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Smart Bulbs, Smart Choice

Save money, control lighting easier, replace much less frequently

by Irene Park

There was a time when the biggest innovation in lighting was the ‘clap on, clap off’ feature of The Clapper.

Gone are the days where you start your light bulb search looking for the wattage to determine brightness.   It’s now changed based on how the bulb is made and powered.  LED bulbs with lower watt output are often much brighter compared with the high watt older incandescent bulbs.  At night, our 23 watt LED flood light practically turns our dark driveway into daylight and costs a fraction of what the old 200-watt bulb was to operate.

Fortunately, lighting has advanced in a much more sophisticated way. With the introduction of smart light bulbs, people are not only saving money but also enjoying the way that lighting spices up their lives.

Jump down to Smart Bulb Picks

 

Top Reasons to Buy Smart Bulbs

Smart Light bulbs are LED light bulbs that connect to the internet through wifi or a hub. Connected to the internet from your wifi or a hub, you can control when, how long, how often, and how brightly (and even what color!) your bulb shines often from the comfort of your cellphone, tablet, smartwatch, or voice assistants.

Below is a list of ways smart bulbs can improve your life in surprising ways!

 
Save Money with Smart Bulbs

Save Money

Though more expensive than a standard incandescent light bulb, which generally costs around $1/bulb, smart LED bulbs generally cost more upfront but should last much longer saving you money in the long run over incandescent bulbs.

A Smart light bulb can save you money.

  • LED smart bulbs use less energy and save you money on electricity.  According to NOPEC, a nonprofit energy supplier in Ohio, incandescent light bulbs require a lot more watts and electricity. If you were to light an incandescent bulb for 25,000 hours, it would cost $169, compared to the $30 cost to light an LED.
  • Because smart light bulbs last longer, which means you are saving more money not having to go out and buy more, more frequently. While incandescent bulbs last anywhere from 750-2,000 hours, smart LED bulbs generally last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours. If turned on for approximately 3 hours a day, a smart light bulb that’s supposed to last around 20,000 hours will last for 22 years!
  • Easier to control smart bulbs to come on when, how long, and how bright you want them to shine

 
Control with Smart Bulbs

Complete control

On & off in the ‘palm of your hands’

At some point, we’ve all left our homes for the day, a night out, or a vacation, only to remember when you’re too far along that you forgot to turn off the bathroom light.

With the smart bulb instead of stressing about the unticking energy costs, you can simply pull up the app that corresponds to your smart bulb and turn it off. As long as the smart bulb is connected online, you can turn it on or off as long as you can get cellular or wifi service from whatever device you use to access the corresponding app that controls your bulbs.

In fact, you can check to see if you even left any of your smart lights on if you can’t remember!

 
Customizable lights

Customizable

Lighting is a crucial component in sending signals to your brain about whether it is time to be productive or rest. For instance, bright and white (not warm) lighting encourages wakefulness.

Whereas, a warm, dim light aids in relaxation at the end of the day. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on an electrician to install light fixtures that allow you to dim your lights, you can adjust everything from your fingertips. Depending on the type of smart bulb you choose, you can even control which color your light bulb emanates.

 

Virtual assistants

Virtual Assistant

A full graduation from the days of The Clapper, you don’t even have to clap! If your smart bulb is connected to your virtual assistant, you can merely call out to Alexa, or another virtual assistant such as Google Assistant or Siri, to get your lights turned on.  For seamless integration, you can refer to the article on how to set up Alexa to work with smart bulbs, here: How to set up skills on Amazon devices

 

Well lit home means safer home

Security Measure

An empty home is a prime target for burglars and other vandals, and nothing gives away an empty house like a dark one with no lights on.

With smart bulbs, you can set it on a timer to turn on after sunset or periodically when out of town so no one is the wiser. It’s also great to have lights turn on when the sun sets so that you’re not walking into a dark home, which helps you stay more acutely aware of the environment you’re walking into.

 

Safety

Some smart bulbs have sensor features you can set up to work as night lights. This is great for those nighttime trips to the bathroom or early morning starts. Instead of stumbling, falling, or tripping over items on the way to the bathroom or the switch, these types of smart bulbs will easily light the way.

Both ease you into your day and help with wakefulness. Or in the case of night lights, being dim enough to guide the way but not bright enough to wake others or yourself on the way to and back from the bathroom.

 

Top Smart Bulb Picks

Now it’d be no good to point out the virtues of smart bulbs without presenting you with the top contenders out there. Below is a range of bulbs at varying price points and functionality. One thing to be mindful of when choosing a smart bulb is the mechanism with which it connects to the internet.

Those with shorter range connections such as Bluetooth need to be in range of the device controlling the companion app, or a hub that will help it connect to the internet. Those smart bulbs therefore require an additional purchase and/or step in installation.

