If you ever even need to open it, keep reading.
Turn Lights on/off
This one is pretty simple, and you’ve probably already gotten the point, but we need to give it it’s own subtitle. A decade ago if this was the only feature it would be a technological breakthrough. You - can - turn your - light - bulbs - on - and - off - from -anywhere - in - the - world (like the couch;-)).
In addition to controlling temperature, again wow, you also have complete control over the brightness. We’ve walked down the street at night gawking into other people’s houses. You know you do it too. Some are beautifully lit, but every once and a while there will be one that looks like a hospital room, a-washed in an icy cold bright bluish tinted hum. Barry always says he doesn’t know how humans are existing in there. Maybe it was ok during the day but at night, dim those lights for goodness sake!
You might have thought that was it. Turn the lights on and off, adjust the brightness, and adjust the temperature, all from the app. If that was all of the features we would be happy as clams. But the best is yet to come. You can create “scenes” with different combinations of all of the above mentioned features so that your settings are all saved and can be adjusted with one click. You can also create as many scenes as you would like. So you can have a dinner scene with nice dim and warm lighting. You can have a morning scene that gradually brightens like a gentle sunrise. You can have a stark bright light in every room for cleaning scenes. A cocktail party scene...a romantic scene...a late afternoon/evening scene (you know when you’re at the restaurant and everyone goes, oooooooohhhhh”)...a book nook scene...a poker playing scene (bright light over table in dimly light room)...we could go on, but you get the picture. Once you set the scene you just tap it and your Bulbrite Solana bulbs do all of the work. “Oh but I don’t want to tap even one button to turn my restaurant inspired late afternoon/evening scene on. Why can’t it just do it itself?! UGH!,” you say? Keep reading.
She thought so too. Schedule away. Your morning scene can come on everyday, at the time of your choosing. Your book scene can be ready for you since you’ll have a book in one hand and your cup of hot tea in the other (who can tap a button?!). Your lights come on at dusk when you’re out of town so that when you neighbors walk by they can admire your perfectly lit home (don’t worry the bulbs are LED so you are not even spending much on running them and the environment thanks you too). The combination of scenes and schedules creates an endless amount of customization.
Installation comes first, but we had to cover features before we talk about it. If the features don’t tick the boxes who cares about how easy it is to install! Now that those boxes are ticked, we’ll write a few paragraphs on the installation process. Just kidding! A couple of sentences will do. It couldn’t be easier. Download the app, take your old bulb out, screw the new bulb in, it starts blinking, put your WiFi password in ONCE in the app, connect the bulb, give it a name, and assign it to a room. For each bulb you connect after the first one, you just screw it in, turn it on, click to connect on your phone, name it, and assign it. Go get the book and the tea!
How It’s Working For Us
Life is good with our Bulbrite Solana smart lighting. We have found a balance on our varying lighting preferences. We even have new preferences that we didn’t know we had now that we have scenes that automatically come on (the restaurant ooooohhhhh never gets old). Our Bulbrite Solana bulbs have made our home more livable, more enjoyable, and more soothing. It was an easy and inexpensive change for the amount of improvement it has brought to our space. Not to mention Zuko is never left home in the dark.
We sang Bulbrite Solana’s praises. We really love it, but it wouldn’t be fair not to say that there is one thing that we considered. Every choice has pros and cons. For us there was one area that our Solana bulbs couldn’t help with. Simply, we have some lights that do not take light bulbs. We have 3 recessed LED lights in our kitchen and a special LED light fixture (that we love) over our dining table. Very few, but since we can’t replace the bulbs, we can’t control them through the Solana app. This may not be the case for everyone, and it’s not that big of a deal to us, but it really is the only drawback we can think of.
You don’t need to do a major electrical overhaul and change switches, run wiring, or install hubs to have a smart lighting system that fits into and improves your lifestyle. If you can change a light bulb (come on someone in the house can...a friend?...a neighbor?) and you can download an app (I’m sure you got that) you can have every bit of functionality that those more complicated systems do that we would surely electrocute ourselves installing! Actually even more! You can’t change the temperature of your bulbs with those other systems, and that is now a must-have feature for us!
We can’t recommend Bullbrite Solana products enough. Order your Bullbrite Solana lights today!
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