Home » Smart ceiling lights with Zigbee, Matter or Wi-Fi from Aqara to Philips Hue

Smart ceiling lights with Zigbee, Matter or Wi-Fi from Aqara to Philips Hue

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Smart ceiling lights with Zigbee, Matter or Wi-Fi from Aqara to Philips Hue

When the British physicist and chemist Joseph Wilson Swan invented the first electric light bulb in 1878, no one could have guessed that when it comes to lighting, it’s not just the brightness in a dark room that plays a role. Today this is still the case in many cases, but with modern LED lights such as LED strips (guide) the intended purpose is somewhat different. They are not necessarily used to illuminate a room, but rather as mood lighting that either supports the main light source or is used alone for animations and other stark lighting effects (guides), such as for a party or other event.

Color temperature & luminosity

Things look a little different with smart ceiling lights. Animation is of less interest here. Other things are in the foreground. Today, powerful ceiling lights offer white color control, which provides the optimal light tone for the human organism depending on the time of day. Anyone who complains about difficulty falling asleep should take a closer look at the lighting. If lamps with a high blue content are used, this could be the cause. Bright light blocks the release of the hormone melatonin, which prolongs wakefulness and delays falling asleep. You should ensure that the light is set appropriately not only for the main lighting, but also for cell phones, tablets and notebooks.

Daylight white with values ​​above 5300 Kelvin may be useful for the office, but has no place in the living room or bedroom in the evening. Here you should pay attention to warm white lighting between 2700 and 3300 Kelvin. The brightness of a lamp is also crucial. While the light bulb from the last century converts most of the energy into heat rather than light, LED lamps work significantly more efficiently. For 200 lumens, a light bulb requires around 25 watts of power. This means that an LED light shines brightly over 2000 lumens. This is of course far too bright for an atmospheric ambience at a romantic dinner or a cozy evening watching TV. Therefore, ceiling lights should not only offer white color control, but also be dimmable.

If you also want to add a little color, for example to encourage you to fall asleep while reading in the bedroom with a subtle red, choose a model that supports at least RGB. Variants with RGBIC are even more powerful, as they can control LEDs individually and thus ensure a pleasant lighting atmosphere with different colors that shine at the same time.

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Important for lighting control: Smart home centers and presence detectors

If you don’t want to manually adjust every single smart LED lamp to the desired brightness, color temperature and color, you should be able to integrate it into a smart home center (best list). With a few exceptions, such as the Philips Hue Bridge, manufacturer’s own solutions should be avoided. Otherwise it can quickly happen that you cannot control lamps from different manufacturers. More powerful solutions such as Home Assistant (test report) or Homey Pro (test report) are much more suitable here, as they can essentially control all modern LED lamps.

And that’s not all: Home Assistant can also control a variety of presence detectors (advisors) that are ignored by most other smart home centers. After all, it is possible to control the most powerful presence detector to date, the Aqara FP2, using Apple Homekit. Unlike motion detectors, presence detectors are able to detect people even if they are not moving. So the light stays on even if you don’t move. Automation based on motion detectors, on the other hand, is unreliable and often switches off the lights just because no one has moved in the room. You can get around this by configuring a certain amount of time, but the light will still be on even if there is no one left in the room. So if you are interested in lighting control that is as precise as possible, use presence detectors.

Ceiling lights: Zigbee, Wi-Fi, Homekit & Matter

In order to integrate a ceiling light into a smart home, it must work. Most variants use either the Zigbee protocol, which is optimized for smart home applications, or WLAN. Zigbee is considered the clear favorite among lighting manufacturers. Zigbee devices connected directly to the power grid act as repeaters and thus ensure a powerful mesh network.

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WLAN lights are practical because they don’t require a smart home center other than the home Wi-Fi router, but they put a strain on the WLAN network. This may still work reliably for a one-person household. However, problems can arise in a house with several residents who all use the WiFi network. If there are other smart devices on this network, trouble is inevitable.

In order to reduce the load on the wireless network, it is therefore advisable to assign each smart gadget a fixed IP address. In addition, 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz wireless networks should not be accessible under the same SSID. Smart home components, most of which only support the 2.4 GHz network, often cannot cope with this configuration and therefore do not connect to the wireless network. Zigbee therefore offers clear advantages over Wi-Fi and should generally be given preference when selecting lamps and other smart home components.

Pictures: Aqara ceiling light T1M

Pictures

Aqara ceiling light T1M with Zigbee and Matter

The recently released Aqara T1M ceiling light fully meets the requirements for light sources described so far: It consists of a main light with a diameter of almost 50 cm, which, with a maximum brightness of over 3000 lumens, is suitable for illuminating rooms up to 20 m² in size is. The power consumption is a maximum of 40 watts.

The main lamp allows white tone control between 2700 and 6500 Kelvin. The side light, which surrounds the main lamp with a height of about 5 cm, supports the display of several colors at the same time thanks to RGBIC technology, which enables beautiful animations. Aqara has integrated nine preset scenarios into its app. Users can use the app to create their own animations and static scenarios and thus create an individual lighting atmosphere.

The T1M ceiling light supports Zigbee, so a corresponding hub is required for commissioning. Thanks to compatibility with Matter and Homekit, users can also control the T1M from other smart home centers such as Home Assistant, Apple Home, Homey Pro, Samsung Smartthings, Amazon Echo Show or Hub or Google Home. The Aqara ceiling light T1M regularly costs 150 euros. With the code LIGHTT1MEU the price is reduced by 10 percent 135 Euro. The introductory offer is valid until March 2nd.

In combination with the Aqara FP2, the light switches on exactly when a person is present in the relevant zone. Since the FP2 supports multiple zones, you can also use it to switch smart lights in other parts of the room on and off. This means that precise control can take place in a room that is divided into a kitchen, dining area and living room. In this case, the FP2 behaves like three presence detectors (see also picture gallery). Since it also has a brightness sensor, the lights can be switched on and off depending on the time of day. This means the lights only turn on when they are really necessary. With Home Assistant we control lights from Aqara, Govee, Nanoleaf and Yeelight as well as a Tuya version from Blitzwolf.

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However, not everything that glitters is gold. Neither Home Assistant nor Apple Home have access to the animations available in the Aqara app for the side light of the Aqara ceiling light. So you still have to use the manufacturer app for fine configuration.

Other ceiling lights: from Aqara to Philips Hue to Yeelight

The following table provides an overview of current ceiling lights, divided by shape, round or square, by wireless standard, Wi-Fi or Zigbee and by support for Homekit or Matter. The models listed all support white color control for optimal light adjustment to the respective time of day.

Models with colored LEDs follow the same scheme in the following table.

Conclusion

Smart ceiling lights should have sufficient luminosity, offer white color control and be dimmable. The best variants are those that support many smart home platforms, for example via Matter, and ideally work with Zigbee. The Aqara T1M meets all of these requirements and also impresses with its high color fidelity with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of over 90.

The following guides and best lists offer more information on lighting and smart home topics:

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