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Is 'smart lighting' right for you and your home? (connected by TCP Review)

Al Sacco | Feb. 11, 2014
Controlling the lights in your home using a smartphone or tablet sounds like a novel idea, but is it really worth the investment to get "connected?" CIO.com's Al Sacco answers that question and more in this hands-on review of the Connected by TCP home smart lighting system.

I found the dimmer feature to be particularly useful. I live in an old building that doesn't have any dimming light switches. Thanks to the Connected by TCP bulbs, I now have dimmable lights in three rooms, all of which can be controlled remotely using a mobile app or the remote control that came with the system. There are 10 "levels" to choose from when dimming, so you can choose how much or how little light you want.

The Smart Control feature is also valuable. The customizable Smart Controls let you set certain times you want your lights to turn on and turn off each day, as well as the "dim level" for each setting. For example, you can set your bedroom lights to turn on at 6 a.m. each day, to wake you with light instead of a blaring alarm clock, and then shut off on their own at 7 a.m., when you're on your way to work. Or, as a security measure when travelling, you can set your living room lights to turn on at 5 p.m. each day and turn off at midnight.

The Smart Control feature works exactly as advertised, and it's very easy to set up and use, just like the rest of the Connected by TCP system. Simplicity is Connected by TCP's real strength — which is important, because such a system could easily intimidate less tech- savvy users.

Finally, I appreciate how environmentally friendly the Connected by TCP LED bulbs are. When used effectively, the system can reduce the amount of time you leave unused lights on around your home. Each 11-w bulb is rated for 25,000 hours of life and has an estimated energy cost of $1.32 a year, according to the manufacturer.

I'm clearly impressed with Connected by TCP, but there are a few "quirks" worth mentioning.

Connected by TCP: Lights Off, Thumbs Down
I don't have many bad things to say about Connected by TCP, but the most notable issue has to do with how my significant other is less inclined to use a smartphone to control the lights than I am. She understandably still wants to use the light switches around the house, but Connected by TCP gets "confused" when one person uses the mobile apps to dim and control the lights and another uses light switches.

For example, if I turn on our office light using the TCP Lighting app, but my significant other turns it off using the switch, I'm unable to turn it back on with the app until I flip the power on the switch again. If I attempt to use the app to turn on a light that was turned off using the switch, I see a small red "X" over the light icon in the app. This makes sense; if the power source to the light is turned off, you won't be able to activate the light remotely. But because we've been using the light switches for so long, it can be difficult to remember to use the apps — and all it takes is one flip of the switch and you can't control a light using the mobile apps.

 

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