Connected LED Bulbs: Everything You Need to Know to Choose One and Start Automating Your House

Neither white nor black. Nothing on or off. Technology and connectivity allows longer than when we are talking about lights and bulbs, the term Smart or advanced It can be associated with lighting home systems.

If you’re thinking about changing the light bulb from home and want to go beyond the LEDs, the world of the connected light bulbs is there for you to discover it and you can get started in a simple way in the world of the Home Automation. But how do these devices work? What are the differences between the models on the market? and, What can I do with a connected light bulb that worthwhile?

Why do I want to have light bulbs connected at home?

More control and options thanks to which are connected bulbs. With that starting point we can begin to talk about the main difference advanced with respect to the traditional light bulbs, either LED or simply low consumption.

Calls connected LED bulbs they are able to connect to the network home automation or connection WiFi to communicate with controls, domotic control systems or the most common, with our smartphone. With that connection, the LED bulb wins the possibility of being remote-controlled both at the level of brightness and color or respond to programmed actions.

Starting from there and depending on the design and implementation of each manufacturer, the possibilities multiply even to create “recipes” that enable actions under some circumstances and incorporate third party elements that enhance its functions.

If with classic LED bulbs one can consider to renew all the connected home with the LED lights that are more expensive, think of concrete applications that depend on the stay

The connected LED bulbs are expensive, Yes, they have less variety in designs and features as the LED offline, but it must be borne in mind that in any case it makes sense considering a total change from classic to advanced bulbs while various models recently presented brands such as GE or create come awfully close in price to the most complete LED models.

However, if you are willing to do an important initial outlay, There are situations, stays or applications that make sense and require a connected lamp. One of them may be a rapid or programmed change the atmosphere of a stay, or perhaps leave ready a system of notice of presence inside a House when we are on vacation. But the possibilities are multiplied if you’re creative.

The differences between models of LED light bulbs connected

As with all home, the connected bulbs raises the buyer many questions and doubts because it is a category relatively new. The first that comes up is about What is needed for beginners in the world of connected bulbs lighting automation. Is it enough to buy one of the new models of GE leaving for only 15 euros?

Connected bulbs is another of those segments where despite promising to unify forces to find a standard that sharing between devices, reality leaves us nothing easy interoperability at the level of user

Effectively connected bulbs have technology to be able to communicate, but There are very few that do not depend on a compatible hub or control center. The standard of communication that have been chosen will be the key, and as in other segments, there are various initiatives that are not fully supported including.

The most widespread at present within the new protocols that facilitate the communication of devices on the Internet of things is called ZigBee. This standard is open, highly efficient energy, with excellent range and its focus is on lights, switches and sensors from home. Among the manufacturers of connected bulbs that support this union are Philips, OSRAM and GE.

The other powerful protagonist in standard for light bulbs is Z-Wave, quite similar to ZigBee but nevertheless incompatible among them. This has led to manufacturers who do not want to give up more devices connected opt to integrate both solutions in their centers, control or hubs. In the case of Z-Wave, we have more than 1,200 certified products.

The third most widely used bulbs path is directly the WiFi connectivity, Although its energy efficiency is far from ideal for these purposes. That branch has adopted Belkin with its mobile WeMo ecosystem, implementing a from there bridges and hubs that make them compatible with other systems, but you must buy separately. Same idea still independent bulbs as LIFX solutions, they don’t need Hub to communicate but if that third party system is compatible.

In any case, the implementation carried out some manufacturers specifications are not ideal and we We can find models that use the same protocol but do not work perfectly with hubs or third-party systems that in theory it should do offer full compatibility.

The most striking case of recent years has been the of Philips, using ZigBee and met its Hue system-compatible lights models that were more affordable than the officers. They could be used for a while but the company announced if they intend to shut down the system that hitherto had open to third parties. After a small hint of rising of the community used its Hue or compatible systems, Philips reversed, reversed and annulled upgrade leaving your Hub without the possibility of using LED bulbs that were not their Hue.

Currently It is possible to use third-party systems Hue but some functions may not be available or may not be as complete and well implemented as in the officials, according to Philips.

In the coming years, with many more devices connecting with each other and to the Internet, There will be many efforts to find common ways on standards. We for example already on ZigBee 3.0 (with the interesting addition of support direct IP connection to a router) and evidence proposed of giants like Samsung with its Smarthings (compatible with ZigBee and Z-Wave) or the most recent Thread created exclusively for the internet of things and supported by a giant like Google and its Nest product.

Connected bulbs shopping guide

If you have already encouraged to get started in the world of the connected lights and the personalization of illumination, now guide you on the best models and systems that can be found already in the market.

In the event that you don’t have yet any element of automation at home, more reasonable is to start by so-called Home kits that they have the leading brands and which include at least the hub and a couple of light bulbs. To test and see the possibilities it is not bad.

To start in the world of customization of the lighting and be able to create your environments or tricks, the best is to opt for a starter kit including bulbs and the hub of the system

Philips has the best known range of connected bulbs. Its Hue offers home with Bridge and two or three bulbs packs with type E27 or GU10 Sockets. In these packs must differentiate the models that allow the color of the lights change and those who do not.

If we opt for models exclusively with white light, the pack of two Philips Hue leaves for 75 euros, while the same version but with change of colour (and one bulb,) as packs in this case include 3 LED bulbs cost 180 euros. The difference is more than double but if you want to move to the world of connected bulbs, It is worth choosing models that allow to change the atmosphere with lights, further possibilities are much greater, and may for example synchronize lights with a TV content.

