Connected lights and bulbs: we enlighten you on the subject

Who I am
Pau Monfort
@paumonfort
Author and references
Comment (18)

"More than 30 connected objects per household from 2020" announce the figures of GfK. Among them, the connected lighting segment (bulbs and luminaires) alone represents nearly one million euros in turnover in Spain (source GfK). What motivate manufacturers to support the offer. How to choose among all the models? We enlighten you...



Philips Hue connected bulbs, first marketed in Apple Stores, were the first to hit the market, soon followed by new players, some of whom offer hybrid products. The main players today are Philips, the leader, the Spaniards Awox and Bell&Wyson, Osram, Lifx, Sengled, Misfit... Based on LED technology, connected bulbs are sold in packs or individually and their prices vary between 20 and 200 €. 

Creating a luminous atmosphere, generating scenarios, using light as an alarm clock, signaling an incoming call by a color code, or even performing virtual guarding to simulate a presence, this is an anthology of what connected bulbs allow today. Linked to an application, they are controlled via the touch screen of the smartphone with which they are paired. But connected bulbs remain first and foremost bulbs in their own right; to choose them, it is necessary to take care of a certain number of criteria. What does connectivity really bring to lighting? Should you opt for Wi-Fi or choose Bluetooth? What is the impact of light on the body? We take stock of this case.



to read also: 18
NEWS: Connected bulb / luminaire

Led bulb and blue light: let's clear it all up!

At the beginning of 2017, a study conducted by INSERM caused a lot of ink to flow: the blue light from LED bulbs would be harmful to...

4 years ago

The characteristics of the bulbs

La technology LED

Whether white or coloured, connected bulbs are all based on LED technology, currently the best suited to accommodate connected electronics. The LED also guarantees energy consumption reduced by 80% compared to an incandescent bulb (for the same quantity of light), an optimized lifespan (25 years at the rate of 3 hours of lighting per day). Other advantages: most LEDs can be dimmed (provided they are marked dimmable), they heat up little and, unlike halogen, accept variations of EDF; an important factor for people who are at the end of the line and prone to voltage jumps.

Bulb brightness and power: do not confuse lumens and watts

The amount of light produced by the bulb varies from model to model. This is expressed in lumens (lm) and indicates the light intensity. The watts give information on the power, the quantity of energy consumed by the bulb. The higher the lumen value, the more intense the light.

Some landmarks : the intensity range is between 250 and 2000 lm. Users will choose higher intensity bulbs for rooms that need to be particularly well lit (kitchens, offices, etc.). 


LEDs can emit the same amount of light as a conventional bulb (filament) while their consumption is lower. This is why we often have equivalences (ex: 13 W equivalent to 60 W for a standard bulb...).


To read comfortably, for example, the recommendations of the Spanish Lighting Association recommend 500 lux (or lm/m², lumens per square meter on the ground).

color temperature

The color temperature is expressed in kelvins (K) and determines whether the light is said to be warm or cold. The higher the kelvin value, the bluer and colder the light. Lower values ​​produce a warm yellow-orange light.

Some landmarks : count 2000 K for a candle flame, 5700 K for natural sunlight at the zenith, between 2700 and 6500 K for light bulbs and finally between 2900 and 3000 K for a halogen lamp.

Color Rendering Index (CRI)

The color rendering index is based on natural outdoor light on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the CRI, the more natural the colors appear. For good quality lighting, it is advisable to use lamps whose CRI is ≥ 80 knowing that currently most of the luminaires present in our comparison are struggling to go up to 90 — none reaches 100.

The diffusion axis

The opening angle is also a criterion to take into account when choosing a bulb. The shape of the bulb determines the width of the light field. The light radius directly depends on the width of the bulb. The user must therefore take into account the width of the area to be illuminated; the ray of light from a spotlight is between 25° and 35° when other bulbs provide 360° light distribution.


What does connectivity bring to light bulbs and luminaires?

If connectivity has slightly increased the price of bulbs (a basic LED which costs €15 in white light will be twice as expensive in the connected version), it nevertheless brings new proposals. "Connected light bulbs can also contribute to additional energy savings by adapting the lighting as well as possible to use," says Christophe Bresson of the Philips Lighting department.


In terms of functionality, we are still in its infancy. The proposals are developed within the APIs where everyone brings their ideas and their contribution. "The limits are those of our imagination. In the long term, the bulbs will certainly be able to offer even more functionalities" confides to us Stéphane Bussat, the director of Awox.

