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Friday, September 18, 2020

Ultimate buying guide for smart light bulbs

Energy efficient LED light bulbs with wifi are called smart light bulbs. Over the past ten years, rapid adoption in America has saved gigawatts of electricity. America’s shift to greener technologies began in 2007. Then, the Energy Independence and Security Act made energy conservation the highest priority. The light bulb industry responded by shifting from traditional bulbs to energy-efficient solutions.

Eco friendly smart light bulb
LEDs consume less energy and last longer. All have an extended heatsink housing that makes them look different than other bulbs.

Today, most retail lighting stores mainly sell LED lights. That’s because incandescent, fluorescent and halogen bulbs consume too much energy. They also contain toxic heavy metals. Plus they don’t last as long. Thus, these types of lights are getting phased out.

This article looks at the benefits of smart LED light bulbs. Then it explains how these can integrate into a home security system. It ends with some recommended smart light bulbs that you can buy on Amazon.

Smart LED light settings
Smart LEDs offer advanced lighting control using your phone or voice apps.

Some of these bulbs have built-in wifi, with no smart hub required. Download an app, screw on the lights, then control their functions using your phone.

Others integrate with home security hubs. These allow you to program extra security features into your system. For example, smart bulbs with motion detectors can shine a light on anyone who approaches.

What is a Smart LED light bulb?

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) generate light using electroluminescence. Compared to incandescent bulbs, Energy Star rated LEDs use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer. Today, LEDs dominate most lighting store aisles. LEDs are now available for most common light fittings.

A smart LED light bulb comes with built-in wifi. This allows the bulb to connect with a phone app or smart home hub. From there, users can control their lights remotely.

LED light bulb selling points

It’s easy to get carried away with new technologies and spend foolishly. For example, we know of one smart home enthusiast who has 167 smart lights connected to his smart home hub. He has the system trained to respond to various voice commands. Lights go on and off, dim and grow brighter on command.

Don’t get sucked into such frivolous gimmicks. Keep things simple by using LEDs for their strong points. This section explains those strong points in detail.

Energy efficiency

Energy Star rated LEDs use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lights. That’s because LEDs are more efficient at converting electricity into light.

Lumens (lm) indicate the amount of light emitted. Watts (W) shows the light’s energy consumption. When you combine the two you get lumens per Watt (LPW). This shows the amount of light created per watt.

Incandescent bulbs generate around 10 LPW. Fluorescent lights emit between 80-100 LPW. LED lighting is the most efficient, emitting between 100 to 200 LPW.

This means that a 4 watt LED bulb can generate more light than a 75 watt incandescent.

Eco friendliness

Incandescent bulbs consume lots of energy but only give minimal light output. Excess energy converts to heat that releases into the surrounding area. This is wasted energy.

LED lights produce more light per watt without wasting energy. Energy.gov predicts that by 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save 348 TWh of electricity. That equals the annual power output of 44 large power plants producing 1000 megawatts each.

By cutting power consumption, power plants burn less fossil fuels. This reduces the amount of harmful CO2 emissions getting released into the air.

Beyond energy savings, LEDs are less toxic than traditional bulbs. Halogen, incandescent, and compact fluorescent (CFL) contain lead and mercury. These are two of the most toxic heavy metals in the world. Dumping these bulbs into landfills lets lead and mercury leak into groundwater supplies.

Thus, traditional bulbs consume more energy and contain toxic heavy metals. LED lights produce more light with less power consumption. Plus, LED lights do not contain any harmful metals.

Cost effective

LED bulbs are more expensive up front, but cheaper in the long run. Heat causes bulbs to degrade faster. LEDs come with a heavy base that contains a heat sink. This pulls heat away from the LED, which slows down lumen depreciation. Today, the average consumer LED bulb available today will last 30,000+ hours.

Compare that to a typical incandescent bulb, which will last for around 1200 hours. That means you will need 25 incandescent bulbs to match the longevity of a single LED.

As a bonus, the price of LEDs has fallen sharply over the past few years. A single LED bulb used to cost over $100. Today, this 4-pack of General Electric LEDs costs $10.89, or less than $2 per bulb.

Smart LED functionality

This section looks at the key features of smart LEDs, especially those that pertain to home security.

