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Choosing LED Lights, Bulbs & Strips

Choosing Z-Wave & ZigBee LED Lights, Bulbs & Strips

When it comes to the task of adding LED Lights, Bulbs & Strips to your Smart Home you'll usually be dealing with "Plug And Play" devices. These mostly consists of things that literally just "plug in" and can be used immediately i.e. there's no wiring involved. So it's as easy as changing out a light bulb or plugging a power supply into a wall socket outlet.

This guide explains the purpose of different types of Smart LED lighting devices, what they are used for and gives extra details to help select between the manufacturers.

LED Lights, Bulbs & Strips

There's no doubt that this is the easiest and simplest route to adding Smart control to your lighting! As mentioned above, in most cases there's no wiring involved at all, so devices just need to be unboxed and plugged in, then added to your Smart Home Controller.

That said, there are still some things to consider or double check before ordering a box of products!

Smart LED Bulbs - Z-Wave | Zigbee

Smart LED Bubs are simple swap-in replacements for your existing bulbs. With Smart LED Bulbs you get the option of using coloured versions, known as RGB or RGBW, single colour white, or "white adjustable" that allow you to change the whiteness of the light, perhaps a cool white for reading or a warm white for listing to music. Some Smart LED Bulbs also allow you to syncronise multiple bulbs as one entity, so you can control them all simultaneously, raising or lowering the brightness or sweeping through colour effects across all lamps in the room at once.

This can make for some really pleasing Scene control and is great for feature lighting, but it can get expensive, especially if your lamps require multiple bulbs!

Smart LED Bulbs - things to think about:

  • Simple - with this type of LED Bulb you'll have basic control over the dimming level, typically from 0% to 100%. This is an important advantage over something like a replacement Smart Light Switch / Dimmer or a Module. The LED Bulb characteristics will have already been matched to its control electronics allowing smooth dimming without flickering or other issues sometimes associated with using those other device types with standard dimmable LED Bulbs.
  • CT - with this type of LED Bulb on top of basic control over the dimming level, you'll also be able to adjust the "Colour Temperature" of the output. CT refers to a curved line (known as the "planckian locus") which gives set values along it. If two different bulbs have the same CT value then they should show the exact same colour. Typically CT is used in reference to white, for example by saying the bulb can do CT values from 4000K to 6000K covers "warm" (more yellow) white through to "cool" (more blue) white.
  • CCT - with this type of LED Bulb on top of basic control over the dimming level, you'll also be able to adjust the "Correlated Colour Temperature" of the output. As with CT, CCT also refers to the planckian locus curved line, but in this case it defines a perpendicular line which runs directly through the exact point on it. If a bulb has a CCT value of 4000K it means it can be adjusted to any point along that perpendicular line at the 4000K position. This means that if two different bulbs have the same CCT value then they are on the same perpendicular line but could look different depending on their adjustment capabilities. Typically CCT is also used in reference to white, for example by saying the bulb can do CCT values of 4000K and 6000K covers "warm" (more yellow) white through to "cool" (more blue) white and means they can be adjusted at both positions.
  • RGB - with this type of LED Bulb on top of basic control over the dimming level, you'll also be able to adjust the three separate colour channels i.e "Red Green Blue" of the output. RGB bulbs can offer millions of different colour combinations, but can have trouble in producing a pure white colour - at best they will produce a "close" white by turning each of the RGB channels to its maximum output.
  • RGBW / RGBWW - to combat the above mentioned issue with RGB being unable to output pure white colours, additional pure white LEDs are sometimes added to the RGB devices. This allows them to then output a pure white colour by using the dedicated white LED rather than trying to approximate white from the RGB channels. Sometimes TWO pure white LEDs are added with different CT values - for example a cool white and a warm white LED. This then allows the device to produce RGB plus dedicated cool white and warm white. Often you can mix them all together too!
  • RGB+CT / RGB+CCT - This type of device combines the three separate RGB channels along with either a CT LED channel or a CCT LED channel giving the best of all worlds - millions of possible colours along with tunable whites. As above, depending on the device, they can sometimes be mixed together too.
  • Leave Switches ON! - When replacing bulbs with Smart versions, they are designed to be permanently powered, if you remove the power - for example by turning the light switch on the circuit OFF, or by switching the table lamp itself off, or by turning off a socket at the wall switch - the Smart LED Bulb will be dead! You'll no longer be able to control it from your Smart Home Controller until you restore the power to it. Removing the power can also have a negative impact on any mesh network if your Smart LED Bulb is Z-Wave or Zigbee based as these devices repeat for other devices in the mesh network. If you keep turning power off and on to Smart LED Bulbs you are constantly forcing the mesh network to reconfigure itself, which can make the mesh network perform poorly impacting the control of other devices and the reporting from sensors.
  • Bulb Fitment - B22, ES, SES, Edison Screw, GU10, G12, Bayonet ...... what?!?!? These numbers refer to the type of fitting that your lamp or light requires so you should make sure you understand what they mean! Typically in the UK table and standing lamps utlise ES (Edison Screw) format, whereas pendant lighting utilises B22 (Bayonet), but it's definitely worth double checking before placing an order!
  • Manual Control - Since your Smart LED Bulbs will now be permanently powered and non-responsive to the old wall switch, you'll no longer have any manual control! Of course, Voice Control can help here, as can reaching for your Smart Home Controller App on your smartphone. But bear in mind it's worth having other options for manual control, perhaps a Remote Control, Button or Wall Controller.
  • Information - More information about these issues and other things to consider is available in our Smart Home Lighting guide.

