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Smartest Light Bulbs Ever, Dumbest Idea Ever? 235

Posted by timothy
from the slave-to-flashim' dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A spate of smart LED bulbs and light sockets are coming to market and seeking crowdfunding, following the (apparent) success of Philips Hue. But do they really make sense for lighting control? Here's a comprehensive roundup of 13 products and the pros and cons of the category." I like the idea of controllable, long-lasting light bulbs, but I haven't yet been tempted enough to pay $50 apiece.
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Smartest Light Bulbs Ever, Dumbest Idea Ever?

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  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @02:48AM (#43189107)

    No, not by a large margin. Also not "dumbest idea ever", but putting this in the title _is_ pretty dumb. Seems somebody is craving attention at any cost.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by pla (258480)
      Seems somebody is craving attention at any cost.

      Nah, just the stock Slashdot "we hate energy efficiency" rant applied to the next generation of products.

      CFLs? Every Slashdotter needs to walk into a room and instantly have 6500K light or people... will... die !
      Solar panels? Take more energy to make than they'll ever produce, and it lowers property values to have free electricity.
      IGPs? Sure, I only play cheesy online Flash solitaire, but I NEED A quad 7990 and an external 3KW PSU just to feed it.
      El
      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @08:23AM (#43189915) Homepage Journal

        CFLs? Every Slashdotter needs to walk into a room and instantly have 6500K light or people... will... die !

        Fluorescent lights give me a headache. I don't care if this is supposed to be medically possible, since it happens to me. They all do it, though some are substantially worse than others. So-called "daylight" fluorescents are the worst, e.g. ott-lite. Those give me a headache in record time.

        Solar panels? Take more energy to make than they'll ever produce, and it lowers property values to have free electricity.

        Only idiots believe that solar panels take more energy to make than they will produce, which has been false since the 1970s.

        IGPs? Sure, I only play cheesy online Flash solitaire, but I NEED A quad 7990 and an external 3KW PSU just to feed it.

        My problem with IGPs is that they are from intel in which case they really are shit (I actually play games in 3d, this is no longer a corner case since the majority of the population of the USA plays video games) or from AMD in which case the drivers are shit. I've owned several systems with embedded nVidia graphics. That's in the chipset, though.

        Electric cars? They "had to" push it home on that show with the car guys. And Elon Musk eats Christian babies.

        There's at least as much support for EVs here as against.

        And LED bulbs? Still new enough that you have the uninformed Luddites bitching that they cost $60 each, despite the fact that you can now buy them for under $20 regularly and around $10 on sale

        How many $20 LED lamps have you bought? How many $10 ones? ALL SHIT. You must spend real money on an LED lamp to get one that even has current limiting, let alone power regulation.

        • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:08AM (#43190421)

          How many $20 LED lamps have you bought? How many $10 ones? ALL SHIT.

          Cree makes good bulbs because they are driving demand for their LEDs - Cree and Philips are probably neck-and-neck for the lead position in the LED market.

          They've got a 40-watt equivalent for $10 at Home Depot and a 60-watt for $14.

          http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?356710-Cree-A19-9-5w-60w-800lm-2700K-for-13-97 [candlepowerforums.com]

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I have some cree flashlights, and those are cool. The Cree LED lamps look credible [designingwithleds.com] so perhaps I will give them a try. Cree flashlights certainly use flicker to dim, but these have big caps so perhaps they have a real power supply in there.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ebh (116526)

              The problem I have with Crees is th form factor. We have recessed lighting in our kitchen, mostly R30, and the fixtures are 40 years old, certainly superseded by newer standards. Regular R-30 bulbs fit perfectly. The Cree equivalents take some work to fit right, especially the ones with the built-in bezels.

              That said, I love the light they produce. It's a bit brighter, and only slightly whiter than the light the 65W incandescents put out, at a fifth the power consumption.

              I have one question for the pick-y

              • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @01:48PM (#43191689)

                I have one question for the pick-your-color manufacturers: Have you ever consulted an interior designer? The colors of paint, fabric, etc. in a room are all picked with specific lighting in mind, both natural and from lamps. Start futzing with it, and things will start looking crappy.

