Adding smart features and RGB lights to a home workstation
One of the challenges of working from home is finding the right spot to work. After that is finding the essential equipment like the desk, chair, and lamp. Then along the way, you’d upgrade your setup bit by bit. In our case, we added smart features and RGB lighting. Here’s what I did to mine.
The first thing I did is gather whatever smart devices I have. This includes some we already own and newly purchased ones from Global Gears:
• Amazon Echo Dot 4th-gen – PHP 2,195
• Yeelight Smart LED Bulb (Color) – from PHP 939
• Zero Smart LED Bulb 9W (Color) – PHP 626
• Zero Smart RGB Light Strip w/ WiFi control – PHP 1,646
• Zero Smart WiFi Plug – PHP 350
• Zero Smart WiFi Power Strip – PHP 1,299
Amazon Echo Dot 4th-gen
The Amazon Echo Dot 4th-gen will serve as our hub for connected smart devices. It’s a smart speaker with a digital clock and microphone. We have the JBL Link 10 for Google Assistant which we used in our basic smart home setup, but we decided to try Alexa for a change and to save some space. We’ll be using this to take our voice commands and control our smart lights and smart plugs.
We have three light sources in this setup. The Yeelight, the Zero Smart Bulb, and the Zero Smart RGB strip. The bulbs are installed in the lamps. One is installed behind the monitor for extra ambient lighting to reduce eyestrain. The RGB light strip is installed at the edge behind the table.
The Yeelight Smart Bulb has to be paired using the Yeelight app, while the Zero lights use the Smart Life – Smart Living app. All lights are easy to set up as the bulbs use the E27 standard, but the light strip might take a bit of effort, though, as you have to stick it to your table using the built-in adhesive tape.
Once installed, the rest are easy to pair from their respective apps. The Zero lights pair faster, though, compared to the Yeelight. You can now start controlling the lights from the apps. It has lighting profiles called scenes, can use your smartphone’s microphone and have the light respond to the beats of your music, and set a schedule. There’s an easier way to control them at once, which I’ll discuss in a bit.
Smart Plug and Smart Power Strip
The devices you see in the setup are connected to two power strips. One of them is the Zero Smart Power Strip, while the other is just a standard extension. To turn it into a smart power strip, I connected it to the Zero Smart Plug, simple as that.
The reason why I did this is to eliminate the need to plug and unplug devices whenever start and end our work. By taking advantage of the smart features, I can control the power strips with a simple command to Alexa. If I need to micromanage the features, I just need to open the app. No need to go under the desk to switch on/off something.
What I like about the Zero Smart Power Strip is that you can switch off the sockets individually, giving you more control over what devices should receive power. It also has four USB ports (which you can also switch on/off) with a total output of 15.5W, so you can charge more mobile devices.
Making them work together
While being able to control the devices from your smartphone, it’s still tedious as you need to open their respective apps, access the devices individually, and tap a command. So let’s say I need to switch off all three lights, do I need to open two apps and switch them off individually? That’s where the Amazon Echo Dot 4th-gen comes in.
We’re excited when we found out that all these devices are supported by the Amazon Alexa app. We didn’t have to manually pair them as it automatically detected the devices in the network and it just asked if I want to integrate them.
This adds more control over how I want the devices to behave with just a voice command. I can tell Alexa to switch off a specific light source or power strip. I can also take advantage of Routines, which is basically a set of commands stitched together and triggered by voice commands.
I can say, “Alexa, let there be light,” and it’ll switch on all lights, or “Alexa, goodnight,” and it will shut down all power sources. There are plenty of routines you can create and the Alexa app already has a number of pre-built routines to try. At this point, I rarely interact with the connected devices physically. I just play around with Alexa to do my bidding, which is cool.
Do I recommend this setup?
I’d say yes especially if you already have many smart devices at home, it’s great to consolidate them to a single interface. Going all Smart for the home, though, can be a bit pricey, especially if you buy these devices in one checkout. I recommend building your smart home products over the months, but if budget is not a problem, then go ahead and start enjoying your smart home or room. :)