Smart Lighting for Home Theater


Lighting is a key aspect in home theater design as it has a significant impact on the overall ambiance and immersion. With the advent of smart lighting technology, lighting can now have even more of an impact on a room’s design and feel. By dynamically adjusting lights and incorporating vibrant colors, smart lighting enhances the aesthetic appeal and allows for greater control in a home.

I want to talk about the benefits of smart lighting for home theaters, go over the differences between the types of smart lights, and explain the benefit of an ecosystem approach to installing smart lights.

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What are Smart Lights

Smart lights are wirelessly controlled and customizable using devices like smartphones, tablets, voice assistants, or smart home hubs. They are mostly LED lights with various form factors, such as standard A19 bulbs or light strips. Connected to Wi-Fi or a smart home hub, they can be remotely controlled from within the network range. Smart lights offer adjustable brightness, color changes, scheduling, and custom lighting scenes.

What sets smart lights apart from normal light bulbs is their integration with other smart devices and platforms, requiring no professional installation. They sync with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and connect with smart home systems for automation alongside other smart devices like motion sensors and switches.

General Benefits

Smart lighting offers numerous benefits beyond remote and automated control for your home. Here are a few advantages that smart lighting brings to your home:

  • Lighting Zones: Customize each smart bulb for personalized lighting setups. Group multiple bulbs for simultaneous control, simplifying adjustments.
  • Mood Lighting: Create preset or personalized light scenes with a single touch. Customize ambiance for various activities, from cozy movie nights to energetic gaming sessions.
  • Dimming Capabilities: Easily adjust brightness levels with smart LED lights using an app or compatible accessories. Tailor the lighting to create the desired ambiance and suit personal preferences.
  • Energy Efficiency: Save energy and reduce costs with smart LED lights. They consume less energy, have longer lifespans, and generate minimal heat compared to traditional bulbs.
  • Automation: Schedule lighting changes, set timers, and integrate with other smart devices for seamless automation. Effortlessly control and adjust lighting based on preferences or routines.

Applications For Home Theaters

There are a ton of possibilities for using smart lights in a theater, but here are some examples I employ in my own theater:

  • Dynamic Lighting Effects: Smart lights allow for dynamic lighting effects that synchronize with the content on the screen. Whether it is replicating the flickering of a fireplace or simulating a starry night sky, these effects add depth and realism to your viewing experience. Not all smart lights have this feature, so be sure to check the features before you buy.
  • Pre-Show Lighting Routine: Create a pre-show routine using smart lights to add an element of anticipation and excitement. With a single voice command, app control, or auto trigger, you can initiate a sequence that gradually dims the lights, activates specific accent lights, and adjusts the color scheme, signaling the start of the movie experience.
  • Pathway Lighting: Illuminate pathways to exits, restrooms, or refreshment areas in your home theater with smart lights. This not only adds a practical element, but also enhances safety and convenience during dark movie sessions.
  • Accent Lighting: Smart lights can be strategically placed to highlight specific elements in your home theater. Install them behind framed movie posters or along shelving units to showcase your collection or create a decorative focal point. These accent lights add visual interest and enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the space.

There are many more uses for smart lights than I have listed. Be creative and think of cool ways to use them in your space. Just remember, smart lights should enhance your experience, not detract from it.

Smart Light Types

When it comes to smart lighting, there is a wide range of options available to suit various preferences and needs. Understanding the different types of smart lights can help you make informed decisions when designing your smart lighting setup. Let us take a closer look at some popular smart light types: bulbs, light strips, fixtures, wall switches, and dimmers.

Smart Bulbs:

Smart bulbs are the most common and versatile type of smart light. They can be easily installed in standard light fixtures, replacing traditional bulbs. They come in most standard sockets, but be sure to check which socket type your light fixture is before buying. Smart bulbs offer features like dimming, color-changing capabilities, and compatibility with voice assistants or smart home systems. With app control or voice commands, you can adjust brightness, color, and schedule settings effortlessly.

Light Strips

Smart light strips, also known as LED light strips or tape lights, are flexible strips of LED lights that can be cut to desired lengths and adhered to various surfaces. Light strips are great for adding accent lighting, highlighting architectural features, or creating vibrant color effects. They are commonly used behind TVs, under cabinets, or along the edges of furniture. With app control, you can customize colors, brightness, and even create dynamic lighting effects. Most smart light strips come with a power controller to allow easy installation.

Smart Fixtures:

Smart fixtures refer to light fixtures that come with built-in smart capabilities. These fixtures have integrated smart bulbs or LED panels that can be controlled wirelessly. They often offer advanced features like adjustable color temperature, brightness control, and compatibility with smart home systems. Smart fixtures are a convenient option if you prefer an all-in-one solution. However, I want to offer a word of caution – these lights can be the most expensive option, and if they fail, you may need to replace the entire fixture. This could involve unmounting it from its surface.

Smart Wall Switches/Dimmers

Smart wall switches and dimmers offer advanced control and customization options for your lighting setup. Smart wall switches replace traditional light switches, allowing you to turn lights on or off, adjust brightness levels, and even schedule lighting routines using app control or voice commands. These switches are especially beneficial for managing multiple lights in rooms with multiple entry points. On the other hand, smart dimmers provide precise control over brightness and can be installed in place of traditional switches or used alongside smart bulbs and fixtures. With smart dimmers, you have the flexibility to create desired atmospheres for different activities, such as a cozy ambiance for movie nights or bright lighting for reading.

