This review looks at the Lightify Flex RGBW – Strip lights which use RGBW LEDs to offer the full spectrum of color, plus tunable white. They are brought to you by Osram Sylvania. A basic Flex RGBW kit sells online for under $70, and if you need it, Lightify’s gateway (hub) (using Zigbee technology) typically sells for $29.
Our review of Lightify’s Flex RGBW lighting is our second look at Lightify products. I’m now referring to this Lightify product as Osram Sylvania Lightify or just Sylvania, as I’m hearing that the company will focus, in the US, on using the Sylvania name, and the Osram name in the EU where it is better known.
I never liked websites that make you read an entire review to find out what the reviewer thinks about the product, and whether it’s considered an award winner. So, with that said, I’m pleased to let you know that the Lightify Flex Strips have earned our second highest award: Awesome!
While RGB and RGBW strip lighting has been around a while, and varies a lot in capability and cost, many are limited in smarts. Most come only with a pocket or credit card type remote with limited color selection, and a few special effects. Not so the Lightify Flex strips. First of all, there are two direct ways to control them, and in addition they can be further controlled by some hubs, and by personal assistants such as Alexa or Siri.
One of the first decisions you will have to make is how to control your Lightify Flex Strips. The first kit I received came from the folks at Belkin, makers of WeMo smart products. Going with this solution let’s you control the Flex Strips with the same WeMo hub (called Link) that controls other WeMo devices. Originally, Belkin was selling the Lightify Flex strips, but they seem happy now, to simply let folks using their Controller, to buy the Lightify Flex strips from other sources, the lights still work with the WeMo controller, of course. I already had several working WeMo switches and devices in our Dream Home / Smart Home (such as an external outlet and motion sensor combination, wall switch, etc. (check out those reviews).
I started with the WeMo hub and app, and used it exclusively to control the Lightify Flex Strips for the first couple of months when I had installed the lights as counter lighting under our kitchen cabinets.
Whether the original packaging is Osram, or Sylvania, it will still work with the WeMo controller, and, of course, Lightify’s own Gateway. In addition, a number of hubs, (including Wink, and SmartThings, and I believe the Almond 3 – but not confirmed), can control these lights directly without a separate hub/controller (like WeMo’s or Lightify’s Gateway). When I started with Lightify here, I used that same WeMo hub that I already had controlling four other WeMo products (such as an external outlet and motion sensor combination, wall switch, etc. (check out those reviews).
A lot of the photos of the Kitchen are showing you the fancy color capabilities, but, of course, when cooking in the kitchen, primarily you want the down lights to be a nice, bright white. Here’s what our kitchen typically looks like around dinner time:
About three months ago, I added additional Lightify Flex RGBW strips – this time provided by the Osram Sylvania folks – and installed them above the cabinets, and inside the two sets of glass doored cabinets (also in the kitchen). Not long after completing that addition I switched over to using Osram / Sylvania’s own Lightify hub, which is called Gateway. I already had running their GardenSpot RGB outdoor lighting that’s along our entry way, and a second run, on our side yard, washing the side of the house with color. I reviewed the GardenSpot Mini RGB many months ago.
If you are new to home automation – have no other gear, other than Wi-fi in your home, and a smartphone – you can simply purchase a Lightify Flex RGBW kit plus their Gateway, and you have what you need.
OK, after that introduction, time to get serious – the next page starts with an outline of what will be covered, and then gets into “the basics.”
Sylvania Lightify RGBW Flex - The Basics
The Lightify Flex Strip kit comes with 3 2 foot long strips. Each has RGBW LEDs spaced approximately 1.5 inches apart. Inside the box there is a small power brick and and a small transmitter/receiver to talk to the hub being used. The basic kits typically sell online in the mid $60’s to high $70 range. The small hub using Zigbee technology – Osram Sylvania’s – can be found bundled with the 3 strips (typically around $100). Depending on what you are planning, you might want to pick up an accessory kit of connectors which includes right angle ones and more. (see picture later!)
12 Important things to know about Sylvania’s Lightify Flex RGBW lights
- Comes in packages with 3 2 foot strips, a small controller and a small white power brick
- Runs of up to 20 feet can be put together using multiple strips
- Individual strips can be cut to the desired length, cuts can be done every 6 inches
- Maximum power consumption of three strips combined is 36 watts (using 110-120V in the US), or 18 watts using 220-240V in the EU, etc.
- In the photo above, a total of 14 strips are used, so a max power consumption 148 watts (at 110-120V).
- Note that the lights themselves are 12 volt, the power brick provides the power to the lights from your 110-120V outlet)
- Each strip is 24 inches long, 0.5 inches wide, and 0.1 inch tall
- Color Temperature (for white), is tunable from 2700K to 6500K
- The App allows you to save your favorite colors and brightness levels so that the Flex RGBWs will remember and use those settings the next time you power up.
- Compatible with Amazon Echo/Dot – Alexa for voice control, both individual runs, or scenes, so that I can turn them all on at once, or address each of the four runs separately.
- Some hubs can control the Lightify Flex directly without need of the Gateway (that includes SmartThings, Wink, Wink2, and some others.
- Not directly compatible with Apple Siri (there are “work arounds”)
- A Lightify Gateway can support up to 50 Lightify devices
- but 20 feet is the maximum for 1 Flex RGBW
- In our setup there are 14 total strips, but set up as four separate groups/devices, so each group can be controlled separately, our two Gardenspot RGBs takes our total to six, w we can add lots more Lightify lighting, including dozens of individual color or white Lightify bulbs
- Warranty (US) is two years parts and labor
Now I’ve already mentioned that these are RGBW strip lights, not RGB only. That means there’s a white LED as well as RGB. This is a “huge” improvement. RGB lighting, especially strip – or flex lighting, ususally does a pretty poor job of doing a good white. With RGBW like the Flex Strips, not only do you get great white light, but it’s fully tunable, want warm, cool, sunlight, fluorescent, or incandescent type whites? Just dial in the white you want. And that’s exactly the case here. Great whites, and, some pretty dazzling colors as well. In our kitchen for the downlighting of the counters, we use a color temp of 4000K, which is cooler – more blue, than typical incandescent lighting, but still not near as cool as the 6500K maximum temperature.