How to Use Your iPhone as a Light Switch

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These days there is a mobile app for almost anything, I have hundreds on my phone and hardly use any of them more than once. However there are a few apps that I use every day with one of them being the Green Wave app.

iphone-light-switch

Green Wave Reality Light bulbs

With the Green Wave hardware I was able to replace the light bulbs in my room and then control them using the remote provided or with their very smart iPhone app. This was brilliant for turning the lights off without leaving the bed (especially since I have been able to turn the TV, Xbox, DVD player, etc.  off remotely from my bed since I was teenager).

I thought this was amazing but what really blew me away was the features of the gateway (optional extra but required to use the iPhone app). It comes with some smart controls which once I set them up (every easy to do) allowed be to hit an “away” button which turned light on and off at set times like someone is in the house.

It was not long until I installed the bulbs in every room in my house (There is a massive 500 bulb limit). I now have every room pre-configured and I can now control each room separately, all the rooms at once, see which rooms have lights on and even control the lighting over the internet if I am suddenly end up staying out for the night.

LIFX Colour changing light bulbs

Lifx

LIFX works in the same way as Green Wave by replacing your old bulbs with their intelligent bulbs, LIFX bulbs however are also colour changing. If has all same features plus a colour wheel to select your colour, ability to change the shade of white throughout the day to imitate natural daylight, an Android app as well as an iPhone and it has an SDK to allow other app developers to create apps that can also control the lighting.

There is however one downfall for LIFX at the moment in the fact that it has not yet been launched. There website is taking Pre-Orders so it shouldn’t be long until it is.

Lutron HomeWorks

Lutron has been designing some of the most advanced home automation systems for years. The Lutron HomeWorks mobile app can control allot more than the just the lighting, it can control anything from blind, doors and even the heating. The hardware however is not a simple case of “changing a light bulb”, all the hardware has to be professionally installed and depending on what you want to control can get very technical.

The mobile app has all the same features as the Green Wave app with the amazing ability to use them for any electrical appliance in the house. Some of the extra features include controlling music, turning any appliance on/off and even set the temperature of the heating (If only I could turn the heating up without leaving my bed).

Luminair DMX controller

The Luminair iPhone app requires a lot more technical knowledge and patience; it works by using DMX which can already control thousands of different lighting products.

The DMX Protocol

The DMX protocol is an industry standard protocol has been around for over 20 years and was originally used by theatres & nightclubs to precisely synchronise all the lighting together. Even though it was originally designed for club and theatre lighting in the last 10 years it has been possible to purchase any type of DMX lighting and even other electrical items (fog machines, blinds, motors).

The Mobile App

The app is remarkably easy to use considering how complex DMX can be, it uses what Luminair call “stacks” which simplify’s the programming. when you want to choose a colour it displays a nice big colour wheel making easy to choose any colour quickly. It does lack quite a few of the features that the other apps had like the timer and internet control. There is currently an iPhone and iPad app available.

The Installation (Test)

To put this app to the test I decided to use some colour changing LED Tape and install it using coving in my dining room. Within minutes I easily had full control of lights and was able to colour scroll, colour pick, strobe and even change the colour to the music.

Check it out in the video above.

Which one should you go for?

If I could afford to I would kit my whole house out with Lutron hardware so my whole house is completely automated. However until the cost comes down (or I win the Lottery) that won’t be happening any time soon.

After installing the Green Wave option I was extremely happy for what I got for my money and would defiantly recommend it to anyone.

I would not recommend using the Luminair app for home use, it is fun with colour changing lighting (I am already planning which room I make into a disco next) but it is ultimately designed to control nightclub lighting.

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Vishal Gaikar

Article by Vishal

I am Vishal Gaikar, Software Engineer, Web Addicted, Living in Maharashtra, India. If you like This post, you can follow Tricks Machine on Twitter, also you can add me on Google+.

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