Beyond the on/off switch – change the way you think about lighting your rooms.
What qualifies a light bulb as ‘smart’? It can be controlled remotely – from a phone, iPad, NEST, Alexa or Echo because it connects to the internet. Smart light bulbs are also known as ‘connected light bulbs’. With these new bulbs, you can control most of the light in your home from afar.
You can program light in your home to make it look inhabited when you are away, change the intensity of your lights for different moods and times of day, and some bulbs will change color on command (channel your inner James Turrell).
This is a revolutionary step made possible by the advances in LED (light emitting diode) bulbs which are cool, energy efficient, long lasting and small when compared to their incandescent predecessors. These new bulbs screw into the lamps and fixtures you already own. They connect to the internet through a small ‘bridge’ which plugs in somewhere in your home.
Philips is the well-known name in smart bulb technology. The starter kit includes a hue bridge (which allows you to control the bulbs over the internet with the Philip’s Hue App) and four bulbs, each of which can produce light in millions of colors. You can add up to 50 smart bulbs to this system. Philips Hue White and Color Ambience Smart Bulb Starter kit for $193.97
The Philips Hue App is available on the Apple Store for iOS or from Google Play for Android. You turn on the light bulbs and choose the color or white. You can set up times to turn lights on and off when you are away. There are standard routines or you can make custom settings. You can link your lights to your entertainment center so that lights can ‘dance’ with music or movies. There are third party apps which are well reviewed.
This Hue Lights App for advanced Control is free, but some functions within the app must be purchased.
This Hue Party App ‘listens’ to your music and creates a complimentary light show. Hint: My dance parties with grandchildren just got wild! The Hue Party App.
I can’t imagine that I would often call for colored lights. The Philips starter kit for smart white bulbs and bridge are comparatively inexpensive at $88.34.
Intrigued by adding colored light to a room, but want a simple, easy option? A single LIFX bulb fit in a standard lamp socket and connects directly to the internet – not bridge. It is highly rated for the quality of the color it produces. LIFX Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb is expensive at $53.99.
These white, controllable GE bulbs do not require a hub. They connect to your phone by Bluetooth which means that you can control them at home, but not when you are away. Other smart bulbs connect through Wi-Fi and can be controlled from anywhere. The C-Sleep bulb has three settings and is said to offer light settings which support a healthy sleep cycle. You control the C-Life bulb from your phone.