Smart homes are still currently a thing of the future but recently we have seen more and more companies creating products that fit right into this category whether it’s fire alarms, thermostats and even light bulbs. Today I’ve got a LIFX Wi-Fi LED bulb which can be controlled from your smartphone and comes packed with features.
The LIFX bulb is 5.3 inches long which makes it much bigger than that of its competitors with the Philips Hue measuring just 4 inches in length. In terms of the design the LIFX bulb has a plastic body and with the LEDs also being covered by a thin white plastic. In terms of colour choices you can choose between a body colour of Pearl White or Gunmetal Gray. The rounded design looks great and in my opinion would be the best looking if it was scaled down just a little – but it definitely does have the first class look.
At maximum brightness the bulb produces 1,017 lumens and uses 17 watts to do so, in comparison with your standard 75 watt incandescent bulb which produces 1,055 lumens. This makes the bulb 4x more efficient than your standard incandescent bulb. The LED light bulb is multi-coloured and can produce up to 16 million colours. Normally you would see a drop in brightness when switching to a different colour other than white light but the LIFX cleverly boosts this by adding white light and although it still isn’t as bright the difference is much less noticeable.
The LIFX actually has 3x the amount of diodes that the Philips Hue has and therefore really can heat up. To help prevent this there are additional heat sinks installed to help prevent the unit from over heating, although we still wouldn’t recommend using in small, enclosed spaces. With all of these components packed in, a single LIFX bulb weighs 295g which is by no means lightweight. With 4 hours usage per day the bulb should pay for itself in around 4-5 years while also reducing greenhouse emissions by ~80kg per year.
The bulb comes in both the Edison Screw and the Bayonet variety, with a soon to be released Downlight bulb which can currently be pre-ordered. (08/07/2014).
Installing the bulbs is incredibly easy. As soon as you screw in the bulb it should light up. You can then go ahead and download the LIFX app from the Apple app store or the Google Play store. All instructions on how to pair with your bulb(s) will be shown within the application and is very easy to do. When the LIFX bulb first receives power it will begin broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal. Simply go into your Wi-Fi settings and join the network as you would any other wireless network. You can then go back to the LIFX app and reconnect to your original wireless network. If you’ve multiple bulbs then you can also control them all at once. From start to finish the set-up process took a couple of minutes which is relatively good.
Within the LIFX app you can change a range of options including the colour settings. The application uses an easy-to-use colour wheel which allows you to choose a certain colour but also which shade of white you’d like. Other options include creating groups which gives you the option to name them as different areas through your house or building. You can then control these groups individually and give them each different settings. LIFX have also included the scene feature which is seen in the Philips Hue. This allows you to create presets and save them for later use. I also have wall mounted dimmers installed in my house but unfortunately the bulbs aren’t compatible, however you can use the app to dim your lights.
Unfortunately the LED bulbs do not support geofencing either.
One feature we did love was the interaction with music. The bulbs use your phones microphone and active the lights to randomly change the colour/brightness with the beat of the music. It needs a little improvement however as the lighting seemed to lag behind the beat a little. There are many features that the LIFX lack which hopefully in the future we will see implemented including integration with IFTTT (If This Then That) and also internet events triggering. However if you have any Nest products installed in your home such as the Next Protect or Thermostat then the LIFX bulbs will seamlessly integrate with these. If your Nest Protect happens to be set off by a fire then your LIFX bulbs will flash red and alert you to any danger. This is incredibly useful for those who are hearing impaired and could save lives. Similarly when the Nest Thermostat switches itself into ‘away’ mode your LIFX bulbs can make it look as if someones home by automatically turning on and off your lights throughout the house.
Another great thing is that these bulbs do not need a bridge to be used unlike the Hue. This makes setting them up much quicker and simpler as its a direct connection instead of being bridged through another device. LIFX state that the LED head should last for 40,000 hours or 25 years.
A single LIFX bulb will set you back just shy of $100 which is incredibly expensive. In terms of performance stats though the LIFX seems to beat its competition in many different areas including life span and brightness. In terms of features of the smart bulb I think there is still a lot to be implemented and I would definitely like to see support for IFTTT. The product still seems to be in its earlier stages and once a few updates have been made I think the LIFX LED bulb could be a real success.
You can check out the bulb by heading over to their website using the button below.Visit the LIFX website