Today we're taking a closer look at a range of smart lighting options for your home, getting hands-on as we check out all the latest features built-in, and even more that are available via the smart app, finishing up with some google assistant integration!
Looking at the classic style lightbulbs there are a few versions for these. RGB or classic white, Mi or Yee, we'll cover them as a group first and then dive in separately to look at their ideal use scenarios to suit the feature set.
Yeelight General Overview
The Yeelight app is simple, it is really easy to add your lights, to assign them to rooms and play around with them. Picking colours is easy, not as intuitive as the Philips Hue colour wheel, in my opinion, they also have a range of pre-set scenes that are as easy as clicking one button. Brightness control is easy, you can set favourites, you can set a default state, timers, schedules and more. There is a cool colour picker mode that opens up your camera and lets you match your lights to the colour of the thing you selected. Results are not always perfect, but it gets close, and it’s a nice feature.
One of my favourite features is the ‘Flow’ mode, basically, you pick 4 colours and it will flow through those colours. You can change the flow speed and the brightness to help set the scene you want. This is really nice as you can have it flowing through a select range of colours to set the mood you are wanting, much better than just a single consistent colour.
The home screen has three main tabs: Scene, Room, Device. These three views give you different ways of controlling your lights, Hue takes you directly to your rooms, so looking for an individual light is a bit harder. Creating rooms is easy as, just click the plus in the ‘rooms’ tab, click an icon you want, select a name, select which lights you want in that room (it shows if these lights are already in a different room, and asks if you want to move the light to the new room), then click done and there is your new room sitting on the list of rooms. Adding new lights is a piece of cake, click the plus icon in the devices tab, select which type of light you are looking for, then follow the simple instructions.
It is worth noting that when you have a non-colour light in a room, it removes the ability to pick colours or the flow mode for the entire room (though you can go and change the bulbs individually still), I found this really annoying, this is not the same in the Hue system. The Hue system would just try to find a shade of white that went with the colour you picked, more of a warm yellow hue with the warmer colours and more of a cold white with the blues. I found this quite smart and missed that feature when using the Yeelight app.
This bulb is awesome, it looks great, it has this great texture on the body of the bulb that looks and feels premium, rather than just some boring white space (like on the Hue bulbs). All the colours were pretty much exactly what I expected them to be, they were stronger than the Hue bulbs, even when set to the same colour. The Hue bulbs struggle with blue and green, but the Yeelight produced richer and more vivid colours, finally, I could have a deep blue or green, rather than just the lighter/weaker shades offered by the Hue bulbs. This bulb only comes in the popular E27 Screw fitting, which makes sense because most of the market for smart lights use that fitting, but it’s a bit annoying for those with the older colonial B22 Bayonet fitting.
Not everyone is a fan of smart lights that do radical colours, so if you are looking at investing in a lot of these lights, the savings alone vs RGB is a solid motivator. They still offer a wide range of shades of white, everything from a clean cold white for working, to a warm glow for reading or relaxing. It’s basically like a regular light bulb you can buy from a shop, except you don’t have to decide the shade of white when you buy the thing, and you can dim them whenever you want, and control them from your phone or digital assistant, and they last for yonks, whilst saving you on your power bill.
This one is a smart light that simulates the brightness, colour, and even flicker of a candle. Made from high-quality materials this one is ideal for moments that could use a little creative lighting, both inside and outdoors to a certain extent - it's not waterproof so we don't advise taking it camping or for a bath - but for those that enjoy a romantic dinner on the deck this is absolutely perfect.
Yeelight Light Strips
As great as Smart Bulbs and lamps are, take a serious look at the Light Strip Plus from Yeelight. Chuck one of these bad boys along the back of your desk, under your couch or bed, set some background light to your TV, or line your ceiling for ultimate ambience. These light strips come in a 2m length but can be expanded with 1m extensions all the way up to 10m, they are water-resistant and can even be shortened to suit your setup. A big recommendation is to set them to a different colour than the other lights in the room, you can create some epic gradients. Highly worth the investment, especially when compared to its competition in the market that retail for around $150.