                Thanks for this post. I was running out of material for my "First World Problems" meme generator. But this is pure gold :)

          • by Khyber (864651)

            "Cree and Philips are probably neck-and-neck for the lead position in the LED market."

            Not even close, Cree wins. I just got hold of their MK-R diodes. At 100ma, not bad. [imgur.com] At 300mA, it starts to hurt your eyes and it lights up fairly nicely. [imgur.com] At 500mA you need to start shielding your eyes. [imgur.com] Here's video of it, 500mA, lighting my nearly-dark living room/dining room. [youtu.be] (camera auto-adjusted some, hence all the extra video noise and artificially-high starting light levels.)

            At 500mA, that's 6w. 6w nearly lights up (~

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              That's good but really we want to get away from having one massive light in the middle of the room and move to many smaller lights where they are needed. You get better working light and fewer shadows that way.

        • by BenJeremy (181303) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:26AM (#43190511)

          And LED bulbs? Still new enough that you have the uninformed Luddites bitching that they cost $60 each, despite the fact that you can now buy them for under $20 regularly and around $10 on sale

          How many $20 LED lamps have you bought? How many $10 ones? ALL SHIT. You must spend real money on an LED lamp to get one that even has current limiting, let alone power regulation.

          Microcenter has "40W" house-brand Inland LED bulbs for $6.99, dimmables for a buck more. They work great in my house, and I haven't had a single one go bad or burn out in the year or two since I started getting them. They seem to be well built, and have nice solid heat sinks, though the one here in my desk lamp is cool enough to touch (and by touch, I mean put your fingers on it and hold them there) anywhere on the lamp body.

          Our kitchen uses two of these bulbs in the fixture, and its as bright as it's ever been with any other bulbs.

          On the subject of 'smart lighting' - $50~70 is too much for a bulb, but it speaks to the X-10 enthusiast in many of us to be able to control lighting at the source... but the price needs to come way down. I expect that to happen as production ramps up. Given a cheap interface chip, China could pump the components out for less than a dollar premium on a BOM for a smart bulb. Tie that in with efficient, color-changing LEDs and you could sell them all day long at Wal*Mart for $15 each and make a good profit.

          Realistically, "smart lighting" is the way to get people to buy the more expensive LED bulb, anyway.... there is more perceived value in buying a consumable product that can also do cool things. Forget the fact that LED bulbs are far cheaper, in the long run, simply based on lifespan, let alone energy cost, to purchase over any other type of bulb. CFLs don't help the cause of buying energy efficient lighting, since they sometimes last no longer than regular bulbs, yet cost two or three times as much (again, forgetting energy cost savings). Give consumers a neat capability with that expensive cost, and they'll be far more interested as they see more "value" in buying LED bulbs... but that doesn't happen at a $50 price point for 99% of the consumers out there. At $15, yes, it probably becomes more viable for people to start lighting their homes with LEDs.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          How many $20 LED lamps have you bought? How many $10 ones? ALL SHIT.

          I've been buying the Phillips candelabra 3.5 watt LEDs at Home Depot as my kitchen lights burn out. They go for around $15 each, and they aren't bad. I go from 200 watts to 28 watts. I tried various CFL candelabra bulbs... not THOSE are "all shit". :)

          Now, payback period is another matter... it'll take 5800 hours of run time just to break even (on electricity.... yes, I'm neglecting the non-zero cost of replacement incandescents) at $0.12/kw-h. That's 5 years at 3 hours per day! So my investment strategy is

          • by PNutts (199112)

            No, your investment strategy is sound. They will last longer than 5800 hours so you eventually come out ahead. In fact, they're probably rated for 50,000 hours. But before I decide which grandchild gets mine, :) during winter the lights in my home's common area are on for more than 3 hours a day. Assuming 8 hours a day is just over 17 years and break even becomes less than 2 years. It's also nice to see the porch light using less than 10 watts.

        • I've bought many LEDs over the past two years. You can now get good A19 bulbs for $10 to $15 and good br30 for $20 to $25. Things are moving fast in led lighting. In addition to established brands Toshiba and Phillips I've been impressed with bulbs from Kobi and G7. There are too many companies entering the market to count and plenty of junk to avoid (stuff at Lowes), but LEDs are certainly improving quickly.