Philips Hue basic Kit

Light bulbs 3 Durability 15000 hours
Power 9 W Type White-Color Price 178 EUR

If you are a user of Apple device, the good news is that the Hue of Philips are compatible with HomeKit, allowing that we are in control of part of its functions with the voice and the assistance of Siri. But beware because the hub should be the new model. If you have a previous version always you can preserve Hue LED bulbs and exclusively buy the hub or bridge, coming out from 57 EUR.

To expand the amount of bulbs already there to resort to individual models, since the bridge will continue to serve us. Philips has created it with support for up to 50 bulbs. A color model Philips Hue is not anything cheap: more than 60 euros.

Within the Hue of Philips family there are more less designed a classic lighting and decoration solutions. If we opt for portable models that we are to create enough custom environments, the more interesting option is the Hue Go. These lamps include battery and we can manage some of its functions by directly touching them. However, the true control and value is it going when we have a Hue compatible bridge and this Hue Go for part of our ecosystem and is controllable by smarpthone. The basic model has a high price, and comes out almost 100 euros.

Another option within the Philips Hue family, once we have a bridge at home, is the LED Strip colour, that as the previous ones, it goes completely in the field of decoration rather than enlightenment. A strip of less than 30 centimeters in length would cost US 75 euros.

At Philips, there is also a model of white light, no color, and that goes for 38 euros. In this case the advantage is that it is adjustable in intensity and that this regulation we can do via smartphone if we have a Hue bridge or with the help of the remote control distance that this model comes standard included.

The options on the market that don’t need hub or bridge to operate the best known is Lifx, output a Kickstarter campaign and already consolidated as a product. There are both white light and color models. They are models that are priced at about 80 euros, only a light bulb, but with the advantage that can work directly with our smartphone or connect to various bridges such as Nest, Logitech Harmony, Samsung Smarthings or Amazon Echo.

LIFX Color 1000

Light bulbs 1 Durability 22 years old
Power 11 W Type White-Color Price 82 euros

Another of the interesting options out of large ecosystems is Tim2, which has a pack composed of two bulbs over the bridge (up to 50 bulbs) necessary to make them work. Each bulb has a 9 W consumption and durability of 7 years. The pack costs Amazon 70 euros.

Manufacturer ElGato recently embarked on the adventure of the connected LED bulbs and Avea is your first business model level and with one of the prices more attractive market.

This LED bulb allows the variation of intensity and color even from Apple Watch (although it works with some Android, is the Apple user who will bring you more), without Hub of medium and power of 7 W for a 430 lumens brightness. In this case the connectivity is Bluetooth, so there is no possibility of control outside that range.

Avea ElGato

Light bulbs 1 Durability
Power 7 W Type White-Color Price 39,90 EUR

Although of ElGato its light bulb LED Avea It is the best known, the company has already expanded catalogue and we can buy a model with shape of sphere and another with cone design and built-in battery. In these cases we are talking about a power of 7 W, use decorative and prices for 100 euros each.

Philips has the broader range of models, but the prices are high. OSRAM however focuses more on more reasonable prices but with practical rather than decorative light functions

Together with Philips, the other protagonist of the LED lights connected by relevance in the market is OSRAM, that has your model Lightify as one of the outstanding. The color options in this case do not glow precisely and the company has its strong lights white, available individually for 30 euros. Its maximum brightness is of 1000 lumens, so it is one of the best options if we want more pure lighting effect that decorating.

OSRAM Lightify

Light bulbs 1 Durability 20000 hours
Power 10 W Type White-Color Price 70 euros

In the case of the OSRAM Lightify need a hub which we can buy along with a light bulb for 70 euros. Something that we like very much of this model is that bridge connects directly into a wall socket and is not overly cumbersome as is the case with Philips.

GE It has a very attractive connected bulb model visually and whose strong is the price: from $15 each. Depending on where you buy it and if you have to import it, the price increases, so it is advisable to look first if your national market you can buy directly.

The LED bulbs connected GE Link They also have a pack of home consisting of two lights and the bridge that connects them with our smartphone. Models are not only white light with 800 lumens-color, use the ZigBee standard and they can replace incandescent models of 60 to 90 W with only 13 W consumption.

Mobile Mobile Wemo is the option that you must choose if you want to start a home automation system that goes beyond the light, while light bulbs create can boast of their compatibility with various systems

Misfit, known for its bracelets quantifier, also wants something connected bulbs cake and has its Bolt model, at the moment only for the US market. LED lamp, which can be purchased separately or in a pack of three light bulbs for 130 dollars, can change color and don’t need hub for their advanced features.

In case you already have a system of connected lights and you’re looking for a light bulb with enough support, the model Create It should be your choice. With these lights, they are only available in white light without the possibility of color and a format, you can take advantage of your model’s hub ZigBee, Zink (GE), Samsung Smarthings or mobile Mobile Wemo.

Light bulbs create have a brightness of 815 lumens and you can buy from $15.

Create

Light bulbs 1 Durability 15000 hours
Power 11.5 W Type Only white Price $15

The last recommended option is Belkin and is called Mobile Wemo. Here we have a Wi-Fi model that has compatible with ZigBee systems, need hub but it is the connected LED lamp more interesting if we want to start a project home automation with their other products. There are plugs, cameras and various sensors.

Mobile Mobile Wemo bulbs packs are two: individual model for 30 euros, or kit that includes two light bulbs and a Link (mobile Mobile Wemo bridge) which now costs 80 euros.

Mobile Wemo

Light bulbs 2 Durability 25000 hours
Power 9.5 W Type Only white Price 80 euros