The connected bulb interacts with the environment via smartphone, tablet or the Internet. If it potentially allows you to create scenarios within a house that you want to make "intelligent", connectivity also allows you to adjust the brightness and the color and/or white temperature to make it warmer or towards the cold according to needs or desires. The personalized setting can then be saved and offered by default when the bulb is turned on with a switch. As for the colored bulbs, they offer a palette of several million colors from which the user chooses his lighting atmosphere and adjusts it directly on his smartphone or tablet.

The connected bulbs are programmable, for example to serve as an alarm clock or to fall asleep in sunset light. They also provide for the automatic switching on and off of the light – provided that the smartphone is nearby if the connectivity is via Bluetooth – and possibly the simulation of presence – only if the bulb is connected to the network.

Some bulbs have an auto-ignition option: when you arrive home, the bulb detects the smartphone and turns on automatically.

Depending on the manufacturers and models, it is possible to connect more or fewer bulbs at the same time to switch them on simultaneously, create decorations, simulate landscape atmospheres... Other fun features also exist; Awox, for example, offers a disco mode that is supposed to light up rooms in time with the music.

Finally, connected lamps can also be useful for the hearing impaired, in particular by using light to deliver a message. This is what Convo Lights, developed by Philips, offers: an app that allows users to assign ringtones personalized light effects, but also to adapt the brightness in the room according to the messages.

Connectivity: Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi

The bulbs connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Each connection mode has advantages and disadvantages. If Wi-Fi is more expensive and more complex to install, it also offers more flexibility.

Most marketed bulbs operate via Bluetooth (BLE and Bluetooth smart). The manufacturers highlight the energy-efficient side of Bluetooth as well as the practical aspect of "ready to use" (plug and play): the user downloads the dedicated application, screws the bulb and pairs it with a smartphone or tablet. However, this communication standard is subject to restrictions: the range is between 20 and 50 m in an open field and it will be necessary to ensure the compatibility of Bluetooth Smart with the OS of older generations. 

Philips Hue kit 3 bulbs white/colour Introductory price €199

Note TechnologiesTips (4) read the test
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Darty Marketplace 123,99
How the price table works

Other manufacturers like Philips stand out from the competition and offer connected lighting packs sold with a "bridge" also called a "gateway". It is a box to be connected to the box of the house (in Ethernet) which makes the link between the lights and the smartphone, the tablet or the computer. If the installation takes a little longer, Wi-Fi pairing has the merit of solving range problems. Wi-Fi passes through walls and users can control their bulbs over 20 m away; including remotely. A bridge can be connected to 50 bulbs or lights and allows zoning (controlling several rooms or different groups of rooms).

The bridge (gateway) Philips works in Zigbee (open protocol designed to work with other home automation devices). Because, if Philips protects its patents, the manufacturer remains attached to the open format for consumer lighting. 

Finally, Wi-Fi pairing also makes it possible to create IFTTT scenarios. During a football match, for example, the bulbs can light up blue if the Blues have scored.

Some Wi-Fi bulbs can also act as a Wi-Fi amplifier. This is particularly the case with the Awox and Sengled Boost music bulb.

Awox StriimLIGHT Color WiFi Introductory price €149

(1)
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Fnac.com Marketplace occasion 45,00
  • Used Cdiscount Marketplace 45,00
  • Darty.com Marketplace occasion 49,99
  • eBay 116,56
  • Amazon Marketplace 119,00
  • Amazon Marketplace 119,00
How the Sengled Boost Pricing Table Works Introductory Price €50

Share your opinion
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Amazon Marketplace occasion 17,24
  • Fnac.com marketplace 29,09
  • Amazon 32,30
  • Amazon Marketplace 40,48
  • Rakuten 43,93
  • Darty Marketplace 47,72
  • ManoMano 47,74
  • Cdiscount Marketplace 51,73
  • The Redoubt 56,06
  • eBay 47,50
How the price table works

Hybrid bulbs: the trend of the moment

Bulbs come in all shades. The big trend at the moment is to combine the primary function of connected lighting with other functionalities and not just that of a Wi-Fi amplifier.

The Spanish manufacturer Awox is proud to have been the first to move towards hybrid lighting. “We use the bulb already connected to electricity and LED technology, which brings electronic circuits, to add software and intelligence to it and do something other than lighting through the bulbs. a real revolution" explains CEO Alain Molinié during an interview on BFM TV. Awox has notably marketed Bluetooth perfume diffuser bulbs, surveillance camera and smoke detector (€49).