        • OK i have to say this about Intel GPUs. I just picked up a Ivy Bridge Celeron 1610 for $35. And yes, it plays Crysis, and Skyrim, Borderlands 2, Torchlight II, TF2, Fallout 3 etc. I was pretty much shocked at how powerful it is, relatively speaking.. Haswell w/GT3 is going to be interesting.
        • CFLs? Every Slashdotter needs to walk into a room and instantly have 6500K light or people... will... die !

          Fluorescent lights give me a headache. I don't care if this is supposed to be medically possible, since it happens to me. They all do it, though some are substantially worse than others. So-called "daylight" fluorescents are the worst, e.g. ott-lite. Those give me a headache in record time.

          Solar panels? Take more energy to make than they'll ever produce, and it lowers property values to have free electricity.

          Only idiots believe that solar panels take more energy to make than they will produce, which has been false since the 1970s.

          IGPs? Sure, I only play cheesy online Flash solitaire, but I NEED A quad 7990 and an external 3KW PSU just to feed it.

          My problem with IGPs is that they are from intel in which case they really are shit (I actually play games in 3d, this is no longer a corner case since the majority of the population of the USA plays video games) or from AMD in which case the drivers are shit. I've owned several systems with embedded nVidia graphics. That's in the chipset, though.

          Electric cars? They "had to" push it home on that show with the car guys. And Elon Musk eats Christian babies.

          There's at least as much support for EVs here as against.

          And LED bulbs? Still new enough that you have the uninformed Luddites bitching that they cost $60 each, despite the fact that you can now buy them for under $20 regularly and around $10 on sale

          How many $20 LED lamps have you bought? How many $10 ones? ALL SHIT. You must spend real money on an LED lamp to get one that even has current limiting, let alone power regulation.

          ===
          Last week at our local Costco, the lights were on sale for $4.00 for a 850 lumen led array. That was the price with a coupon from our electric company. Montreal is a city that 95% of all homes and establishments are electrically heated. My electricity rate varies from 4 per kwh to 7.2 With those rates, gas, and oil cannot compete. We are not allowed to burn wood in our fireplaces, because of the polution. I am happy to live in a city where the snow is white from the time it falls until the spring whe

      • by gweihir (88907)

        Sounds plausible. As I am using mainly CFLs and beginning to replace them with LED bulbs, I am just not really equipped to understand that stance.

        There are quite a few people complaining about CFLs that never bothered to find out anything about them. Like "too white","too yellow": Use a different color temperature? Take some time to get to full intensity: So what? Cannot be dimmend: Wrong, just buy those that can be. Etc.

        Or my favorite: Will poison you with a lot of mercury when dropped! Unfortunately, ther

        • I have not found any LEDs that I have liked yet. CRI is way off even the cheapest CFLs, in the mid 70%. They also haven't figured out quality control, one bulb will have a green tint the other yellow. LED also gets very inefficient when you get to high powers.

          I've even tried fixtures worth thousands of £'s in photography. The discontinuous spectra is a massive problem, and CRI values cannot really be used. Give this a look, the Academy of Motion Picture and Sciences did some tests on LEDs: http://www. [oscars.org]

          • I just wish more came in 4000K rather than 3200K.

            Most people use lighting at night, before going to bed. There's a fair bit of research to the effect that high-temperature light before sleep interferes with sleep quality.

            Office lighting is another matter entirely -- there, high temperature light is not only good for vision but increases alertness.

            • by lgw (121541)

              By high temperature light, you mean "cool" lighting? As opposed to "warm" low-temperature lighting? We need better terms.

          • by Simulant (528590)
            My anecdotal experience:

            I've been replacing my (highly unreliable) CFLs with LED bulbs as I find deals, starting about a year and a half ago. I've seen decent, non dimmable bubs for as low as $10 and dimmables by Phillips for as low as $14. I've yet to have an LED bulb fail whereas there was always a flaky CFL or three, somewhere in the house. The light quality does vary a bit but none of the LEDs I've used are worse than CFLs in that regard. I've seen no flickering or significant turn on delays.