Smart LED Bulbs - Z-Wave product choices:

Aeotec LED Bulb 6 Multi-White Aeotec LED Bulb 6 Multi-Color ZipaBox RGBW Bulb 2
  • Dimmable LED bulb offers warm and cool shades of white (2,700K to 6,500K)
  • Light Appearance: 2700K to 6500K
  • Brightness: 806 lumens
  • CRI: 80
  • E27 fitment
  • Power Rating: 9.5 Watts
  • Device(s):
  • Dimmable RGBW LED Bulb offers 16 million colors
  • Light Appearance: 2700K to 6500K
  • Brightness: 806 lumens
  • CRI: 80
  • E27 fitment
  • Power Rating: 9.5 Watts
  • Device(s):
  • Dimmable RGBW LED Bulb offers 16 million colors
  • Light Appearance: 2700K to 6500K
  • Brightness: 806 lumens
  • CRI: 80
  • E27 fitment
  • Power Rating: 9.5 Watts
  • Device(s):

Smart LED Bulbs - Zigbee product choices:

Aduro Warm White Aduro Tunable White Aduro Tunable Colour

Smart LED Strips - Z-Wave | Zigbee

Smart LED Strips allow you to bend and shape them to suit endless possible installations. With Smart LED Strips you get the option of using coloured versions, known as RGB or RGBW, single colour (for example white, red, green or blue), or "white adjustable" that allow you to change the whiteness of the light, perhaps a cool white for reading or a warm white for listing to music. Some Smart LED Strips also allow you to syncronise multiple devices as one entity, so you can control them all simultaneously, raising or lowering the brightness or sweeping through colour effects across all the LED Strips in the room at once.

This can make for some really pleasing Scene control and is great for feature lighting, but it can get expensive since there are several parts that make up a Smart LED Strip.

Smart LED Strips - things to think about:

