This week on the 200th episode of the IoT Podcast, we received a voicemail from John who asked an interesting question we hadn’t thought about before. John is looking for A19 smart bulbs that are 100W to 150W replacements so they have a higher lumen output than most of the typical bulbs we see on the market. He also wants them to be soft white in color and dimmable. Oh and preferably, the lights shouldn’t require a hub, which means either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radios in the lights.
After researching, we couldn’t find any good options because even the brightest LED smart bulbs available top out around 1100 lumens and cost near $50 each. For a 100W equivalent, the brightness should be at least 1500 lumens.
Our thought: John should save some money by purchasing non-smart LED bulbs and use those savings on smart switches. This approach provides numerous lighting options that meet John’s requirements for brightness, the soft white color, and dimming. And the bulbs that meet these requirements can be had for as little as $6 to $15 each, depending on the brand.
A Cree 100W replacement LED bulb outputs 1,600 lumens, for example, is dimmable and has the soft-white 2,700K color temperature, which meets all of John’s needs. A single bulb is around $15 while a three-pack on Amazon costs $42.99, bringing the price-per-bulb closer to $14. Even less expensive is a 100W replacement from EcoSmart with the same brightness, color and dimming feature: A two-pack costs $13.98.
Of course, these options, as well as similar choices from Philips and GE highlighted by CNET, aren’t “smart” but a smart switch solves that problem. And there are plenty of those to choose from that don’t require a hub. Stacey loves her Lutron switches, which look nice and function well. They also support Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant, although they can be expensive and do require a hub. Wemo switches are in the same price range of about $50 a switch, but the Wirecutter’s budget pick for smart switches is the TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch, which costs $35 if you buy them online.
Smart bulbs may make sense if you don’t need brightness beyond 1,000 lumens, but if you want more light, higher output LEDs combined with smart switches is likely the better choice. Tune in to the podcast below to hear John’s question in full along with our discussion to learn more.