Smart Home

How to install a smart light bulb, three ways

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There are tons of smart LED light bulbs to choose from nowadays — and they come in an array styles and specs to suit any smart home. Most of them connect over a local Wi-Fi network, your phone’s Bluetooth connection or a Zigbee hub, each requiring a slightly different setup process. 

This past week I bought some Wi-Fi-enabled Wyze bulbs, Bluetooth-enabled C by GE bulbs and Zigbee-enabled Philips Hue bulbs and spent a day installing them and taking notes. Here’s my quick and easy guide to installing a Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Zigbee smart light bulb.

Wi-Fi-enabled Wyze bulbs cost just $8 each, making these white light LEDs an excellent value.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Wi-Fi

Not only are Wyze’s dimmable, white light, Wi-Fi LEDs top performers with plenty of features at a great value, they’re also easy to install.

1. Download the Wyze app and create an account.

2. Select “Add a Product” from the menu in the top right corner of the home screen.

3. Select Wyze Bulb from the list of devices.

4. Make sure your phone is connected to your 2.4GHz wireless network.

5. Screw in the bulb and turn the power off and on three times. Now you’re in pairing mode (the bulb will flash).

6. Enter your Wi-Fi name and password.

7. Connect to the Wyze smart bulb Wi-Fi network in your settings.

8. Return to the app and the bulb will connect automatically.

That’s it, you’re done. The app will ask you to create a unique name for the light and then you can set up custom on-off schedules and connect your Wyze bulb(s) to Alexa or Google Assistant

Other Wi-Fi-enabled smart bulbs: Lifx

Bluetooth

The C by GE Soft White Smart Bulbs come in a $25 two-pack. Unlike the Wyze bulbs, these GE LEDs connect over your phone’s Bluetooth out of the box. Here’s how to get started:

1. Download the C by GE app and create an account.

2. Select the “plus” icon in the top right corner of the home screen and then “Add New Devices.”

3. Select “Lights” from the list of devices.

4. Screw in the bulb and turn on the light.

5. Wait a few seconds for the bulb to flash three times.

6. Select “Continue with C by GE App” and you’re done.

If you want to control these LEDs when you’re beyond Bluetooth range, you have two other options. First, you can buy the C by GE C-Reach Smart Bridge for $50 — or you can use a Google Nest smart speaker or display to act as the Wi-Fi hub for the bulbs. C by GE bulbs also work with Alexa and Siri via HomeKit, but you’ll need a C-Reach hub. 

Other Bluetooth-enabled smart bulbs: Philips.

Zigbee

Philips Hue’s White Zigbee bulbs require an additional step than Wyze and C by GE. It has a hub Philips calls the Hue Bridge that connects to your Wi-Fi router. One Hue Bridge is included in Philips’ $70 Hue White LED two-pack. The installation is still simple, but it takes a few minutes longer (and I’m not a fan of the app).

1. Download the Philips Hue app and create an account.

2. Connect the Hue Bridge to your Wi-Fi router and plug the adapter into an outlet.

3. Screw in your bulb and turn it on.

4. Select “Search” in the app and it will find your Hue Bridge.

5. Press the button in the center of the Hue Bridge.

6. Your LED will connect automatically.

The Philips Hue app is by far the most fiddly of the three. The app asked me to share my Home Data to connect it to Siri and HomeKit over and over again, despite my lack of interest (the bulbs work with Alexa and Google Assistant too). Still, they connect quickly despite the additional step of the hub. And the app does offer a lot of features, from dimming to scheduling, grouping and creating scenes. 

Other Zigbee-enabled smart bulbsSengled.

Want to learn more about LEDs? Check out this handy guide outlining the best bulbs to buy for each room in your house.

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