Our homes are slowly getting smarter. From smart lights to talking fridges, to your Alexas and Google Homes, there is something for everyone out there. Lightwave is one such company that offers smart home solutions. However, what sets them apart is that instead of plug-in devices, they give you easy to install sockets and light switches that you add to your home’s electrical wiring. The product is risk-free, because even if the service disappeared, the devices can still be operated manually. The prices are a bit on the expensive side, but in return, you get a seamless service.
Lightwave Starter Kit – Features
- Can be controlled via Apple Homekit, Google Home or Amazon Alexa
- Includes a 1 gang switch and a Link Plus (our review kit had a 2 gang switch because that is what I requested)
- Easy DIY install
- Spare switches can be used to control other items on the network
- Manual control as well as control via app or smart services
- Can be automated
- Works with any dimmable lamp
- Can be calibrated to different lamps
- Compact, plug-and-play design helps you get up and running in seconds
- Create timers and automations to schedule your lighting, appliances, and heating automatically (other hardware required for appliances and heating)
- Requires a simple connection to a standard wireless broadband router
- Powerful LightwaveRF wireless technology ensures reliable communication throughout your home and beyond—outperforms standard Wi-Fi
Installation and setup
As already mentioned, our kit came with two items. The Link Plus and a 2 Gang Switch.
The Link Plus is really easy to install and set up. You start with plugging it into mains and connecting it to your internet router with an Ethernet cable. Install the LightWave app, and set up your account. Then you look for your device. There is a code on the back as well as on the box which helps you ‘find it’. Once found, it will ask you to press the button on it, at which point the light on it will go green.
The 2 Gang Switch requires you dealing with mains, so it is very important that you know what you are doing. There are videos on the website, and if you get stuck, you can ring them and ask for help!
Start off by turning off the fuse for your lighting circuit, and undo the lighting switch you want to replace. Undo the wires, and remember which ones go where. A good idea is to take a picture before you undo the wires. Then put those wires into the Lightwave switch, screw it back in, and you’re good to go. If you are going from a non-dimmer to a dimmer, you will find these to be a bit thick, so a spacer is already included in the kit.
Once happy, turn the lights back on at the fuse end. The first run will get these calibrated, and at that point you should be good to go.
After that, hold the buttons to pair it to the Link Plus, and soon they will appear in your app. You can label them as you like.
Using compatible vs incompatible bulbs
I started off by using some non-dimmable but smart bulbs. It didn’t work very well. They used very little wattage which meant the calibration came at a very low power. Sometimes they would randomly flash on and off. Mostly they would be on or off, as you want, but it wasn’t a great experience.
When I went to the compatible bulbs, it all worked a treat. To dim them bright or soft, you just hold the switch. You can see it ‘step’ through different levels, so it isn’t quite as analog as a regular dimmer, but they work.
Changing bulbs to a different type
Interestingly, when I went from the low wattage smart bulb to a higher power dimmable lamp, they just wouldn’t come on. I went back to the smart bulb, and suddenly that won’t work too. Something was wrong!
I thought I had broken the kit, but decided to check the wattage ratings for the devices. My 60W lamps were definitely under the 200W limit it specifies, so it couldn’t be that.
Then I thought, the CALIBRATION! So I went to the app and applied calibration again. Boom, the bulb turned on straight away. It also showed me why the smart bulbs were being iffy. The low LED consumption meant they were calibrated to a very low power which probably didn’t sit very well with the soft start, etc that the light switch offers.
Ease of Use – app vs manual
Manual use is reasonably straight forward. Press the button on top to turn lamps off, and below to turn it off. Hold the top button to make lamps brighter and the bottom one to make them dimmer.
When on, the LED for it goes blue. When off, it is red. This really bothered me, but luckily I could change it via the app. I ended up turning it white and set it to the lowest brightness I could set. Annoyingly, you cannot turn the LED feature off.
When you do hold it, it takes a little while for the dimming feature to kick in. I am talking a second or two here, but it is noticeable. You can also see the dimming or brightening happen in steps, in a digital sort of way. I find that being digital interesting as the lamps are soft start, so you would imagine it has the ability to step through brightness in an analog fashion.
In terms of the app, things couldn’t be simpler. You simply turn the bulbs on or off by clicking on them. If you hold them, the app takes you to further settings which lets you adjust brightness. If you do change brightness, it does it in a soft/analog manner instead of stepping through. You can also change calibration etc through the app.
More information on the Lightwave Starter Kit can be found on the Lightwave website. There is a 50% sale on at the time of writing, so do check out their range.
In terms of cost, the Lighting Starter Kit is £185, which comes with the Link Plus and a 1 gang switch.
An extra 1 gang switch is £59.95 and a 2 gang switch is £99.95.
Other options are also available.
While on the expensive side, the Lightwave Starter Kit offers a very easy, no-frills solution to having some real smartness in your home without having annoying plug ins. This is all about a proper integrated system!