How To Control Your Lights When You’re Away From Home (easy ways)

If we go back a few years, it was common for home owners to leave one or two lights on when they were leaving their home empty for a few days. They were under the impression that this gave the appearance that they were at home. 

But nowadays, with smartphones, it’s possible to control some, if not all of your home’s lights from far away.

Whether you want to improve your home’s security or if you genuinely want to turn off any lights which you forgot in your hurry to catch the train, it can all be done remotely.

How To Control Your House Lights Remotely

Smart lights can be controlled remotely from your smartphone via an app or from a voice assistant system. There are a couple of conditions that have to be met before you can use smart lights, which are;

  1. The light switches have to switched on
  2. Bluetooth bulbs will need to be connected to a hub (which connects them to the internet)

Once you have the system set up, controlling your home lights from afar is easy.

Using An App to Control Smart Lights

Depending on the set up you have at home, using an app to control your smart lights, smart switches or hubs is the ideal way to give the appearance of being home when you’re away. 

If you remember those old plug in timers that used to turn lights on and off at set times during a 24 hour period. They were effective, up to a point, you either had to have lots of them or it was only the one light that came on every day at exactly the same time and went off at exactly the same time too. 

Plus if there was a power cut at any point, because the timer was wind up, the lights would come on and off at weird times.

With smart lights you can control the time the lights come on and off exactly from your phone. 

With the added bonus that when you are at home, you don’t have to get up from your comfortable chair to switch the light on half way through your favourite TV show.

Using An App To Control Your Smart Lights

Choosing the best app depends on the amount of smart technology you already have in your home, and just how many systems you want to control using that app.

You can get single task apps which are designed to only control one system or smart device. These are great if you only have one smart lamp or one smart switch connected to the lights in just one room.

If your home has more than a few smart devices, there’s the multi-task app, which can be integrated with all of the smart devices in your home making them easier and more convenient to manage. There are even some apps which can detect whether you’re at home or not and can automatically switch lights on or off.

Using A Virtual Home Assistant To Control Your Smart Lights

Using a virtual home assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant to control your lights when you’re not at home means downloading the app which works with them. These virtual home assistants might work using voice commands when you’re at home, but that’s not going to work when you’re 300 miles away at a conference.

However, once you have the app installed on your smartphone, you can still use voice commands to control your smart lights via the virtual home assistant. Which means you’ll be able to switch lights on or off, change the colour of those lights and even dim them all by talking through your smartphone.

They also have some pretty incredible functions like Amazon’s Alexa’s “Away” lighting. Alexa analyses your usual habits and mimics these whilst you’re away from home. Of course you’ll need to switch this feature on via the app, but then it will look like you are at home when you’re away thanks to Alexa.

Google Home does a similar thing which means you don’t even have to think about your lights while you’re away. Because your virtual home assistant does it all for you automatically.

Do Smart Lights Have To Be Switched On To Be Controlled Remotely?

Smart lights can only be controlled as long as they are connected to the internet. This means that smart light bulbs have to be switched on at the socket if you want to control them remotely. 

Smart switches are already wired into the main power supply of your home and so are always switched on. This means that as long as your device is connected to the internet and your home internet is working, you’ll be able to control a smart switch remotely.

Do I Need A Hub To Control My Smart Lights Remotely?


If you have smart bulbs which connect directly to the internet via your WiFi connection, you don’t need a hub. It is often the cheaper smart lights which need a hub plugged into the router to connect them to the internet. It is only actual WiFi bulbs which don’t need a hub connection.

These cheaper bulbs often rely on the Zigbee hub. Bulbs like the Philips Hue are Zigbee bulbs and will need a Zigbee hub to connect them to the internet router.

Some smart devices like the Amazon Echo can actually be used in place of a hub to connect smart bulbs directly to the internet.

Bluetooth Connections

If your smart lights are connected using Bluetooth, you will not be able to control them when you’re out of range without having them connected to a hub which will then connect them to the internet.

How Should I Control Smart LED Bulbs To Deter Thieves?

There are a number of ways to control smart LED bulbs and in many ways it depends on the system you already have set up. For instance, the Apple Homekit has a number of smart devices which can all be controlled through the one system.

Having said that, the Philips Hue app is also a popular choice and is compatible with other brands as well. It does cost quite a lot to set up because all of the devices need to be connected to a bridge (or hub).

Google Home is also popular and compatible with other brands and has high ratings when it comes to comprehending voice commands.

It might be convenient to randomly turn lights on and off remotely whilst you’re away to try to convince any would-be thief that you were at home. The most convincing way would be to use the “away” option on an app or via a virtual home assistant. Using one of these systems would give you a great peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your time away from home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you turn smart lights on away from home?

You can turn smart lights on away from home using either an app on your phone or one of the virtual home assistants.

How can I control my lights when away from home?

You can control your lights when away from home if you have smart lights connected to an app on your phone. Or if the smart lights are connected to a virtual home assistant like Alexa or Google Home.

Can Alexa turn off lights when I leave the house?

Alexa can turn lights off when you leave the house, if you use the “Away” lighting program on Alexa your smart lights will be controlled as if you were at home. You will need a compatible smart light, smart switch or smart plug for this to operate.

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