Sylvania’s smart lights are a bright idea for those on a budget
Quality smart lighting, from a well-known brand, that doesn’t force you to eat ramen for the rest of the month? That’s possible? Yes, even not on Amazon Prime Day!
A top question I get from viewers is “why is smart lighting so expensive?” Well remember that, just like other smart home devices, the costs of the company providing free updates for the life of the product are built into the price. And, depending on how fancy or innovative the product is, the price could be a lot higher than you would expect.
Welcome to the smart lighting world Sylvania, a lighting company that’s been around for decades. And, over the past several years, has built up their own line of smart lighting products. Originally branded LIGHTIFY and now called SMART+, you may see the products advertised under the OSRAM company name, too…but they’re essentially the same.
To satisfy different types of customers, Sylvania has two different smart lighting lines, one dedicated for HomeKit, and one that uses Zigbee. The HomeKit variety is Bluetooth-based and doesn’t require a hub. In fact Sylvania shipped the first hub-free, 60-watt equivalent color-changing HomeKit smart bulb back in September 2017. Their Zigbee line has a larger variety of smart lighting products, like outdoor floodlights, undercabinet lights, and even wireless buttons and smart plugs. The Zigbee products do require a hub for operation, which Sylvania is happy to sell you their neat and compact model for about $30, or you can pair the lights to something like an Amazon Echo Plus, SmartThings or Wink hub, or nearly any smart home controller that supports Zigbee.
Sylvania sent me a few different SMART+ Zigbee-based products to test: Their afore-mentioned SMART+ Gateway (hub), standard A19 color-changing smart bulb, “Flex RGBW” smart light strip product, and my now-favorite product, their “Mini RGB” Gardenspot outdoor smart lights. (My products were still branded LIGHTIFY.)
Instead of creating whiz-bang lighting products with special effects and blinding brightness levels, Sylvania is just making smart lighting products that perform as well as “those other guys”, but won’t short-circuit your budget. Also, the larger selection of products, especially reasonably-priced outdoor smart lights and strips, makes up for not having dazzling specialized effects.
Now, to be fair, this written review really doesn’t do the lights justice. So while I will list the specs for you along with my final opinion, you really should check out the full video, which I’m embedding below.
- Full spectrum of colors (16 million)
- 2000K to 6500K color temperature (warm white to cool white)
- Bright 800 lumens of light uses 10 watts
- Standard-shaped light bulb
- About $28 per bulb
Light Strip (Flex RGB Starter Kit)
- Full spectrum of colors
- 2700K to 6500K color temperature
- Each Gardenspot spreads light horizontally and creates a beautiful spotlight effect from the top of each light
- 9 lights use 12 watts
- Expandable to 18 lights
- Simple to setup, just stake pre-wired lights into ground, plug-in, link up to hub
- Fully outdoor rated, not submersible
- Note: Entire connected set of lights changes colors, brightness levels. Individual addressing of each light is not possible.
- About $65 for starter set
- Compact, unobstrusive design (about 2.5” square x 1.7” depth)
- Place anywhere near your lights, does not require physical network connection
- Supports up to 50 Sylvania SMART+ devices
- Enables voice control of SMART+ lights from Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant
- Provides software updates to SMART+ products via app
- App available for both Android and iOS
- About $30, depending on site
To be diplomatic, the Sylvania app is just not a fantastic experience. It seems that Sylvania is totally ok with selling smart lights and having their customers control them from someone else’s system. I don’t think they want to be known for their app, it’s just not very intuitive and somewhat hard to use even for an experienced smart home guy like myself. If you’re using HomeKit, you’ll be able to use Apple’s Home app, or the HomeKit app of your choice to control the lights. Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll be able to use Siri to voice control Sylvania’s HomeKit lights, and Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant to control their Zigbee lights when linked up to your favorite smart speaker.
Overall, these are quality smart lighting products with more-than-adequate brightness for someone’s needs. Specifically, I found the Flex RGBW light strips to be much brighter than I expected, and tended to create a richer green than the smart bulb. Deep yellows were also a bit weak, but are hard to produce by nearly any of the compeition. The Gardenspots were by far my favorite product. They’re incredibly unique and can really make your home and backyard quite beautiful at night. Their optical design also produces a bit of a color shift / prism effect which is unexpected but is quite stunning when revealed. Did I mention they were my favorite? ;-)
With its lower price point, good light quality and a wider, more unique selection of smart lighting products, I think Sylvania is definitely worth a look if you’re on a budget. You’ll be able to light up more of your smart home with intelligent lighting for less.
One last thing… While the products I reviewed were specifically designed for 120V systems and North America, there are additional international versions of these products available. Just check with your local version of Amazon or physical stores.
Disclosure: Sylvania supplied the smart lighting products for this review to Smarter Home Life.