Adding automation into everyday lights is both easy and affordable. However, you may be blinded by the amount of smart light bulbs available these days. There are a ton of options out there!
This is a good thing. It can also be a confusing thing.
Let’s start with Insteon, which wants to set its latest release apart by recessing it into the ceiling. The PAR38 LED Light Bulb for Recessed Lights is just what it sounds like. It’s a new recessed bulb that uses existing power lines and airwaves to communicate wirelessly in the home.
Once installed, the PAR38 can be connected to any of Insteon’s existing automation products. That way, you can have an easy wireless setup, without having to change out any switches.
If switches aren’t appealing to you, the PAR38 can be controlled via keypads, wireless mini remotes, and even your smartphone. If you want that remote control option, you will have to pair the bulb with the Insteon Hub ($129.99).
According to Insteon, the PAR38 uses just 12 watts of electricity. It also allows users to dim the lights, as well as set brightness levels and scenes. There’s even an option to set the “ramp rate,” which allows the user to determine how long it takes for the bulb to turn on and off.
According to Insteon, the PAR38 is designed to last approximately 52,000 hours. The PAR38 is selling now, with an MSRP of $49.99.
Tabu starts taking orders for $25 LuMini smart light bulb
Home lighting automation can be an expensive endeavor. Before you make that investment, how do you know it’s right for you? Well, besides, Insteon, several other companies are making it possible for homeowners to sample automated lighting through the power of the smart light bulb. Now a company named Tabu wants to make that option even more affordable.
The company just announced pre-orders for the LuMini. This Bluetooth-enabled smart light bulb is the latest in Tabu’s Lumen product line. That lineup includes the Lumen TL800, which is now selling on Amazon for $69.99 (MSRP). The hook on the LuMini is that it’s a red, blue and green bulb that’s both smaller and cheaper.
It can also fit into any standard light socket or lamp. Once installed, users can pair the bulb with a smartphone app and easily set the mood or just deliver a little light on a dark evening. Currently, the app works with iOS devices, as well as the Nexus 7 (with Android 4.3), the S4 (with Android 4.2), and Samsung phones with Android 4.3 and up.
Tabu is using Kickstarter for the pre-order process. A $25 pledge will reserve a LuMini for the first 200 backers. From there, the LuMini will cost an extra $5. The company plans to use the Kickstarter funds to get the app on more Android devices.
“Our goal is to make smart lighting accessible to everyone,” said Tabu CEO Kevin So.
Hands On: AwoX StriimLIGHT Bluetooth Speaker with LED Light
The AwoX StriimLight merges two popular tech trends in one. First it’s a Bluetooth-controlled LED light bulb. Smart LED light bulbs are a growing category for entry-level home automation and for energy savings. In addition the StriimLight is a Bluetooth wireless speaker; you can connect wirelessly to your smart phone (or any Bluetooth source, including tablets or laptops) to play music without a separate speaker taking up room on a table or countertop.
While it’s an odd-seeming product, for people who want don’t want standard tabletop speakers but still want to be able to play music in a room, the StriimLIGHT is a good solution. It is designed to fit in a standard light socket, but the product itself is a little large, so it might not work in tight overhead light cans or lamps with small shades.
I put it in a room lamp that’s designed to throw light up toward the ceiling. That’s an ideal kind of lamp to take advantage of the LED light bulb part of the StriimLIGHT, though maybe it’s not the best for sound dispersion. Still, let’s face it, if you’re using a light bulb for your speaker then you’re more focused on convenience and aesthetics than on high fidelity.
If you’re new to smart lights or wireless Bluetooth, the StriimLIGHT shouldn’t be intimidating. Once you screw it into the light socket, switch the lamp on, then go into your smart phone’s (or other device) Bluetooth settings and wait for the StriimLIGHT to show up on your devices list. Pressing the name will connect it. That’s about it. To play music just go to your music source, select play and you’ll hear music from the lamp.
Unlike most other smart light bulbs, the StriimLIGHT doesn’t require an additional app to operate. The light part of the package is controlled through a small supplied IR remote (which also has volume buttons). While you can control the volume with your connected phone, you can’t use your phone to turn off the light. You can always just switch the lamp off, but then you wouldn’t be able to stream music without switching the lamp back on. The remote also features a button that allows you to listen to music with the light off.
As a speaker, the StriimLIGHT sounds pretty good as long as you’re not expecting it to match something like a B & W Zeppelin. The 10 watt amp built into the StriimLIGHT is equivalent to the amps you find in some all-in-one projectors or smaller televisions.
What about as a light? The product actually works much better as a speaker than as a light. The 8 watt LEDs in the StriimLIGHT produce the equivalent of a 40 watt incandescent bulb. This is too dim to light up a room, but works as a lamp for a desk. If the StriimLIGHT is going to be the only light source in the room, you’re going to have a dark room. There’s also no dimming feature, which most smart light bulbs include.
If you’re thinking about using this as a wireless multiroom system, you’ll need to look elsewhere. You can’t connect multiple StriimLIGHTs to one phone and play the same music simultaneously or even different streams to each light. Bluetooth will give you one data stream to one source at a time. A Wi-Fi version coming later this year will allow both of those things.
The StriimLIGHT seemed like an odd idea when I first heard about it, but having tried it, I actually like the product quite a lot. It’s perfect for places that don’t have space for another music system, such as a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom or dorm. My teenage daughter adopted the product right away and loves showing it to her friends. It’s a speaker that won’t get in the way or be knocked off her dresser.
Awox StriimLIGHT ¨Bluetooth Speaker and LED light bulb¨$99