LED lighting is great. RGB LED lighting is even better, and making them Smart, allows one to completely rethink how one uses lighting in both home (and commercial) environments. Good implementation of smart LED lighting drastically reduces electric bills compared to old style incandescent, but even offers big savings compared o those CFLs (Compact Fluorescent lights). And it does so without the multiple problems/issues that CFLs have, such as containing Mercury, or not being really good at dimming.
(Ed. note: This article was originally posted in 2013, updated on Jan 21st after the CES show).
Why smart LED lighting? From a political standpoint, many people have been “forced” to buy more efficient lighting. As an example, most incandescent bulbs have been banned (in California) and now other places) Sadly, the push to CFL by regulation and the push by many environmental groups, by my take, was badly misguided.
Just waiting a couple more years for LED’s to be viable would have been the intelligent way to proceed. After all, breaking a CFL bulb in your carpet isn’t a job for a hand vacuum, but one for a Hazmat team, or so the same environmental folks tell us. That’s right, break a CFL and there’s now mercury in your room. Baby’s room? Better clean up a broken CFL “the right way, or it might even be a crime since the mercury is considered extremely dangerous. You do not want it in your carpeting.
So, by my take, CFL’s are basically bad ideas, but LED lighting bests CFL’s in every area but one: They do cost more to buy. But their prices are coming down too. Since most are about twice as efficient as a CFL, even spending $15 instead of $1 for a CFL, should pay for itself in a year or three in any area where the lights are used somewhat often – kitchen, living room, bedrooms. Payback on rarely used lights though is a different story: if it’s the light in the hall closet that’s turned on 15 minutes a month, it will take years, so you might want to leave the CFL in that closet a while longer, until prices fall.
For our Dream Home project, we will have not just LED’s but smart LED lighting in almost all of the project. Currently the house is populated with a mix of mostly LED and some CFL lighting, but we will replace all the CFL’s with LED, by the end of the project. The Dream Home has, 106 recessed ceiling lights. That’s a lot of new LED bulbs needed
Unfortunately, there are still few smart LED lights out there but the selection still managed to increase manyfold at the CES show two weeks ago. Everyone’s getting in the game. For example, Cisco, Belkin, CREE and a host of others were showing smart LED’s some were dimmable white, many were dimmable color LEDs. There are now traditional “light bulb” style led lights, and others that are flood lights (suitable for our recessed cans), and still others spots and strip lighting.
It’s getting exciting.
Within a couple or three years the shelves will be lined with LED lights that can all be individually addressed. The possibilities are endless. Our Dream Home will become a “smart” house of light. We’re already doing scenes in our livingroom and back patio, but doing it “manually” which each set of lighting having its own remote. Won’t be long until every light, every room in your home, every “scene” can be controlled by iPhones and other smart devices, as well as smart wall switches, and sensors.
Philips Hue is a Great example of what's now available in Smart LED lighting
No this isn’t a commercial, just a great example. Philips has been selling their smart Hue lighting since end of 2011, give or take. Basically think a bunch of bulbs similar to a traditional light bulb in shape and light dispersion. The Hue bulbs offer color. millions of colors to choose from. Just screw them in, they talk to a Philips controller, so that you can adjust every light individually, from your iPhone, computer, etc. You can create colored scenes (or white), mixing anyway you want. Your major limit is that one controller can only control about 60 lights.
In time for the holiday season Philips has added flood lights called Bloom, and strip RGB LED lighting called Lightstrips.
Everything can be turned on and off on schedule, and likely if you get fancy (we will try to), control them with motion sensors and daylight sensors as well. Philips system is Zigbee compatible, one of two major standards for integrating different companies’ smart devices.
We’ve already got a lot of LED-RGB strip lights in our Dream House, but so far, they each have their own multi-color/multi-effect small remote controls. All of those, and more RGB LED strip lights will be added to the home control system, so they too will be controllable by the likes of iPads, etc.