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The Hottest New Home LED Light Bulb Technology

By Frank Jossi Rise Writer
Jul 31, 2020

Over the past several years, many homeowners have been changing out incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs for LEDs—for a good reason.

It's not hard to argue LEDs offer users a better and more economical experience. They have grown astonishingly sophisticated and no longer create only harsh, spotlight-like illumination. A wide variety of bulbs are available in warm and cool tones, have excellent color accuracy, and are dimmable.

They also have environmental attributes no other lighting has attained. LEDs consume 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. They have no mercury in them (compact fluorescents contain mercury and need to be disposed of as hazardous waste), and LED bulbs last for many years. You might need 21 incandescent bulbs for 25,000 hours of use, compared to just one LED. And that one LED will save you $150 in electricity costs throughout its life.

Many utilities continue to offer rebates, but even without them, LEDs are competitively priced. While they are more expensive than traditional bulbs, many can be found for less than $5, depending on the brand and the seller.

What's New With LEDs?

Where LEDs have begun to shine is their ability to incorporate new technologies such as occupancy sensors and Bluetooth speakers. They can also be integrated into home automation systems. These systems can be preset, controlled from a cell phone app, or be part of a wired or wireless security system.

philips hue
Photo Credit: Philips Hue

The result of these technological leaps is that LEDs are not just about lighting anymore. They offer smart lighting, the ability to modulate lights, and many ways to turn them on and off: with an app, by voice command, by the occupancy of a room, and by preset controls.

While LEDs by themselves save enormously on lighting costs, by offering fine-tuned lighting control and scheduled on-off periods, homeowners can realize additional energy savings. Add motion detection and scheduling options, and the bill can decline even more.

It's a bit like the dawn of the internet for lighting as we move into a new stage of personalized illumination. Lights are becoming part and parcel of a home automation system that includes occupancy sensing, sound expression, and security monitoring.

Let's look at a few of the fastest-growing applications for networked lighting.

Voice-Command LED Lighting

Imagine being able to control lighting with a voice command. You don't have to imagine anymore; it's here. These options are available through voice-controlled personal assistants such as Apple's SiriAmazon's AlexaMicrosoft's Cortana, or Google's Assistant.

voice command lighting
Photo Credit: Philips Hue

Phillips Hue, for instance, works with all personal assistants. Speaking to Alexa, you can turn off bedroom lights and even make a living room glow purple (if you have purple lighting).

You can set the lighting to wake you in the morning and enhance your gaming or music-listening experience. Or, you can dim lights to, say, 25 percent as a room grows sunnier. Just say, "Alexa, dim the lights to 25 percent."

Other manufacturers, including Ikea, offer different solutions that incorporate smart personal assistants into home lighting. Do-it-yourselfers can likely install the systems, though some experts suggest getting an electrician involved early. Experts can help to configure presets accurately and the lighting setup correctly.

ikea smart lighting
Photo Credit: IKEA

LED Light Bulbs with Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors, once separated from lighting components, have been incorporated into LEDs. Rather than installing and connecting two devices—occupancy sensors and LEDs—homeowners can now easily find them combined into one unit.

Some models offer the advantage of being wireless: load them up with batteries. Then, hardwiring your home is not needed.

Some models turn on automatically and turn off if no motion is detected for three minutes (also referred to as a "vacancy sensor"). Others, such as floodlights, may maintain light for shorter amounts of time. The lighting manufacturer Sengled's floodlights stay on for 90 seconds and then go off unless more motion is detected.

For example, the Leviton 09864-LED works well in attics, closets, basements, storage areas, laundry, and workrooms. Sometimes these rooms have only one overhead outlet for lighting or none. The Leviton is hardwired, providing plenty of light without having to worry about changing batteries.

For a wireless option, the TOPGREENER Wireless Motion Sensor Light is available in three packs. The manufacturer suggests installing hard-to-light places, such as on stairs or in pantries and bathrooms. The sensor detects motion 10 feet away or less and activates the light immediately.

motion sensor lights
Photo Credit: TOPGREENER

The installation of both of these products, and the many like them available at Amazon and other retailers, can be straightforward and require no tools. TOPGREENER's, for example, comes with wall stickers for mounting the devices and the necessary brackets.

Manufacturers also have outdoor sensor detection LEDs. One example is the Sengled LED outdoor floodlight with a built-in motion detector at 30 feet. It will lighten dark areas for folks returning home at night and activate if anyone is on your premises which should not be there.

These lights are primarily for helping guide people to doors or garages safely. Timers can be employed to shut off after 90 seconds (or longer or shorter). Mr. Beams has several outdoor options available. Motion-activated outdoor security lighting helps reduce electricity costs in two ways. First, you no longer need to leave your outdoor lights on all night for security, and second, you will minimize outdoor lighting pollution.

outdoor motion led lights
Photo Credit: Mr. Beams

Finally, LED replacement bulbs have models with motion sensors built into them. They are especially useful outdoors, on garages, or above entrances. They require no special sockets or other technology. They screw them in and are ready to go.

Led Light Bulbs with Bluetooth Speakers

LED light bulbs have even been integrated into Bluetooth speakers. How does that work? The speaker resides in the middle of the product, surrounded by the lighting element.

Users can play music from phones, laptops, or tablets. A separate controller manages the light colors—white, red, green, and blue—or dims and increases illumination. Volume control comes from whatever device plays the music.

Texsens is a large manufacturer of Bluetooth speaker-enabled lighting. The company offers five bulbs. One model provides a LED flame effect, and another model serves as a patio umbrella light. Most of the lights are equivalent to a 50-watt bulb in terms of the level of illumination.

bluetooth led lighting
Photo Credit: Sengled

Sengled offers another line of LEDs, matched with JBL speakers. The company heavily promotes the ability to connect one of its models, the Sengled Pulse LED Smart Bulb with JBL Bluetooth Speaker, with Alexa for controlling sound and light. The LED bulb comes with a starter kit of two bulbs, expanding to another six.

LEDs with Security Cameras

Another area where LED lighting has taken off is in support of security cameras. Wireless cameras with night vision capabilities are built into floodlights. The cameras can transmit video to your phone while storing it either in the cloud or on an SD card.

led security camera
Photo Credit: Sengled

Sengled has an LED with a security camera built-in, one of the more novel approaches. Other manufacturers add LEDs primarily for floodlighting—the security cameras are the main attraction of the products.

LEDs continue to change the lighting landscape. More innovation appears on the horizon as more technology is incorporated into the lighting. Voice-command smart lighting, speakers, motion detectors, and cameras are just the beginning.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2022-01-19T03:01:05+0000
Frank Jossi

Article by:

Frank Jossi

Based in St. Paul, Frank Jossi is a journalist, editor and content strategist. He covers clean energy in Minnesota for Midwest Energy News and writes frequently for Finance & Commerce. His work has appeared in more than 70 local, national and international publications.