Smart Light Bulbs Overview

Smart light bulb
GE Link LED Smart Light Bulb with a 22 year life.

Introduction to Smart Light Bulbs

Smart light bulbs fill an important niche in the smart home for controlling certain lights that are not convenient to make smart another way. Lamps are a great example. Lamps are not connected to a wall-switch. So to make them smart, you need to either install a smart bulb or a smart plug.

Smart light bulb
A lamp is a great application for a smart light bulb.

I find that for lamps that get used a lot, it is nice to have a smart light bulb. When a smart light bulb loses power, it always returns to the on state when power comes back. This means that you can still operate the lamp switch to control the light. It also means house guests will also be able to operate the lamp without knowing it is a smart lamp. (Although if the smart bulb is off to start, they will need to flip the lamp switch twice to turn the bulb on. But most people do that anyway if a lamp does not turn on).

Why Not to Use a Smart Plug

A smart plug or smart outlet makes it more problematic to operate the lamp manually. A smart plug controller is on the plug. So when the controller is off, flipping the lamp switch will do nothing. Your guests will conclude the lamp is broken. Also, if the network goes down, you would have to operate the light using the toggle at the plug, which would be a pain.

Smart light
The lamps in my family room are behind the couch and hard to reach, making them an ideal place for a smart bulb.

A Few Smart Light Bulb Options

I used the GE Link LED Smart Light Bulb (shown above), which connects to my smart network through the Zigbee protocol. These bulbs use a standard light bulb socket, are dimmable, and are very bright. They are a little on the expensive side, but the LED bulbs are energy efficient and have a life of 22 years, so they end up being quite economical in the long-run.

Many people love the Phillips Hue line of smart light bulbs. These are great lights and are available in color bulbs. The downfall of the Hue line is that they are a bit expensive and require their own hub. But many people love the Hue line.

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