On a recent Internet of Things Podcast episode we took a voicemail from Michael on our podcast hotline. Michael has invested in Zigbee lights up to this point and he’s heard about some challenges that still face Matter devices some challenges that still face Matter devices. So the question really is, what Zigbee bulbs would be the best additions for his current smart home as opposed to buying Matter bulbs right now. He wants either tunable white or RGB color bulbs.
Luckily there are plenty of good options for Michael, or for anyone else in the same situation. Note that we’re assuming Michael has some type of hub that supports his Zigbee lights today. We don’t know which hub that is, but one is required because you can’t control Zigbee-only bulbs from a phone. There’s no Zigbee radio in smartphones today. Some Zigbee-based bulbs also support Bluetooth, in which case a hub isn’t required. However, you’ll also lose some features and be limited to how many bulbs you can control if you use these with a phone.
That being said, regular readers will know that we’re not shy about recommending Philips Hue bulbs. These have Zigbee radios that speak to a Philips Hue Bridge. And in our experience, they’re rock solid. Stacey has used Hue bulbs for at least a decade and continues to buy them. And even though I didn’t want yet another hub or bridge in my smart home, Stacey wore me down and I took the Philips Hue plunge a few years ago. I regret not doing so sooner.
In terms of price, Philips sells a two-pack of tunable white bulbs for $44.99. Going with full RGB color lights is nice but you’ll pay quite a bit more: $89.99 for a two-pack of those. And if you need the Philips Hue Bridge, which supports up to 50 bulbs, you’re looking at another $59.99. Note that Philips Hue also sells starter packs which include a bulb or two and the Bridge, so that may be worth a look. Additionally, you may find lower prices for these products at online retailers. Philips Hue will be upgrading the latest generation of its Bridge product to support Matter, so if that’s important to you, that’s probably the way to go.
If the Hue ecosystem isn’t your jam however, Stacey recommends Sengled bulbs, which can save you a little money. For example, a starter kit with two tunable white bulbs and a Sengled Zigbee Hub, normally priced at $33.42, is down to $19.52 at Amazon right now. Going with multicolor RGB bulbs and an included hub is only $59.99, purhcased directly from Sengled. Of course you can buy additional bulbs of either kind and they won’t break the bank.
Although Michael is looking for Zigbee lights, Stacey did mention that Wi-Fi is also an option. In fact, you’re likely to find more options using Wi-Fi because there are no lack of choices. Tunable white and color options from Feit, Sengled, and TP-Link Kasa are available with prices ranging from around $6.50 to $10 a bulb. And since these use Wi-Fi, there’s no additional hub or bridge needed. They do use more energy due to the power-hungry Wi-Fi radio inside, which is something to consider.
To hear Michael’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: