How do Smart Bulbs Works: Benefits and Best Brands

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Written By Dinu Sri

Dr H. T. D. S. Madusanka is an electronic expert with 10 years of experience, involved in the research and development of SMART HOME systems.

With the increasing popularity of technological changes and automation in everyday life, the living space and office space have improved.

In this regard, the lifestyle was improved more efficiently and intelligently, and the smart bulbs and lighting became more popular.

Smart bulbs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations. With smart bulbs, you can decorate your living room, kitchen, bedroom etc.

The use of smart bulbs can add a gorgeous look to your home.

The smart light is a relatively simple item that can have a significant impact on space and a sense of life. Smart lighting is lighting that you can control from an app, usually on your Apple or Android phone.

Smart lights can easily control wirelessly. They differ from normal lights as they do not require manual control. Further, you can adjust the brightness of the smart bulb as you wish.

When combined with the appropriate smart switch, the smart light is smart enough to be used for planning. By connecting a smart bulb with a smart switch, you can trigger scenes, create custom settings, and turn on or off the smart bulb at specific times etc.

Some of the best smart bulbs available in the market

  1. Philips Hue
  2. Lifx
  3. Ikea Tradfri
  4. Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb
  5. Hive Active Lights
  6. Innr
  7. Tp-Link Smart Light Bulb
  8. Nanoleaf Light Panels Rhythm Edition
  9. Osram Lightify
  10. Sengled Element

How Smart Bulbs Works?

Smart bulbs just like regular standard bulbs. However, to make it work, you need a smartphone, tablet, or another mobile device.

In most cases, you need home automation hubs to operate your smart bulb wirelessly. Most home automation hubs use communication standards like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or ZigBee.

Hubs can then be connected with smart bulbs through apps on your mobile device, tablet, or computer.

What do smart light bulbs do: Benefits of smart home lighting

As the name implies, it is SMART, and they do much more than regular bulbs.

Here are just a few things that smart bulbs can do.

  • They can be controlled from anywhere

Some smart bulbs, such as the Belkin WeMo LED and GE Link bulbs, have a programming feature that allows you to control lighting when you are not at home.

A great safe option during the vacation as the house never looks empty. You can also turn on the lights or go home with the lights without wasting electricity.

Most lighting brands provide a hub that synchronizes all lights, so you can control both lights with one app.

  • They can be dimmed or brighten

One of the main features of smart bulbs is that they can darken or brighten a lot by using its app without installing a dimmer in your house. 

  • They change colors

Many smart bulbs allow changing their colors. This feature make a step higher than dimming a bulb.

Some smart bulbs have the ability to change their colors over a range of 16 million colors. We can select the exact color we want by tapping a color wheel on the bulb’s app.

Let’s see some scenarios you want a bulb that changes color.

  1. Want to warm up the feel of a room? Change your light colour to a golden yellow.
  2. Want to cool it down? Change your light colour to light blue.
  3. During parties, you can match the party theme’s colour with your lighting.
  4. In festival seasons, you can use your smart bulb as the theme of the festival. (During the holidays you can turn your smart bulbs red and green for Christmas etc.)
  5. Hate your wall colour? Change it without painting by adding a little blue, yellow, or red hue with a low-intensity setting to your everyday lighting.

  • Some can play music

Smart bulbs with built-in speakers can use as wireless speakers. Some smart bulbs have the feature of pulsating and change colors to match the mood of the music coming out of its speakers, and it acts as a party bulb. Ex: Playbulb Color

The only problem with these bulbs is that they are not very loud.

  • Reduce the amount of energy you consume

Instead of incandescent light bulbs, smart lights employ CFL or LED bulbs, which may minimise the amount of power used to light a space. Compared to a standard bulb, an ENERGY STAR®–certified smart bulb saves 70–90% of the energy.

  • Longer life span

750 to 2,000 hours is about how long the typical incandescent bulb lasts. Because they can run for 35,000 – 50,000 hours nonstop, LED smart lights are more energy-efficient.

Do smart bulbs use more electricity?

According to Energy.gov, smart LED bulbs use about 25% to 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs.

In practice, incandescent bulbs last only for about 1000 hours, with 90% of the energy used is converted to heat and only 10% used for emission of light.

