Many manufacturers of 'smart lighting' systems claim that connecting your lights to the Internet of Things will save energy. For example, Samsung SmartThings use energy savings as a key selling point, and have a case study that promises large savings:

All in all, after one season of using SmartThings, our home utility bill was $78 less than it was the season before.

Philips Hue also call their bulbs 'energy-efficient', although it isn't such a selling point for the Hue compared to how much SmartThings promote energy savings.

I would have thought that the majority of energy savings from turning off the lights would be negated by the extra energy used by the processing hubs and wireless radios in every device, as well as the energy requirements of any motion sensors you install.

Is it true that energy can be saved (in a typical home situation, assuming the same number and type of bulbs before/after) by using 'smart lighting' such as SmartThings or Hue, or are the benefits exaggerated in terms of energy consumption?

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    I will go so far and claim that this particular testimonial (more like a single user story and not a real study) comes from an user that was made aware of their behaviour and might thus have changed it - IoT or not.
    – Ghanima
    Dec 29, 2016 at 16:36

3 Answers 3


That's an awesome question!

The influence of IoT in power saving wouldn't be that huge, as you've mentioned.

But making them smart enough would save a lot of energy.

The radio system and the whole automation system would consume only about 5 V @ 1 A (max) if there are no motor drivers and other power components involved (in the case of lights, there are no actuators!).

The consumption of a bulb will be quite large (in fact multiples) compared to that of the IoT system.

So, if the bulb is on for another 5 minutes without being noticed, it would consume quite high amount of power than the IoT device may consume day long!

Connecting multiple devices together can still increase the efficiency because the system could be used to check whether the person is inside using motion sensors, or sensing the door. Which can actually malfunction.

eg: if the person is inside and idle, the light goes off (Guy gets annoyed). or if the guy is out and the door is open and there is some moving object in the room, the bulb still glows!(Lot of energy gone)

If the device is connected too internet, the Guy's phone would have the necessary app, when he goes out of the house, the phone knows he's out and the whole home will be off (configurable).

I have very little idea about the particular products you are talking about because I have not used either of them myself!

IoT is very much controllable over the internet. Far more than the power consumption, it is customizable and that's what makes it stand out!

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    Worth (maybe) noting that a smart system won't beat a determined human, but can quite easily react to occupation and ambient (light, temperature) to save some energy a lot of the time. Saving 50 W for a couple of hours a day is probably all you need to offset the smart loading. Dec 30, 2016 at 0:34
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    @SeanHoulihane, allow me to disagree. I can be very determined to keep the lights off as much as possible, but once I am on holiday, or in bed, I can use my smartphone to check that all lights are in fact off and can switch them off.
    – texnic
    Jan 3, 2017 at 22:46

Working on IoT since 2009 (when IoT wasn't so hot topic as now days) I can tell you based on my team experience that there are several important components:

1) Technology level of lighting system -Mercury and sodium based lighting systems can be improved with IoT intelligence up to 20% in best case; -LED systems can take full benefit from IoT

2) IoT technology applied (list of features) -Dimming -Applied sensors -IoT platform sophistication

**LED based systems depending on type of IoT solution applied can really give totally new features and power saving levels. On smart street pilot installation with LED and fade-in/fade-out adaptive lighting system back in Nov 2014 we achieved 78% better performances then referent mercury lighting system.

**LED with basic IoT features can make better then plain LED - but nothing impressive.

**If you have very old, mercury, sodium or metal-halogen system you should consider total replacement with LED instead making such system smart via IoT.


Having used X10 and now Zwave for complete home automation (I mean everything, doors, blinds, lights, towel rails, water pump, hot water, heat pumps etc), I would sit on the fence.

You may need a server (or PC) running all the time, and a UPS for it too. Each light is controlled by a device which is running all the time. Some have physical relays in them, which consume power when activated.

Yes, you are saving power by turning LED lights off when not needed, but this shortens their lifespan drastically. On the face of it they are rated for 30,000 to 50,000 hours, but no one mentions that there are a limited number of switching cycles. Within 7 years, 10% of my LEDs have failed. The ones that have failed are the ones that are switched on/off based on motion and the one on dimmers.

The rated cycles can be as low as 20,000. If you turn each light on and off 5 times day, it gives you a life of 11 years.

In my case, I am using sealed LED downlights, so I have to replace the whole fitting, which blows teh saving out of the water.

  • Question is from 6 years ago, but you made a new point - the number of rated switching cycles. Yeah, having to change stuff soon would be a problem, especially if it also means you have to hire a licensed electrician and if there's product obsolescence and causes larger expense sooner than expected. Dec 18, 2023 at 21:01

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