            I l
            • by PNutts (199112)

              I also tried CFLs and went back to incandescent. Last year when good quality LED bulbs became commonplace I got over my sticker-shock and bought a bunch of LEDs. I appreciate that when a kid leaves a light on it's only using 9 watts instead of 60. Folks don't realize LED bulbs pay for themselves in about two years and last about 10 so the upfront cost shouldn't be a consideration. Even with the Phillips Hue at US$59 will more than pay for itself in energy savings before it stops working.

          • by ballpoint (192660)

            Nice to finally see someone posting here who actually grasps the value of a high CRI.

            I'm sick of dimwits blindly recommending a lower or higher color temperature when someone complains about the low light quality of current energy saving bulbs. Color temperature isn't the big problem: our brain easily adapts to a different white balance. Whole swats of spectrum missing is, as that makes a lot of pigments look dull.

            So let's hope for lamps that can produce a continuous weighted spectrum from 650 to 400 nm wit

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Gordonjcp (186804)

        CFLs? Every Slashdotter needs to walk into a room and instantly have 6500K light or people... will... die !

        I find the five minutes or so they take to "warm up" a bit annoying, but what I can't live with is the poor colour rendering and unbelievable amounts of RF noise they put out. The fact that they draw slightly more power than comparable incandescents (as measured by the fuel flow meter on the generator) just puts the icing on the cake, for me.

        Solar panels? Take more energy to make than they'll ever produce, and it lowers property values to have free electricity.

        I'd prefer an RTG, but no-one seriously cares that they take more energy to produce than they make. What they do is they make it possible to produce energy quietly a

      • CFLs? Every Slashdotter needs to walk into a room and instantly have 6500K light or people... will... die

        It does drive me crazy that we are expending effort and technology to emulate the yellow color of incandescent bulbs. Are buggy whips still mandatory in modern cars?

      • And LED bulbs? Still new enough that you have the uninformed Luddites bitching that they cost $60 each, despite the fact that you can now buy them for under $20 regularly and around $10 on sale - Still pretty damned expensive, but in the "worth it" range for the handful of lights you use the most.

        You missed the point. This wasn't about LED bulbs. This was mainly about "smart" bulbs... networked or color-changing or both.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      No doubt about the attention seeking, it's always something. Either daddy touched them too much or not enough.
      Buncha whining about nothing I found a bulb half that price immediately. http://www.walmart.com/ip/21618983?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227000000000&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=&wl3=21486607510&wl4=&wl5=pla&veh=sem [walmart.com]

      Damn I can even get LED freaking grow lights for less than $50.
      Where is this guy, on the moon?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:04AM (#43189161)

    *facepalm*

    I can't think of anything worse than a bulb that's at the mercy of your WiFi router. My router falls over roughly twice a week and needs rebooting.
    Congratulations, you just took one of the most reliable appliances in the home and made it grotesquely unreliable.
    That's real progress...right there.

    • by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles.dantian@org> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:14AM (#43189179)

      *facepalm*

      I can't think of anything worse than a bulb that's at the mercy of your WiFi router. My router falls over roughly twice a week and needs rebooting.
      Congratulations, you just took one of the most reliable appliances in the home and made it grotesquely unreliable.
      That's real progress...right there.

      Fix your router?

      • by wbr1 (2538558)

        Fix your router?

        A thousand times this. I have a 20 dollar belkin router on a ups running tomatousb. Uptime, well over a year. Runs fine.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Routers are generally not repairable - you need to replace it with a decent one.

        The problem is that it is hard to know which ones are decent. As the other reply to your post suggests price isn't everything. Neither is brand reputation for the most part these days. Most reviews focus on features - I haven't really seen many that leave the router running for six months under load and tell you if the WiFi stopped working.

        I've had several flaky wireless routers over the years, including a Linksys 54G running

    • by Ultra64 (318705) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @04:49AM (#43189327)

      > My router falls over roughly twice a week and needs rebooting.

      Then it's broken and needs to be replaced.

    • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie.hotmail@com> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @06:27AM (#43189587) Homepage

      You're blaming a broken router on these bulbs. It's not their fault that you're unable to fix your shit.

    • I can't think of anything worse than a bulb that's at the mercy of your WiFi router. My router falls over roughly twice a week and needs rebooting. Congratulations, you just took one of the most reliable appliances in the home and made it grotesquely unreliable.

      I have a set of the Philips Hue bulbs, and just to clear things up, they're not "at the mercy" of my router- sort of.

      By default, all the lights are designed to "turn on" when the power is restored to the bulb. It's a full-brightness, slightly-warm light, about as close to an incandescent 60W as it can manage. Right now my lights are "off", but the power's still flowing. They revert to the default state whenever the power is turned off and then back on, meaning even if the router is down you still get "du

  • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:37AM (#43189217)
    We've had LED bulbs for a while in Taiwan, and I've never seen them go above about $30usd (and even that is on the high side). I'm constantly hearing about $50 and even $80 bulbs in the states. Do you all have special tariffs on LEDs there?
    • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:46AM (#43189225) Homepage

      In the UK, normal LED bulbs designed as plug-in replacements for incandescent and CLF bulbs typically cost about £13. The Philips Hue bulb, which can change colour with a remote control costs about £50.

    • by jpatters (883) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @04:10AM (#43189275)

      I'm in the US and I just got a bunch of LED bulbs from Costco for $5 each. Not the color changing ones though.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:22AM (#43189397)

      In Germany, they cost 10€-20€: http://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85Z%C3%95%C3%91&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=farbwechsel+birne&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Afarbwechsel+birne [amazon.de]

      I personally like the volleyball sized ones: http://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85Z%C3%95%C3%91&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=farbwechsel+kugel&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Afarbwechsel+kugel [amazon.de]

      They are great for nights outside on the balcony with the laptop and a cigar. I also have one that is waterproof for the pool. I find them in the junk bins in discount supermarkets.

  • All this junk and doesn't even mention the LuminAR bulb (I assume, I wasn't about to click through a slideshow to find out):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV5V-dQW8CI [youtube.com]

    It's not an awful idea to use a light socket as a standardized power source for more interesting things, but we can do better than some remote controlled colored lights. (Which is what I assume the article was about, I'm never going to know for sure.)
    • The light socket was a standardised power source, for a time. The first electric appliance to make it into the home was the electric light - and no others were anticipated, so there were no sockets. This meant that for a time the light bulb socket was the only available source of electricity for appliances in many homes, and became a de facto standard. If you look at many early appliances, such as the first electric vacuum cleaners and toasters, their power cords terminate in an Edison screw* connector to f

      • by tbird81 (946205)

        That's quite cool, I didn't know that. It reminds me of how the cigarette lighter is a de facto power source for the car - are people wanting to change this?

        In answer to you question, Tesla?

      • >>*Guess who invented it.

        Tesla?
  • X10 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:44AM (#43189223) Homepage

    X10! X10! X10! X10! X10! X10! X10! X10!

    "Home control" has been around since the 1990s. It was once promoted with some really annoying blinking pop-up ads [geek.com] for the X10 wireless control system. Around 2001, X10 was the fourth most popular property on the web. You can still buy X10 gear. It works fine. Nobody cares.

    Then there was Echelon LonWorks. [echelon.com] This was a technically better system than X10 (which was mostly one-way), and it's widely used in commercial buildings. It has really good noise immunity, which has resulted in it being used to control auxiliary systems (lights, HVAC, destination signs, etc.) in subway trains. As a home control system, which was the original plan, it went nowhere.

    There's no problem doing this, and plenty of products are available. Remote off/on control of home lights and appliances just isn't that useful.

    • X10! X10! X10! X10! X10! X10! X10! X10!

      "Home control" has been around since the 1990s. It was once promoted with some really annoying blinking pop-up ads [geek.com] for the X10 wireless control system. Around 2001, X10 was the fourth most popular property on the web. You can still buy X10 gear. It works fine. Nobody cares.

