Many people like to invest in their smart homes gradually, adding more items as their budget allows and their desires evolve.

If you can relate, smart lights are excellent additions to your abode. They let you see smart home tech in action and choose whether to buy more gadgets. Also, if you already have some other smart items, lights will likely complement them.

Here's how to get started.

1. Set a budget

If you don't have a figure in mind before buying smart lights, it's easy to unintentionally go over budget. Keep in mind that you probably need to buy more than bulbs. Usually, it's also necessary to purchase hubs. They're accessories that make the lights communicate with other devices on your network, such as your smartphone or smart speaker.

When making your budget, ensure that it includes all the items needed to make your smart home setup work smoothly. As you interact with salespeople to discuss smart lights, mention your budget to them, and clarify that you want to leave the store with everything necessary for the lights to perform as they should.

2. Choose your preferred kind of smart lights

You can buy and install smart bulbs that screw into light sockets like conventional bulbs. However, you might want to go with smart switches. They allow you to turn on lights by using the control mounted to the wall or with an app.

One advantage of switches is that they work with lights that don't have smart bulbs. However, each switch could be over $50, making them often too expensive to use in an entire house.

Smart bulbs are great for turning a single light off or on without going into the room. Think of how convenient that might be if you don't want to wake up a sleeping baby in a nursery, for example.

If you live in a rented property, your landlord may not want you making new holes in the walls to accommodate switches, but bulbs aren't permanent, making them better options. In addition, smart table lamps are portable, giving a substantial degree of flexibility.

They're also probably the simplest of all solutions to install because you merely plug them in and sync them with apps in most cases.

3. Take your time, and don't be afraid to get help

Although you may find a few variations between the steps you take to install smart lights, the process should be nearly identical regardless of brand. For example, if you decide to use Philips Hue bulbs, the first step is to take out the existing bulbs, replace them with the smart varieties, then give power to the light source by flipping on its switch. That's exactly what you'd do when installing any type of light bulb, smart or not.

Next, you need to install the bridge, which is Philips' name for a hub. Plug it into a wall outlet, and connect it to your Wi-Fi router using the provided network cable. Finally, wait for the three lights on the front to illuminate.

Download the Philips Hue app as the next step. Before you open it on your smartphone, make sure the gadget is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the bridge.

Once you launch the app, it automatically starts searching for bridges. Once it finds yours, tap the "Set It Up" button. You'll then be prompted to press the push-link button on the bridge. It's large, round and directly below the trio of lights. Lastly, tap the "I Accept" button in the app to pair the bridge with your lights.

Again, those are the things you do to install Philips Hue bulbs. The process will be similar for other brands. Even if you're a tech-savvy person, set aside plenty of time so that you won't feel stressed.

It's also a good idea to have the company's customer service number handy in preparation for the unlikely case that you run into difficulties. Some brands have online forums too. No matter what, remember that it's okay to get help. Avoiding asking for it could make you unnecessarily frustrated.

4. Learn how to use the smart lights with other technology

One of the first mistakes people make is not checking to see whether the smart light brands they prefer work with other smart home tech they own, such as smart speakers. You can usually find that all-important detail by looking in the product descriptions for smart lights and searching for a "Compatibility" or "Specifications" section.

You can control many smart lights with Amazon smart speakers. It's possible to do the same with the popular Apple Watch too. We've already made it to the point where you can use your smart lights, but why not do more with them by understanding how they work with other things you own?

With a smart speaker, you'll want to learn the voice command that makes the lights perform essential functions. It's necessary to activate the capability within your smart speaker too, which typically involves downloading a new skill.

On the Apple Watch, use the digital crown to scroll through your device list. After selecting the one associated with your smart lights, you can swipe to see available settings.

Amazon's smart speakers and the Apple Watch are a couple of the many examples of technology that works with your newly installed lights. Performing a quick internet search is the fastest way to get details about using smart lights with other gadgets you own.

Smart lights should make your life easier

With the help of smart lights, you could use an app to brighten up your home before you come back from work. Or maybe dim the lights in the living room to get ready for a movie night. Now that you know how to install smart lights, the possibilities are endless for how they could simplify your life.

Image by Ián Tormo

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