Incandescent bulbs are economical but last for a short time. Before replacing a Smart LED bulb, you need to replace it many times.

In addition to frequent replacement of incandescent bulbs, in the long run, they wrote more money to incandescent bulbs because they are less efficient in terms of energy consumption than smart LED bulbs.

Smart bulbs are using energy when it is turned off also. However, they use a very little amount of energy.

Don’t worry; it is not bad, as you can see. Their energy requirements are very low and hardly visible. It consumes a tiny amount of energy as a single, smart bulb takes 2-3 months to consume 1kWh of energy.

This is less than two cents a month. Also, consider the cost of saving on electricity costs when switching from existing incandescent bulbs to smart bulbs. You can see how your energy costs are reduced.

How long do smart light bulbs last?

On average, a regular light bulb lasts up to 1,000 to 2,000 hours. Typical non-smart LED bulbs last for about 50,000 hours, depending on the product used.

The average lifespan of smart bulbs is 15,000 and 25,000 hours. If you want to read more about this, I have a full article based on this question. Its been written by using 31 bulbs rated lifespan. Read it here.

Do smart bulbs work with normal switches?

Yes. You can use a standard normal wall switch, already existing in the home, to control the smart bulb manually.

After replacing Smart bulbs with your ordinary bulbs, they still work with existing traditional switches. You can use that traditional light switch to turn a smart light bulb on or off, without any harm.

The only disadvantage is that if you switch off your smart bulb (with the normal switch), it is not allowed to do anything with the smart bulb’s app.

The answer is yes; One can manage a smart bulb directly with a standard wall switch like in a traditional house or remotely using a smartphone.

What do I need to use smart bulbs?

As already mentioned, smart LED bulbs are energy-efficient, can control through the internet and mobile apps, adaptable, and longer-lasting than existing traditional bulbs.

You can also control smart LED bulbs via an internet connection. This allows you to control and customize it on your smart device.

With a smartphone, you can turn the lights on and off, blur, change to any of 16 million colors, and instantly change the atmosphere of the room.

You can even use voice commands along with Amazon Alexa, Apple Home Kit or Google Assistant to control all lights in the house without having to move inches.

Do Smart Bulbs Work In Any Light?

Any current light fixture, such as an industrial kitchen pendants or a bedroom lamp, may be made smarter with smart bulbs. Whether you’re looking to brighten up a single bulb or a collection of light fixtures, these bulbs are a terrific option.

How Do Smart Bulbs Connect?

  • Do not forget to create an account if the intelligent bulb comes with a free app.
  • If required, synchronize and add the bulb you bought to the app.
  • Turn the light switch on the fixture and insert the light into the desired socket.
  • The light should flash three times before you can proceed. Connect your bulb to your wifi network using the app’s instructions.

Steps To Use Google Assistant to Control Smart Lights

Follow these steps to connect your smart bulb to Google Home and Google Assistant:

  • Go to your mobile device’s app store and search for “Google Assistant.”
  • To access your profile, click the profile symbol in the screen’s upper-right corner.
  • Add a new device by clicking on the Add button in the Devices section.
  • Select a device from the drop-down menu and click Connect.

How to Use Amazon Alexa to Control Smart Lights

If you would want to use an Alexa Voice device to operate your smart bulb, follow these steps:

  • Find devices using Alexa
  • Using Alexa, you can locate the devices you wish to connect to your network. You may begin the connecting procedure with a simple voice command.
  • Open the Alexa Voice app on your smartphone or tablet.
  • The three black lines in the upper-left corner of the screen indicate the Menu button to be clicked.
  • Enter the name of the smart device in the search area marked by a magnifying glass—Select Enable of Using after you have found the skill you want to add to your Alexa device.
  • Say “Alexa, discover devices” to get Alexa to look for the gadget.

Do Smart Bulbs Need Electricity?

Even though the electricity is off, smart bulbs require a little energy, but this will not show up on your monthly bill. Smart light bulbs cost around a cent or two a month on average. Vampire Power is the name given to this kind of power use.

Do Smart Bulbs Work Without Wi-Fi?

However, if you don’t want to use smart lights like Philips Hue while away from the house, they’ll still operate without an internet connection, because Hue employs an intermediate hub, things go a little smoother when you lose connectivity.

