Tips Before Buying a Connected Light Bulb
Connected light bulbs can be used as part of a home automation system, provided they are compatible with other equipment. A connected light bulb can be turned on and off remotely. This first feature, which turns smartphones into luxury remote controls, is accompanied by many other options, depending on the model.
How a connected light bulb works
To the naked eye, there is no difference between a connected light bulb and a traditional light bulb… At least at the end. The lighting part remains the same from one bulb to another, but the bulb’s base, which extends the socket, is longer and encases the fragile luminous glass in a metal or plastic shell. These shells are part of the bulbs and can not be separated from them (it is impossible to connect a conventional bulb). The connection is made at the base, which contains electronic components to allow communication between the bulb and your other devices.
A connected light bulb can be controlled by a smartphone or a tablet. An application must be downloaded to take advantage of all the functions of the bulb.
Most of them communicate via Bluetooth, which implies not being too far from the bulb (about fifteen meters maximum) to be able to control it.
Others, rarer, connect via Wi-Fi or even via a Hub (an accessory used as a communication bridge), which must be installed in addition. These two options make it possible to turn the bulbs on or off from a greater distance (from the workplace, for example).
The different functions of a connected bulb
If remote switching remains the first function that comes to mind when talking about connected light bulbs, other options complement this offer.
The connected light bulb allows precise management of the lighting atmosphere. Switching from a working light to a subdued atmosphere, throughout the house, with a simple click is sometimes quite pleasant! It is also possible to modify the colour emitted according to the predefined scenario.
Programming according to the time of day
The light adapts to the time of day and to the instructions you have given. For example, the bulb gives off a soft light in the morning and gradually increases in intensity in the bedrooms. You can also simulate a presence when you are not at home.
Still, with the idea of strengthening and expanding your home automation system, the connected light bulb can synchronize with other connected equipment in your home.
The light turns on automatically when you come home at night and turns off when you leave your home. While this option allows you to gain in comfort, it is also a security support: the light alerts you to the presence of intruders.
The bulb can emit a light signal to let you know, for example, that a message has been received. This option is extremely useful for the hearing impaired (but not only), as it can also alert you in case of fire.
Some bulbs are also capable of diffusing perfume, essential oils or music, others are equipped with smoke detectors, cameras or act as a Wi-Fi amplifier.
Tips before buying a connected light bulb
Connected light bulbs are supposed to have a relatively long lifespan, so choose your model carefully! Before buying, check the compatibility of the dedicated application with your smartphone or tablet model and the type of connection: if you especially need to be able to control the bulb from a long distance, you will not opt for a Bluetooth model. The bulb’s mounting system must be compatible with your electrical installation.
As for the quality of the light emitted, you will not always need the same power, depending on the room. The intensity of most connected bulbs is variable. However, we speak of lux for the overall brightness provided (knowing that you need at least 500 lux to read comfortably). The higher this value is, the more powerful the proposed lighting will be.
Ask about the colour temperature in Kelvin (K): the higher the value, the more blue and cooler the light. The lower values correspond to a yellow-orange light called warm. For the consumption, expressed in Watt, know that the lower it is, the more economical the bulb will be.
Another important point is the angle of diffusion: the smaller it is, the more concentrated the light beam will be (to highlight a painting, for example). An angle close to 180° or more is recommended for more general lighting.
Finally, check the possibility of linking it with your existing home automation network and the number of bulbs that can be connected to the same system. This is an important consideration for larger homes.
Purchase and price of a connected light bulb
Connected light bulbs can be found in most home appliance stores, especially now that the leading brands installed in this sector offer their models. For more specific products with more particular functions, it may be necessary to turn to the Internet: not all brands have the same distribution channels.
The most economical connected bulbs are sold for less than $30. Others are offered at $100, or even $200 for the most expensive. When buying, check if a hub to communicate with your smartphone is also required: it can add to the bill and is not always included in the sale price of the bulb.