Over the last few weeks I have my garden redesigned so while the landscapers were working on the garden I took the opportunity to install smart lighting in the garden. With my setup I can turn on and off the garden lights with one voice command. I can say “Alexa turn on garden” or “Alexa turn off garden” and it instantly turns on or off all the garden lights. I can also use my phone to control the lights and there is a manual switch options as well.
The setup was really simple to install using the following components:
- Amazon Dot for voice control
- D-Link DSP-W215/B Smart Plug for controlling the power
- Techmar 12v lighting cables
- Techmar 12v lights
- Techmar transformer
- Outdoor dual mains socket with cable
I already had a mains power socket in the garage which I plugged the D-Link smart plug into, I ran a long cable from the smart plug (with a mains plug on it) under the path down the side of the garden to an outdoor double socket which I fitted. Into the outdoor sockets I plugged two Techmar 12v transformer. The transformers can be left outside but I put them into outdoor rated boxes just to make it neat and safe.
The Techmar system works by attaching special cables to the transformer and then lights have the same connector on them that plugs into the cable. No soldering is needed, you just screw place the lights where you want them and then connect them all together. You can mix and match the lights and I have a mixture of spots and uplighters. As the lights are low voltage LED you can have lots of lights all powered off a single transformer, I ended up having two transformers due to the way I purchased them but you can have just the one. I ran the cables under the ground during the construction of garden but as they are small low voltage cables you can easily bury them under the top soil without any issues.
The smart part of the system is the D-Link smart plug which you connect to your Wi-Fi network via a WPS button, and then you can control it via a D-Link app (iOS or Android). With the app you can turn the plug on and off and setup on/off schedules. As the outdoor lights are plugged into smart plug I can now control the lights via the app. D-Link have a skill for Amazon Alexa so you can control the plug via an Amazon Dot or Echo. To control the D-Link plug, you enable the skill on the Alexa app and then ask Alexa to detect devices. In the D-Link app I called my plug “garden” and then through Alexa ask it to turn on or off garden.
It works really well and anyone in the family can use it, and with the schedule I can have them come on and off whenever I want. D-Link plugs also work with 3rd party systems like IFTTT and Stringify which means you can control the lights from external triggers. For example I have a trigger setup to turn the lights on at dusk and turn off at midnight, the dusk time is automatically set by the GPS location and changes each day.
So there is a whole range of options you can do with the smart plug and therefor the lights, it has been really simple to install and is really effective. The low voltage lights are easy to wire yourself with only the outdoor 240v wiring that should be done by a qualified electrician (or at least someone that knowns what they are doing).
Some of the costs are:
- D-Link DSP-W215/B Smart Plug £20
- Amazon Dot £44.99
- Techmar lighting starter set £89.99
- Outdoor sockets £34
I bought additional lights and three extra extension cables so you can spend as much as your budget will allow. It was a fun project and really impressive when you use voice to light up the whole garden at night.
Here is my video showing how I setup it up and if you have any questions let me know.
The amazing landscaping work was done by LNC Landscaping and Paving.
Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of TheDigitalLifestyle.com tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.