No light bulb left behind

Cree’s $15 connected LEDs work with (almost) everything

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For those bargain shoppers out there hunting for a connected bulb, Cree, the company that brought the first blue LED light to market, has a deal for you. It’s shipping a $15 connected warm, white LED that rivals the GE Link bulb in both price and functionality. And like the Link bulb, it’s compatible with the Wink hub system.

In fact, the Cree bulb wants to be compatible with just about everything. It uses ZigBee radios and Mike Watson, VP of Product Strategy with Cree, says the company is constantly evaluating new standards such as AllJoyn’s lighting standard or the upcoming Thread protocol. But currently you can link it into any hub that has ZigBee capability and ZigBee Light Link certified hubs, including Philips Hue, WeMo Link Hub and GE Link.

There are no hubs to plug in to buy or apps to download here: Cree just wants to sell you the connected bulb. That’s a bummer for the consumer who doesn’t have anything yet in the connected home, but obviously Cree is betting the market doesn’t stay unconnected for long. As for the bulb, it provides 815 Lumens and offers a high quality light. I would do my makeup by it, and find it a bit less yellow than the GE light and a bit less white than the Philips Lux white lights.

However, for those trying to place one of these in a dimmer lamp, don’t do it. It is a rare LED that can handle a dimmer without emitting a high-pitched buzzing noise (surprisingly, the GE Link can). The Cree bulb is no exception. When I tried it in a dimmer lamp, it sounded a bit like crickets from about 10 feet away. That said, in a normal lamp its dimming capabilities are fine.

So if you want to upgrade your traditional light bulbs for some smarter ones, this is a price point that might make it worth your while if you’ve got an existing hub, don’t have dimming fixtures and prefer the look of a more traditional bulb. You’ll find them at Home Depot stores later this month.

10 Responses to “Cree’s $15 connected LEDs work with (almost) everything”

    • vinay-deshpande-1

      CRI is important, but hardly the only one that matters. Priced at a third of some of the incumbent products, this one draws attention, and gives the big boys the much needed competition. Sadly the Koreans have recently refused to enter this market. Hope the neighboring Japanese or the Chinese will join the LED party. The world of LEDs will stay a rich man’s hobby as long as affordability and reach are amiss. And that’s not good.

  1. I can’t find any links in or around this article that aid in finding out more about Cree or these particular bulbs. I’m obviously going to Google for them, but it’s curious that GigaOm has moved away from providing relevant links.

    • From other articles on these lights my understanding is that they should work just fine with Homekit as they utilize Zigbee and Homekit is Zigbee compatible. So in theory they should work fine. I’d assume that whatever hardware Apple launches Homekit with must have a Zigbee hub built into it.

        • Homekit has the potential to work with almost any HA protocol including both Z-Wave and Zigbee. I believe a bridge may be required but it certainly seems very possible. I think its a little early yet for developers and manufacturers to have a huge amount of homekit hardware yet, this year will be interesting.

    • Why? Why would GE put out a bulb later this month that uses a protocol NO ONE has at home?

      Aside from the hype, what advantage would there be in making this bulb Homekit compatible? Wouldn’t it make more sense to…you know…build homekit compatible hubs to work with existing standards, for which there is a large existing market?

      More function, less hype. Home automation is already full of hype.