There’s no shortage of smart home tech these days. From light switches to thermostats, we’ve covered a great deal of it here at B&H. In fact, we’ve become spoiled by it. It’s no longer impressive to simply connect to the Internet and offer iPhone or Android control; manufacturers now have to push the envelope to get our attention. That’s the great thing about tech—it drives forward. Brilliant’s line of Smart Home Control Panels showcases the evolution of smart home gadgetry as good as anything I’ve seen. At first glance, it’s clear that these devices are more than just light switches. The built-in 5" 720p displays make the switches look more like command centers, and thanks to Brilliant’s deep smart home integration, that’s an apt description.
Smart Home Control Panels aren’t the only thing in Brilliant’s arsenal; it also offers Dimmer Switches and a Smart Plug, which are designed to work together, creating a cohesive smart home experience. In our review, we spend time with the 1-Switch Panel and Smart Dimmer and explore how it all comes together.
Installation and Setup
Brilliant makes its Smart Home Control Panel in four sizes to accommodate your existing electrical box and the number of lights you want to control. For example, if you have three light switches at a single location, the 3-Switch Panel is the solution for you. It can also replace multi-way switches, which are common in places such as kitchens. In my case, I was replacing a single-pole light switch, so the 1-Switch Panel is the one I needed.
Upon unboxing, there are a couple of things you may notice. First, the backplate is deeper than standard light switches, so make sure you have room in your electrical box to accommodate it. The manufacturer warns against applying too much pressure to the backplate when installing, so having the room to place it properly is required. Secondly, you’ll notice that the Smart Home Control Panel requires a neutral wire, which makes sense given that the display and built-in Wi-Fi require constant power. The Smart Home Control Panel also needs constant power, and thus a neutral wire connection. If you have an older home, this is something you may want to consider at your installation location. As always, even though this system is DIY friendly, you should consult an electrician if you’re uncomfortable installing these components yourself.
Once wired and installed, setup of the Smart Home Control Panel and Smart Dimmer Switch was straightforward, thanks to the switch’s onscreen display and Brilliant’s app. Both are intuitive and have well-placed menu layouts. From the switch, I was able to configure the type of light fixture I have, select dimming versus non-dimming options, and even choose my bulb type to fine-tune system performance. I was also able to configure motion sensing, which can turn the light on or off based on my proximity, and even choose a motion sensing schedule. The Smart Home Control Panel’s motion sensing calibration is the best I’ve seen, allowing you to calibrate motion in real-time using a number-based system to detect your presence. This helps to eliminate false readings, and it worked quite well. I named the location of the switch in my home and then proceeded to set up the Smart Dimmer Switch, which was installed in an adjacent room. From the Smart Home Control Panel, I was able to fine-tune the Dimmer’s motion sensing capability, which reinforces that the Smart Home Control Panel is the brains of the operation and should be configured first.
Integration and Control
Smart Home integration is where Brilliant shines brightest. The full list can be found on Brilliant’s website, and it includes many popular brands. In my home I have smart devices from Sonos, Lutron, Amazon Alexa, TP-Link, August, Ring, and Honeywell. While voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, which has deep integration, as well, have helped bridge my many devices, not everyone is comfortable with a voice-activated digital assistant and mic in their home. With the Brilliant app I can have one virtual home for all my compatible devices, making the experience feel less fragmented. I can also control my devices directly from the Smart Home Control Panel’s display, once again providing a control center-like experience.
Using the Smart Home Control Panel’s built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, I selected my integrations directly from the display and it walked me through the process of syncing my gear. Please note that it takes a few minutes for the cloud services to sync up and import devices to your Brilliant account. I didn’t realize this initially and thought I had missed a step, so I called Brilliant’s technical support for assistance. While they were very helpful, everything synced automatically during the call. My Sonos system was the easiest of the integrations to configure since the Smart Home Control Panel automatically recognized the speakers over Wi-Fi. Controlling the Sonos system was easy, but I wish the integration went a bit deeper and offered the ability to explore my entire music library from the switch’s interface.
Whether operating the system via the display or app, operation was fluid and responsive. This is great because lag could really ruin the experience. One of my favorite integrations is via Ring; once configured, not only can you monitor your connected cameras via the Smart Home Control Panel’s display and onboard camera, but you can use its built-in microphone to communicate. You can then use the smart lock integration to unlock a door and allow access to visitors. That’s not all the camera and microphone can do. Using the camera, you can connect to and view other Smart Switches in your home, and via the app you see what your Smart Home Control Panel sees when you’re away, giving you an added security component. Should you not want to use any camera functions, there’s a convenient sliding privacy shutter to block all video access. Not only can you link your Amazon Alexa and Brilliant accounts, but the Smart Home Control Panel can double as a digital assistant, allowing you control it and other devices by voice. Like its camera control, the microphone can easily be disengaged from the Smart Home Control Panel’s display.
Another great thing about this system is how well it disappears into the background. Once the motion settings were dialed in and the scenes programmed to trigger actions, the system operated smoothly on autopilot. For example, we chose to use the motion-sensing Dimmer Switch in the main bathroom and have the lights automatically turn on and off as you enter and leave the space. This is great for kids who always forget to turn off lights. With this setting we went weeks without touching the switch at all. Furthermore, the “Bedtime” scene automatically dims that same light to 10% during nighttime hours. However, if motion sensing isn’t for you, controlling Brilliant’s switches the old-fashioned way works just as well; just slide your finger up or down the Smart Home Control Panel to control lighting. Furthermore, the Smart Dimmer can simply be tapped to turn the lights on or off.
More than a Switch
If you call Brilliant’s Smart Home Control Panel your home’s command center or battle station, that would not be a stretch. With its extensive controls and upgradeable software, the Brilliant Smart Home Control is ready to grow as your smart home does.
Are you looking to consolidate your smart home experience or take your home control to new dimensions? if so, sound off below, we’d love to hear from you and explain how Brilliant can make your smart home even smarter.