Today I’m taking a look at some LED RGB smart light bulbs from Amazon, that can be controlled via an app or more usefully with you voice together with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and even via a workaround with Apple’s Siri.
So you can say, “Alexa, turn on the lights”. And you can control the brightness level and the colour too, all with basic voice commands.
They connect to your home WiFi network so you don’t need any additional hubs, and once set up they can be controlled even when you are out and about, using your mobile phone’s data connection, which is a handy security feature if you’re going to be back late for example.
Together with the Smart Plugs I looked at in a recent video, you can easily configure a basic smart home, combining multiple devices into groups to control them all at once.
So let’s take a closer look.
Like the smart plugs I looked at in the last video, these SB50 smart bulbs are also from Teckin.
They can be bought singly, or in a pack of two or four. The two pack I’m looking at cost £24 or $27, which is a similar price to Philips Hue, but you don’t need the £50 or $50 hub that’s a requirement with that system.
They come in simple packaging with a multilingual user manual, which only really covers setup, but should at least get you started.
It’s seems odd to describe the build quality of a light bulb, but it does feel well made. Here in the UK it comes with an E27, 27mm Edison Screw fitting. This won’t of course fit all fixtures, so you’ll need to check. Most ceiling lights in the UK use a Bayonet mount, so I’ve had to use a cheaply available adapter for those. It works fine but doesn’t look very pretty.
The bulb is rated at 7.5W which according to Teckin is 800 lumens, somewhere between a 40W and 60W incandescent bulb. I’ll come to its actual brightness shortly but I did confirm the rated power using the energy monitoring feature of one of the Teckin Smart Plugs.
You’ll need to download the Smart Life app to get setup and control the bulb, at least initially. Scan the QR code on the box or in the manual. Or just search for the Smart Life app in the App Store or Google Play. The Smart Life app is used for many smart home devices from various vendors and is encouragingly well rated. I’ll be demonstrating the the app on an iPhone X, so the app will look a little different on Android.
Opening the app for the first time you’ll be prompted to “Allow notifications”, which in the case of this app I would. Annoyingly you have to register to use the app and setup the bulbs, either via an email address, or mobile phone. You’ll be sent a verification code and then you’ll have to create a password.
When you login, you’ll need to create a family. Call it what you like, and tap on location to pick up your current location. You can then define your rooms, or just accept the defaults. You can change all of this later anyway.
Screw the bulb into the light’s mount, and turn the light on. Tap on “Add Device” | “Smart Lighting” | “Lighting Devices”. Confirm the bulb is flashing rapidly. If it isn’t, turn it off, then turn it on and off twice and then on again all fairly quickly and it should start flashing. You’ll be prompted for a WiFi password and a message that only 2.4GHz WiFi networks are supported. Most routers come in dual-band configuration so you should be ok. But if you’ve configured your router as 5GHz only, you’ll need to run it dual-band to use these smart bulbs.
It takes around 20 seconds for the bulb to be added and you’ll get a confirmation message when it’s done.
Tap on the “Edit” icon to change the name to something more meaningful and choose the room you want the bulb allocated to. We’ll call this bulb “Study lamp”.
Tap on Completed to finish the setup. The light will be white and at its brightest setting, which is quite acceptable – enough for a small room at least. The colour temperature of the light is 6000K which is towards the blue end of daylight, and I imagine a little cool for most people’s tastes.
From the “Home” screen we can turn the light on and off, or if we tap on the light we have further controls with the big button in the middle of the screen now turning the bulb on and off.
Under “White Mode” we can set the brightness level.
Under “Colour Mode” we can choose any colour we want by dragging around the colour wheel or directly tapping a particular colour. We can also adjust the saturation and brightness.
Unfortunately, whilst brightness in “White Mode” is more than acceptable, in “Colour Mode” the bulb is very dim. It varies depending on the colour chosen, but using the light meter on my camera, even the brightest colour was only a tenth of the brightness in “White Mode”.
“Scene Mode” lets you choose from a number of presets with rather random names. Night, Read, Meeting and Leisure aren’t configurable and just change the bulb colour.
The next four modes are adjustable. “Soft Mode” pulses a single colour on and off. Tap on Edit to change that colour and tap on the icon next to edit to configure saturation, brightness and the speed of the pulse. These settings will be saved.
“Colours” switches between up to 6 colours which you can configure with the edit button. Tap on the colour, and tap the + icon. You can tap on the colour swatches to change a colour, and you can tap delete to remove a colour.
You can again configure the saturation, brightness and the speed of switching for a truly psychedelic effect!
“Colorful” just turns a single colour on and off. You can change the colour, saturation, brightness and speed.
The “Gorgeous” mode is just like the “Colours” mode but fades smoothly between the colours. You can again configure up to 6 colours, and change the saturation, brightness and speed.
You can’t change the names of these Scene Modes or add any more.
Finally under “Schedule” you can set a timer for when you want the light to come on and off. And you can choose on what days you want this to repeat. Tap on “Save” to add further events. You can delete an event by swiping to the left.
