Brilliant Smart Home Control (3-Switch Panel)

Brilliant Smart Home Control (3-Switch Panel)

Brilliant Smart Home Control (3-Switch Panel)

A majority of smart light switches are capable of controlling only one thing – your lighting. Wouldn’t it be great if that switch could operate everything in your home? Brilliant’s eponymous smart home controller is based on this principle.

It replaces a simple light switch with a sleek, in-wall controller that provides easy access to smart home devices. Moreover, the Brilliant controller is among the best Apple HomeKit products, so it will be of particular interest to HomeKit users.

Despite its brilliant concept, the $299 price limit limits its application as a whole-home accessibility solution. For smaller rooms and spaces, Brilliant has added a more affordable smart dimmer switch to its home automation system. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a less expensive option, we recommend checking out our list of the best smart light switches.

Through its 5-inch touch screen display, the Brilliant panel can control a variety of smart-home devices such as a Sonos sound system, Ecobee or Honeywell Lyric thermostat, or Philips Hue light bulbs. Currently, Brilliant is only compatible with two other smart systems, Ring and SmartThings, and its list of compatible devices is limited.

Also, the Brilliant panel comes equipped with Alexa, so you might not need to touch it at all. Despite not providing a timeline, Nest and other devices will be supported in the near future.

From Amazon’s Echo to Samsung’s SmartThings hub, Brilliant competes with a wide variety of rival products. Brilliant offers more hardware features than any of its competitors, including a touch-screen home controller, motion sensor, and video camera. All of these factors contribute to the $299 price tag of the single-switch controller. Although it promises easy access to your smart-home gadgets, the Brilliant remains in its infancy.

It is necessary to install some wiring in order to install the Brilliant smart home controller
The Brilliant controller should be easy to install if you are comfortable shutting off the power in your home, using a voltage tester, and switching out electrical outlets and switches. In most cases, it takes less than 30 minutes to install and replaces a single light switch.

The screw-in connection points on the back of the Brilliant controller did not fit securely with the heavy-gauge copper wiring in my house. This required me to add the supplied extensions that used thinner gauge wires. This effectively doubled the amount of wiring that would have to be tucked back inside the switch’s electrical box, making it difficult to reinstall the switch. It may be necessary to use a box extender (or longer screws) if you encounter a similar situation.

Although Brilliant’s instructions are sufficient for helping you connect wires in different configurations, including those with dimmer switches, some additional online guidance for more unusual situations would be appreciated. I discovered that my existing switch had three (unused) white neutral wires. Instead of stringing one wire into the back of the Brilliant switch, those wires had to be ganged together and an extension wire added to reach the Brilliant connection – something that is not described in the instructions.

The controller is not compatible with some unusual dimming switch configurations, but in most homes, you should be able to find a switch that the controller will work with.

Once the wiring has been completed, the controller must be validated online and linked to an email address so that settings can be backed up. After Brilliant scans for Wi-Fi networks, you select the correct one and enter the password, as well as adding names to the device location and place (room). If you have previously set up a Nest or similar smart-home device, this process will be familiar to you.

Due to the fact that the Brilliant controller replaces a light switch, it is first and foremost an intelligent light switch. You can turn the lights on and off by swiping down on the screen. It is a fast and efficient process.

Remote control of the connected light is also possible through the app. With Brilliant, you can enable its motion detector to automatically turn on the lights after five minutes of inactivity and then turn them off after five minutes of inactivity. I used this feature to trigger a light at the top of the stairs, where I usually have difficulty finding the switch. You can also use Brilliant as a motion-activated nightlight so that you do not stumble around in the dark.

The motion sensor on Brilliant’s 1280 x 720 color display can also be used to turn the display on and off. It is a convenient option if you do not wish to keep the LCD display on at all times. You can also use it as a digital picture frame to display a slideshow of meditative images. In addition to the preprogrammed photos, Brilliant also allows you to upload your own photos from your phone. You can even center and crop photos in the Brilliant app to fit the vertical screen of the controller. It is smart. Parents who would like to display pictures of their children will find it ideal.

Upon connecting to your Wi-Fi network, the Brilliant controller will attempt to discover compatible devices. In my test house, for example, it found Honeywell and Sonos devices without difficulty. Cameras such as Piper and a number of other connected devices, such as garage door openers, door locks, and water sensors, were not compatible with it.

The process of setting up music control was straightforward. I was able to connect Brilliant to my Sonos system automatically. Your favorite items will also appear on the Brilliant screen if you have them listed in your Sonos app. In this case, you can simply add favorite stations – such as your favorite Pandora stations – to the Sonos favorites list, and these will automatically appear on the Brilliant screen. By using the in-wall controller, you will be able to adjust the volume, pause and skip tracks.

Smart home controller with Alexa capabilities
Even better, Brilliant comes with Amazon Alexa built-in, eliminating the need to purchase an Amazon Echo or Dot. By linking Brilliant to your Alexa account, you can add any skills you have already enabled. Using your voice, for example, you can turn on or off the lights. Besides setting an alarm, you may also ask Alexa questions such as the weather forecast or the latest news from the BBC. There was also a feature that displayed my location and the three-day forecast on the Brilliant screen as part of the Alexa weather skill. The volume and sensitivity of Alexa may be adjusted if the assistant becomes too intrusive.

Although the Brilliant’s tiny built-in speaker is adequate for spoken programs such as the news summary, it should not be used as a substitute for a Sonos speaker. The volume levels and clarity of the speakers are insufficient to play music satisfactorily.

Compatibility with smart homes
The Brilliant smart-home device is compatible with Ring, Sonos, Philips Hue, Google Assistant Alexa, SmartThings, Ecobee, and Honeywell Lyric as of the time of this review. It is a good start, but much more needs to be done. It is also one of the best Apple HomeKit products available.

Brilliant allows you to coordinate smart devices to work together. For example, you can tag these scenes for “Bedtime” or “Morning,” so that they turn on lights, music, and heat when you awaken. The limited number of compatible products, however, makes it not very flexible at the moment.

Brilliant’s remote control is no different. The Sonos app cannot be used to turn on and off your music when you are away from home. Lighting and heating can, however, be accessed and adjusted. In the future, Brilliant plans to continue adding more remote capabilities. Each feature must be enabled by Brilliant.

In the same manner, the video intercom can only be used between Brilliant switches within your residence. As with an Echo speaker, you cannot use the feature to Skype friends on the other side of the world. Those who find cameras in the home creepy will be pleased to learn that Brilliant included a feature we would like to see in every webcam: a sliding cover that prevents anyone from spying on you. It is only the cover that conceals the camera, so the motion sensor will work regardless of whether the cover is present.

Brilliant also offers a controller with a touch screen and two touch-sensitive slider controls in addition to the touch-screen-only model I tested. You can use these sliders to dim the lights or adjust the volume of a connected speaker. A panel with three sliders is available for $399 and a panel with four sliders is available for $449.

The Brilliant controller offers a number of advantages. Compared to competing smart speakers and dedicated hubs, it has many advantages in terms of its design and overall approach. For example, the Brilliant controller can be operated without the use of a smartphone. With its motion sensor and display, you do not have to provide constant technical support for other members of your family in order to use it. A built-in Alexa service makes it even more intelligent.

Brilliant would be more useful if it could control more than a few devices. Brilliant’s controller will truly live up to its name if it continues to add support for more connected hardware.

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