Ever since late December 2016 with the dual announcements by LIFX and Sylvania about their HomeKit-enabled, no-hub-required smart bulbs, many HomeKit enthusiasts have been patiently (ok, probably impatiently) waiting to see which one would ship first. As it turns out, they were both “one-upped” by a company that most of us have never heard of.
If you might possibly recall, an announcement happened at CES 2016 about a smart, color-changing Wi-Fi enabled LED bulb that would be HomeKit compatible. Originally, it was supposed to be available in March of 2016, but it appears to have been delayed until March of this year (2017). And thus, congratulations are in order for iLuv on their Rainbow8 HomeKit Wi-Fi Smart LED Bulb, the first no-hub-required HomeKit smart bulb that is now available!
Why is this so important? Well, if you’re not a HomeKit fan, not so much (there have been Wi-Fi smart bulbs out for a few years now.) But for HomeKit, smart lighting has always required some sort of hub…ahem, Philips Hue. Since smart lighting usually comes with a high price tag, and many times requires a starter kit to “play in the smart lighting sandbox”, it would be very useful to purchase HomeKit smart bulbs that would connect directly to Wi-Fi and could be purchased individually. Buying individual bulbs also allows for home automation newbies to slowly start their smarter home projects and experiment with smarter home tech without large cash outlays.
Aside from the basic specifications, which can all be found at iLuv’s Rainbow8 page or on Amazon, there isn’t much else known about the product at this time. iLuv also makes the Rainbow7, a Bluetooth smart LED bulb that is only compatible with their own app, which has a solid 4-star rating on Amazon. So, with that in mind, iLuv is capable of making a decent product, so I’m personally to check out the Rainbow8 and see how it stands up.
If you can’t be bothered to look up the specs at their site, here are the basics: It’s a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb that only draws 9 watts of power to produce 800 lumens of light. The Rainbow8 can produce over 16 million colors, although there is no mention of various shades of white light. (If the bulb is designed correctly, you could still create various shades of white light depending on how well their color-wheel-selector works.) There are both North American and European versions of the bulb available. While the bulb is Wi-Fi-enabled, iLuv has implemented 802.11b, a very old Wi-Fi standard, which can possibly slow down your home Wi-Fi depending on your configuration and devices.
Since the Rainbow8 is HomeKit-enabled, you’ll gain all of the HomeKit control that you’ve been used to with this bulb: grouping this bulb with others (even by other companies) into scenes, automating the light via schedules and triggers, adjusting colors and brightness right from Apple’s Home app or Control Center, and much more. But only time (and reviews) will tell just how well this bulb will work as compared to the upcoming Sylvania HomeKit bulb or the well-established LIFX products (soon to be firmware-updated to HomeKit).
The iLuv Rainbow8 smart LED bulb is available now on Amazon for $49.95.