      X10 has a few problems that come to mind:
      1. It's *really* slow. The protocol sends 1 bit per zero-crossing event, which gives you a grand total of 100bps. You may not think you need much bandwidth for lighting control, but with such a slow data rate, doing things like "turn devices A, B and C on at the same time" become noticably "turn device A on, then B, then C".
      2. It's really expensive - Not too bad if you just want one or 2 controllable devices, but replacing every light switch/socket in your house w

    • Re:X10 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @04:17AM (#43189285)

      Remote off/on control of home lights and appliances just isn't that useful.

      Yeah it is... it's extremely useful; when combined with programming capabilities, it can save electricity, reduce human effort, and improve security.

      However, while it's useful... it's usually not useful enough to justify the price that manufacturers charge for it, and the total cost of refitting existing buildings and appliances with remote control features

      The automation people need is available through alternative methods that don't require remote control; timer on the coffee pot; outdoor lights with built-in day-night/motion sensor (instead of remote controller using the system time).

      When the technology is as cheap as the extra cost you pay for a coffee pot to get the timer feature; when the technology is as cheap as the extra percentage cost you pay for your car to get the "cruise control" feature or the "radio feature".... when the technology is as easy to use as those, and is as inexpensive to get setup and up and running as those;

      Then the technology will start to be adopted. Get it down to $5 - $10 per lightbulb, and if it's reliable and easy to use, it will become ubiquitous.

      It provides a benefit.... that benefit is just worth less than $200 for a bridge to run it plus the ~$300 or so in terms of cost for additional building surge protection (to prevent all the components getting fried next time there's a power storm), plus $50 per switched light, plus $50 per controller, plus probably ~$70 per circuit average, to get the electrician installation of the required components,; amounting to probably ~$4000+ for true whole-home remote control of just the lights

      • by jcupitt65 (68879)

        Your figures are a bit high. The hue is $199 for three bulbs plus bridge, $60 for each extra bulb thereafter. Each bridge can control 50 bulbs, enough for most houses. You don't need an electrician.

        It's not cheap, sadly :-( but less than you suggested.

        I've made a disco lighting system for my kitchen for 'only' a few hundred, it's been fun. I'm not sure I'd do the whole house though.

    • It was once promoted with some really annoying blinking pop-up ads for the X10 wireless control system. Around 2001, X10 was the fourth most popular property on the web. You can still buy X10 gear. It works fine. Nobody cares.

      Thanks to those ads back in the day X10 made it onto my "never ever buy" list. Whenever I hear about X10 (even now) those ads are the first thing that jump into my mind, and I suddenly become highly disinterested in purchasing.

      -- Pete.

    • by nblender (741424)

      X10 does sort of work, but I have a _lot_ of X10 stuff, almost all of it sitting in a closet... Despite what you might think, range is a problem... Plus there's bridging across your two 120VAC sides, limited unit numbers, and bi-directional doesn't work all that well. I inherited all this X-10 stuff including a thermostat, water sensors, motion sensors, handheld remotes, key fobs, repeaters, bridges, filters, telephone voice interface, lamp modules, appliance modules, socket modules, and best of all, an LC

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      X10 is shit. It's ALL one-way (X10 Pro is two-way... I've never seen it advertised, let alone sold) and it also doesn't work worth a shit. If you want to turn something on you'd better turn it on at least twice.

      There's no problem doing this, and plenty of products are available. Remote off/on control of home lights and appliances just isn't that useful.

      It's useful, but it's not as useful as it is expensive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Right after the holidays there are loads of xmas strings of lamps.

    The color balance can range from nice to awful.
    A small string can be wound around a foil covered cardboard tube with a lamp adapter at the end.

    The whole thing only draws a few watts.

