If you don’t have a smart home ecosystem or, have never bought or, used any smart devices, a smart bulb is the best place to start – guaranteed. Whether you’re using an iOS or Android mobile device, you can pick up a smart LED bulb, easily set it up and, have your very first smart device up and running in all its glory! This article aims to help you choose the best smart bulb for you.
How do smart LED light bulbs work?
Smart bulbs are WiFi or Bluetooth enabled and can be controlled from an app on your iOS or Android phone. You can use your phone’s voice assistant (Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana) or Alexa, to control the smart device in a wide range of mind-blowing ways, including switching the light on and off, changing the colour or dimming it out.
Some of the more high-end bulbs such as the LIFESMART bulb have advanced functionalities such as the music mode which will change the colours to match music being played. Whatever your needs and budget, there is a smart light bulb for you but, you need to know what’s available first and that’s what I hope to help you with here.
Top 3 things to know BEFORE you buy a smart bulb
- You need to choose a platform if you want voice control. This can either be Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. If you have either an Android or iOS phone you can choose almost any smart bulb and it will work so, you can quickly move on to the next thing you need to know.
- You may need a hub for Bluetooth only devices. A smart bulb transmits and receives wireless signals that tell it what to do. Some light bulbs can connect to your WiFi router directly if they have an in-built WiFi radio while others use Bluetooth to communicate with your phone which obviously has a serious distance limitation which you will need a hub to overcome.
- The more lumens the better. Since you can adjust the brightness of the smart light bulbs using it’s respective app, it’s better to get a stronger light and dim it if needed. Many smart lights are simply not powerful enough and you may be disappointed.
I’m going to list a range of possible features that your smart bulb may have, but remember that individual features may or may not be available on the particular bulb you wish to buy, remember to check its features before making a purchase.
Why you should get a smart bulb
- Since we’re a security site, first things first – SECURITY. With smart bulbs you can forget about boring light timers and set your lights to turn on and off, making it look like you’re home even when you’re away-and that’s awesome.
- You can control your light bulb from anywhere using just your phone
- Forget day/night sensors and light timers – with a smart bulb you can pre-set all these features using your phone
- Switch your light bulb on and off
- Adjust from a white to a yellow hue
- Adjust brightness or allow the bulb to progressively dim out
- Transform your home and create the atmosphere and mood you want in seconds
- Change the colour setting (most smart bulbs can manage up to 16 million different colour settings)
- Set a schedule for your bulb to automatically switch on and off or adjust with the natural light outside (this is called .
- Smart bulbs are LED, making them more economical and longer lasting (most smart LED bulbs will last for 20,000 hours)
How to set up your smart LED WiFi bulb
Setting up your smart bulb is pretty straight forward but what you will need to do will depend entirely on which product and set up you opt for. Once you purchase your smart bulb you should read the instructions and follow them to get set up but, here’s a summary of setting up the average smart lightbulb:
- Remove the bulb from the box and ensure it is in perfect condition
- Remove your set-up instructions leaflet from the box, or check the box for set up instructions
- Visit Google Play Store or Apple Store and search for the app linked to your specific device (for example Yeelight) or scan the QR code on the box using your phone and you’ll be directed to the correct app
- Install the app and set up an account if necessary
- Install your physical light bulb into a socket and switch the light on
- The app may show you a list of devices, choose your product and then add or register it (light may blink when you add it)
- Add your WiFi password to connect the light bulb to your WiFi
- Once ready you will be able to control your smart light, add an on-off schedule, adjust colour and brightness and more
Where to buy SMART light bulbs in South Africa
These days the best and most secure place to purchase any home or DIY product is online. Many companies offer free delivery and you can skip a painful shopping. Most online retailers including Take a lot and Builders Warehouse sell smart light bulbs and will deliver them straight to your house.
Product #1: BNETA Smart WiFi LED Bulb
In summary: Best introductory LED smart bulb on the South African market since it is WiFi enabled and you do not need to buy a hub. You can download a free app to control it and it can be voice controlled using Alexa or Google Home. You can purchase the screw in or pin version at around R300 for 800 lumens which is not the brightest but will do its job.
Where to buy: Bneta smart bulb
Product #2: Connex Connect Smart Technology LED Bulb
In summary: 16 million colour options, can connect directly to your router so no hub is required and can be voice controlled with Amazon’s Alex or Google Home (for those with iPhones you will need to use the app). Connect via the free app on your phone. 1050 lumens, which is one of the strongest smart bulbs I’ve come across. Price wise it’s also the cheapest coming in at R265 at time of writing.
Where to buy: Connex smart LED bulb
Product #3: Xiaomi Yeelight Smart LED Filament Bulb
In summary: More expensive than the other options discussed so far but offers a decent 800 lumens which is what I think you should get, at the very list. This is one of the best (and only) options for iOS users who want to control their lights using Siri. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant as well as MiHome will work with this bulb. You do not need a hub as it features built-in WiFi amd can enjoy 16 million colour options and 25,000 hours of operation.
Where to buy: Xiaomi Yeelight smart LED
Product #4: Mipow Lite Rainbow Colour Bluetooth Smart Bulb
In summary: Both iOS and Android devices supported. Smart bulb is Bluetooth enabled with a 10 meter range. To control bulb from anywhere you will need to purchase a hub. You can download the PlayBulb X App to control the smart bulb. Offers up to 16 million colour variations. 280 lumens means the bulb is not very strong and it costs almost twice as much as the BNETA bulb. Price at the time of writing is R565.
Where to buy: Mipow smart bulb
Product #5: LIFESMART Blend RGB LED Light Bulb by Syntech
In summary: This is one of the more high-end and advanced smart light bulbs available on the market and comes in at R669.00. It also has 16 million light variations, and 3 fun dynamic light effect settings including music mode which allows the colours to change in sync with the music being played. Since it is Bluetooth enabled, you will need the SMARTLIFE HUB to enjoy it’s full functionality but it has a 20m range which is better than the other Bluetooth options.
Where to buy: LIFESMART light bulb
What do you think of my top 5 smart bulb list? Do you have any of these smart lightbulbs in your home? Let us know which and what you experience of them was in the comments below, your fellow South Africans will appreciate it!