Feb 28 2017: Want to make your LED bulbs smarter? Before you start off, you should be aware that connected bulbs are expensive, even when compared to standard LED bulbs. However, it is a one-time investment, as these bulbs can function almost forever.
Alexa—Amazon’s cloud-based virtual assistant
Connected LED bulbs can make your life easy. You can not only use your smartphone to turn on your lights, but your voice, too. Amazon Echo will just let you do that. Now Amazon has less-expensive versions as well—Tap, Echo Dot, and a revamped Echo Dot. While Tap has a less-expensive speaker, Dot cannot play music at all, but both can communicate to Alexa—Amazon’s cloud-based virtual assistant. Third-party manufacturers can also integrate Alexa connections directly into their products. Alexa will help you control every room at the press of a button.
When your hands are not free to use your smartphone to turn on the lights, you can just say “Alexa, turn on the lights”. Here are some smart LED bulbs that Amazon’s powerful virtual assistant can control.
Cree Connected Soft White
Cree’s Connected LED bulb provides very soft-white light. It is a ZigBee bulb and relies on a hub to connect to your router and to Alexa.
Insteon A19 dimmable LED
Insteon offers two bulbs that can be connected with Alexa via an Insteon hub. While A19-style bulb produces 737 lumens, PAR38-style can be used in recessed lighting cans. Both models are dimmable.
LIFX White 800
LIFX’s bulbs are found in tunable white and tunable color, and in two form factors—A19 and BR30 for ceiling cans. These bulbs can be connected directly to the Wi-Fi router and hence, they do not require a bridge or gateway. LIFX also offers color bulbs in both A19 and BR30 form factors. These LEDs have integrated Wi-Fi adapters and can connect directly with Alexa with the help of Wi-Fi router.
Philips Hue White and Color
Philips Hue is found in color and white LED models, and also in light-strip form. Philips’ bulbs require a bridge that needs to be hardwired to the router to connect with Alexa. Philips Hue bulbs are available in in BR30 and A19 (white only).
TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Dimmable LED
These bulbs can connect directly to your Wi-Fi router and, hence, don’t need a hub to connect to Alexa. LB100 produces only 600 lumens of brightness. TP-Link’s LB120 bulb produces 800 lumens, and can tune the color from warm 2700K to 6500K. All the bulbs can be dimmed only with the help of an app or from the cloud; they cannot be used with physical dimmers.
Beyond connected light bulbs
Besides smart bulbs, you can also install smart light switches, which will be a little more expensive in the short run, but it will give you more comfort in the long run. You can install a cost-effective and smart dimmer switch and put a dimmable LED in the socket. The switch can also be linked to the door motion sensors so that the light turns on automatically when you enter the house or a room. Smart switches can also be connected to Alexa, through a hub. The smart switches can be connected to your existing wiring and can communicate with Alexa.
There are smarter power outlets as well that will talk to Alexa and allow you to control the lights in a room without even replacing light switches.