How Do Smart Bulbs Work With Switches?

Step – 1

For smart lights to function correctly, they need a steady power supply. Even if we turn the smart light off, it may still be switched back on later.

Step – 2

In other words, even when they’re turned off, smart lights still use little power. Like a TV on standby mode, it consumes very little power but can still react to the remote control.

Step – 3

We bring this up since not everyone knows it is a significant fact. You should not turn bizarre switches if you have smart lights with regular wall switches, which some people call “dumb” switches, to avoid misunderstanding.

The smart bulb will not be damaged, but you won’t be able to use the app or your voice to switch it on. Any automation procedures will likewise be unable to operate with this bulb.

Step – 4

This approach has several drawbacks, but at least it is visually appealing, which is more than can be said for a professional solution.

This permits the smart bulb to remain in “standby” mode when turned off, so it may be operated as usual. However, some individuals prefer utilizing smart switches since they do not have to hassle configuring their old wall switch.

How Does a Smart Bulb Work With Alexa?

Put in the light bulb first, then see whether the lamp has a dimmer switch. Older dimmers may be unable to manage the current demands of LED lighting. For now, ignore dimmers; you will have to deal with this later in your smart home setup.

Activate the Alexa app, and then wait a few seconds before turning on the light.

In the bottom right corner of the screen, choose “Devices.” The Devices screen has a few buttons at the very top. One reads “Echo & Alexa,” while the other reads “All Devices.”

The first reads: If you are fortunate, there’ll be a “Lights” button sandwiched there, too. It implies Alexa has installed your lamp on its own, so tap it. To get to the end of this article, go to the section “Final setup.”

Automatic Installation of a Device –

  • The setup is a bit more involved if you are not that fortunate.
  • “Add Device” is a menu option that can be accessed by swiping from the top right corner of the Devices screen. Along the top, you will find buttons for various standard devices and protocols.
  • You may need to tap “Light” and then the type of light you are attempting to install if yours is not among the options. Installing another programme could be necessary at this time, so pay attention to the installation instructions carefully.
  • It is easier to get started if, on either hand, the light bulb is listed under a famous brand towards the bottom of the “Add Device” setup page (as my Philips Hue light bulb was).
  • To access the configuration panel, tap on the relevant icon. I was asked whether the bulb was Bluetooth-enabled at this point. After July 2019, all new Hue bulbs are Bluetooth-enabled and include the Bluetooth emblem on the bulb and its packaging.
  • Hardware bridge installation may be required if your Hue bulb is an older model. It is easy to get started using Hue with Alexa. Open the Alexa app and look for the “Hue” skill. In all other cases (apart from the ones mentioned above), you should be able to use your Echo device usually. Built-in Zigbee hubs can connect directly to Hue lamps and many others.
  • “Alexa, is your firmware up to date?” if you have a newer Led bulb, check whether your Echo is up to date. If it does not, tell it to do so.
  • Turn the Hue bulb off and back on to ensure you have the latest firmware. Then, just at the bottom of a setup page, click “Discover Devices.”
  • You may see a light flash. When the Bluetooth bulb connection is complete, the app should display a screen indicating that it has been successful. If anything goes wrong, give it another go.
  • The screen will show a light detected when it eventually works. The light will be ready for usage when you press the “Set Up Device” button. Press the “Done” button when you are finished.

How To Connect Smart Bulb To Wi-Fi?

  • You will need a wall outlet to get electricity for your Bridge. Use an ethernet wire to connect the Bridge to the wifi network.
  • Add fresh bulbs to the lights that have been turned off.
  • Replace the outdated incandescent bulbs with Philips Hue replacements.
  • Turn the lights back on and see if that helps. They need to come on.
  • To access the menu, choose the three dots in the app’s upper-right corner.
  • Configuration may begin by pressing the Start button after the light is discovered. The light bulb may now be given a name and an icon.
  • Then, choose the rooms where you wish to place the bulb from the app’s menu. You will be able to control all the bulbs at once, rather than having to do it one at a time.
  • If required, repeat the procedure with each additional bulb.

