Here’s five cool things that happened when I “smartened up” my home

A while back I had the opportunity to wire my apartment with SYLVANIA LIGHTIFY smart lighting. Having been a fan of automation and the Internet of Things, I was excited to try, and a few weeks later, I found my apartment being converted into a super-cool high-tech lighting palace.

OK, “high-tech lighting palace” might be a bit of a stretch. But my apartment is almost entirely controlled by my voice now, as well as by motion sensors and timers. I’ve replaced all my bulbs with either SYLVANIA WiFi enabled bulbs, and my personal favorite, SYLVANIA LIGHTIFY Flex Strip Lights, which you simply stick onto the wall.

After a few months of using them, here’s what I’ve discovered:
1) A smart home, whether lighting, sound, locks, or anything else, allows you to free up your brain for more important things.
For a while now, I’ve subscribed to a method of living called “elimination of choice.” The more choices I can eliminate from my life, the better my life is, and the more I can do the things I want to do, without having to think about anything else. You don’t realize how freeing it is to not have to think about turning on or off lights. Between motion sensors, timers, and the like, I simply walk in, and my world turns on or off as needed. I don’t have to do anything other than occasionally tell my apartment to turn on or off a specific light.
When I get into bed, it’s one command from my mouth to the air, and the entire apartment goes dark, the alarm gets set, and the thermostat drops the temperature. It’s painless.

21e7p7vzddl2) You don’t realize how much space you can get out of your apartment until you get rid of things we take for granted – like lamps.
With SYLVANIA LIGHTIFY Flex Strip Lights, my entire apartment is bathed any color light of my choice, from multiple locations in the apartment – A soft glow from behind the TV, a spotlight on the kitchen table, even a shower of light from the very edges of the ceiling – All automatic, all tuned to my voice and changeable based on my mood, and most importantly, all completely out of the way. Let me tell you something – Five lamps in a standard NYC apartment take up a hell of a lot of space – Space I could easily use for other things. And I do. No lamp in the corner of the bedroom anymore? I can hang my bike vertically there now. The list goes on and on – I feel like smart lighting has almost doubled the space of my apartment!

3) Lighting is so underrated when it comes to creativity.
We don’t think about lighting when we think about way to be creative – But we totally should. Some great examples:

Because I travel constantly, I try to be as connected as possible to my three-year-old daughter when I’m on the road. One way I’ve learned to do that is to teach my daughter the flags of different nations. When I travel overseas, I set her lights to the colors of the flag of the country to which I’m traveling.

When she wakes up, she goes to her “giant book of flags,” and can match the colors to the flag, and learn where I am. Then, when I FaceTime her, she can tell me where I am. It’s an awesome way to stay connected and make her feel like she’s a part of my trip.

Looking at things in different colors can shift your perspective on everyday things, as well. Being able to see things in pale blue, as opposed to basic home lighting colors, for instance, seems to work my brain in a different way, allowing me to feel more creative and come up with new ideas. I don’t know the science behind this, but I know it works for me. Alternately, shifting the colors to a reddish hue an hour before I go to bed helps me to start to feel tired. By the time I hit the pillow, I’m out.

511-5ooduzl-_sl1000_4) The tech is finally there so that non-techs don’t hate it.
I tried to automate my apartment years ago, and it was a disaster for one reason only – No one in my family knew how to do it. I’d spend hours explaining to them how to “talk” to the house, or downloading apps for them, only to come home and find nothing working because they shut off all the light switches. This is why we couldn’t have nice things.

Fortunately, the SYLVANIA guys got this – and built for it. They’ve got a Wi-Fi enabled switch that simply sits above the regular light switch. The light switch always stays on, and the Wi-Fi switch simply sends the off or on command to the hub. So the connection is never interrupted, and the less technologically savvy in the family don’t have any issues. This right here could be the #1 adoption technique for people considering smart homes.

5) Want to wake up refreshed? The key is light, not sound.
Back in caveman days, alarm clocks didn’t exist. I assume iPhones didn’t either. You know how cavemen woke up? Sunlight. Heck, that’s how we’ve been waking up for thousands of years before the last hundred. Yet now, we wake up to the annoying beep of a phone at best, or the alarm bells that make us think we’re being invaded and should hide the silver, at worst. But not me.

You know what happens when you wake up from light? You wake up at your own pace – When your body comes out of deep REM sleep. It might be twenty seconds after the lights go on, it might be eleven minutes. But it’s a natural progression. I don’t wake up tired anymore, because the light guides me based on my own body, as opposed to the “OH MY GOD I’M GONNA DIE” of the alarm clock.

6) Bonus: This stuff isn’t expensive!
These Wi-Fi connected bulbs run around $34 bucks, and last virtually forever. The strips? Around $65 bucks. You could do a whole house for under $500, easy. And considering what you can do with the lights, using Amazon Echo, IFTTT, etc., the possibilities are endless! (My living room lights blink red when I get a Facebook notification, for instance.)

In the end, technology is supposed to be seamless – to help us in a way that we aren’t aware of. That’s the beauty of lighting – We take it for granted, until it can be improved upon. Then we take it for granted again, secure in the knowledge that our lives are just a little bit better.


DISCLOSURES: SYLVANIA gave me their bulbs and light strips to test out, and this is my report. The reviews are entirely mine, with no input from Sylvania at all.

When I link to things, I occasionally use affiliate links. Any revenue generated from those links goes to support local no-kill animal shelters in New York City, because it’s the right thing to do.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Vickie Smith says:

    This sound very interesting… my house it definiately bigger than your apartment… but I love the idea of no lamps… except maybe the one by my piano… my kids are always complaining about how dark certain areas are.

    • shankman says:

      The strips really changed everything for me. And you can tell them how much light – i.e., “Alexia, living room lights on, at 40%.” And it does it. So cool. 🙂

  • heatherwhaling says:

    This is perfect timing! One of my goals for next year is to “get [my home] smarter” to automate/simplify tasks that take up brain power that shouldn’t. Adding this to the list!

  • Jen says:

    Any photos to share? I’ve had a pretty comprehensive smart home setup for a couple years now, but I’m having trouble envisioning what you’ve done when you describe a “shower of light from the very edges of the ceiling.”

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