Another great option are the night lights, which, thanks to their rechargeable design, are a top option for those looking to add some automatic soft lighting where ever it's needed.
While these aren't smart in the modern sense (no app required) they have sensors that turn the light on when you approach. One charge can give you up to 120 days of use, and charging is as easy as plugging them in with a USB cable. They include both a hook and adhesive strip with removable cover - so you can pop them on the stairs, bathroom, in cupboards, the garage and pretty much anywhere in your home you could use a little more illumination.
Thanks to smart design with that removable plate, you can even pop it off and take in with you on a little late-night journey to raid the fridge, then pop it back into the same spot when you return - perfect!
Check out our video on YouTube below, in which we check out the Yeelight Motion Sensor, trying the various modes and seeing just how good these little lights are!
The Mi colour light is very similar to the Yeelight colour bulb, this is because Yeelight makes the bulbs for Mi. The Mi bulbs have a slightly different design but perform very similar in terms of colours and brightness. The biggest difference in terms of usage is that Mi light takes longer to respond.
This is an interesting product, quite different to the bulbs. This is a desk lamp, it is only shades of white, there are no colour changing options. Due to the nature of a desk lamp, it has physical controls, and they are actually quite smart. There is a single nob that controls it all, push down to turn it on or off, twist it left or right to change the brightness or push and twist to the left or right to change the shade of white from a productivity-inducing white light to a more relaxing and reading friendly warm yellowish light. It is quick and responsive with changing things but has a satisfying lag when you turn it on or off, not the harsh instant on/off you get with most lamps, this makes it feel much more premium and user-friendly.
The lamp also works great being controlled by the app, you can pick scenes to match the environment you want to create, or add it to a room and set your entire room to match the vibe you are wanting, not just from the lamp itself.
Are you wanting a nice light to have sitting on your bedside table? This attractive lamp is the perfect thing to have beside your bed, offering a range of light options for whatever mood you want. Use the reading mode while you relax with a book, the TV mode while binge-watching your favourite shows, perhaps the candle or romance modes for a romantic encounter... Whatever mood you want to set, this lamp has your back. Want to be woken up at a certain time but hate the rude awakenings from your alarm? Set the sunrise mode to gently awaken you with a warm glow set to replicate the sunrise, giving you a great start to your day without waking up those in adjacent rooms. Did I mention that it has awesome touch controls too?
Mix-Matching the Mi and the Yee?
In testing we found the Yeelight app to be superior because all the Yeelight and Mi lights showed up there no problems, but the Yeelight lights didn’t seem to show up on the Mi app.
However, as mentioned earlier in the Yeelight section, the Mi Home app is a far more complete app, and it works with the rest of your Mi Ecosystem products to allow for a much deeper smart home experience, so if you have the extra products or have any desire to expand to other smart home products to help with cooking, cleaning, security, health and fitness and more, then this is the app to use - and if you go full Mi lights it's a non-issue anyway!
We all love the Google Home Mini, it’s so simple, yet so effective. With this I don’t have to find my phone to change the lights, I just call “Hey Google, turn on the lights”, “Hey Google, set the lights to Movie mode”, “Hey Google, set the lounge lights to romance”, “Hey Google, dim the lights”.
The voice controls for the Yeelight and Mi lights are really handy. You can get it to turn on and off the lights, change the colour, scene, brightness and more with simply your voice.
You can add multiple smart devices together in the app for more smart control, linking the Yeelight bulbs and my Mi lights all to the Google Home app, assign them as needed to the bedroom or lounge zones. You can do some really cool things with this and other smart devices, such as the Google Chromecast - such as asking Google to play my favourite show on Netflix set my lounge lights to movie mode, while you're settling down with snacks and a drink!
Having this all set up is now it's easier (and cheaper) than ever before - and the feeling you'll get each time you use it is sure to bring a smile to your face.