Are All Smart Bulbs LED?

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One of the amazing advances of our time is being able to watch homes convert to more sustainable energy options and the ease of home automation. If you could make your home more efficient, be able to switch lights on and off from anywhere in the world, and use a more energy-saving lightbulb that also saves you money – wouldn’t you do it? Smart bulbs are taking over the electricity market, and before shopping for them, you should know about the different options.

Are all smart bulbs LED? The answer is no–smart bulbs can also be fluorescent or incandescent.  LED bulbs are more popular and readily available.  They typically have a longer lifespan, lower energy consumption, and the highest safety of other light types.

This guide will offer you an overview on what the key differences are in these light types, which is the best for your needs, and also a few warnings to head when proceeding with LED Smart Lights. As wonderful as they are, there are occasional risks involved. Stick with us for this breezy read, and you’ll quickly be an expert on sustainable and smart light sources for your home

Differences Between Each Lightbulb Type

This chart breaks down the key differences and factors between these three light types:

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  LED Lightbulbs Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) Incandescent Lightbulbs
Average Lifespan 25,000 hours 8,000 hours 1,200 hours
Color Ability The most variety Least variety Second best
Price per lightbulb avg. $4-5 $2-3 $1-2
Cost of Electricity avg. (25,000 hours at $0.15 per kWh) $35 $60 $175
Energy Efficiency LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than other types of lighting. CFLs use about 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs The least efficient
Overall Judgment Best and most highly recommended. Close second but has a third of the lifespan of LEDs and less efficiency. For a couple dollars more, get the LED The shortest lifespan, least efficient, and most expensive on your electricity bill.

You can reference Green is Better Inc’s Light Comparison as another source for further mathematical breakdowns.

Benefits to LED Lights          

Some of the key advantages to LED Light bulbs are:

  • Use 90% less energy and are easily compatible with solar energy
  • They will save you the most money be lasting nearly 60,000 per lightbulb
  • Don’t have mercury (some light bulbs do)
  • Will lower your electricity bill and save you hundreds in the long-term
  • Can use with a higher watt fixture. As Earth LED puts it, “LED’s do not emit dangerous levels of heat. Thus, if your fixture says, “not to exceed 60-Watts” but you want to use a 100-Watt equivalent LED bulb, this would be safe to do so.’”
  • Less of a safety-hazard or fire-hazard compared to other lights because they don’t overheat or require a high voltage to function
  • 95% of the energy is converted to light, and only 5% is wasted through heat (very minimal)
  • Offer the same variety of light colors and brightness as other light types, depending on what lumens and shades you shop for
  • Arcadia Power says, “Bright LED lamps use only 11 to 12 watts while creating a light output comparable to a 50-watt incandescent.”
  • Will last the longest (some outlast the competition by decades)
  • Are the best overall light type in most people’s opinion

As far as LED Smart Lights:

  • Are controllable by Alexa (as long as an Echo Dot or Alexa-compatible light is purchased)
  • Can be controlled by voice or remote
  • They offer a huge variety in color, essentially the whole rainbow to suit your changing moods
  • Can use in any light fixture you would use normal lights in.
  • Have all of the wonderful benefits of LED listed above

It may appear that LED Smart Lights are the way to go, but I want to point out a few cautionary factors to keep in mind as well.

Warnings with LED Lights

Some minorly-inconvenient caveats, minimal disadvantages, with some also more-impactful warnings to head about LED lights are:

  • They can be more expensive for the initial investment but have decreased in price from nearly $50 a bulb decades ago to only $4-5 a bulb on average today. The long-term savings and electricity efficiency counterbalance the disadvantage of upfront cost.
  • They can damage your eyes. This is the case for most any light, natural, or superficial, but it can harm the retina of your eye through inadequate protection, shades, or overuse. A professor studying the subject, Dr. Celia Sanchez Ramos, advises about the 6,000 hours a year on average that humans spending looking at artificial lighting, “close your eyes often to soften the impact.”
  • LED lights will only point in one direction. So if you are seeking a light to truly spread out and illuminate an entire space, you may simply need extra LED lights as they emit light in a specific direction, whereas CFLs and incandescent lightings are produced to emit light in all directions.
  • It can affect your sleep cycle as well as increase your risk for other disease such as diabetes, according to The Washington Post.
  • There is blue lighting in LED lights, which has been linked to increased risk for breast and prostate cancer. This is due primarily to prolonged exposure.   Read more about Blue light here. (We advise you to think about using the setting on your phone that switches off the blue light.)  I have had mine off for years as it’s a device we stare at so long during the day. It can be found in the main dashboard where you switch things like sound, airplane mode, and your flashlight.

Read more about how LEDs affect your health and weigh out the factors to know which bulb is best suited to your needs and preferences. As you can see, perfection is an illusion as all things carry their pros and cons.

Best Smart Light Bulbs on The Market

Some of the highest rated Smart lights that rank supreme in overall value include:

  • Yeelight Smart LED Bulb – Compatible with Alexa, you need simply say, “Alexa, turn on living room light!” and as you command it, it shall be! Because of the adjustable shades, you can experiment with any color of the rainbow to have mood lighting. This lightbulb is also compatible with Google Assistant and can be voice or remote controlled. The product claims to have a lifespan of 22.8 years, which is about a dollar per year. Did I mention you can sync your lights with the music?
  • The LIFX Lumen Dimmable Multicolored Light Bulb – This gem is slightly higher in price but is backed by nearly 1,300 reviews that gift it with a 4-star out of 5-star rating. It is compatible with Alexa, Google, and Apple HomeKit with easily installation. With a 2-year warranty and being ranked topped in its section as a Best Seller, there’s little risk involved with at least trying this reputable brand.
  • Philips Hue White LED Smart Bulb – Continually rated as a top-contender in the Smart Bulb market, Philips Hue is another 4/5-star product that is slightly more affordable than the LIFX Lumen. Working with Alexa and Google, it is, as they say, ‘certified for humans,’ which includes being stress-free to install and standing by the sales-pitch of easy to use. This product offers a 3-year warranty and is a wonderful product to start your home-automation with.

Take Away

I hope this guide has been a useful source to you in understanding your control as a consumer.

Educating ourselves is the most powerful weapon we have to protect ourselves, and knowledge is a superpower. Informing ourselves will light the way so we can say, “Alexa, let there be light!” 

Also read:  Smart Thermostats 101: Do You Really Need One?