When it comes Smart light bulbs, which can be dimmed and made to change color, the most popular product must be Philips Hue, using the Zigbee protocol, which you can control via iOS and Android devices though a Zigbee gateway, and costs about $60 on Amazon. Alternative have started to show up such as iLumi Bulbs, with Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE) technology, that you can control with recent iOS and Android 4.3+ device without the need for a gateway, but with a price starting at $89. If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives, you’d have to turn to Chinese companies such as Yeelight which provides both Bluetooth LE and Zigbee light bulbs, respectively called Yeelight Blue and Yeelight Sunflower.
Yeelight Blue does not require a gateway, but you’ll need a smartphone or tablet that supports Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. Recent iOS 5.0+ devices should support it. If your Android device runs anything below Android 4.3, it won’t support it, and if it run Android 4.3 or 4.4, it may support it depending on your hardware. The company specifically list iPhone(4s,5,5c,5s), iPod touch(5th generation), iPad (3rd,4th generation), iPad mini, XiaoMi 2S, SAMSUNG Note 2, Note 3, Galaxy S4, Nexus 4 has being supported.
If as many people, you don’t have a Bluetooth Smart / BLE capable device, you’ll soon be able to use Yeelight Sunflower as long as you have a smartphone with Android 2.3.3+ and Wi-Fi. The only drawback is that you’ll need to use the small Yeelink gateway shown in the picture below.
Let’s have a look at the specifications for both lights:
- Color Temperature – 6500K White + RGB (16 million colors)
- Luminance – 500 lm. (cnxsoft, for reference, iLumi is 800 lumens and up, and Philips Hue 600 lumens)
- Dimming – Software dimming
- Blue – Bluetooth Low Energy
- Sunflower – Zigbee (Bulb to gateway) and Ethernet (gateway to Wi-Fi router)
- Expected lifetime – More than 20000 hours
- Base Interface – E27
- Power – AC 110-240V 50/60Hz, wattage: 6W, standby power: 0.3W
- Certifications – CCC, FCC, CE (in progress)
- Dimension – Diameter 50 mm, height 104mm
- Weight – 155g
In their download page, you’ll also find a user’s manual in English & Chinese and links to apps, as well as the Bluetooth API documentation, and Android SDK tutorial with demo code for both Sunflower and Blue models in case you want to make your own app. There’s also code for the Arduino-based Zigbee gateway (YeeboxEZ) in github.
With Yeelight Blue, after you’ve installed the app for Android or iOS, you just need to screw in the bulb, and turn on the power to get started. With Yeelight Sunflower you’ll need to connect the gateway to your router via Ethernet as well. I’ve found a demo with Yeelight Blue which quickly shows how it works.
Yeelight Blue is available on DeaxExtreme for $46.68 including shipping, and Aliexpress for $50 an up. It can also be purchased on Taobao for 229 CNY (about $37) excluding shipping. Yeelight Sunflower only seems to be available on Taobao for now where a 3 light bulb packs with gateway costs 600 CNY (about $98). You can find more information on Yeelight.com.