Discussion of the advantages of the different wireless technologies for lighting: Bluetooth, Wifi, Z-Wave, Zigbee (continued)
For example when it comes to Wifi, there are a number of smart Wifi thermostats, including several from Honeywell – one of which we’ve already reviewed. I can’t say that I’ve heard of a Bluetooth Thermostat yet, but it’s probably coming. A plus for both Wifi and Bluetooth is that Apple’s HomeKit solution will be supporting both protocols.
Z-Wave – widely used, and the current favorite among the DIY types, has its roots in security – alarm systems, but there are now hundreds of products – lights, wall light dimmer switches, wall outlets, thermostats, motion sensors, CO2 sensors, flood sensors. Z-Wave has been around a long time, and is probably the best overall solution, thanks to being a “mesh” system. The more devices – the more bulletproof the network.
Then there’s Zigbee, which is also mesh, but is probably most associated with lighting. The best known Zigbee devices are Philips Hue lights. There seems to be lower compatibility between Zigbee devices than Z-Wave ones, but that can change.
Which brings us to Bluetooth, the wireless used by these MagicLight bulbs. We all know Bluetooth, it’s easy, you pair devices and things work. Most of us have used Bluetooth to play music from phones, and computers to boom boxes, perhaps your car sound system, etc.
As a solution for a light bulb, Bluetooth is pretty elegant. Simple to set up, simple to use.
There is a downside though – you know it: Range. Generally Bluetooth works for 25-30 feet. Now MagicLight says up to about 80 feet if the signal doesn’t have to pass through walls, doors, etc. When I’m downstairs in the Livingroom I can’t turn on the MagicLights in my home theater. It’s just too far.
That’s the limitation. Until there are Bluetooth repeaters, or similar solutions that make Bluetooth work throughout one’s home, consider that you pretty much have to be in the room, or close.
That makes Bluetooth lighting less than ideal for a fancy whole home lighting system, where everything is at your command from anywhere in the house. Also, you can’t leave your home, be miles away and remember that you forgot to turn off the light. Too late!
But, we’re talking “smart”. The MagicLight bulbs App provides a timer. Once you set the timer, the lights will come on, and turn off when you tell them to. That could be every day, or every Tuesday, or just Saturday and Sunday.
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