Smart lights are a modern convenience that gives you total control over the lighting in your home.
Most smart lights have features such as timers, dimmers, and voice commands that work using the internet.
But what happens when your wifi connection goes down?
To turn on smart lights without the internet, use a Bluetooth connection to link the bulbs to the app, though other features like timers may be temporarily unavailable. Without Bluetooth, you can still use the light’s manual switches to turn smart bulbs on and off without an internet connection.
If your internet goes down, you’ll still be able to control most of your smart lights individually using Bluetooth, but the remote control and its most advanced features won’t be available until the wifi is back.
However, your lights will temporarily be just regular bulbs, so you won’t be left in the dark.
Keep reading to learn how to use your smart lights without an internet connection.
How To Turn On Smart Lights With Bluetooth
The easiest way to control a smart light when the internet goes down is to use the Bluetooth function on a smartphone or tablet.
If your smart lights are Bluetooth compatible, you should be able to find either the individual bulbs or the hub in your Bluetooth network.
Here’s how to connect to a smart bulb using Bluetooth:
- Open up the Bluetooth menu in your smartphone or tablet’s settings.
- Make sure Bluetooth is turned “on.”
- Under “Devices,” look for the name of your smart lights and select which light you want to connect.
- Connect to the device–depending on your phone, this option might say, “pair,” “connect,” or “add.”
- Once the two devices are linked, you should be able to use your smart light controls as usual while you are within range.
The standard range for a Bluetooth connection is about 1 meter (3 feet).
According to the Bluetooth website, the short-range is to maximize the quality and quantity of data that can travel between devices.
You can extend the range with a Bluetooth mesh, which is a network of Bluetooth connections often used to keep smart homes functional.
When you’re in your home, you should be able to control your smart lights within the Bluetooth range easily.
However, you won’t be able to operate your lights from another location without an internet connection.
How Smart Lights Work
According to researchers at Issues in Information, a smart light is any light that connects to an app that a person can use to control the light.
Smart lights are, at the most basic level, remote-controlled light bulbs.
There are multiple ways you can control the bulb, including through smartphone apps, a remote control, or another smart device like a smart switch or smart plug.
For smart lights, wifi is one way they can communicate with the device that’s controlling them.
When you make a change in the app, for example, the app will send a message to the bulb via the internet to tell the light what to do.
As smart lights get more sophisticated, they tend to have multiple ways of communicating.
Some smart lights that normally work with the internet can also communicate using Bluetooth or another wireless connection, like a radio wave.
In most situations, you’ll be able to use a smart bulb as a regular bulb the same way you can still use an escalator that’s stuck–it doesn’t do what it was designed to do fully, but it’ll still get the job done.
The Purpose of a Smart Light Hub
Many smart lights require a device called a hub.
The hub is a central device that communicates with all the smart bulbs on a network.
In this case, you use the remote control to send messages to the hub rather than individual lights, and the hub distributes the information.
Hubs are convenient when you’re using the same brand of bulb throughout your whole home.
However, they can be a pain if the hub stops working, because you may have trouble controlling individual bulbs without it.
On the other hand, a hub makes it easier to control all the smart lights in your house at once.
A hub can also give you more connection options than individual bulbs.
When your hub has Bluetooth connectivity, you can use your phone to control it if the internet goes out, as long as it can communicate with the light bulbs.
Most hubs use a radio frequency or wifi to connect to their bulbs, so if you’re purchasing a hub-based system, check to see if it has multiple connection options.
One of the most popular hub systems is the Philips Hue Smart Bridge from Amazon.com.
You can connect as many as 50 light bulbs to the hub, and it can connect to the bulbs via Zigbee and an internet connection.
I recommend this hub if you want to run all the lights in your house as smart lights.
Editor’s pick: 3 Reasons Why Smart Bulbs Need a 2.4 GHz WiFi Connection
Which Smart Lights Can Work Without the Internet?
As long as your lights are turned on when your internet goes down, you can still use the manual switches on your light fixtures to turn them on and off.
However, if your lights are off but the manual switches are on (the default setting for operating smart lights), then you may have difficulties using your lights without the internet.
The best way to avoid this issue is to use smart lights that connect to Bluetooth or another wireless communication network.
That way, as long as you have electricity, you can still operate your lights.
You may also wonder: Will smart bulbs work in any fixture?
Radio Wave Smart Lights
Bluetooth is the most recognizable type of shortwave radio connection for smart devices, but there are other networks that use similar technology for the same effect.
Zigbee and Z-wave smart networks both have smart light options.
Zigbee, Z-wave, and Bluetooth operate similarly to walkie-talkies.
They have two-way communication built-in, only instead of two people talking, it’s two or more devices.
Anything connected to the right frequency and within range can speak to anything else on that frequency.
Using a smart device that operates on a radio wave and over wifi offers a good backup for occasions when you don’t have internet.
If your lights communicate primarily through another network, the loss of the internet won’t automatically mean a loss of function in your lights.
The Sengled Multicolor Bluetooth Smart Bulb from Amazon.com is a good option for a wifi-enabled smart light that’ll also operate normally via Bluetooth.
It works with the Alexa app and associated products, and because it uses Bluetooth mesh, you can operate each bulb from anywhere in your home.
If you use a Zigbee network, the Zigbee Color Changing Smart Light Bulb from Amazon.com gives you the same functionality as the Sengled bulb, but on a different network.
It also connects to Samsung devices, not just Alexa.
Plus, you can use it in a hub or on its own, which gives you flexibility.
Turning on your smart lights without the internet is possible if you have another Bluetooth-enabled device available.
Other shortwave radio connections such as Zigbee and Z-wave networks will help you operate your lights without internet as well.
The futuristic perks of a smart bulb, such as voice control, color-changing, dimming, and timers, likely won’t work in the event of an internet outage.
However, turning the lights on and off should still be possible with a combination of manual switches and Bluetooth connections.