Smart, smart, smart. Everything is getting smarter these days, from watches to appliances, or cars to bicycles. Pretty soon, our entire home will be filled with smart, self-aware technology. This next piece of tech that we’re going to talk about is certainly no exception.
Queue the “smart” bulb, a type of Wi-Fi connected lightbulb that offers a whole slew of unique features. Yes, there is really such a thing and the smart bulb market has exploded over the past couple of years: there is now a handful of different bulbs available from various manufacturers.
Smart bulbs fall under the category of the badass — and useful — tech that you never even knew you needed.
What’s the Big Deal with Smart Bulbs Anyway?
Once installed, the smart bulbs connect to a local Wi-Fi network or home automation system and can be controlled from anywhere. When we say anywhere, we really mean it.
Generally, there’s a companion smartphone app you can download that allows you to turn on or off the lights, dim the brightness, and even schedule operating times. Yep, that’s right, it’s the epitome of lazy. You don’t ever have to get up off your ass to turn them on or off if you don’t want to anyway.
Some of them even change to awesome colors like red, blue, purple and more.
Belkin WeMo LEDs
Ignore the rather silly sounding name. The Belkin WeMo is a unique set of LED bulbs that come bundled together in pairs. The starter kit — which costs a reasonable $49 — includes two bulbs that output 800 lumens of brightness which is comparable to traditional 60-watt bulbs. They’re purported to last up to 23 years, with a max of 3 hours per daily use, but they also include a two-year limited warranty.
The Belkin WeMo line is actually an entire series of home automation equipment. These branded bulbs are designed to work with the entire lineup of tools, including wall switches, security cameras, appliances and more.
As mentioned above, you can use the connected app — via Android, iOS or Kindle — to control them. There’s even a Simulated Occupancy mode that turns the lights on and off at scheduled times to make it look like your home even when you’re away on vacation.
Pretty sweet huh?
You can also get these bad boys in a single pack — if you already have the started — for about $20 through Amazon.
The Insteon LED — coming in at $29.99 for a single bulb — offers some rather unique support. It’s designed to be used with Insteon’s proprietary home automation protocol hub. If you use the hub, you can also connect the bulb to the Nest smart-home thermostat.
It’s an energy-saving 9W bulb that actually glows as bright as a 60W. The manufacturer claims up to 52,000 hours of life for the bulb, with a 30-day “no hassle” return policy. There’s no mention of a warranty.
Like any other smart bulb on this list, it connects to local Wi-Fi and you can control it remotely via compatible devices.
You can find the Insteon LED a bit cheaper on Amazon — for $23.99.
Tabu Lumen LED
The Tabu Lumen LED is definitely pricey at $70 ($69.99) but that’s because it comes with Bluetooth wireless connectivity support and it doesn’t require a home automation hub of some kind. In other words, you can connect directly to the bulb with a compatible app.
The coolest part about this bulb is that you can customize the glow to fit any color style thanks to the “16 million” color options. The bulb uses 7V when in “warm white” mode and outputs a brightness equivalent to any comparable 40W bulb.
The manufacturer’s claim 30,000 hours of life for the bulb which is likely lessened — when compared to some of the other bulbs on this list — because of the extensive color changing options.
You can definitely find them cheaper online through Amazon, like this listing for $36.99.
GE Link Connected LED
If you’re looking for something more affordable, GE’s Link Connected LED bulbs check in at $15 each. They’re definitely way more reasonable price-wise if you want a simple, dimmable, white-light.
They come with a limited two-year warranty and output about 800 lumens of brightness. Real wattage is about 10-12W with an output equal to that of a traditional 60W bulb. An estimated 25,000 hours of life is decent, especially for the price.
MiPow’s PlayBulb Lineup
MiPow focuses on Bluetooth LED light bulbs as a whole, and as such they offer several variations including some for outdoor gardens.
Their most expensive model the Playbulb Color — which obviously cycles through a wide variety of shades — starts at $79.99. The cheapest bulb is about $40, which several options. The most unique of which is one that includes an integrated Bluetooth speaker. Yep, you read that right.
The garden bulb we mentioned earlier includes a solar panel for self-sustained and green-energy use.
It’s tough to pin one particular bulb model down, so be sure to visit their official site to see all the options available to you.
Smart Bulb Runner-Ups and Alternatives
Of course, there are dozens — if not hundreds — of other smart bulbs out there on the market. We didn’t look at every single one, but here are a few alternatives if you don’t like what you see above:
- Philips Hue Lux LEDs
- Philips Hue ZigBee Bridge
- Tabu LuMini LED
- LIFX LEDs with direct Wi-Fi support
- Connected by TCP Wireless LED Lighting Kit
- Cree LEDs
- Misfit Bolt
- Robosmart Wireless LED Light Bulb
If you want to see some reviews and comparisons of the bulbs listed here — or find more alternatives — check out Smart Bulb Reviews.
Do you use smart bulbs in your home? Are you planning to? Share your experiences with everyone in the comments below!