  • Power Supply - LED Strip Modules / Controllers work with DC Voltage so they are not directly wireable to AC Mains. Most LED Strips require either 12V or 24V so you'll need a power supply. Make sure to check that it's capable of supplying the right amount of current, typically this is determined by the amount of power that the LED Strip requires per meter, times its length. For example if the LED Strip uses 10 Watts per meter and you have 5 meters of LED Strip then the power supply needs to be capable of supplying 50 Watts. At 12V this means 50 / 12 = 4.2 Amps and at 24V this means 50 / 24 = 2.08 Amps.
  • Common Anode / Common Cathode - All LED Strips work the same way, they have one leg of each LED connected to a "Common" rail and then the brightness is controlled via the other leg. The Common rail can either be the Positive on the LED (the "Anode") or the Negative on the LED (the "Cathode"). Make sure your LED Strip matches the Module / Controller as they are not interchangeable!
  • LED Strip - Unless you're buying a kit where all the parts are included, you'll also need the LED Strip itself! These should be bought to match the Module / Controller you are using, for example if you're using a CCT Module / Controller then buy a CCT LED Strip. Make sure that everything is compatible - if your LED Strip is 12V then make sure your Module / Controller is capable of working at 12V and your power supply can provide enough current to match the demands of the LED Strip length!
  • Module or Controller - Modules are usually great for installing behind light switches because they are small, but with LED Strips you'll also have the power supply and connection to the LED Strip itself which is usually by a short intermediate wire loom. It's therefor likely that your installation isn't going to be at the light switch position anyway, but more likely your light switch will control the Live AC power being sent to the power supply close to the location where the LED Strip needs to be.
  • Multi-Purpose - Some Modules / Controllers can switch between controlling all their channels together (e.g. to control RGB or RGBW) or controlling each channel as a separate entity, allowing one Module / Controller to control 3, 4 or even 5 channels independantly. You can use these channels as you wish, for example to control multiple different single colour LED Strips or even to control low voltage DC light bulbs.
  • Single Colour - with this type of LED Strip you'll have basic control over the dimming level, typically from 0% to 100%.
  • CT - with this type of LED Strip on top of basic control over the dimming level, you'll also be able to adjust the "Colour Temperature" of the output. CT refers to a curved line (known as the "planckian locus") which gives set values along it. If two different LED Strips have the same CT value then they should show the exact same colour. Typically CT is used in reference to white, for example by saying the LED Strip can do CT values from 4000K to 6000K covers "warm" (more yellow) white through to "cool" (more blue) white.
  • CCT - with this type of LED Strip on top of basic control over the dimming level, you'll also be able to adjust the "Correlated Colour Temperature" of the output. As with CT, CCT also refers to the planckian locus curved line, but in this case it defines a perpendicular line which runs directly through the exact point on it. If a Led Strip has a CCT value of 4000K it means it can be adjusted to any point along that perpendicular line at the 4000K position. This means that if two different LED Strips have the same CCT value then they are on the same perpendicular line but could look different depending on their adjustment capabilities. Typically CCT is also used in reference to white, for example by saying the LED Strip can do CCT values of 4000K and 6000K covers "warm" (more yellow) white through to "cool" (more blue) white and means they can be adjusted at both positions.
  • RGB - with this type of LED Strip on top of basic control over the dimming level, you'll also be able to adjust the three separate colour channels i.e "Red Green Blue" of the output. RGB LED Strips can offer millions of different colour combinations, but can have trouble in producing a pure white colour - at best they will produce a "close" white by turning each of the RGB channels to its maximum output.
  • RGBW / RGBWW - to combat the above mentioned issue with RGB being unable to output pure white colours, additional pure white LEDs are sometimes added to the RGB devices. This allows them to then output a pure white colour by using the dedicated white LED rather than trying to approximate white from the RGB channels. Sometimes TWO pure white LEDs are added with different CT values - for example a cool white and a warm white LED. This then allows the device to produce RGB plus dedicated cool white and warm white. Often you can mix them all together too!
  • RGB+CT / RGB+CCT - This type of device combines the three separate RGB channels along with either a CT LED channel or a CCT LED channel giving the best of all worlds - millions of possible colours along with tunable whites. As above, depending on the device, they can sometimes be mixed together too.
  • Leave Switches ON! - As mentioned above, the installation of the Module / Controller, power supply and LED Strip is likely to be away from the normal light switch position with the light switch only controlling the Live AC power being sent to the power supply. If that's the case then since the Module / Controller is designed to be permanently powered, if you remove the power - for example by turning the light switch on the circuit OFF, or by turning off a socket at the wall switch if you have the power supply plugged in there - the Smart LED Strip will be dead! You'll no longer be able to control it from your Smart Home Controller until you restore the power to it. Removing the power can also have a negative impact on any mesh network if your Smart LED Strip is Z-Wave or Zigbee based as these devices repeat for other devices in the mesh network. If you keep turning power off and on to Smart LED Strips you are constantly forcing the mesh network to reconfigure itself, which can make the mesh network perform poorly impacting the control of other devices and the reporting from sensors.
  • Manual Control - Since your Smart LED Strips will now be permanently powered and non-responsive to the old wall switch, you'll no longer have any manual control! Of course, Voice Control can help here, as can reaching for your Smart Home Controller App on your smartphone. But bear in mind it's worth having other options for manual control, perhaps a Remote Control, Button or Wall Controller.
  • Information - More information about these issues and other things to consider is available in our Smart Home Lighting guide.

Smart LED Strip Modules / Controllers - Z-Wave product choices:

Fibaro RGBW Controller 2 Qubino RGBW Dimmer Plus

Smart LED Strip Modules / Controllers - Zigbee product choices:

Aduro LED Strip 3 Meters Gledopto RGB Or RGBW LED Strip Controller Gledopto RGB And CCT LED Strip Controller Gledopto CCT LED Strip Controller Gledopto Single Colour LED Strip Controller

Getting Help and Advice

Hopefully this guide has helped clarify what options are available, what the different Z-Wave & ZigBee Led Lights, Bulbs & Strips do, and shown the comparison between manufacturers. If you need any further help or advice, contact Vesternet and we will do our best to answer all your questions.

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