Now that smart home technology has progressed to the point that we can say “let there be light” and it is so, it’s only natural to demand that we can summon just the appropriate amount of light with a voice command as well.
The TP-Link HS220 dimmable light switch will grant you this power. I’ve been using TP-Link’s Kasa line of smart lighting equipment ever since moving into my new condo and taking the headfirst dive into smart home technology last year. I have a mix of smart switches, plugs connected to lamps, and smart bulbs that can be dimmed or made to change colour.
I always recommend TP-Link’s lighting equipment to friends interested in plunging into the smart lighting ecosystem. It’s not impossible to mix in other products once you start with a specific brand’s equipment, but it’s preferable to manage all of your home’s lights from one mobile app. TP-Link’s Kasa does a fine job of this, allowing you to control your lights from your smartphone, set schedules for them, and set “scenes” that trigger a certain combination of commands that set the mood just right for waking up in the morning or watching a movie. TP-Link’s hardware also operates without the need for a hub, unlike competitors such as Philips. Plus, the hardware is on the more affordable side for connected lights and it works with smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Another recommendation I make to those setting up smart lights is to opt for switches or plugs instead of smart bulbs where possible. This avoids creating a “double switch” situation for a light where you can’t turn on the smart bulb with your app because the physical switch is set to “off.” Also, it’s less expensive to replace broken normal light bulbs connected to a smart switch than it is to replace Wi-Fi bulbs.
The HS220’s dimmable switch is a new addition to my smart home setup that has me mad with voice-control power. My itch to replace my office ceiling light – one of the few holdouts demanding I physically move to operate the light – was scratched recently. A weekend trip to Ikea brought back a flush mount LED ceiling light fixture. After double-checking online that it was indeed compatible with a dimmer switch (not all LED lights are), I knew it was time to install the H2220.
Installation – just follow the app
Explaining how to install the HS220 switch here would just be redundant. TP-Link does an excellent job of walking you through the installation using the Kasa app. So install it to your Android or iOS device if you don’t already have it. Once installed, tap the “+” symbol in the circle at the top-right corner of the Devices tab to get started. You’ll select the HS220 from the menu and then follow the instructions step-by-step until your installation is complete.
Here’s a video from TP-Link further explaining the installation:
Note that you won’t be able to install the HS220 if your switch is a three-way circuit (eg. there’s another switch that controls the same light.) Also, you’ll require a neutral wire to be present, as with all of TP-Link’s switches.
You absolutely must make sure your power is off at the fuse box before installing the switch.
Operation – three ways to control the light
Once you’ve completed the installation and connected your switch to Wi-Fi, you’ll calibrate the light. This will help you find the lowest possible setting where you still see light, setting it as the “1%” brightness setting in the app. I found with my LED light there wasn’t really a spectrum of brightness so much as four different “steps” of brightness.
Next, think about what “scenes” you should add the light to in the Kasa app. For example, I added mine to the “bed time” scene that simply turns off all my lights at once. Then I created a “working” scene that set the light to 75 per cent and turned off the lights in other rooms of my home.
To control the brightness of your light, you have three options.
- Use the physical switch buttons
- Use the mobile app, which presents a slider that you can move from left to right.
- Use your voice with either Alexa or Google Assistant
“Let there be 25 per cent light”
Both my Google Home and Amazon Echo Spot devices automatically detected that I’d added the HS220 to my Kasa app. I heard audible commands from both speakers declaring it could now be accessed by voice.
By default, you’ll be able to control the HS220 with your voice by referring to it as the name given in the Kasa app. I called mine “office light,” so I would say “Hey Google, turn on the office light,” or “Alexa, set the office light to 50 per cent.”
To make it even more intuitive, go into your Amazon Alexa app or Google Home app and open the devices menu to assign the HS220 to a room. I assigned mine to the “office” where I also have a Google Home speaker, also assigned to that room.
Now I can simply say “Hey Google, dim the lights,” or “OK Google, brighten the lights,” and it is so.