Smart lighting, LED bulbs, wireless light switches… those are all great things for inside the home, but can you do smart lighting outside the home? The answer is, of course, yes. In fact, outdoor lighting control is not much more complicated than indoor lighting control, and often uses exactly the same devices, but if you want to get a little more creative with your outdoor lighting control or advanced landscape lighting, then there are some new and interesting products you can use.
First off, if your current outdoor lighting situation only consists of a couple patio lights and maybe a flood light over the driveway, all controlled by light switches next to your door, then moving to smart outdoor lighting is very simple. All you need to do is swap out the switches that currently control your outdoor lights with wireless smart switches and add a smart home hub, such as the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge, SmartThings or Wink and then you’re all set. Just add the switches or dimmers to the app, set up your scenes and timers, and your outdoor lights will then be part of your smart home system.
By the way, don’t forget that dimming can be just as useful for outdoor lighting as for indoor lighting. You don’t always need your patio lights on at full blast, so a dimmer, especially one you control from a smart phone app (so you don’t have to get up and go indoors to adjust the lights) is a perfect solution.
Outdoor motion detectors and timers can all be integrated into your outdoor or landscape lighting to add security and convenience.
Here are some new products for people with outdoor lighting ideas that are a bit more complicated:
This a new outdoor lighting system that uses Wi-Fi, an app, and your favorite iOS and Android devices to do fun things with your landscape lighting. The Luxory Wi-Fi system includes a Wi-Fi module to link all of your Luxor ZD controllers to iOS and Android devices, as well as the Light Assignment Module (LAM) and the new indoor face-pack mount for inside the home or garage. The system gives users the ability to set lighting levels and scenes as needed, right from their phone or the control module. With motion sensors, lights can be initiated immediately when walking outside to have dinner or going to the pool, then dimmed to a pre-set scene to set a mood. FX Luminaire is now selling the Luxor Wi-Fi system, with the app available at the iTunes or Android stores. This is a professionally installed system. The price will vary depending on which modules and light fixtures your landscape designer installs.
PlayBulb Garden outdoor lighting fixtures are like Philips hue lights for your garden. This outdoor smart bulb is specifically designed to highlight flowers, shrubs and any other greenery you enjoy outside. It also makes for creative pathway lighting. PlayBulbs can deliver a dramatic flair to any outdoor space even in the dark, by adding a bit of color into the equation.The system supports the PlayBulb X app for iOS and Android devices, so you can control color and lighting effects via a quick tap. Users can even group multiple PlayBulb Garden outdoor smart bulbs, so they can all share the same lighting and color effects. These outdoor lighting fixtures are also solar powered, making it just as green as all of those things in your garden. It charges up during the day via sun energy and transfers all of that energy to an internal lithium-ion battery. Once fully charged, it can operate up to 20 hours. $31
The Kuna is both a decorative porch lamp, a wireless smart lamp and a discreet home security camera with a built-in intercom. With the Kunu app you can get smartphone alerts whenever someone comes to the door. It even allows you to see who’s there and interact with visitors right through your phone or tablet.The free Kuna app works with iOS and Android devices. Besides letting you communicate with whoever is at the door from anywhere in the world, it also lets you set pre-recorded greetings or alarms. Of course, it also allows you to actually control the light.The light can be controlled manually or use the “dusk-to-dawn” mode, so you can set it and forget it. The Kuna is available in three styles: the Craftsman, the Traditional and the Contemporary. All three are selling in black, with the first two also available in bronze, for $169 each.
If you have outdoor lamps plugged into wall receptacles, or for temporary outdoor lights, such as holiday lights or outdoor party lights, this GE outdoor plug adapter will let you control them. Of course, you’ll need a Z-Wave smart home system first. Luckily this GE product works with most Z-Wave systems, including SmartThings, Wink and others. It could also be used to automate an outdoor sprinkler for the yard or garden. $44
BlissLights are more for decoration and ambient effect than for area lighting, but they’re really cool. BlissLights Sky is an ambient lighting fixture that can project that gorgeous star-like colored lights onto any surface, indoors or out. Both systems can be used for creative outdoor lighting ideas. The two-tone plug-and-play fixture can project a blue nebula cloud with a moving starfield of green light, adding both color and atmosphere into any space.
The BlissLights Spright (inset photo) is designed for outdoor use, whether it’s on the porch or in a garden. Once installed, this piece can project thousands of pin-points of light to create a “firefly” effect. The laser holographic technology boasts a bright, wide image, allowing you to see “fireflies” outdoors.
BlissLights Spright is available now in red, green and blue, starting at $199. BlissLights Sky will start selling in the second quarter of 2015, priced at $229.
Get more outdoor lighting ideas here.