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New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.

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New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« on: June 06, 2016, 01:14:36 pm »
Hello all. I got my Echo yesterday and I totally love it. Now I'm ready for the next step. At first I was looking at smart outlets but now I'm thinking that something like Phillips Hue or LIFX is the way to go. I'm leaning towards the LIFX Color 1000. The online reviews with Cnet and others are amazing but there's some reviews on Amazon that say there's wifi connectivity issues with these bulbs. I really like the LIFT because there's no need for a hub.

Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated!

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 02:19:57 pm »
I'd say Hue all day, and twice on Sunday.  Requiring a hub is a small price to pay for the reliability, effectiveness and automation capability that the Hue system brings to the table.  Plus, the per-bulb cost (at least for standard white, non-color bults) for Hue is substantially lower than for LIFX, especially when you factor in the fact that some other Zigbee-based bulbs, like GE Link, are compatible with the Hue hub.  Also, if you're looking to implement any automation, the lack of a hub means that you either need to have a phone or tablet dedicated to controlling your lights via an app, or utilize a 3rd party internet cloud service like IFTTT.  With the latter your automation is dependent on unfailing internet connectivity, and with the former it means dedicating a tablet or other iOS/Android device to being at home and always-on.  A hub is a much better way to go.

Of course, if you think your foray into home automation is likely to extend beyond just light bulbs then you really ought to be thinking about a more flexible and generalized solution (SmartThings and the like).

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2016, 03:03:51 pm »
Thanks for the suggestions. The reason I'm tending to lean more towards LIFX are a few things. First, the reviews I've read and seen on Youtube mention that the bulbs are brighter, last twice as long, the app is very easy to use and the colors are much truer and more vibrant. The one advantage I see with Hue would be Siri integration so I could turn the lights off from upstairs if Alexa can't hear me. I just have so many things connected to my router as it is that I wanted to avoid the whole hub thing but I will investigate the Hue more closely.

I would appreciate more thoughts or opinions from anyone who has experience with either!

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2016, 03:07:50 pm »
Do you plan on using the color bulbs, or just white ones?  Or some combination of the two?

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2016, 03:18:33 pm »
This is what I was considering.....

http://www.amazon.com/LIFX-Adjustable-Multicolor-Dimmable-Required/dp/B0161IJ55U%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJIYMMIJN7RU7KVJQ%26tag%3Dreviewedcom03-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB0161IJ55U

I'm assuming that I would be able to group them so I could say "Alexa, turn off the living room lights" or just change one or even the colors with my Echo. 

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2016, 03:42:37 pm »
This is what I was considering.....

http://www.amazon.com/LIFX-Adjustable-Multicolor-Dimmable-Required/dp/B0161IJ55U%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJIYMMIJN7RU7KVJQ%26tag%3Dreviewedcom03-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB0161IJ55U

Does that mean that you're not interested in automation involving white (non-color) bulbs as well?

I'm assuming that I would be able to group them so I could say "Alexa, turn off the living room lights" or just change one or even the colors with my Echo.

Yes, you can group them...either via configuration in the Alexa app or, I'm assuming, the LIFX account allows for that.  But unfortunately the semantics of the Alexa home automation vocabulary do not currently support controlling colors.  You can only turn things on/off or control dimmer functionality.

BTW, after a little more reading I need to amend my earlier statement to say that even automation of your lights via your LIFX account would also mean dependence on a flawless internet connection (which may or may not be an issue for you), since it's also a cloud-based service rather than controlling things via a local hub.

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2016, 04:00:18 pm »
If it works well, I would probably buy additional non-color bulbs for other parts of the house which don't really need anything "fancy". As far as Alexa not being able to control colors, I believe that's incorrect. According to Amazon reviews, it's possible. Also, if you check out this video and go up to around 4:11, you can see an Echo controlling the colors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI-CYZsr11c

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2016, 04:27:36 pm »
If it works well, I would probably buy additional non-color bulbs for other parts of the house which don't really need anything "fancy".

Depending on how many such bulbs you end up using you'll quickly find that the cost of LIFX is much higher than that of Hue (and the other bulbs it works with).  Just something to consider.

As far as Alexa not being able to control colors, I believe that's incorrect. According to Amazon reviews, it's possible. Also, if you check out this video and go up to around 4:11, you can see an Echo controlling the colors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI-CYZsr11c

OK, that seems to work...though that's not actually an example of direct Echo-LIFX integration, nor of Alexa understanding how to control colored bulbs.  That's an Alexa invocation of the LIFX "skill", which is also a cloud-based home automation service that is redirected to via the "Ask..." keyword.  Still, it'll do what you want.  The only downside is, being cloud-based, you're dependent on two more things always working (your internet connection and the LIFX service).  But like I said, that might not be an issue for you.

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2016, 04:43:00 pm »
So, with Hue, it's not a "skill"? All I would have to say is "Alexa, turn down the lights in the living room (or change colors)" without the additional "tell ___ to"?

