With the advent and the use of modern technology, every aspect of human life has seen a massive change and homes and commercial spaces are no different. These evolving technologies have brought about the use of smart bulbs to light up our homes and offices in a beautiful and smart way.
How long do Smart Bulbs last? On average, a smart bulb lasts for anywhere between 15 to 25 years or for 15000 to 25000 hours, whichever happens, earlier. So, they can last one entire phase of your life. Since they are made through the use of LED technology, they can last really long but have shorter lifespans than the non-smart LED bulbs.
But what makes them so long-lasting and what is a smart bulb in reality? Let us find out in detail.
What is a Smart Bulb?
The smart bulb is in simple terms lighting and fixture that can be controlled using wireless means and technology. These bulbs are different from the regular ones as these are automated and you just do not need to control them manually.
Smart bulbs can be controlled seamlessly by using remotes or through mobile devices. And once installed these bulbs can be used to create lighting and color effects that can add a beautiful ambiance to your homes. All of that can be done with the swipe and click of a finger on your smartphone.
The smartphone app or the remote control enables you to increase and reduce the brightness of the light as and when you want. You can use these smart bulbs to trigger customized scenes and schedule them to switch on and off at a particular time of the day automatically. It is one of the best and smartest ways of lighting your homes.
Imagine being under your blanket on a cold night and you have left your living room lights on. All you need to do is open your smartphone and turn off the lights from your smartphone. Its life made simple and more comfortable – thanks to modern LED technology.
How are Smart Bulbs made?
All smart bulbs are made using LED technology. Inside are LED lights full of small diodes. These diodes are light-emitting made up of semiconductor materials. They comprise of layers or electrons.
While one of the layers is full of electrons, the other layer is devoid of them. This difference in the electron counts between these layers makes them flow from the excess electron layer to the depleted layer which produces light through electronic excitation of diodes.
Since the semiconductor materials do not conduct enough electricity on their own, impurities are added to the semiconductors in the manufacturing process. This process of adding impurities to the semiconductor is known as doping. The addition of impurities enhances the quality of the light-emitting diodes. To power up the diodes, electrical wires are added.
Compounds of gold and silver are used in the LED components and wires since they can be soldered and can stand high temperatures.
Finally, to provide the required finishing the diodes are encased in plastic encasements and not glass materials as in the case of the conventional bulbs that makes them long-lasting and durable.
The design aspects are taken care of by expert designers and they take some creative liberty to create beautiful looking LED lights and bulbs to cater to the needs.
But how do these LED bulbs turn into smart bulbs? Chips and circuits are inserted into LED bulbs that make them WiFi capable which can then be connected to smartphones or gateways for control.
We will discuss how these smart bulbs are set up in the next section.
How Do I set up a Smart Bulb?
Smart bulbs and smart lighting systems are manufactured by many companies and every company will have some minor difference in setting them up but fundamentally the concept behind the setup and the process is more or less the same. And setting up the smart light is an easy DIY process. Let us take you through the steps to set up smart bulbs in detail:
Step 1: Decide on the make, model and type of the Smart Bulbs you wish to buy
There are many renowned brands that are nowadays into manufacturing smart lighting products. Choose the one that suits your needs and the place where you would be installing them. These bulbs usually cost around $20. You can see the Amazon bestselling model and price here. Check if the bulb you are purchasing needs a Hub or it can be installed without one.
A hub is like a wireless router that the bulbs may use to connect to the internet. Nowadays bulbs usually come with an inbuilt wi-fi capability and are usually capable of connecting with all kinds of smart devices such as Alexa, Google Assistant, etc. But you may want to check the compatibility before deciding on one. See Amazon bestselling HUB compatible with all mentioned smart devices by clicking the link above.
Step 2: Install the Smart Bulbs into the light fixtures
Once you have chosen the smart bulb you need, you can then start its installation. To do that you need to first fix your smart bulbs to the existing light fixtures.
Make sure that the fixtures and bulb holders are compatible with the smart bulb model. Many new smart bulbs do not fix to the traditional bulb holders and fixtures.
So, once you decide to “make your home smarter”, you will need to make sure that all the fixtures are compatible with the smart bulbs you plan to install. Once you have the right fixtures in place, fix the smart bulbs in those fixtures.
Step 3: Add the Smart Bulbs to the network
Now that you have fixed the bulbs, it’s time to add them to your home Wi-Fi network. Most brands have apps for Android and iOS platforms. And the links to those apps are usually available in one of the manuals itself.
All you need to do is download the product app and then add the product or the smart bulb you have purchased to the network.
At this step, turn on the power switch. The bulb shall blink thrice and then you will be prompted to click Next in the product app. Look for the section to connect the smart bulb to the Wi-Fi network. Different products have different ways to do it on the app but that is something you can figure out.
The above was for hubless smart bulbs. For bulbs that need a hub, you will also need to buy a smart switch or hub that acts as a router for all these bulbs.
So when you fix those bulbs in the fixtures and turn them on, you will have to simultaneously turn on the hub as well. All your smart bulbs shall find and pair to the hub which can then be controlled via the apps on your smartphone.
Once that is done your Smart Bulb will be ready and connected on the network.