Dimmable bulbs

Some smart LEDs provide dimming and brightening functionality without need for dimmer switches. All you need to do is screw a dimmable LED into an outlet and then dim or brighten using the bulb’s phone app.

For example, the Kasa Smart Wifi Light Bulb connects to your home’s wifi network. From there, you can use the Kasa Smart app to dim or brighten between 1% to 100%.

Kasa Dimmable Smart WiFi Bulb
Kasa Dimmable Smart WiFi Light Bulb. No hub required. Works with Alexa & Google Assistant.

This bulb also integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant. If you have a compatible hub, you can control everything using voice commands.

Buy Kasa Bulbs on Amazon Price not available

Dimmable Multicolor LED Light Bulbs

Multicolor LED light bulbs mood lighting in a house.
Multicolor LED light bulbs open up a world of mood lighting possibilities.

Multicolor smart LED light bulbs open up a world of mood lighting possibilities. Warm up the feeling in a room by changing lights to a rich yellow. Cool things down with a blue tint. Deck out your hallways in red and green for Christmas. Set bulbs to a certain color for dinner, for watching movies or when you wake up.

BERENNIS Smart Light Bulb
A BERENNIS Smart Light Bulb giving off golden light to enhance evening study time.

A good multicolor bulb to consider is the BERENNIS Smart Light Bulb. This is a wifi bulb with 16 million colors to choose from. No hub required. You can download the Magic Home Pro to control your lights from anywhere using wifi. The app also allows you to schedule lights to turn on and off.

If you have a smart home hub, you can connect BERENNIS smart bulbs to Alexa or Google Assistant. This allows for voice activated controls.

The BERENNIS Smart Light Bulb also includes IFTTT integration. IFTTT allows a range of added functions. These include:

  • Turn on lights once you start heading home.
  • Change the color of lights when it starts raining.
  • Automatically turn on lights at sunset.
  • Change the color of lights when your Domino’s pizza is in the oven (this uses Domino’s order tracker api).

Buy BERENNIS Bulbs on Amazon $25.99

Using smart LEDs for home security

This website focuses on home security. This section shows how Smart LEDs can enhance your home security system.

Beyond dimming and multicolor functions, some bulbs come with motion detection. Motion dection LEDs will turn on when triggered and then turn off after a fixed period of time. This will startle intruders who will assume it was the homeowner who flipped on a light switch.

Below we look at two of the most popular motion dection LEDs on the market. Both work without need for a hub or wifi connection.

Govee Motion Sensor Light Bulb

Govee motion detection smart light bulb

This bulb has a built-in PIR infrared sensor. If it detects movement within 16.4 – 26.3ft , the bulb turns on. If no more movement is detected, it shuts off after 30 seconds.

It also comes with a dusk to dawn sensor. If it detects motion during daylight it won’t turn on. This allows for even greater energy savings.

Out of the box, the 12W Govee gives off 1200 lumens of brightness. That’s the equivalent of a 100W incandescent bulb, while using 90% less energy.

Buy Govee Bulbs on Amazon $19.99

Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor

Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor

The Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor is a nifty outdoor floodlight. It’s one of the few motion dection LEDs that works with Alexa, Google and SmartThings.

Its built-in motion sensor has a 30-foot range. If motion is detected, it automatically illuminates for 90 seconds. Like the Govee, it comes with an integrated daylight sensor. This ensures that the light does not turn on during the day unless directed to do so.

Using Alexa or Google Assistant brings added control. Set schedules, turn on or off and control brightness using voice commands.

Buy Govee Bulbs on Amazon $29.99

Conclusion

This article covers a lot of ground about the benefits of LED lights paired with a smart home hub.

The alternative is to manage your smart LED directly from your phone. Download and install the app. Purchase the bulb. When it arrives, screw it into your desired light fixture and turn on the app.

Whether you are into smart home tech or not, smart LEDs in key points around your home is a no-brainer. They will last longer, use less electricity and provide just as much or more light than traditional bulbs.

What’s more, app controls let you turn on, turn off, dim and brighten on demand. Bulbs with color control let you manage that aspect also. If connected to a smart home security hub, smart LEDs have even more potential.

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