Best Smart Bulbs for Google Home

Philips Hue

The Philips Hue smart lighting system continues to be a popular choice. Using a central hub, you can use Google Home to dim, schedule, and organize lights across your house. Music and PC synchronizing are just two of Philips Hue’s innovative capabilities that may genuinely make your house come to life. Hue includes various lighting choices, like light strips, corners fill lights, or outdoor bulbs, if you wish to increase your illumination.

Pros –

  • Accurately syncs music and PC
  • Set a timetable

Cons –

  • To function, a hub was necessary.

GE Lighting Cync

GE’s Cync family of light bulbs has been recognized as Made for Google, assuring a hassle-free setup and regular use. You can use Google Home to install the bulb even if you do not have an official GE app. Google Home and Android smartphones may be used to operate the bulb using voice commands after it is installed.

Pros –

  • Made for Google
  • No need for a native app

Cons –

  • The implementation of Alexa is terrible

The Kasa Smart Light Bulb

If you are trying to improve your home lighting without spending a fortune, Kasa bulbs are a great alternative. These light bulbs may be grouped, established routines, and controlled by voice using Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa with Google Home. With 800 lumens light brightness and a colour spectrum between 2,500K to 6,500K, you can depend on having all your lighting bases covered.

Pros

  • Colours that are all the same tone.
  • Features of voice control for Google Assistant are supported.

Cons

  • Wifi setup is a painstaking affair.

Best Smart Bulbs for Alexa

Smart Bulb with Full Color Display and Direct Connect Cync

If you’re looking for an easy way to put up just a few lights that you can manage through an app, Cync’s newest bulbs eliminate the need to connect to a hub altogether. Using Alexa’s voice control, the LED smart bulbs can be dimmed and changed to whatever hue or brightness you choose.

To protect your account, this software uses two-factor authentication. However, it may be a little sluggish on iOS devices. Each bulb may be kept white and set to a specific temperature, or the app lets you go around the colour wheel to get precisely the shade & hue you desire. Unlike other Alexa lights on our list, these bulbs do not have pre-programmed lighting sequences.

Pros

  • The app provides two-factor authentication.
  • Compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa
  • There is no need for a central hub.

Cons

  • iOS app performance issues

Abode Color Bulb

The Abode Color Light is Abode’s first foray into the world of smart lighting, and the company is recognized for its DIY home security products. Using the Abode app, you can dim and brighten the 800-lumen bulb remotely while having voice control with Amazon’s Alexa.

As long as you know what you are doing, Abode’s bulbs may be controlled without needing a hub. Using a hub is essential to use the scheduling functions that other bulbs already provide.

Putting just a few Abode Color Lights to your smart home makes sense if you have the Abode Iota Safety System that includes a gateway for home automation. The other bulbs in these recommendations, on the other hand, provide better value for money. Abode’s Color Bulbs come in a two-pack, which is another item to keep in mind.

Pros

  • Alexa & Google Assistant are supported
  • Beneficial to habitation ecosystems

Cons

  • Some fundamental functionality needs the use of a hub.

Best Smart Light Switch

Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer Leviton Decora

In terms of design, the Leviton Decora Smart wifi Dim resembles the classic paddle switch with a more oversized toggle on the right. However, this model’s installation is a little bit simpler. However, Leviton has also produced an Anywhere Dimmer (available separately) that allows you to install a backup lighting fixture without attaching any wires.

The Leviton Decora is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, August, and IFTTT, but it does not support as many smart home systems as Lutron. The Leviton app does not have geofencing as the Lutron app does. As a result, we don’t advocate utilizing it on its own unless you’re using HomeKit.

Pros –

  • Three-way switches are supported.
  • It does not need a central point of connection
  • Quite a powerful app

Cons –

  • No two-factor authentication

Brilliant Control Panel

Controlling your lights and other smart home devices like cameras, speakers, and more is now easier than ever with the Brilliant touchscreen switch. You can check in on your surveillance cameras, listen to music via smart speakers, and much more on the vast touchscreen. Changing the strength of the lights is as easy as sliding a smidge slider to one side. In the case that you have many light groups, Brilliant offers models with multiple sliders.

Pros –

  • Incredibly well-designed

Cons –

  • Expensive

Conclusion

Smart led bulbs are a terrific place to begin if you’re considering replacing any of your appliances with smart technology. Starter kits are low-risk investments that don’t need extensive installation if you decide they’re not for you.

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