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Hands-on review: The illuminating TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulbs

27 May 2019
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Recently I was offered the opportunity to review two TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulbs. I’ve been feeling somewhat in the dark with developments in the growth of the ‘smart home’, so it was a great opportunity to find out how things work.

The first step is to download the Kasa app. Setup is straightforward: set up a TP account, confirm it, and then point the bulb to the app and from the app to the home network.  Even I managed to accomplish this without borrowing my millennial neighbour’s children for technical support. 

First out of the box is a 50W equivalent LB100 Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb with dimmable Soft White Light. It’s a gloomy afternoon here in the ‘Tron, and I’m grateful illumination added to my erstwhile gloomy study. I was immediately alerted to the fact that these are ES type screw-in bulbs, so I used my bedside lamp as our home currently has bayonet type fittings.

Using the Kasa app, you can adjust brightness, going from 1% to 100%. You can schedule the light to switch on and off whenever you like. For me, I predict no more stubbed toes on the bedroom furniture in the dark! The Kasa app allows tracking the energy usage of Kasa smart-home devices.

The interface is logically set out, making it a breeze for this non-millennial Boomer to navigate. Besides tracking power usage and building up a usage profile over time, you use the pre-sets or a convenient slider to brighten or dim the bulb. I have already used the very low setting (the indicator says 1%) when not wishing to disturb my significant other in the middle of the night. 

Add colour to your life with the LB130 Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb with Colour-Changing Hue

A 60W equivalent bulb operates at 800 lumens (the LB100 has 600 lumens) and draws a miserly 11kWh/1000h. The message on the box promises “colours for every occasion.”  Setup was simple enough. I put my white bulb carefully away and installed the colour bulb, following the ridiculously simple instructions, and I was underway. 

Changing and mixing the colours is a simple affair from the Kasa App. I’ve also added the bulbs to my Google Home app. Last night I decided to use a red hue at 1% illumination, imagining I was piloting a fighter jet at night, as I picked my route to the bathroom. The dimmed red glow was not enough to disturb my sleeping beauty as she blissfully carried on sawing logs. 

Home security

Why do I need smart light bulbs that I can control from my mobile device?  The answer of course is obvious. Whether we’re out for dinner or away on a trip, we don’t want to advertise the fact to Billy Burglar. We want our house to maintain that “lived-in” feeling no matter where we are.  

With the addition of one of TP-link’s switches, we could add an “Away” function that would randomly switch our lights on and off in the evening. Even only using the App, you can schedule a timetable of the lights switching on and off. 

Having been won over by Kasa’s ease of use, I was interested to see what else TP-Link have to offer, and there is quite a range for the home-security conscious among you.

Their Mesh range of smart home routers add an extra level of functionality, making it a simple affair to add security cameras and parental controls. For those of you with larger homes, the Mesh range also provides a uniform spread of signal and control throughout the home. They have a video doorbell option coming soon, and I like the idea of chatting to visitors from my phone, whether I’m in the bathroom or on the beach in Lahaina. 

I started out excited about smart bulbs but ended up devising my own home’s future security plan. I found the Kasa software to be very stable, and as long as I didn’t switch off at the lamp, the bulbs remained viewable on the app.

TP-Link have obviously put some thought into how they see the evolution of the smart home, and I applaud their efforts at making the pathway brighter for all of us.