Home Automation 101: Basic Lighting

Woman in modern living room using an iPhone

I’ve been intrigued with the concept of home automation from the time I started watching The Jetsons as a kid. Within the last few years home automation has gone mainstream with a variety of products that are more approachable than ever.

It wasn’t until Amazon’s Alexa hit the market along with third-party integrations that I saw the value and utility in some of these modern conveniences. Voice control really was the missing piece for me. Apple tried to unify an ecosystem around HomeKit, Apple TV, and Siri but it never seemed to take off the way they intended. Amazon on the other hand made their Alexa line of products simple enough for just about anyone yet very powerful through extensibility.

Smart Home Devices

While Philips Hue is probably the most recognizable name in this space, there are a few brands worth considering for their simplified setup and more attractive pricing. After doing some research and talking with friends who’ve used them I decided to try a few of TP-Link’s smart home products. When it comes to lighting, it’s really about personal preference. I’m not interested in having multi-color lighting in our main living area, so a simpler product made the most sense for me.

Prices as of May 2017


In order to control TP-Link products, I downloaded their Kasa app for my mobile device. From here, it was a straightforward process to add the smart devices to my WiFi network. The Kasa app provides an intuitive user-interface for controlling color temperature, scheduling, and even usage metrics.

The next step is integrating with Alexa, which is as simple as enabling the TP-Link Kasa skill and authenticating with my account. This allowed me to discover the devices available on my network and create groups which can be controlled together. It’s quite handy to be able to associate all of the lights in a room and ask Alexa to turn off the living room.

Going Further

Getting started with a home automation setup can be a daunting but it’s getting easier. The products are becoming more affordable and user-friendly with each iteration. In my opinion, lighting is a great place to start because the barrier to entry is low and offers the most noticeable difference in daily living.

In a future article I’ll share my thoughts and experience integrating my home entertainment system and other devices with Alexa.