These smart switches are an excellent choice if you do not need different colored lights and prefer using traditional bulbs with smart capabilities. They enable you to transform regular bulbs into smart lights while still retaining control through existing light switch locations in your house. This feature is particularly beneficial for those who may not feel entirely comfortable with controlling apps or voice assistants, but still want to enjoy the convenience of smart lighting.

Most of these devices require you to replace the existing wired light switch. If you are not comfortable working with high-voltage electricity, it is best to have a professional install it for you to ensure safety and proper setup.

Popular smart switch lines are Kasa Smart by TP-Link and Casẽta by Lutron.

Smart Light Ecosystems

In the ever-evolving world of smart lighting, a wide array of companies have released extensive lines of smart lights, forming what we refer to as an ecosystem. This ecosystem represents the full offering of smart lights from a single company.

While it may seem tempting to compare individual products across different companies, there is a crucial factor to consider: the overall experience. Imagine selecting the best smart bulb from one company, and the top-performing light strip from another. While each product excels in its respective function, they may not seamlessly integrate or work well together. This becomes especially apparent when different apps are required to control them. This could lead to a fragmented and less-than-optimal user experience compared to selecting products from the same ecosystem, or even using traditional non-smart lighting.

By opting for smart lights from the same company, you are able to get a more seamless integration and enhanced performance. Choosing a cohesive ecosystem ensures compatibility, streamlined control, and a unified experience. This way, you can enjoy the full benefits of smart lighting without the hassle of managing multiple apps or facing potential inconsistencies.

Below is table of the most popular smart lighting ecosystems:


Govee is the up and coming player when it comes to smart light systems and has a vast library of products. They tend to be lower in price compared to Hue and LIFX; however, they do not offer the same level of third party integration. Although this is getting better over time, their automation features will still be able to cover 90% of applications. Govee’s ecosystem does not require a hub to use, further reducing costs.


  • Large product offering with unique shapes and sizes
  • Easy video sync options, but requires a camera
  • All features are available without a hub


  • Connectively can be slow
  • App needs works and functionality can be limited
  • Products do not feel as premium as the other companies’ products

Philips Hue

Philips Hue lights offer really good connectivity to the Hue Bridge, ensuring swift command handling and seamless intercommunication between Hue-compatible devices. Bluetooth is available for control, but you will lose options when compared to using the hub. Hue was the first real player to the smart light game, and because of this their products are very reliable.

To see our favorite Hue products, check out our article, “Philips Hue Lights For Home Theaters” for detailed information.


  • Rock solid connectivity through bridge
  • App has a large feature set
  • Sleek modern design
  • Most third party integrations
  • Native PC App available
  • If the internet goes down while using the hub, lights can still be used


  • Most expensive on list
  • Play HDMI Sync box cannot be used with a smart TV
  • Not all features are available with Bluetooth control


LIFX has been a major player in the smart lighting space for a while, and they offer a decent range of products, often beating the others with colors and brightness without spending a fortune. Since all lights are Wi-Fi enabled, if you lose internet connection, the lights will stop working. It is a better option if you are using a few lights to accent rather than as a whole house lighting solution.


  • Simple Set up
  • Allows for third party integration
  • Lights get very bright compared to competition
  • Excellent color fidelity beating even the market leader
  • Cost less than Hue


  • The app is not as functional as hue, and is missing some more advanced features
  • Offers the lowest product variability compared to the other two
  • Tends to be heavier than their competitors

Note: At the time of writing this article, the unified smart home standard known as “Matter” is still in its early stages and has yet to be fully adopted by most companies. Matter’s goal is to allow smooth compatibility and functionality across different platforms for smart home products. This means that regardless of whether you are using Google Home, Alexa, Siri, SmartThings, or any other platform, Matter aims to provide consistent functionality and compatibility for all products with the Matter certification. I would consider searching for Matter products as it can serve as a way to future-proof your system.


When considering smart lighting for your home, one critical decision is whether to opt for a hub or hub-less system.

A hub acts as a bridge, connecting smart devices using different protocols like ZigBee, enabling seamless communication and remote control that operates on a different frequency band than Wi-Fi. While some brands promote hub-less systems, using a hub offers distinct advantages. ZigBee, a highly efficient protocol for smart home devices, provides benefits such as local control, automated actions without constant app usage, and improved reliability. Moreover, using a hub prevents overcrowding of your Wi-Fi network, which can lead to slowdowns with many connected devices.

If you have more than ten smart lights, opting for a smart lighting system with a hub might be preferable as it will help keep your lights and wireless networks functioning efficiently.

One way to get around this issue with Wi-Fi-only based lights is to use a mesh Wi-Fi network that can support many more devices on the network all at once compared to only using a WiFi router.

Ultimately, the choice between hub and hub-less systems depends on individual preferences and specific lighting needs.

To Sum It Up

In conclusion, smart lighting technology has revolutionized the way we approach home theater design, offering numerous benefits and endless possibilities for creating immersive and personalized entertainment spaces. We can now have advanced control over our lighting that was only available with professional grade systems and installations. Opting for an ecosystem approach when using many lights, such as Philips Hue, LIFX, or Govee, ensures a seamless integration and a cohesive user experience.

As the smart home industry continues to evolve, it is essential to keep an eye on emerging standards like “Matter,” which aims to enhance the compatibility across various smart home platforms. When shopping for lights, aim to future-proof your smart lighting, as it can get very expensive, very quickly. My dozens of Hue lights throughout my house provide me with this first-hand knowledge.

Be creative with lighting and your space will gain its own personality. Please feel free to share how you use smart lights in your own theater, as it is always good to see how others are using them.

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