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2016, 04:52:42 pm »
So, with Hue, it's not a "skill"? All I would have to say is "Alexa, turn down the lights in the living room (or change colors)" without the additional "tell ___ to"?

Well, turning on/off or dimming lights doesn't require an external "skill" in either case (Alexa supports that functionality directly).  But changing colors does...in both cases.  My apologies if I gave the impression that I was saying that limitation only exists with LIFX.  I wasn't.  It's a limitation of Alexa's home automation vocabulary/semantics.

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2016, 05:03:49 pm »
So, with Hue, it's not a "skill"? All I would have to say is "Alexa, turn down the lights in the living room (or change colors)" without the additional "tell ___ to"?

Well, turning on/off or dimming lights doesn't require an external "skill" in either case (Alexa supports that functionality directly).  But changing colors does...in both cases.  My apologies if I gave the impression that I was saying that limitation only exists with LIFX.  I wasn't.  It's a limitation of Alexa's home automation vocabulary/semantics.

Ah, ok. That really helps to clear things up for me. My house isn't particularly Wi-Fi challenged so that wouldn't be an issue. I have an AirPort Extreme and 2 Airport Expresses throughout for good coverage and it's a fairly small house. I'm still trying to figure out though what the advantage of a hub has over just direct Wi-Fi ( other than Siri integration). That's why I was originally asking about connectivity issues with LIFX and if anyone seemed to be having any problems with them. 

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2016, 05:30:23 pm »
I'm still trying to figure out though what the advantage of a hub has over just direct Wi-Fi ( other than Siri integration).

Well, like I said, in the case of the Hue bridge (and the SmartThings hub and other solutions) the primary advantage is that for lighting the path between your control software and your lights is completely local.  With cloud-based control, even if your router(s) and ISP are 100% reliable there are still a lot of steps in between your ISP and the server(s) implementing those services.  Plus there's the reliability of those services themselves.  I don't know that there are any issues with LIFX's services, Alexa's/IFTTT's integration with them, etc...but it's still making you dependent on more "moving parts", so to speak.

Also, in the case of more general purpose HA hubs (like SmartThings...which I keep referencing only because it's what I have the most experience with) you have far more flexibility when it comes to automation options and solutions.  Now, if you eventually end up with something like a ST hub you can still use your LIFX bulbs with it, but then you've spent a lot more on bulbs than you needed to.

But again, the importance of all this depends on your own priorities.

Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2016, 06:30:26 pm »
I'm still trying to figure out though what the advantage of a hub has over just direct Wi-Fi ( other than Siri integration).

Well, like I said, in the case of the Hue bridge (and the SmartThings hub and other solutions) the primary advantage is that for lighting the path between your control software and your lights is completely local.  With cloud-based control, even if your router(s) and ISP are 100% reliable there are still a lot of steps in between your ISP and the server(s) implementing those services.  Plus there's the reliability of those services themselves.  I don't know that there are any issues with LIFX's services, Alexa's/IFTTT's integration with them, etc...but it's still making you dependent on more "moving parts", so to speak.

Also, in the case of more general purpose HA hubs (like SmartThings...which I keep referencing only because it's what I have the most experience with) you have far more flexibility when it comes to automation options and solutions.  Now, if you eventually end up with something like a ST hub you can still use your LIFX bulbs with it, but then you've spent a lot more on bulbs than you needed to.

But again, the importance of all this depends on your own priorities.

But from what I can see on Amazon, the price of the Phillips and the LIFX bulbs are the same ... about 53 dollars. This video seems to illustrate the difference between the two very well ... And is also why I'm leaning more towards LIFX.

https://youtu.be/IctFtj-xikk


Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2016, 06:58:04 pm »
But from what I can see on Amazon, the price of the Phillips and the LIFX bulbs are the same ... about 53 dollars.

I was referring to the white (non-color) bulbs, which is why I keep asking you whether or not you plan on using any.  Using Amazon as the benchmark for those as well, LIFX's white A19s are about twice the cost per bulb when compared with Hue or GE Link bulbs.  And all three have the same estimated lifespan.

This video seems to illustrate the difference between the two very well ... And is also why I'm leaning more towards LIFX.

https://youtu.be/IctFtj-xikk

It does appear that the LIFX app is easier to use than Hue's, and their colored bulbs do seem to perform better.  But colored bulbs have never been of any value to me, so I haven't tried any of them and can't offer any input on that part of the equation.

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Re: New here .. need some advice on smart bulbs.
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2016, 09:37:50 pm »
I use Hue color bulb mainly for the light quality. When I using the Samsung Tablet vs Pixel C vs reading, the different hues make perfect sense which I change from white to yellows. The mild green / blues are great when watching LED TV. My home mainly have LEDs, a few sun light fluorescence which turn on when entering the area, a few small floods type lights in bookcases which are controlled using TP-Link controllers and managed by Echo.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 05:44:41 am by Yoda_One »
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