Z-Wave Dimmer Modules
Z-wave technology can control your lights through a specific radio frequency to a base hub or stick. You can purchase Z-Wave dimmers switches which control the lights locally and then update the system with the specific level the light is at. Advantages over WiFi
- No router needed
- Arguably more secure
- Allows for mesh networking
- Faster real world response (from my own observations)
- Can buy in bulk for cheap
- Z-Wave Technology
- Works well with halogen and incandescent
- Does not work well with LEDs
- Large housing for installation
- Minimum wattage amount required
- Works great with LED’s
- No buzzing when dimming
- Works with most Z-wave hubs well
- No Buzzing
- Max 500W
- Great reviews
- Great product
- Good brand
- Good reviews
- Downside: Higher price
- Works great with LED’s
- Best brand name
- Doesn’t work well with LED (needs minimum wattage:40w)
- Not completely silent
- No neutral wire required
The Z-Wave Dimmer Switch Winner
Based on my experience, rumors and reviews from online the Linear is the one I would pick as the dimmer of choice for a retrofit design of a house. At $35 a pop it’s very easy to use your existing LED’s/Halogens or Incandescents to become smart and controlled. Second place goes to the Evolve dimmers but at $12 more per dimmer you could get some LED lighting strips.
WiFi lights aren’t preferred unless you can change all your ‘switches’ to be able to control the lights. Changing out all the switches is an expensive solution. There are some solutions for this (LIFX Remotes) but for the most part the easiest transition to use Z-Wave Dimmers instead.
Philips Hue Base + Lights
- Created WiFi Lights Sector
- Philips is a high quality product
- Great reviews
- Great support
- Great API
- Great integration
- BR30 Base Option
- $95 is for 4 bulbs, gateway, wall remote (below)
- Cheapest option
- Full API
- RGBW Color LED Light Bulbs (AKA: 60W)
- Can replace your entire local switches on the wall as they are pretty cheap.
- $80 Includes 4 links and the Wink Hub
- Zigbee (so will not improve your z-wave mesh network)
- 60w equivelent
- GE brand (big name)
- See below for sample checkout
- $380 for 4 bulbs
- No hub required
- 75w equivalent
- WAY too expensive compared to LimitlessLED
- Stick out a lot and wont be good for 80% of lamps or fixtures
- What about wall switches?! Once you cut the power to the bulb it wont get any power.
The Best WiFi Smart Lighting Is…
1. IF PRICE NOT A CONCERN
If price is not an option than we personally like the Philips Hue as it is the most professional looking lights of the bunch (also the most expensive) and there is the best integration with all the other smart products out in the market. There is also plugins for Smartwatches for the hue (Pebble), a great API and is one of the biggest names in lighting.
2. IF PRICE IS A CONCERN
We LOVE the idea of replacing our existing wall switches with those remotes from limitlessled.com. They aren’t the best looking but give you far more control over the mood and color of every light in the area at the touch of a button. They are super cheap and are always on sale (don’t be fooled). We went through the pricing up the same package as the philips (4 bulbs and a gateway) and it’s about half price.
For 100 bucks you could use this as a test to see what your whole house will respond like.
3. IF YOU WANT ON AND OFF AND CHEAP
The GE Link is a decent option and comes in at 80 dollars. It’s an ok solution and works with Zigbee hubs (Wink). Below is a sample checkout of 4 bulbs with the hub at HomeDepot.com:
Bluetooth Smart Lights
Bluetooth lights from my perspective are a fail from the start. There is no mesh network, the range is only 20-30 feet, you need a bluetooth controller that is on and I just don’t see the point VS the other options mentioned above.
- Poor range
- Need a bluetooth controller
- Just a bad idea overall
There are a lot of options coming out with smart lighting products. The ones that will succeed will be the ones that just let us keep our current solution and then add to it.
BEST OPTION FOR A NEW BUILD
The LimitlessLED option to me seems like the best option for the money. It provides full color LEDs, remotes with wall plate options at a good price, a good API and other bases. I would choose that option if you could build a custom ‘wall plate’ for the remotes to make it as seemless as a regular wall switch.
BEST OPTION FOR A RETROFIT
The Linear dimmer switches with a z-wave hub will make your significant other happy as from their eyes nothing will change. You can program and automate all you want. They will just have a different button to push.