Smart home systems so far have concentrated on adding smart functions directly where they are used such as in lightbulbs but LightwaveRF instead replaces switches and sockets to hide them away in walls. This makes for a neater appearance around the house but does performance match better-known smart home names?
Lightwave RF Link Plus
For all the Lightwave systems to work you will first need the Link Plus hub to connect them all together, as well as the appropriate app to set up and control the devices. The Link Plus is a white square box and while it is a bit plasticky, it’s not much different to the average smart hub.
In addition to Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant compatibility, Lightwave has added support for Apple Homekit for it’s Generation 2 products. This means you will be able to use voice control for connected devices, as well as through the app.
It also has IFTTT (If This Then That) support so you can combine it with other services to help automate your home. For example, you could set it that once everyone has left the house the heating and all the lights are turned off automatically.
On its own it costs £130, but it is available with a range of starter sets which will cut down on the price slightly.
Lightwave RF Lighting Review
By replacing your regular switches with smart ones you can use your existing lightbulbs and not worry about having to find compatible smart bulbs for all your light fixtures. It does mean it is a little harder to install, but once your devices are in place you have a seamless setup that can instantly switch between smart and conventional operation.
The Smart Dimmer itself is a very nicely made switch. The brushed stainless steel finish gives it a stylish edge with two responsive buttons and a central LED to indicate status. As the switch itself is quite deep it does come with a plastic bumper in case it doesn’t fit in your walls otherwise, but this matches the plastic surrounding the switches so blends well and doesn’t take anything away from the style of the switch.
Installation is relatively easy and shouldn’t need you to hire a professional. Detailed instructions are included with the switch but Lightwave also provides a helpful installation video.
Like most smart lighting systems you can set scenes with lights dimmed to the right level, as well as schedules for making it look like someone is in when you are away.
Depending how your lights are set up paying a bit more for switches rather than individual bulbs may cost either a bit more or a bit less than a system like Phillips Hue. You also won’t get any features light colour changing bulbs, but personally, we don’t feel like this is much of a loss.
As well as the smart dimmer there is a wide range of switches available, including ones that allow you to quickly select scenes from the wall socket rather than having to resort to the app or voice control.
At £60 for a single switch and £100 for a double it may feel expensive but it isn’t far behind some smartbulb prices. Working out if it will be cheaper or more expensive than buying smart bulbs will be a case of counting the number of bulbs you have attached to each switch – if there’s more than one bulb a switch it’s likely to be cheaper to change the switches rather than the bulbs.
Lightwave RF Smart sockets
Another easy way of converting regular products into “smart” devices is by using smart plugs or smart sockets. This means you can remotely turn on something like a kettle (as long as it is pre-filled with water and the kettle itself is switched on ready for the socket to turn on).
While smart plugs do the job fine, as well as adding a bit of flexibility, it can look a bit messy and installing smart sockets is a much more elegant solution. The Lightwave sockets also have the ability to be locked from the app, preventing them from being turned on using the manual buttons, providing an extra layer of safety around children.
Like the light switches, Lightwave’s sockets are well made and the brushed stainless steel finish gives them a stylish if not overly showy edge. They have manual switches with LED status indicators to show you whether they are live or not.
Installation is no different from changing a regular power socket and dependant on your confidence level the supplied instructions should be more than enough for anyone to do it. Once again Lightwave provides an installation video to help.
Once installed they are easy to use through either the app or Alexa, Google Home or Homekit. On top of remote control, you can track energy usage, helping you get a view of how much electricity some products use and helping cut back on standby electricity usage.
Equipping the whole house with smart sockets will get very expensive very fast with the double sockets costing £60 and single sockets £35. However, if you just select specific areas it can be fairly reasonably priced, especially when you consider you are spending less than £10 extra when compared with buying the same amount of smart plugs (without the added safety features).
Lightwave RF Heating
The third strand of Lightwave’s smart home system is its heating products. These take the form of a boiler switch and a smart thermostat, as well as the option for adding radiator valves to allow you to create a zoned heating system – one where you can adjust the heating for individual rooms.
If you don’t have the boiler switch you can still use the radiator valves by themselves to adjust room temperatures, but you won’t have the option to turn the whole heating system on or off. This means if it is off you won’t be able to change anything and if it is on you won’t be able to switch it totally off remotely.
Again the pieces are well made and look very much how you might expect. They are unfussy and a little less refined than the stainless steel switches and sockets, but as they are likely to be hidden away or bolted to radiators they aren’t likely to get much attention anyway. We were a little disappointed in the lack of manual controls on the radiator valves, as it would be nice to have the option to make small changes without the need to turn the app on.
As part of the heating set up you can also buy magnetic triggers that you can attach to your window, which will then automatically turn the heating down when a window is opened. While this is a nice idea, it does feel a little overkill for us, especially when 1) the heating is so easy to control through the app or voice control and 2) it costs an extra £35 to buy each magnetic trigger.
While it is far from the most expensive option in smart heating it still doesn’t come cheap with the boiler switch and smart thermostat together adding up to £180, plus £55 per radiator valve. However, Lightwave is currently offering a promotion where you can pick up the boiler switch, thermostat and two radiator valves for £100. This is fantastic value and makes it one of the cheapest options, although it is worth considering you will also need to pick up a Link Plus for the system to work and this will cost you another £130.
With that in mind we would point you towards the Drayton Wiser system as our current value pick for heating, but if you want to combine a heating, lighting and smart socket system Lightwave would still be a good choice – especially as the cost of the Link Plus will then be absorbed over the three systems.
As a single system Lightwave is very impressive and offers good performance for a decent price. The devices are well made and have a much better way of integrating with a home than some of the better-known brands. When it comes to smart home style, Lightwave is hard to beat.