  • by Pallas Athena (2855215) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @05:26AM (#43189417)
    There are a couple of problems that I see with this: - price. With all LED-solutions that I've seen so far, you need quite a few of them just to light one room. At 50 a piece, that will turn into a quite expensive toy. - usefullness. While there is quite a geek-factor if you can light up your room in blue or red, I very much doubt if it will be used for anything else but 'dimmer/brighter' after a few weeks. Which can be had with a single dimmer and a few standard spots as well. - lifetime. Yes, LED-spots do have a very long lifetime. Now how about the router? Or the protocol itself? I can see in the not-so-far future a number of people with lots of smart LED-spots that can't be used any more because the router is broken and can't be replaced because the marked has moved on.
  • This would be great if it wasn't for the fact that during the last decade(s) people have been fitting multi-socket halogen fixtures instead of single bulb standard socket fixtures in their homes. I'd definitely love having an app-controlled lighting system, but it would have to be much more flexible than just a bulb or single socket solution. For light fixtures with several low power halogen lights I'd have to hide the control unit somewhere before the power is split to the individual halogens, i.e. somewh

  • FTA: What could be a simpler approach to home automation? Just replace your existing bulb with a fancy new one, and it’s at your command with a simple app.

    A simple app? Jeezum crow, what the hell is wrong with an on/off switch?

  • by soundguy (415780) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:13AM (#43189695) Homepage
    What pisses me off about the current crop of devices is that everyone is reinventing the wheel with a bunch of proprietary bullshit and unnecessary new protocols. The DMX512 lighting control protocol has been around for decades and is used by hundreds of existing stage and commercial lighting device manufacturers. I want RGB bulbs that talk to a bridge device that I can control with existing lighting control boards or any computerized system. I can already buy the devices for residential outdoor applications. Why the hell can't these indoor bulb idiots use what everyone else in the world is already using?
  • I use switch king for my home and I think it works great, works with the X10 stuff as well but there are many more adapters available and they only cost around $20-$30. Some mount behind switches and communicate wirelessly with a server, I use a cheap netbook for $300. I have probably spent about $700 total to get 5 rooms controlled wirelessly. I can control my lights with the switch king app on my iphone, any computer, or any switch on the wall. I can also schedule when lights should turn on and off if I
  • If these lights or their controllers are publicly adressable on the Internet, they will be hacked. Fortunately the tech is still in its infancy and the people who install these things probably know how to maintain and update them. The damage that a hacked light or a central heater can do mostly amounts to an annoyance and increased power use, assuming that it has proper hardware protections and manual overrides.

    Another safety issue is if burglars are armed with RF jammers; they could prevent the house owne

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @09:15AM (#43190167) Homepage Journal

    I'll pay $50 for a light bulb, but only if it's manufactured locally by union workers. And it better last a long time, not like these "5 year" fluorescent bulbs that I'm replacing every year.

    Fortunately, the fluorescent have gotten really cheap.

  • These bulbs are so expensive that soon you will either remove them all when you move or you will add them into the sale price of your home. It could easily reach a thousand dollars if every bulb were replaced.

  • Hello -- interesting comments. I wrote this piece for CEPro.com, which serves professional installers of home automation, lighting control, audio/video and other home technologies. We're huge advocates of lighting control in general for security, convenience, ambiance and energy savings. But this new smart-bulb thing is a completely new paradigm for our industry. Traditionally, the intelligence resides in the light switches and hub. Most consumers aren't willing to swap out a light switch, but they may very
  • by PPH (736903)

    Less tomorrow.

    It wasn't that long ago that dumb LED bulbs cost about $50 apiece. I just replaced a couple of PAR 30 floodlight bulbs with LED units (dimmable). Cost: $12 each.

    The article [cepro.com] raises some interesting issues. It's probably better to install smart switches and plugs than smart LED bulbs. Better yet, a smart switch that interrogates the bulb (or other fixture) for capabilities. If it sees an incandescent lamp, it just dims. If the bulb replies with an RGB capability, the switch forwards it the app

    • most people don't want needless complexity in having a room light they can turn off or on. a dimmer switch is as complicated as it need get. the idea that I would need IT infrastructure to control lights is silly. sure, farting around with X10 can be fun, but slashdotters are hobbyist geeks and not joe average.

  • "I like the idea of controllable, long-lasting light bulbs..."

    Unfortunately these LED bulbs are not so long lasting. They make big claims but in actual use I find that there are many failures. The new bulbs are certainly better than five years ago but they still have a dismal failure rate. This is poor performance on the promise.

  • Do we now have hacks that post thinly disguised PR releases or vague descriptive picture stories? What a waste of /. bandwidth.

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

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