It used to be that a room was light or dark. Simple, but not always want you want. Sometimes you want something in between. Now with high-tech home theaters, security flood lights and special areas designated for reading, the need for specialized lighting has grown. The way to create different lighting options without breaking the bank paying for a professional — or electrocuting yourself — is to buy “plug and play” lighting controls. Here’s a rundown on some of the latest products to get customized lighting in your own home
Using a dimmer to control your lights is great for creating the perfect mood lighting, and it can even cut energy costs slightly. The great news is that you don’t have to replace your existing light switch for these plug-in options.
For table and floor lamps, it’s as simple as plugging your lamp into an adapter like the Leviton 300-watt Tabletop Slide Control Lamp Dimmer that plugs into the socket. A dimmer switch on the adapter’s cord controls the lamp’s brightness. Look for a model that works with CFL or LED bulbs, because dimmers burn through the incandescent kind, while others last exponentially longer. These adapters run about $20 each.
To dim overhead lights, just screw a regular light bulb into a special adapter, which screws directly into the socket. You’ll then be able to control it with a remote. A basic one like this Skylinkhome unit is about $20.
Lightbulb adapters can serve other purposes besides dimming. Most adapters come with a remote control which allows you to turn the lights on and off, but you can also purchase adapters with add-ons like motion and light sensors for a few extra bucks.
Models like this one from Skylinkhome come with a battery-operated sensor that can detect movement from 500 feet away! This is a great option for installing a motion-sensing outdoor flood light without the hassle of rewiring. You’ll even save some cash on your energy bill thanks to a light sensor that prevents the fixture from being triggered during daylight, and a timer that controls how long the beam stays on.
Remote Control Lighting Kits
If you want complete control over the lighting in one room (or even two) while sitting in your favorite armchair, there are starter kits that give you this option with no technical knowledge needed.
For about $80 you’ll get a kit complete with a remote, plug-in dimmer adapter and a screw-in dimmer adapter. The best part is the remote, which can switch off the overhead light and dim your lamps for perfect lighting.
Plug and Play Mood Lighting
To create custom accent lighting to showcase certain objects in your home, plug and play lighting is an easy option. LED strips are becoming quite popular, and are useful almost anywhere you’d like some extra light. They’re perfect to stick under cabinets or shelves, and can be easily installed using adhesive tape or screws. Many come with a dimming option so you can control the level of light. Some LED light kits have lights that you stick under cabinets, under kitchen islands, or place on top of cabinets. At around $30 for a set they are an affordable options to create a worthwhile showcase your kitchen.
This article was written by Jason Carpenter for The Workbench Life and used by permission. Modifications were made by Connecticut Lifestyles Magazine. Jason Carpenter(yes, that’s his real last name) loves to tackle DIY projects on weekends; his work has appeared in This Old House, Men’s Health, Consumer Reports and other publications that appreciate good tips and tools. Jason is a frequent contributor to The Workbench Life.