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Smart Home Lighting Keeps Your Home Safer as the Sun Sets Earlier

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Smart Home Lighting Keeps Your Home Safer as the Sun Sets Earlier
September 30, 2019

Smart Home Lighting Keeps Your Home Safer as the Sun Sets Earlier


lighting controls provide better security as we move into fall and winter

Fall is here, and arriving with it are pumpkin spice, cooler weather, and darker days. The days are quickly getting shorter, especially in the northern states. By the end of November in Portland, Maine, the sun will set a little after 4:00 PM—potentially letting criminals know that a dark house is empty. Smart home lighting can mitigate this security risk, however.

According to the FBI, 65% of burglaries happen during the day—but daylight isn’t the reason. Burglars tend to strike when they are confident that homeowners are at work. And if you regularly work past sunset and your house stays dark, it’s easy for thieves to identify a target.

When things go bump in the night, you turn on a light. But what if you’re not home? Smart home technology that creates custom, convincing lighting “scenes” enables you to warn away thieves.

The power

of smart home lighting for security and comfort

Effective lighting transforms a space from a lonely, dark place to one that’s inviting and secure, and remotely controlled smart home lighting provides a range of new ways to get this done.

Leave a light on for yourself

It’s good practice to leave a light on for your roommate, spouse, or kids when you know they’ll be home late. It allows them to observe their surroundings, find the right key or view a punch pad, and not crash into or trip over things.

Why not extend yourself the same courtesy when you get home late? After a long day at the office (or that holiday office party) arrive at a well-lit home. You can turn the lights on before you get there via two primary ways, with a wide variety of customizations:

  • Various lights and desired lighting “scenes” for various parts of the home can be turned on via a simple command from a smartphone or other device.
  • Individual lights and lighting scenes can be set to timed programs that turn on and off at a desired schedule.
  • The customization options are as extensive as the number of lights and your desire to adapt them. For example, one manual command or a timed scene could be set to automatically turn on the front porch, foyer, living room, and bedroom lights when the sun sets.

Shine a light on crooks

Burglars look for houses where they can get in easily, grab valuables, and leave quickly. They avoid homes that make these things difficult. Dogs, for example, may scare away many would-be burglars. And a security system (with visible home protection signs) tends to make thieves turn around. Criminals don’t want to contend with sensors, cameras, and alarms—and the authorities those elements bring to the scene.

Ultimately, though, burglars don’t want to break into occupied houses. As KTVB News in Boise, ID found when they surveyed burglars about their methods, thieves almost always knock first to see if anyone is home (which is why doorbell cameras that ID and record people are helpful)—and criminals often won’t bother if lights indicate that the place is occupied. Whether you’re at work or on vacation, one of the best things you can do to keep your home safe from burglary is to make it look like you’re there.

Lights are a powerful tool for making your home look lived-in. And smart home security technology makes this easy to accomplish.

A machine

for living in—smart home technology provides automation and remote control

In 1920, writer and architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret proclaimed that “a house is a machine for living in.” Though he wrote at a time before even half of American homes had electricity, he foreshadowed what we now call the smart home. You probably recognize many of its functions: The lights come on when someone sends a command from a tablet or just says “turn on the lights.” A thermostat adjusts itself to be energy-efficient. Someone closes a garage door with a smartphone right before they board a flight.

A smart home depends on the “Internet of Things” (IoT) in which various objects—such as a light switch, a refrigerator, or a doorbell—are all networked and communicate with one another over the internet. A smart home lets you automate and remotely control the activity of any of the appliances and equipment that are connected via the IoT.

In various setups, all devices link directly to and are controlled by apps. In others, an additional smart hub (like the Frontpoint Hub) connects to and controls all of the smart devices. Users can interact with the hub (also known as a “control panel" or “brains”) through a variety of means including mobile devices, touchscreens, and keypads.

Depending on their capabilities, the devices in a smart home typically communicate with each other and/or the central hub using Zigbee or Z-waves, two different mesh networks of radio waves. Through the hub, these inputs are then communicated externally—to your smartphone and/or a security monitoring service—via a cellular network or Wi-Fi for certain elements, like higher-bandwidth cameras. Any devices capable of transmitting and receiving Zigbee or Z-wave signals and taking action based on that communication can be “smart,” including lights.

Icons graphically representing a smart homeIcons graphically representing a smart home
A smart home lets you remotely control a range of devices in your house. You can use a hub, laptop, smartphone, or tablet to adjust lighting, security, climate, and more.


lighting options for comfort and security

If you have a smart home system, you can choose from different devices that give you wireless control of your lighting.

Smart Light Bulbs are inexpensive, customizable, and easy to install. Frontpoint’s Light Bulbs have the ability to individually communicate with a central device by emitting Z-waves. These dimmable, LED models are energy-efficient and long-lasting—using just 9 watts to achieve the brightness of a 60-watt incandescent bulb. Installation is simple; if you can change a lightbulb, you can install a smart bulb.

Wireless Light Controls serve like “smart plugs” that let you integrate lamps and other plug-in devices into your smart home system. Simply plug the Wireless Light Control into an electrical outlet and then plug lamps or other devices into the control to make any of those devices smart. The Wireless Light Control communicates with the Frontpoint Hub that, in turn, communicates with an app on your computer or mobile device.

Smart devices like these don’t simply increase control—they boost security. Motion sensors can automatically turn on numerous lights when you—or an intruder—enter the home. If you work late or go to a party, you can use your phone to turn on your porch and inside lights. You can issue commands manually or set up a schedule, so lights come on automatically at certain times before you get home.

The Frontpoint security system allows you to do this by creating “scenes.” For example, if the sun sets at 4:30 during winter, you might create a scene labeled “early nighttime” that turns on the front porch light, a backyard light, and 2-3 interior lights to make it look like you are home.

From there, you may have a “bedtime” setting that turns off the front porch light but leaves on a select downstairs light. A “vacation 1” scene might vary the lighting to different rooms that mimic real human activity while you are away. Each scene can be set to a timer or manually turned on and off with one tap on your smartphone.

If you will be gone for a long time, however, these scenes must be realistic to work well:

"People who leave their lights on during the day and they're on 24 hours a day actually attract attention from burglars," says Samantha Nolan, a Citywide Neighborhood Watch trainer for Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department. …

Nolan also recommends installing timers with your indoor and outdoor lights so they mimic human activity.

For example, outdoor lights should go on at night and turn off in the day, while lights indoors should go on and off in different rooms as if there is someone moving around, she says. If someone is away on vacation, these timers play an even more important role.”

To be a real deterrent, your lights need to mimic human behavior. Smart home technology gives you the automation and control to accomplish this goal.

Perhaps the porch light comes on in the early evening and switches off at bedtime, right before a small light in the bedroom comes on. Rig your TV to turn on in the evening for extra realism. To really sell the show, you might have a different scene for every day of the week.

Again, the key to good security is having no easily discernible pattern over a long period of time—especially when criminals take the time to case neighborhoods in search of targets.


lights are just one element of smart home security

With smart bulbs or wireless light controls, you can easily integrate lighting changes into your smart home security network. But lights aren’t everything, of course.

For greater security and peace of mind, make commonsense upgrades like sturdy deadbolts, doors, and doorframes. And whether or not you plan to invest in a fully smart home, at least consider a smart security system.

Locks, cameras, door and window sensors, glass break sensors, motion detectors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and more can all be connected to a network that safeguards your residence. And all of it can be monitored by professionals who verify that there is an emergency and call authorities 24 hours a day—as well as be controlled by you, directly on your phone.

Frontpoint keeps families safer and more connected in their everyday lives. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.

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