Make your light bulbs change colors when it's about rain

Forget smartphone weather alerts. You can set up smart lights to tell you when it's started to rain or if the temperature outside has dropped below freezing.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Smart lights can be programmed to do a number of things, like turn off when you start your car, or turn on when your Fitbit detects you've gotten out of bed.

What if your lights could tell you the weather and remind you to grab a coat or umbrella on the way out?

They can, and here's how it's done.

Preparation

To set up this automation, you will
need only an IFTTT account and a compatible, color-changing smart bulb, such as Lifx, Philips Hue or WeMo.

It helps to go ahead and activate the proper channel for the light bulb, as well as the Weather channel on IFTTT. This can be done by going to IFTTT.com and clicking Channels in the upper-right corner. Search for and select the brand of light bulb you have, log in to your account and authorize the IFTTT connection.

To activate the Weather channel, search for it in the list of channels, select it, click Connect, search for your current city and click Connect once more.

Set up smart light weather alerts

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Taylor Martin/CNET

If you're already familiar with how IFTTT works, setup for this recipe should go fairly quickly. However, there are dozens of possible configurations, which can only be determined by the climate of your location and the type of smart bulbs you own.

Below is an example of how to set up a notification for when current conditions change to rain.

  • Begin by clicking My Recipes at the top of the home page of IFTTT.com.
  • Click Create a Recipe, located along the right side of the page.
  • For the Trigger Channel (the "this" part of the recipe), select Weather.
  • There are tons of options for the Trigger, or what sort of weather event will cause the recipe to fire. For this example, choose Current condition changes to as the Trigger.
  • Click the drop-down menu and select Rain. Click Create Trigger to advance.
  • Search for and select the appropriate Action Channel for your smart bulb - in this case, LIFX. Choose Change Color of Lights as the Action and click Create Action to advance.
  • Select which lights you want to change colors when it begins to rain. Choose a color that will represent rain. (Green, yellow, red and pink are generally used to show the severity of rain on radar, and different tones of blue are used to signify snow, so you may want to reserve blue if you plan on setting up a similar recipe for snow.) Select a brightness level, whether you want the bulb to turn on when the recipe is triggered, and the transition duration (whether you want the change to happen quickly or slowly).
  • Click Create Action to complete the setup.

If you have Lifx bulbs and want to use this recipe, you can use this published recipe I created to quickly add it to your account.

When it begins to rain, the selected lights will change colors and notify you. You can set up similar recipes for when it begins to snow, the weather clears, the current temperature rises above or drops below a certain threshold, the sun sets or rises and a number of other weather events.

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