Step 4: Add your Smart Bulb to Home Smart Devices
This is an optional step but since most of the homes nowadays have a smart device such as an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you must know how to connect your devices to the smart bulbs. We will cover the steps for both.
How to add a smart bulb to Google Home Assistant?
- Open the Google Assistant App on your device.
- Click the icon that reads “Options” on the top left-hand corner and then click on the Home Control option. Then Click on Add Devices.
- When you do an Add Device, the list of all devices on the network will be displayed.
- Select the smart bulb from the list and then add the device.
- The devices will sync to your google assistant app. You can sync all smart bulbs in the network if required.
How to add a smart bulb to Alexa?
- Open the Alexa app on your smartphone or the device you want to use.
- Lok for Skills under Menu and search for the required Skill or the smart bulb you have installed. Click on Enable Skill.
- You can either ask Alexa to discover the devices or you can do it manually by clicking on the Discover Devices option in the Smart Home section of the app.
- Once the smart bulbs are discovered by Alexa the lights will start featuring under the smart home section of the app where you can create group assignments that allow them to be controlled, turned on and off in groups rather than doing it individually for each light.
Alexa and Google Assistants both are a versatile way of controlling the smart bulbs as everything can be affected by the use of voice commands. You can dim the lights or change the hues – it creates unlimited possibilities for you to make these smart bulbs work the way you want.
How do Smart Bulbs work?
So by now, it might be somewhat clear as to how these smart bulbs work. Once it is all set up and installed these bulbs can be controlled effortlessly from the native apps or through smart home control devices such as Google Home and Alexa.
More often than not, a smart home hub is required so that the smart bulbs can be operated wirelessly. These hubs use communication methodologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, etc. And then the hub can be connected to your respective mobile devices, PCs, and tablets.
Pay Attention: Some of the brands may also want you to buy their special gateway for wireless use. This is usually a separate piece of hardware or a box that is required to be purchased separately.
This is needed to ensure communication with smart bulbs and pass commands. At the same time technology is changing so you may find them releasing a new version which works without this extra component. For instance, the Philips Hue Bridge was required for Philips Smart Bulbs year ago but now with new lights are not needed anymore.
Smart bulbs whether they are app-controlled, smart home hub controlled or bridge controlled can be played with the way you want. Some of the features are:
- You can dim the lights
- Set the right brightness for the right place
- You can form groups and turn them off all at once or turn them on.
- you can choose which ones are to be left on and which ones are to be turned off.
- Smart Bulbs can even be voiced control through the means we mentioned earlier by telling them how to be.
Isn’t this amazing way of making your lights work? With smart technology setting, accent and Ambient lights become an easy task.
Difference between Hub and Hubless bulb?
Hub bulb is a prerequisite with certain brands to get separate hardware or an access point to which all the smart bulbs could connect. When the hardware, in turn, on, the bulb can then access the WiFi network.
So in such cases, all the smart bulbs interact with the hub and the hub or the bridge is app-controlled through a mobile or a smart home device such as Google Assistant or Alexa.
Hubless bulbs, on the other hand, are bulbs with in-built WiFi capability and they can be controlled via the native app directly without any bridge. Since most buyers do not like to invest in a separate bridge hubless bulbs are preferred over the ones that need a hub.
Having too many hubless bulbs on your WiFi network means your access points and WiFi bandwidth that you may need for other mobile devices may get consumed.
For instance, if you have 5 smart hubless bulbs, there will be 5 different devices connected to your WiFi network which however would show as only one in case of a Smart Lighting system that uses a hub.
Are LED bulbs worth the money compared to incandescent bulbs?
Well, the answer to that question is a big Yes!
We already talked about the lifespan of a smart bulb. A smart bulb is an LED bulb and compared to its 25,000 hours a normal incandescent bulb lasts for up to 1200 hours. This simply means that 1 LED smart bulb is equivalent to 21 incandescent bulbs.
In terms of energy efficiency as well a 10 Watt Smart LED light will do the same kind of work that a 60 Watt normal incandescent light does which simply translates to you saving a lot on energy bills and reducing the carbon footprint as well.
Yes, the upfront costs are on the higher side, but if you can ensure efficient and wise use of your LED bulbs, you can certainly save a lot on your bills that is eventually going to make up for the costs that you incurred when setting up your smart lighting system initially.
Tips for picking the right Smart Bulb
Now that we have covered almost all aspects of Smart Bulbs, let’s quickly list some tips that will help you to select the best one:
- First thing is to consider the purpose of the bulb as in where you would be installing it – living room, bedroom or kitchen, etc.
- Based on the purpose consider the wattage required, for instance, you might want a brighter light for the living room so get a light with higher wattage. On Amazon, you can find smart bulbs where you can change the brightness from 2700K to 6000. Check the price here.
- Next is to check if you are trying to create any ambient effects with the lighting and can appropriately choose color smart bulbs (link to Amazon) if required. For instance, for your bedrooms, you may choose a color light for the perfect mood.
- Then, of course, consider the connectivity and compatibility of the device with your smart hub device (link to Amazon) or if you plan to buy any with the device you plan to get.
- And last but not least, check the prices.