Turn off your lights with iPhone - Schlage LiNK

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:

  • Climate screen—adjust home temperature of your Z-Wave enabled thermostat
  • Schedules screen—enable or disable a schedule
  • Lights screen—shows all of the Z-Wave lights connected to your system. You can control each light separately
  • 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.

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    Health risks? Boring. The reason that LEDs can't replace everything is that they aren't ready yet, although they are very close. Car headlights are proving to be a challenge, it's difficult to get the LEDs bright enough. Personally, I have replaced all of my home lights with CFL, and some LEDs. The LEDs were bloody expensive, their cost needs to come down before people will seriously consider them. ($15USD or more for one bulb)
    Right guys I am new to all this tech! All I want to know is what system works well with the I.POD APPS?? And where can I get one from..I would like to put this in my home..Can anyone help
    ..I wouldn't call it highlighted, but it is stated on their site. # Compatible with standard incandescent lighting only (check the addt'l info tab) the light module also doesn't say anything about dimming - only on/off. @Steve - you sure you're not confusing this with X10. I don't think this is the same thing.. because the schlage solution also has support for video. * Control table and floor lamps remotely through the Schlage LiNK web portal with this Z-Wave enabled Light Module * With Schlage LiNK, have lights automatically turn on inside the house when you enter your code at the door * Program your Schlage LiNK Solution to automatically turn lights on and off while you are away on vacation * Expands the Schlage LiNK Z-Wave wireless network in your home by extending the system’s range * The Light Module provides one Z-Wave controlled AC outlet and one standard AC outlet * Turn lights off, on, and dim with the Schlage Light Module * Schlage Light Module supports Z-Wave beaming protocol * Compatible with standard incandescent lighting only
    The Schlage LiNK light module is recommend for use with incandescent modules only because it is a dimmer module. Dimmer modules don't work well with CFLs or LED bulbs. However, there are z-wave on/off modules available that are fully compatible with Schlage LiNK. You can find them today in Lowes, Radio Shack, and at Online retailers.
    As an electrical engineer I can understand the engineering reason why the Schlage LINK would only work with incandescent lamps. It is because those lamps have a resistive load and the Schlage units need to draw a small current through the lamp to power their control circuit. CFL's will not work because the electronic ballast inside will not pass a small current. This is not to excuse Schlage for bad engineering - just an explanation. There are work-arounds for that bad design. But what's up with 10 (TEN!) lamps in your kitchen?? We have 4 ceiling fixtures in our normal sized kitchen space. We use 30 Watt CFL floods and two 2 Watt LED strip lights under the counters that we use instead of the ceiling lights whenever practical. But your kitchen is sucking down - what - 3-400 Watts! Ouch! Maybe you can remove a few lamps to conserve energy.
    Can you referee an argument I just had with my wife. I said they could have used a phone to turn off the lights 50 years ago by simply hooking the phone up to a servo instead of a ringer. She says that is ridiculous.
    ckmapawatt's picture
    Bill, since it is almost valentines day, I would just tell her she is exactly right and you were an idiot for saying something silly. (Note: you are probably right, but 50 years ago you probably would have used a stepper motor?)
    Guy, we have recessed lighting in the kitchen. I'm not quite sure it would go over with my better half if I started removing lights. Changing them all to CFLs is a great improvement.
    I find it disgusting that apple advertise that the feature turns your lights off at home without mentioning that you have to use a third party equipment. They should at least say "and with additional hardware you can turn your lights off" but no they just say "and if you've left your lights on at home, you can just turn them off... yep!" - this is totally disgusting how they dont even mention it, all they're interested in is how much money they can rake in by complete bull and missleading. I'm trying to put a stop to all this rubbish and the mass advertising there is out there but no-one else is supporting me, so I'm going to buy the next iphone g4 so they will just keep on giving you bull and making missleading ads.
    You guys are all retarded. Why are you supporting this Schlage garbage? you're feeding the fire for inadequate solutions. instead of giving them money, send them a letter and tell them you were going to give them $$, but their product is seriously overpriced for what it is and their system is all but a joke. If you want to see what real automation is, stop looking at advertised apps by apple and go hit google. Why would you bother with a silly app, when the same could be done via html pages? do you just feel special cause you can launch an app while over at a friend's house? If you want to simple turn lights on and off, buy a timer


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