Before the days of smart bulbs, I’d make my kids get off the couch to dim the lights. When they grumbled, I’d tell the story of my parents making me get up to change the channel on our old Rank Arena television. It’s the circle of life.

When smart lights first came along I didn’t inflict them on my family, because you needed a smartphone to control them. Fishing your smartphone out of your pocket and waiting for the app to load is a major hassle, plus it’s not really fair young children with no smartphones.

Once you could control your lights by simply talking to a smart speaker I took the plunge, installing two dimmable LifX smart bulbs in the lounge room and a little Google Home Mini speaker. Now no-one needed to get off the couch, but these smart lights still regularly failed the HAF test.

For starters, sometimes Google Assistant is dumb as a bag of hammers. Shouting at your so-called smart speaker when you’re trying to relax at the end of the day doesn’t do much for household harmony.

To make matters worse, occasionally the LifX lights stopped responding until I peeled back the sticky tape on the wall switch and turned them off for a minute.


Meanwhile the voice-controlled Philips Hue smart light strip I installed in the corner of the kitchen bench has been much more reliable. When your hands are full with late-night hot drinks and cake — in an effort to boost your own HAF — you can turn off the kitchen light with a word as you leave the room.

My family was so sick of fighting with the LifX smart lights in the lounge room that they pleaded for some kind of smart light switch on the wall. Initially LifX didn’t sell smart wall switches, and when it finally introduced them they were expensive, made worse by the fact they required professional installation.

Philips Hue gear was on special recently, so I picked up two smart bulbs and a battery-powered smart switch which mounts on the wall; all for less than the cost of buying and installing a LifX wall switch.

The Philips Hue bulbs have been far more reliable, in part because they’re controlled via low-powered Zigbee wireless signals rather than over my Wi-Fi network.

My family loves the new setup and now they rarely control the lounge room lights by voice. I didn’t bother mounting the switch on the wall, it just lives on the coffee table where everyone can reach it, so no-one needs to get off the couch.

I still make my kids get up to close the blinds; a hard-luck story they’ll no doubt tell when they want their own children to get off the couch and do something. The circle of life continues.

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