Illuminated versatility

Smart LED lamps offer contractors the opportunity to give home and business owners ultimate control over their landscape lighting.
Photo: Sam Alvis

A smart LED lamp isn’t just any lightbulb. It’s an energy-efficient LED light source with integrated wireless communication features, according to Roshan Iynanda, associate product manager at Unique Lighting Systems, Bloomington, Minnesota. These lamps can be controlled remotely through smartphone apps, smart home systems or voice commands. With their range of colors, brightness settings and programming options, smart LEDs provide a much greater degree of customization and control.

Download 2023 Smart LED Lamp Comparison Charts

Set up smart LEDs for success

A key difference between a standard LED lamp and a smart LED lamp is its connectivity. And with good connectivity comes good lighting, says Kevin Smith, national technical support and trainer at Brilliance LED, Carefree, Arizona.

“When a Wi-Fi system is properly installed, you basically have the world by its heels because you can control your lighting from anywhere in the world,” he says. “As long as you have a smartphone and you have Wi-Fi at your home, everything is controlled through the cloud.”

With their range of colors, brightness settings and programming options, smart LEDs provide a much greater degree of customization and control.

Smith says the flexibility is great, but clients need to understand that a strong Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection is essential for smart LEDs to be used to their full potential. Contractors should ensure that the clients understand that most Wi-Fi routers are set up to handle up to 225 devices, which can add up quickly depending on the number of people in the family and how many devices they use.

Evaluating materials at the job site is also key, says Smith.

“You also must evaluate whether or not you can receive Wi-Fi from inside the house outside,” he says. “Now, there’s some very strong routers that can really push out a big signal, but you also have blockages from cement walls, metal walls. There are some houses around the country that are thick adobe, too. You can’t always get the Wi-Fi to come outside with that.”

To address this, Smith says it is worth connecting with a Wi-Fi professional to understand the limitations of the current network and to learn more about routers as well as the smart LED lamps themselves.

“It all comes down to educating yourself on those styles of products. They’ll do a lot of magical things, but they’re not magic.”
– Kevin Smith

“It all comes down to educating yourself on those styles of products,” he says. “They’ll do a lot of magical things, but they’re not magic.”Iynanda notes that the type of connectivity, whether Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, varies by lamp and manufacturer. He says Bluetooth offers a stronger connection than Wi-Fi.

Pick the right location

Smart LED lamps excel when used for focal points, path lighting and even ambient lighting in your outdoor spaces. Iynanda suggests a few different areas where smart LEDs can be deployed for the best effect in contractors’ designs:

  • pathways
  • garden beds
  • deck/patio
  • water features
  • accent trees
  • architectural elements
  • outdoor dining areas
  • driveways
  • boundary and security
  • entertainment areas

Take a typical design to a new level

Several specific facets of smart LED lamps can amplify an entire landscape lighting project in a few main ways, says Smith. Those start with color customization, changing the color of the light to match the season, holiday or event. Remote control is another useful capability, allowing users to manage lighting from anywhere, whether you’re in your living room or halfway across the world. Automation allows the user to set schedules or integrate with sensors to automate landscape lighting fully. They can be used to create dynamic environments by programming sequences or “light shows” for special occasions. Smith says oftentimes, color customization is just the first step in elevating designs by using smart LEDs.

Photos: FX Luminaire

“I’ve had several customers in the past where it wasn’t a matter of having color; it was a matter of being able to work with the holidays and the moods they were in,” he says.

Just like standard LED lamps, smart LED lamps offer energy savings compared to their incandescent or halogen predecessors, Smith says. Further energy savings can come with smart LEDs, due to the fact they can be operated from anywhere.

“Timing and dimming are everything,” Smith says. “So you could actually have, for instance, some tall cypress trees in the background of your property. You could light those up really hard initially or just on the weekends. Maybe you just entertain on Friday night and Saturday night, and that’s when you want those lights on. Well, those lights can be timed to be at full brightness at a specific Kelvin temperature or a specific color when you want like that particular day of the week.”

Download 2023 Smart LED Lamp Comparison Charts

Luke Reynolds is the content editor for Irrigation & Lighting and can be reached via email.

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