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What is a Smart Dimmer?

27 September 2021 | Lightwave

In this article, we dive into the world of smart dimmers and smart home automation, what they are, how they work and how they can fit effortlessly into any modern, smart home.

Just What is a Smart Dimmer?

Typically, the average home will have a central light switch in each room which aims to regulate all the major lighting elements within the house itself. In a nutshell, a smart dimmer acts as a conduit to allow you to control your house lights physically or remotely, using your phone or tablet. Smart dimmers can work in conjunction with voice assistants, such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri, allowing you to use voice commands to control all your indoor and outdoor lighting without touching a button. Smart dimmers give you the freedom and flexibility to decide on the illumination level of each room, depending on the occasion and your mood! Lightwave’s smart dimmers have the latest wireless technology built into the fundamental components of the switch itself, and as a bonus, the Lightwave range features built-in energy monitoring, allowing you to easily monitor the amount of electricity you are consuming and the money you are spending each day. 

What are the Fundamental Components of a Smart Dimmer?

Before we answer this question, it may be helpful to take a step back and look at how a light switch works. Generally, there are three main types of light switches. The most common are single-pole switches (which alternate between ON and OFF), three-way switches, and four-way switches. A single-pole switch is controlled from a single location, while both three-way and four-way switches have a series of wires that help to create an electrical circuit. The purpose of a switch is to either open the circuit by turning the switch on, thus allowing power to move between the switch and the light fitting, or close the circuit by turning a switch off, which immediately interrupts the flow of power, stopping the light being generated.  

All three types of standard switches can use ‘smart’ technology to control them. The convenience of this method is that both remote and standard manual controls are present. In addition, the use of dimmer switches gives an individual the capability to oversee the on/off status of the light remotely. Lightwave’s range of smart dimmers offer a cost-effective and highly convenient solution, as they are simple to fit and don’t require complicated (and costly) changes to the house’s existing wiring. 

Getting to the ‘Hub’ of a Smart Dimmer

The lion’s share of smart dimmer switches works in conjunction with a central ‘smart hub’. The hub is vital to allow effective wireless communication between any smart dimmers and a phone or tablet to control the lighting from a remote location. Generally, the hub can be plugged into a spare port on the side of the wireless broadband router itself. The advantage is that the hub and router are kept together in one central location within any smart home. There are a myriad of ‘hubless’ smart dimmers and other gadgets available, but be aware – range, reliability and performance are severely diminished without one central hub acting as the brains of the system.

How to Choose the Right Smart Dimmer and LED Lamps for Your Smart Home

LED Lamp Compatibility – LED lamps are unlike incandescent light bulbs as they contain complex electronic components. In addition, not all LED lamps are capable of being dimmed. The easiest way to check this is to make sure that the LEDs you purchase display the right symbol to indicate that they are the dimmable kind. 

Does your Smart Dimmer Need a Neutral Wire? – All UK lighting circuits need a live wire for smart dimmers to work. However, most smart dimmers need a neutral wire installed. This poses a challenge for the majority of UK homeowners, as older lighting circuits will not include a neutral wire. There are some smart dimmers, such as the Lightwave range of dimmers, which don’t require any extra cabling to be installed; they work with, or without a neutral..  

Retrofit Design – One of the great benefits of most smart dimmers is that they have been created to be ‘retrofitted’ into any exciting wiring setup. Therefore, it’s possible to take the original switch off the wall and fit a smart dimmer switch in its place. This design feature also has the added benefit of reducing time, effort, and cost as the existing wiring won’t need to be altered. Although this can often be a simple process, we strongly recommend consulting a suitably qualified professional before commencing any electrical work.

Security Considerations – It’s worth thinking about why you want to add smart lighting into your home. One of the significant advantages of smart lighting is that you can control your lighting from anywhere in the house. You could even control it remotely from anywhere in the world, whether you’re on holiday or working remotely, by using an app on your mobile phone or tablet. To add an extra layer of security, you can create timers and automation to turn lights on and off at certain times of the day and night to give the impression that there’s someone at home. With the Lightwave system, you can set up push notifications for any button press or event. This means you can receive a notification straight to your mobile phone if any of your lights are switched on or something gets unplugged from a socket while you’re out of the house.

Consider Buying a Starter Kit –  A great place to begin is to get a smart lighting starter kit for your home. Many companies offer packages, such as Lightwaves’ Lighting Starter Kit, which includes a Link Plus and a one gang smart dimmer. This allows you to start controlling your lights remotely quickly and easily, without investing in a system you’re not yet sure will work for the whole home.

Getting Started

The only things left to do are to decide how many smart dimmers you would like, and the finish of your chosen smart dimmers to fit effortlessly into your smart home. It can be a challenge to find smart devices that have an aesthetically pleasing design and are built to a high-quality standard, but Lightwave has you covered on both. As always, if you have any questions about the installation process we always recommend getting in touch with a qualified professional.