LIFX Color A19

LIFX Color A19 800 lumens, Billions of Colors and Whites, Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb, No bridge required, Works with Alexa, Hey Google, HomeKit and Siri.
Cost: $24.01/bulb

  • Works with Virtual Assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Homekit
  • Requires no hub or bridge connection; just Wifi
  • 550 billion possible color steps (RGBW LEDs for richer colors)
  • 800 lumens means bright but dimmable (1500-9000K white range) via voice or app
  • Has a lifespan of up to 25,000 hours, or 22.8 years

 
 

Kasa Smart Light Bulbs

Kasa Smart Light Bulbs that works with Alexa and Google Home, Dimmable Smart LED Bulb, A19, 9W, 800Lumens, Soft White(2700K), CRI≥90, WiFi 2.4Ghz only, No Hub Required, 4-Pack(KL110P4)

Cost: $29.99/4-pack of light bulbs ($7.50/bulb)

  • Requires no hub or bridge connection; just 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network connection
  • Dimmable brightness (dimming range from 1% up to 100%)
  • Works with Virtual Assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Kasa smart app (iOS & Android) enables remote control and away mode:
    • Remote Control: Turn on or off, dim,  or change the colors of your light bulb remotely
    • Away mode: It randomly switches on and off to ward of potential intruders
  • Ability to monitor real-time energy usage
  • You can schedule or put bulbs on a timer 
  • Over 6 Million users
  • UL certified
  • 2-year warranty

Please note: these particular bulbs do not change colors.

 
 

Philips Hue White 4-Pack A19

Philips Hue White 4-Pack A19 LED Smart Bulb, Bluetooth & Zigbee compatible (Hue Hub Optional), Works with Alexa & Google Assistant – A Certified for Humans Device

Cost: $44.99 for 4 -pack ($11.25 /bulb) 

  • Works with Virtual Assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • 800 lumens & 2700K Brightness
  • Add up to 10 Hue Bluetooth/Zigbee smart bulbs with the (free) Hue Bluetooth app
  • 22 years or 25,000 lifetime hours & Energy Star Certified
  • Support Bluetooth and allows up to 10 lights to be controlled without a hub. With a hub, you can control up to 50 lights. Without a hub, you cannot control these bulbs remotely.
  • Compatible with all Echo smart speakers/displays and Google Nest devices, but need Hue Hub or Echo (1st Gen) and Echo Dot (1st Gen). The Philips Hue Hub is sold separately.

 
 

Kasa Smart Light Bulbs (Full-Color Changing)

Kasa Smart Light Bulbs, Full Color Changing Dimmable Smart WiFi Bulbs Compatible with Alexa and Google Home, A19, 9W 800 Lumens,2.4Ghz only, No Hub Required, 4-Pack, multicolor (KL125P4)

Cost: $34.99 4-Pack ($8.75/bulb)

  • Requires no hub or bridge connection; just 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network connection ‎
  • 800 Lumen
  • Choose from over 16 million colors and warm to cool whites (2500K-6500K)
  • Dimmable brightness (dimming range from 1% up to 100%)
  • Works with Virtual Assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Kasa smart app (iOS & Android) enables remote control and away mode:
    • Remote Control: Turn on or off, dim,  or change the colors of your light bulb remotely
    • Away mode: It randomly switches on and off to ward off potential intruders
  • Ability to monitor real-time energy usage
  • You can schedule or put bulbs on a timer 
  • Over 6 Million users
  • UL certified
  • 2-year warranty

 
 

Wyze Bulb

Wyze Bulb Color, 1100 Lumen WiFi RGB and Tunable White A19 Smart Bulb, Works with Alexa and Google Assistant, Two-Pack
Cost: $26.98 2-packs ($13.49 /bulb)

  • Requires no hub or bridge connection; just Wifi
  • Works with Virtual Assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Brighter than most smart color bulbs that max out at 800 lumens, these Wyze bulbs are 1100 lumens
  • With dimmable 16 Million Colors at your fingertips, you can make custom presets to change the vibe with just one click
  • 90+ Color Rendering Index (CRI) Rating means more pure, brilliant colors so you capture all the subtleties in tones and hues
  • You can create ‘Brilliant Notifications’ or have lights shine brighter or different colors for important reminders
  • With its companion app,  Wyze app (iOS & Android), you can set up vacation modes, automation, reminders, and much more.

 
 

If you’re feeling tentative yet curious about smart bulbs, the Kasa Smart Bulbs with full-color change might be a great start. It is cheaper than some of its competitors but still gives you a range of options including the ability to change colors, dim lights, and navigate with virtual assistants or remotely.

More of my home tech picks here

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