When you’re looking to give the intelligence of your home a shot in the arm, lighting is an obvious starting point. The problem is, you might be overwhelmed by choice. Should you go for a smart bulb or a smart plug? What kind of smart lighting
fits your particular needs? Maybe going the whole hog with smart switches connected to other devices might be more to your liking? If you’ve wondered what smart bulbs can do, we’ll give you a sound overview today along with a glimpse of 3 of the best options at your disposal if you want the plug-and-play simplicity of a smart bulb. To kick off, why should you even bother spending your hard-earned cash on these costly bulbs anyway?
Why Buy Smart Bulbs In The First Place?
Maybe you’re thinking automating your lighting is nothing but pure laziness. I mean, how much effort does it really take to hit the lights? While this sentiment is understandable, there’s far more to smart bulbs than controlling your lights remotely or using voice commands. But make no mistake, these elements alone do make smart bulbs worthwhile. The other core purpose of home automation beyond convenience is security. With smart bulbs, you can make it seem like you’re at home even if you’re on the beach thousands of miles away. Smart lighting in all its form can save you money on your electricity bills as well. By building out your smart lighting to include motion sensors and occupancy sensors, you can kiss goodbye to heating empty rooms. So if you’re looking to make your life easier, save money, and ramp up your home security, it’s time to ditch those dumb light bulbs and to up your game.
What Can Smart Light Bulbs Do?
Smart light bulbs serve many purposes. Here are 5 direct benefits you can reap from upgrading your light bulbs.
- Give you the convenience of controlling your lights in-app on your smartphone
- Allow you to manipulate the lighting when you’re not at home. Make your house look like it’s occupied even if you’re on vacation
- Save you money by helping you use less electricity so great for your bank balance and the environment
- Work well with other smart home devices if you want more comprehensive home automation
- Ensure that you never stumble into a darkened house again fumbling for the light switch and spilling your groceries everywhere
Do You Need a Hub?
Not in all cases, no. The beauty of smart light bulbs is that many allow you to simply plug-and-play with no requirement for a hub or bridge of any kind. If you want to take this basic approach, buy the bulbs only after making sure the one you have in mind operates without a hub. If you plan to build out a deeper smart home or you already have home automation in place, you can increase the functionality of your bulb and get it working with other devices in your connected home. There’s no right or wrong solution to intelligent lighting. Take smart bulbs and build them out in the way that suits.
Do You Need Special Fittings?
Another key selling point with smart bulbs is that you won’t need any special fittings at all. You can happily slip these bulbs into most commonplace fixtures and fittings. As with all aspects of your smart home, make sure the bulbs you’re looking at are compatible with your lamps or light fixtures.
Controlling Your Smart Bulb
For the most part, you’ll control your smart bulb in-app on your smartphone or tablet. Since most people want voice control, the best smart bulbs work with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. Some bulbs don’t work with all these digital assistants. Again, check carefully, so you get exactly what you want rather than wasting your money on a bulb incompatible with your needs. Beyond these twin methods of remote control, you’ll also be able to physically hit the switch. If you haven’t yet invested in smart bulbs, that’s just a taster of what you’ve been missing.
3 of The Best Smart Bulbs 2018
If you’re looking for smart bulbs, the choice is mind-boggling. We’ll help cut through some of that chatter for you with a highlight of 3 of the best smart bulbs of 2018. 1) Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit
If you’re looking for a shotgun plug-and-play solution to smart bulbs, the Hue is not for you. If, on the other hand, you’re prepared to build out a smart lighting system around Philips products and you don’t mind investing in a bridge, this white and color smart bulb makes perfect sense. You can get everything you need, bridge included, with this neat starter kit. 3 bulbs come bundled so you can straight down to business. Since you’ll have the hub in place, you’ll be able to build out your lighting system to include Hue bulbs throughout the house while also enjoying seamless integration and communication with other smart home devices. We think the app is more than fit for purpose, but a particular body of users find it somewhat tricky so perhaps give this a try before you buy. If you’re prepared to invest in the Philips ecosystem, the traditional Hue smart bulbs really are hard to beat.
- 3 colored bulbs and hub are thrown in to get going straight out the box
- Add up to 50 lights and 12 Hue accessories from dimmers through to motion sensors
- Compatible with all major home automation systems and works with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant
- Some reported glitches with color changes
- App polarizes opinion with some users finding it awkward and tacky
2) LIFX WiFi Smart Bulb
You can use the LIFX smart bulb in one of two ways… If you want a no-nonsense plug-and-play solution to your lighting, pop in any bulb from the massive LIFX range
and you’re away with no need for a bridge. For a more robust approach, get your lights communicating with pretty much any other smart home platforms from SmartThings
and Nest through IFTTT and Alexa. Link your lighting to your thermostat so when the heating shuts down for Away mode, the lights will go off as well so it looks like someone is home even if you’re on vacation. Connect your lighting to alarm systems or even to Nest Protect
so you’ll be guarded against smoke and CO not just intruders. One of the key selling points of this LIFX smart bulb is that it can be as much or as little as you want it to be. For a fully adjustable and dimmable smart lighting solution, you can’t go wrong with LIFX.
- No hub necessary so plug in your LIFX bulb and get straight amongst it
- Enjoy the convenience of your house illuminating to welcome you home
- Compatible with just about all major brands so you can make your lighting work with other devices and appliances in your smart home
- Not the cheapest smart bulb but multipack represents reasonable value
3) Hive LED Smart Bulb
A cost-effective way to enter the world of smart bulbs, Hive bulbs come in an array of configurations to suit any smart home. Off the bat, you’ll need to invest in the Hive Hub
but that will enable you to control a broad spread of Hive products if you opt for their highly capable ecosystem. As with all the best smart bulbs, you’ll be able to take charge using voice commands whether you prefer the original Alexa or Google’s Assistant. This bulb is a smart move if you already have Hive products for your heating and hot water needs. In that case, you’ll have everything you need and can just pick up the bulbs you require. With 16 million colors at your fingertips, Hive’s energy-efficient and long-lasting LED smart bulb is well worth popping on your shortlist.
- Multiple types of bulb available from cool to warm and multi-color to dimmable
- Use Alexa or Google Assistant to control your lights by voice command
- Set multiple daily schedules so perfect for busy lifestyles and large families
- You will require a Hive Hub with this smart bulb
As you can see, smart bulbs are extremely versatile. Whether you want the simplicity of a single bulb you can program to dim at certain times of the day, or you want to take full voice control, whether you have multiple smart devices already or you’re just starting out, there’s something for everyone with smart bulbs. Automating your lights can help slash your electricity consumption while also ensuring you never return to a cold house again. Offering convenience, security and savings in one very appetizing bundle, the added bonus is that smart bulbs are really not that expensive. Sure, you’ll pay a little more than with a regular bulb. The thing is, does a regular bulb do any of the things we’ve outlined today? We rest our case and leave you to think about which bulb would work best for you and your family.