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Control Your Landscape Lighting from Your Phone

Most people think that the only option they have in landscape lighting is basic white, and that the only way the lights come on and go off is from either a timer or a photocell. But there are many more options available.

In this post, we’re going to talk about how you can have landscape lighting in color and how you can control which color appears where.

In a previous blog post (How Bright is Bright?- December 6, 2020), we talked about the relative brightness of landscape lamps, called the “color temperature”. We explained how landscape lighting lamps can be either a “warm” white at one end of the scale, or very bright and stark “cool” white at the other end.

With today’s technology, you’re not locked into the color temperature of the lamp as it comes from the manufacturer. You can adjust your lamps to whatever temperature pleases you most. Some people like it warmer, and some like that stark white cool brightness.

Using either your home WiFi or Bluetooth technology, you can “talk to” the individual lamps from your cell phone and program each of them many different ways. You can change the color temperature, you can dim them or make them brighter, you can turn sections of individual lamps on and off, and you can change the colors of individual lamps and lamps in groups to whatever color you want.

Wait, what? Did we say you can have lights in different colors?

Yes, we did.

Here’s how it works. There are two components that must work together.

1. The lamp itself. To take advantage of this technology, the lamps in your low-voltage landscape lighting fixtures must be RGBW. RGBW stands for Red, Green, Blue and of course White, but just like paints and crayons you can combine colors to create just about any color you want.

2. An app on your cell phone. The app talks to the individual lamps through your WiFi network. If you have a “smart home” you already know how this works. “Alexa, turn on my landscape lights!” is a reality (Alexa and Google can’t change colors and do any of the programming though, you have to do that from the app).

You can also use Bluetooth instead of the WiFi network, and this works well for people who have limited WiFi signal strength. In that case, the app is talking directly to the lamp(s) without involving the home network.

As we’ve discussed previously, Moonglow Lightscaping uses fixtures that allow us to change the lamps to whatever the client needs or wants. We’re not locked into one color or color temperature or beam spread. That allows us to use RGBW lamps in our fixtures instead of just plain white.

If all you want to do is turn the lights on and off from your phone or let Alexa and Google do it, that can be done through the transformer. But there is less flexibility using that method than the more direct method of “talking to” the lamps individually. From the transformer, it’s all or nothing. All the lamps that are connected to that transformer will react to whatever the transformer tells them to do.

But you can change the lights individually. That means that you’re programming each lamp separately. If you have 30 fixture/lamps on your property, you can program them all, one at a time.

What we usually do is create “groups”. Maybe all the lights on one side of the front walk are in Group A, and all the lights on the other side of the front walk are in Group B. You can program all the Group A lights to be one color, maybe red for example, and all the Group B lights can be set to Green (very Christmassy, right?).

You can also swap them back and forth, so Group A is red for awhile and then it switches to green and Group B turns red and then they alternate back and forth.

As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless.

This is a slightly more expensive option than plain white lights with a certain color temperature and a certain beam spread. But if you really want to get creative, you can adjust the colors of your landscape lights any way you want.

For example, you can match your favorite sports team’s colors on game day. We’re near Dallas, so we can change the light combinations to the Dallas Cowboys colors of blue and white on game days if we wanted to show our support for the team.

If you want to see an example of the colors changing, we have some pictures and a short video on the Project Portfolio page of our website.

As always, if you have questions or you would like to learn more about this technology, contact us.

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