In the first part of the article, we've guided you through everything you need to know about dimming.
Now that you're already a »dimming expert«, turning your lights smart and being able to control them with a simple tap on your smartphone, would be the next step. Making lights smart is usually the first step that beginners in the home automation take since it is quite a simple thing to do and it brings many benefits that make your home cozier, safer, and more energy-efficient.
To do that, you need a smart dimmer and a dimmable light bulb. Finding the most suitable combination might be tricky since there are many different products on the market and there may also be some compatibility issues.
Therefore, in the second part of the article, we've prepared a detailed overview of the differences between the smart dimmers and the steps you should make before starting your smart lighting project.
What is a smart dimmer?
As the word smart already speaks for itself, besides the usual dimming function, the smart dimmer allows you to control the light remotely plus other functions and features that make our tough days simplified.
There is quite an overflow of smart dimmers that one can find by searching the internet, reading blogs, forums, or asking an expert selling and/or installing a home automation system. All this information usually makes it hard to pick one before the other. See below a short and detailed list of differences between smart dimmers. It is still up to you to get the most suitable.
- Dimmer connection type:
- With or without mesh network
- Dimmer connection type:
- Local + manual operation
- Remote + manual operation
- In combination with a dedicated hub
- Physical or virtual UI
- Power supply:
- Mains voltage
- Low voltage
- Power supply:
- Dimmer type:
- Universal (suitable for most lights)
- Dedicated for specific light load
What can a smart dimmer do?
Through a dedicated user interface, this dimmer can:
- remotely control the dimming level,
- check the status of the light,
- schedule when your lights will dim to a certain level,
- create other scenes in combination with other smart devices in your home
- measure usage statistics and energy consumption, etc.
Long story short, a smart dimmer can bring priceless benefits. If you want to convince your partner on buying such products, simply use one or even all tips below:
- When on holidays, open your lights to let the burglars know you’re still at home.
- If late for dinner, set up the perfect scene to improve the partner’s mood.
- Make your neighbors envy you when coming home and your property light is escorting you when coming closer to the entrance.
Check out more ideas for Smart Lighting here.
Things to do before buying a smart dimmer
Check your home’s electrical system
One of the biggest problems to new smart home users (besides deciding which communication technology to use, which dimmer and bulb brand to buy, etc.) is knowing if the current electrical system in their home is 3 wire or 2 wire (without neutral wire). Knowing this is very important when speaking about redoing the entire house lighting into a smart one, as it might bring wanted and unwanted costs.
How do I know if the electrical system in my home is 2 or 3-wired?
Firstly, you need to open one or more flush/switch boxes (you do this by removing the light switch from the wall – as you can see in this video) and see if there is a neutral wire in it.
See the pictures below and check:
- If the situation in your flush/switch box is as on the 1st picture, consider yourself lucky, because you might just save quite some money.
- Nevertheless, if the situation is as on the 2nd picture, do not give up, because there are still few options. Choose the one that suits you the most.
Option 1 - get a smart dimmer that doesn’t require a neutral wire
There are several dimmers on the market that will work just great even without a neutral wire. There are others that can work with or without the neutral wire. Means, if there are some flush/switch boxes with and some without the neutral wire, you can still buy only one type and have the perfect compatibility.
Option 2 - add the neutral wire
Adding the additional neutral wire is an option. Bear in mind that pulling wires through finished walls can lead to who knows where and can result in high costs and quite some headaches. Let’s say this is one of the most expensive options, but technically speaking, the best option out of the 3, listed here. We warmly suggest leaving this job to the real experts.
Option 3 - buy a smart bulb
If you plan to widespread the smart home solution to other parts of your home (e.g. windows, shades, door, gates, heating, etc.), this might not be the perfect solution. The biggest drawback can be the non-compatibility of your smart bulb with other technologies/systems. Unless you choose the brand or technology, with a large range of products, that will cover your current and future needs. Besides you are limited to the design of the smart bulbs, you don’t have a lot of design options to choose from.
After reading this article, where you’ve learned about the benefits a smart dimmer can bring into your life, you're probably all excited to smarten up lights in your home. But don't forget – to avoid concerns and additional costs, before buying a smart dimmer, check the electrical system in your home and make sure the bulb is compatible with the one you want to buy.
REMEMBER: Not all dimmers are designed and suitable for all types of bulbs.
To spare you some time, worries and money before you invest in a new smart dimmer or bulb, we've tested more than 35 bulbs - dimmable and non-dimmable, from different manufacturers as Ikea, Osram, Philips, Verbatim and others with Qubino Mini Dimmer.
Check out the testing results here.
We're convinced that after reading both parts (here is the first part) of this overview about (smart) dimming, you'll have no issues with finding a smart dimmer that will work best in your smart home. And trust us, once you dim, you never go back. 😉