If you've seen the new iPhone app commercial where the mom turns off her lights while heading off to the family vacation then you've seen Schage LiNK in action. But let me go ahead and get this out of the way: I'm not recommending this product for a lighting energy conservation measure! Read on to figure out why. But first, let's go over the basics of the product.
First and foremost, Schlage is a hardware home security company and their mobile app is mainly for maintaining the security of your home while you are away from it. Let's not lose sight of this fact. The mobile app interfaces with the hardware in your home through a wireless protocol called Z-wave (post on this coming soon). The parent company of Schlage is Ingersoll Rand, which also owns Trane, the heating and air conditioning company. This relationship allows the Schlage LiNK to work easier with a Trane thermostat!
While the main purpose of Schlage LiNK is for security reasons, the mobile app does have some conservation attributes which are listed here:
You would think that being able to control your lights with the Schlage LiNK light module (even if it is only lamps) would be a great energy conservation measure, and the features of the lighting module for Schlage LiNK can be seen here. But it was the final feautre that really caught my eye:
Compatible with standard incandescent lighting only
It is the year 2010 and you can make a system that enables a homeowner to turn off her lights while she is sipping Mai Tai's in Hawaii, but you can't let her use a CFL? So we can use 21st century technology, but only to control 19th century devices? The automatic lighting sensor in my kitchen that magically detects whether a person is in the room or not is connected to a circuit with 10 CFLs and it works perfectly! So I know a remote device can switch on/off CFLs. Why can't the Schlage LiNK?
Until the Schalge LiNK can control CFLs (or better yet LEDs) I would just recommend using a lighting timer to automatically turn your lights on/off when you are on vacation. It looks like a great product for home security, and the ability to control your thermostat over your mobile phone (like I do with my Ecobee web-enabled thermostat) is a wonderful conservation tool, but please, let's move away from incandescents!
**Update 3/18/10 - Turns out Schlage isn't the only company with an iPhone app that allows you to turn off your lights. As this article from ismashphone points out the MobiLinc Pro Insteon and X10 controller allows you to control your lights and thermostat from an iPhone app.
A few of the cool features they mention:
- Turn your Insteon, X10 Devices, and Scenes on, off, dim, brighten, fast on, fast off.
- Thermostat, Irrigation, and Weather Support.