Smart Lighting – It’s ready for prime-time?

I’ll be discussing the Philips hue, but this applies widely to the smart lighting market.

Philips Hue. It’s red, yellow, green, blue and every possible hue under the rainbow. With up to 16.7million different colours, there’s a shade for every mood.  And you can control it by smartphone!


It’s awesome!

What could possibly go wrong?

Just a few things, really.

  • Security – anyone can control it.

You’re kidding me, right? No, no I’m not. The wonderful thing about the internet is that everything is always connected, you, me, your hue lamps, and random mischievous (and persistent) international hackers, war-driving hooligans, malicious neighbours that may be stealing your wifi ….

It’s not unusual for people to have their wifi hacked, their password stolen, and it’s a big deal. Everyone is concerned about identity theft. 

  • What about if your philips hue light bulb are hacked? There are now a multiude of permanently connected mini-computers sitting around inside your house, permanently powered. The perfect trojan!

On a less sinister note. The annoying kid across the road just became even more  annoying because he’s hacked your wifi and is turning your house into a disco at 2am every morning.

  • 15,000 hrs operational life.

Does anyone still believe this?

The operational life of reasonable quality electronic driver is 25,000hrs, in a separate casing, with good ventilation (air-flow) around the casing.

Now take that same driver, and cram it into a compact shell (1/10 of the size), with very poor ventilation, bolted directly above the LED (which gets very hot).

Now what’s the operational life?

Reminder: The “rule of thumb” about electronic capacitor life is that a 10degC increase in temperature reduces the operational life by 50%.

  • Efficacy (Lumens per watt).

60 lumens per watt efficacy @4000K, with CRI 80+

It’s low. It’s very low. A reasonable quality SMD downlight will provide 80-110 lumens per watt.  A reasonable quality COB downlight will provide 100-130 lumens per watt.

  • Interchangeability / interoperability

Non-existent. There is currently no standards for interchange between vendors of different lamps. You are basically stuck with Philips, for better or worse. It’s not necessarily the end of the world, but it is expensive.

Am I suggesting that smart lighting is a dead end?

Not at all. I am however suggesting that smart lighting may not be at the stage that it is ready for mass adoption.

There will, of course, be a few early adopters that encourage the manufacturers to develop the technology further, but without significant improvements and coordination with the extended industry, smart lighting will remain niche, and basically an expensive novelty. 

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