You might think light bulbs are a commodity, and to many, they are. Still, they're not all alike. Some have smart home features, some are super efficient, some change colour and some even have Wi-Fi! This week we're looking at five of the best light bulbs to save you money around the house, or customise the lighting to your mood, based on your nominations.
Title image by Diego Elio Pettenò.
LIFX does more than just light up your home — although it definitely does that. A Kickstarter success story, the bulbs are just part of a smart home package that gives you complete control over the intensity, colour and type of lighting in your home. The LIFX Original is a 17W LED bulb that supports multiple fittings, 16 million colours and works with services like IFTTT and other smart home appliances like the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect.
It's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, and can be controlled via your smartphone, either individually, one bulb at a time, or if you have multiple you can program entire rooms or zones with specific types of lighting. For example, you can set your bathroom to soothing, dimmer light, and your office with brighter, more energetic lighting if you prefer. They don't come cheap though. Each one will set you back just shy of $US100, although you can buy packs of multiple bulbs at a discount and also get free worldwide shipping on orders over $150.
The LIFX wins points for being incredibly versatile, and since you can control the lighting in your home from your smartphone at any time, you can have the lights up in your home before you open the door, program different areas of your home to suit your tastes, and that the mobile apps are available for both iOS and Android, which is a nice perk.
Cree gets a lot of love because their bulbs are energy efficient, dimmable, bright as all get out and still relatively affordable. It looks like a normal bulb, so you don't have something that won't fit normal sockets, lamps, or other fixtures. Plus they're dimmable, so you can use them in fixtures where you have dimmers connected — always a nice bonus. It lights instantly with power, so no warm-up time required. If you're not looking for tons of bells and whistles, these are a great buy — they're bright, get the job done and are incredibly energy efficient — especially if you want to try LEDs but don't know where to start for a basic, simple bulb.
They're quite durable. Once they're in a fixture they can get banged around a lot and take a lot of punishment, and they stand up like champs over the long haul. The Cree bulbs also support "Cree Connect," which supports Z-Wave and allows for compatibility with smart home systems like SmartThings. You can purchase one of these bulbs locally here.
BeOn's line of smart home LED light bulbs are great for lighting, sure, but they're really about improving your home safety and security. While other smart bulbs focus on customisation, these are designed to make it more difficult for outsiders to see if you're away from home, and to provide backup and safety lighting in case of an emergency. They have all of the basic features you'd expect, they're 60W equivalents at 800 lumens, dimmable and they still work with your normal fixtures and switches, even if you use the BeOn apps to program lighting schedules and turn your lights on or off remotely. Each BeOn bulb has backup power, so even in the event of a power outage or emergency you'll have some lighting and if your other home safety appliances — like a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector — goes off, the lights will respond as well so you can see your way out of the house.
The lights even learn your behaviours, and continue to light rooms like you would if you were home when you're away on vacation. The dining room will light up at dinner time, the bedroom will light up and the living room will go dark around late evening, and so on. They're not cheap though — a three bulb system is $US249 direct. But they're great at making sure your home is safe and secure even when you're not there. They can even light up when the doorbell rings, whether you're home or not.
Philips' 60W Slimstyle LED bulbs have a unique design. They still fit in all of the standard sockets and fixtures, but instead of being fully round, they're kind of flat. They may put some people off, but once they're in the fixture you probably won't notice it. Plus, they're cheaper than the other brands on our shortlist. The 60W equivalent daylight bulbs can be snapped up for under $30 in Australia, which makes them great entry points for LED bulbs if you're thinking about buying some. They get you that 60W equivalent on 10.5W of power, and are rated for close to 23 years of life under normal conditions. Plus, they're dimmable, so they can go in your favourite dimmable lamp or room fixture.
The Philips' 60W Slimstyle LED bulbs are great for natural-looking light, although some have pointed out that the unique design means they're best in enclosed fixtures, since they give off a little more light on the flat sides than the side of the bulbs. That can be a plus or a minus depending on where your lighting is in your room. Either way though, this is affordable, no-frills lighting that won't cost you an arm and a leg.
GE's Reveal lighting system is actually a series of light bulbs in different form factors and brightnesses, but most people settle for the 60W standard A19 bulb because of its affordability and versatility. It's a 60w equivalent bulb that only uses 11W of power, will set you back about $35, and is rated for use in damp environments, indoors and outdoors. GE holds the Reveal series up on its natural, bright lighting and their durability and long life. The company also claims that their Reveal bulbs actually make your lighting better, bringing out colours and patterns you wouldn't see with traditional incandescent bulbs, and offering more nuanced lighting than other harsher LED bulbs. Plus, they're available in a myriad colour temperatures, fixtures, and styles. You can get soft white, bright white and daylight bulbs in the Reveal series, and even in this 60W model, so you have plenty to choose from depending on where you plan to put the light, and the type of light you like.
Have something to say about one of our top five? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Have your say in the comments section below!