Awox AromaLIGHT

Note TechnologiesTips (1) read the test
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Darty Marketplace 33,90
  • The Redoubt 33,90
  • Amazon Marketplace 57,80
How the Awox CamLIGHT Pricing Table Works

Share your opinion
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Amazon Marketplace occasion 117,99
  • Used Cdiscount Marketplace 155,00
How the Awox SafeLIGHT Pricing Table Works Introductory Price €50

Share your opinion
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Rakuten 61,89
How the price table works

Other market players have followed suit, such as Sengled, initially known for its LED lamps. Its hybrid bulbs incorporate additional functions: a JBL speaker for some and a Wi-Fi amplifier for others.

Sengled Pulse Introductory price €80

Rating TechnologiesTips Give your opinion read the test
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Amazon Marketplace 24,99
  • Cdiscount Marketplace 28,99
  • Amazon Marketplace 29,90
  • Darty Marketplace 46,28
  • Fnac.com marketplace 103,99
  • Amazon 141,51
How the Sengled Pulse Solo Pricing Chart Works

Rating TechnologiesTips Give your opinion read the test
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Amazon Marketplace 24,99
  • Cdiscount Marketplace 28,99
  • Amazon Marketplace 46,28
  • Darty Marketplace 46,28
  • Fnac.com marketplace 103,99
How the Sengled Boost Pricing Table Works Introductory Price €50

Share your opinion
Buy used: Buy new:
  • Amazon Marketplace occasion 17,24
  • Fnac.com marketplace 29,09
  • Amazon 32,30
  • Amazon Marketplace 40,48
  • Rakuten 43,93
  • Darty Marketplace 47,72
  • ManoMano 47,74
  • Cdiscount Marketplace 51,73
  • The Redoubt 56,06
  • eBay 47,50
How the price table works

The Spanish company Bell & Wyson also offers a two-in-one connected bulb: the BW 1.1 sold at €70. It works via Wi-Fi, allows remote control of the light and has a smoke detector capable of warning in the event of a fire.

Bell & Wyson BW 1.1

Rating TechnologiesTips Give your opinion read the test In the absence of offers discover
  • Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Best price: 40.59 € See the test
  • Xiaomi Mi Led Smart Bulb Best price: 19.98 € See the test
  • Philips Hue Bloom Best price: 79.9 € See the test
  • Awox SmartLIGHT Mesh GU10 Best price: 14.89 € See the test
  • Xiaomi Yeelight E27 9W RGB LED Best price: 25.9 € See the test
  • Philips Hue White Ambience Best price: 29.99 € See the test
See more offers

The impact of light on the body

While most connected lighting products are in the vein of decorative objects, remember that light and colors have a real effect on behavior and a direct impact on human functions such as vision, chronobiology or still the thymic state. Light regulates our mood and our energy. Some colors calm, others promote concentration. Poor light can cause headaches or eye strain.

During the day, the light of the sun vivifies us; at night, we are more reserved and lose our dynamism. This process is not only psychological: our eyes transmit light to a region of the hypothalamus. This is how active hormones such as serotonin are secreted. When the eyes perceive darkness, the brain secretes nocturnal hormones such as melatonin, adenosine and orexins.

A study conducted by the Spanish Association of Lighting classifies the effects of light into two categories: biological (on the functioning of the human organism) and psychological (mood and psyche of man). The influence of light on the psychological state of man is often highlighted by "seasonal affective disorder", the famous "winter blues". We also use treatments based on palliative artificial light (phototherapy or light therapy) to treat this depression. The patient is exposed for at least one hour a day to a special lamp with a light intensity of 5000 lux. The study also reports that light influences biological development in children. In the event of a lack of light, the latter can develop disabling pathologies: rickets, early or aggravated myopia...

Other scientific studies have also been conducted by two well-known personalities in the fields of sleep and vigilance, Damien Léger (director of the Sleep and Vigilance Center of the University Hospital of the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris APHP) and François Duforez (Sleep doctor). They tend to demonstrate that light improves learning at school. As part of their SchoolVision study, children were subjected to evaluations, playing on 4 lighting scenarios: Standard, with a light of usual intensity comprising a set of balanced cold and warm colors; Energy, where the light is of higher intensity and enriched with blue light (cooler); Concentration, where the light is even more intense and more enriched in blue light; Repos, characterized by a light of usual intensity enriched with warm colors (more yellow). It appears that depending on the lighting scenario chosen when the children have been subjected to various tasks, it sometimes promotes an improvement in the speed of work, sometimes a significant reduction in errors, without any effect on sleep time or on the drowsiness felt.

Audio Video Connected lights and bulbs: we enlighten you on the subject
add a comment of Connected lights and bulbs: we enlighten you on the subject
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.