Image of Philips Hue smart light kit
Philips Hue

5 questions to ask before buying a smart LED bulb 2016

A smart LED light bulb generates light from computer chips, doing more than cooly and efficiently light up a room – and performing a variety of lighting and non-lighting tricks.

Like GearBrain on Facebook

Last Updated: August 23, 2016

To remotely control a smart LED bulb from its app, you'll need to incorporate it into your home Wi-Fi network or, in some cases, pair it with your smartphone via Bluetooth.

Prices on smart LED bulbs will range widely, depending on whether you buy them individually or as part of a kit and the bulb's beyond-lighting capabilities.

So here are five questions to ask before you buy a smart bulb to use in your home:

  1. What's the wattage?: LED brightness is measured not in watts but lumens. Check the bulb package to see if there's an incandescent equivalent. But, generally speaking, an 800-lumen LED = a 60-watt incandescent, 1100 lumens=75 watts and 1600 lumens=100 watts.
  2. How many colors? LEDs can often emit multiple colors and shades of light, including warm or cool whites to mimic incandescent or fluorescent color temperatures. The more colors or tones the app or bulb can create, the more fun you'll have.
  3. Can I dim? Most smart LED bulbs can be dimmed regardless of what kind of socket they're screwed into while some require a dimmer socket. Note, however, that others won't dim at all if they detect the presence of a dimmer switch. Your best best? Avoid dimmer fixtures and buy a smart LED bulb that you can dim through its app.
  4. Are the bulbs compatible with other smart devices? Great question. You definitely want to know if the smart LED bulbs you're considering operate independently via their own app, or can it be incorporated into a larger smart system. Ideally, you'll want to ppt for an LED smart bulb with at least ZigBee or Z-Wave compatibility.
  5. Are there any extra features? Smart LED bulbs can come equipped with a number of extra perks. There are versions that can double as a Bluetooth speaker, others include a built-in security camera, some act as a Wi-Fi repeater, and the new BeON system is modular so you can add a variety of non-lighting capabilities.

Photo of Philips Hue outdoor LED light stripSome smart lighting can also be installed outdoorsPhilips

And if you do buy smart LED bulbs, make sure you use them correctly. You can learn more about how to use smart lights from GearBrain's Smart Light Bulbs Have A Big Achilles Heel.

If you need help installing smart LED bulbs, you can visit to find a local trusted professional.

Like GearBrain on Facebook
The Conversation (0)

GearBrain Compatibility Find Engine

A pioneering recommendation platform where you can research, discover, buy, and learn how to connect and optimize smart devices.

Join our community! Ask and answer questions about smart devices and save yours in My Gear.

Top Stories

Weekly Deals