After staying much the same for decades, lightbulbs have undergone massive changes in the last few years, first with the introduction of CFCs, then with LEDs and now Smart LED technology. LIFX is one of the companies leading the way in Smart Lighting, it debuted on Kickstarter in September 2012 where it raised $1.3m in just six days. One thing that sets LIFX apart from many of its competitors is that the bulb itself is Wi-fi radio enabled and you don’t need to use a bridge or hub with it. The LIFX bulb is Wi-Fi and mesh radio enabled and can be controlled via an app on your tablet or Smartphone, with the latest update it can also be controlled remotely over the internet from a computer, tablet or smartphone. I tested LIFX using an iPhone 5 and iPad.
Set up is very straightforward, you just unscrew your old lightbulb and replace it with a LIFX bulb. The bulbs are quite big and heavy (10.4oz), they fitted just fine in the lamps I used them in, but the size might be a problem in small light fixtures. The bulbs can be used immediately in your light fixtures as soon as you switch them on, but to access the smart features you need to download the free LIFX app. To set up a new bulb you first connect to its WiFi and then to your Wi-Fi network – it is very quick and easy. You can create different groups for your bulbs allowing you to choose whether to control just one bulb at a time, a group or bulbs or all your bulbs. With the update to LIFX 2.0 and above, the app also asks for an email address, this is used to set up a LIFX account in the cloud so you can control your LIFX bulbs remotely over the internet. To use all the new features I also needed to do a firmware update on my bulbs- this is done via the free LIFX Updater app , and can take 30 min+ to update.
One of my favorite things about LIFX is the huge array of color choices, making it very easy to adjust the lighting to suit the mood, you can choose from shades of white or colors. To change the color you just turn the color wheel and the brightness is controlled via a dial in the center. With the colors at up to 50% brightness they are vivid colors, above that white is added in so you get tinted whites. For whites there is a whole range of shades of white from warm whites through to harsher more daylight -like blue-whites, the whites also have a white color wheel to control them.
The LIFX bulb is brighter than most other Smart Bulbs on the market, at maximum brightness it puts out 1,017 lumens which is about the same as a 75W bulb, but only uses 17w. It is rated to last up to 40,000 hours or 27 years of use, it will be a while before I can tell you if it lives up to that rating!!
The LIFX app also allows you to use a number of special effect lighting styles- candle flicker, color cycles, strobe and music visualizer. The app has just undergone a major update and with it there is a new Smarts tab, IFTTT control, integration with the NEST Smart Thermostat and with NEST Protect. The Smarts tab lets you quickly choose a mood lighting by choosing from a variety of thumbnail pictures each representing a different mood. To use the IFTTT you first have to create a (free) IFTTT account and then you can access a community with a huge range of if then programming already created or create your own. Examples of ideas/ recipes you can find are: if you get a Facebook notification then flash your lights blue, if the sun is setting dim your lights to a golden yellow, if you are on vacation toggle your lights off and on to make it seem like the house is occupied. This gives a whole new range of ways to control your LIFX lights.
I have really enjoyed testing the LIFX bulbs, but at $79 each I’m not ready yet to invest in changing all of my home lights over to LIFX smart bulbs, instead I will be using them in strategic locations throughout my home. With the bulbs lasting for 25 years+ and using less energy than conventional lights the running costs will be significantly less than for conventional bulbs, so some of this initial outlay will be recouped over time.
I think over the next few years we will see more and more connected “smart home” devices and I look forward to seeing how they will integrate with one another. LIFX is now integrated with the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect and have announced plans to integrate with Arlo Smart Home cameras too. I love all the extra features these LIFX bulbs have compared to standard bulbs and look forward to seeing more and more features and partnerships added over time.
The LIFX bulbs retail for $79 for a single bulb with discounts for purchasing multi-packs and are available from LIFX.com, Amazon and other retailers.
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.