Sunday, October 9, 2016

Outdoor Smart Lights

I picked up a couple of LIFX color 1000 smart bulbs last week when they went on sale. I've been wanting to put smart bulbs in the two light fixtures bracketing the garage for a while now.

LIFX bulbs are brighter, have better color reproduction (and better whites), and are more responsive than any other smart RGB bulb I'm aware of today. However, they are are also pretty large:

The light fixtures I wanted to put these bulbs in were designed for a standard A19 bulb, and the LIFX bulbs just did not fit well. So I made 1.75" strips from scrap sheet metal, spray-painted them flat black, and dropped the light fixture down to fit the new bulbs:

It's not professional grade, but I don't think anyone will notice the extra metal strip unless they are specifically looking for it.

I did change the wiring for these lights. They used to be on a dimmer switch with the front porch light. These smart bulbs are not supposed to be on a dimmer, but beyond that, I didn't want these smart bulbs to be on a switch that we use regularly. A smart bulb on a switched power supply becomes awfully dumb when the power is off.

I came up with the following solution:

The wire coming out of the light fixture now ends in a male electrical plug. The wire coming from the front porch dimmer switch now terminates in a standard electrical outlet, top left (I need to put a label on it). A standard, always-on outlet already existed (bottom right) from a previous project. Currently, the smart bulbs are plugged into the always-on outlet, but I can easily put dumb bulbs into the light fixtures and plug them back into the dimmer switch if I ever want to.

For Halloween, I have the new bulbs on a flickering orange:

In the future, we should also be able to indicate on which side of the driveway we would prefer guests to park, maybe with a blinking green light on the appropriate side.

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