There was a time when the term LED referenced the little red indicator lights on electronic devices. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and it has long been an element in electronic circuits. A diode allows energy to flow in one direction but not the other, making it essential to many circuit designs, and when it emits light it does double duty as an indicator. When you see the taillights of a bus or truck that are composed of a bunch of small dots of light, those are LED’s. For some time now we’ve had LED flashlights, small enough to attach to a keychain. But light bulbs made from LED’s are quite recent. In fact, it was just a few weeks ago that three Japanese scientists were awarded the Nobel prize in physics for the invention of what is essentially an LED light bulb. As with all new developments these days, practical applications are rapidly developing, and one of the most exciting is the smart LED light bulb.
Another new innovation goes by the name of the Internet of Things. What this means basically is that now computers are small enough to be imbedded in a whole variety of items, including people, animals and household items, so that they have a unique identifying address and the ability to communicate wirelessly on a network without intervention from people or computers. When you combine this capability with LED lights you get a light bulb that can be part of an automated lighting system without having to be specially wired beyond the usual electrical wiring. Mounted on the standard Edison style screw in base, it easily installs in a light socket.
One of the most innovative home automation/security systems available today, the 2GIG system, now incorporates these smart light bulbs to allow you to automate your lighting without retrofitting any special wiring. All you need is the centralized 2GIG controller and these screw-in light bulbs and you’re good to go. The 2GIG system allows you to control your lights through pre-arranged schedules, triggers from sensors, or your smart phone or tablet. Create scenes with different dimming levels for each light. Using the geo-fence capabilities of Alarm.com, you can even have the system sense your approach when you are a few miles from home and automatically set up the lighting scene to give you a warm welcome.
Like any new innovation, the smart LED bulbs are fairly costly so far, but with rising costs of electricity and the inevitable lowering of costs for the bulbs, the advantages will soon be spectacular. In fact they already are. If you pay $40 for a light bulb that lasts more than 22 years, how does that compare to replacing light bulbs every couple of months? Add to that the fact that this bulb produces the equivalent of a 60 watt light bulb using only 9 watts of power. And it can be dimmed to a hundred different increments of illumination.
Incandescent light bulbs, which admittedly are fast disappearing, represent the biggest energy drain in most homes. With the 2GIG smart LED light bulbs you not only reduce the energy consumption at full brightness you have the ability to dim them, using automation to further reduce lighting loads by controlling centrally or from a distance all of the lights in the house.