You can easily add additional bulbs. The WiFi password is saved so setup is quicker. We’ll call this second bulb “Study light”. If we tap on the 3 dots in the upper right corner, we can create a Group, adding the “Study lamp” and “Study light” and we’ll call it “Lights”. We can now turn both lights on and off with a single tap.
From the Home screen we can filter devices by rooms. Here we can also see other smart devices, like the Smart Plugs we setup in the video linked down below.
I can tap the microphone icon to control the individual bulbs or a group of bulbs with my voice. So I can say “Turn the Study Lamp on”.
On iOS you can add a widget to the Today View, to quickly turn any bulb or group of bulbs on or off.
A neat feature of the smart bulbs is you can control them from anywhere. As long as they are connected to your home network, you have complete control whenever you have a connection to the internet, even via your mobile phone’s data network.
Linking with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
The Teckin smart bulbs are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home which makes controlling them even easier.
Unfortunately there’s no Apple HomeKit support at this price point, but you can use Siri shortcuts to control your lights using just Apple’s Siri, which I’ll discuss shortly.
To setup with Amazon Alexa, you’ll need an Alexa enabled device, like an Echo Dot or you could use the Alexa app on your phone. Make sure you’ve completed the setup in the Smart Life app and everything is working as it should. Also make sure you have meaningful names, since you’ll be using these same names with Alexa.
Download and open the Amazon Alexa app. Tap on the three lines in the top left corner of the screen and select “Skills and Games”. Tap search and enter Smart Life then “Enable this Skill”. You’ll be prompted to login into your Smart Life account to authorise the link with Alexa. You’ll then be prompted to “Discover Devices”, which will find all the smart bulbs you’ve configured. With more than one, you can configure them in a group, or tap Skip.
Now you can say, “Alexa, turn on the Study lamp”. Or you can control your devices from the Alexa app under the Devices tab.
Alexa understands many commands without any setup too. You can says things like “Alexa, turn the Study lamp to 50% brightness”. Or “Alexa, turn the Study lamp to Blue”.
If you add new devices in the Smart Life app, these will be automatically picked up by Amazon Alexa, and you’ll be able to control them using the name you chose at setup.
Setup is similar with Google Home. Open the Google Home app, tap on “Set up device”| “Works with Google” | search for “Smart Life” and login to link the two accounts. Choose the devices you want to control and choose the device location. You can now control the bulb using Google Home.
You will have to remember to leave your light switches on for this to all work. Getting out of the habit of turning the light off when you leave the room, is a bit strange, as is having to tell Alexa to turn the lights on when you enter a room. Rather than just flicking a switch. The Philips Hue system has accessories like their smart wall switches that can control the system without voice, that get around this issue and negate the need for a physical light switch all together. But it starts getting expensive very quickly if you go that route.
In the Smart Life app you can create Scenes to control multiple devices – not just smart bulbs, at the same time. Tap on Smart, then Scene, then “Add Scenario”. We’ll set up a scenario to turn on all the lights and also the heater we setup in my last video on smart plugs. Add the lights and the heater and tap the switch function to have them turn on. Provide a name for this Scenario – I’ll call it “Lights and Heating”. This will be immediately controllable with one button from the Smart Life app and automatically via Alexa. So we can say “Alexa, turn on “Lights and Heating””.
Although Apple HomeKit isn’t supported, we can easily make this a Siri Shortcut, to perform this action just using an iPhone or even an Apple Watch. Tap on “Add to Siri” on the Scene page and choose the shortcut we just created. Record any phrase you like, so for example “Good Evening”. And then can we can say, “Hey Siri, Good Evening”. And our scene will be activated.
There’s also an Automation mode under the Smart tab where we can activate the bulbs and other smart devices, based on conditions such as the weather or temperature outside, or sunrise or sunset in your location.
If you’re after a relatively inexpensive way of adding some voice activated smart lights to your home, I don’t think you would be disappointed with these bulbs from Teckin.
Setup is fairly straightforward out of the box, but can be a bit fiddly if you have to manually get the bulb in its flashing setup mode.
The 6000K white light is quite harsh, and rather disappointingly the RGB lighting is too dim to be of any real use for most people.
But considering these bulbs don’t cost much more than the price of a timer switch for your plug socket, they are a convenient solution for controlling your lights for security purposes. And you can even turn on your lights when you’re out and about, when you’re going to be back home late for instance, another useful security feature.
If you’re not concerned with the RGB features, or being able to dim the lights, you could get a Smart Plug for your lamps, which will give you similar functionality and is a little more versatile. It won’t matter what fitting your lamp has, and you can use your standard warmer light bulbs. But these bulbs are a great option for your ceiling lights if you can get used to not using the light switches. And if you had lots of them in a group, being able to tell Alexa, say, to turn all the lights off when you leave the house could save some energy. Being LED bulbs they should last a long time too – Teckin quote 30,000 hours!
I would like to see the bulbs available with more light fittings, and with a warmer colour temperature option. And some inexpensive WiFi switches for your wall would also be good. But they do make a reasonably priced introduction to smart lighting for your home.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any specific questions, please do ask below in the comments section or ideally on YouTube – follow the YouTube link from the video at the top of the page. I do my best to reply to every question.
Amazon link to Teckin SB50 smart bulbs: https://amzn.to/2JfWbWD