Kasa light bulb has great coloration for the bulb, but mediocre app support.

After watching the Marvel Iron Man and Avengers movies, starting in 2008, I absolutely turned my tech gaze to the smart home.  One of the first pieces of my puzzle was my home alarm system Vivint.  Over the past few years, they have migrated from alarm company to a large part of my ecosystem.  With Vivint Smart Home, I have access to controllable door locks, door/window sensors, freeze/fire/carbon monoxide detectors, thermostat, doorbell camera, outdoor cameras, indoor Ping camera, lamp modules, cloud storage and so much more.  Combine this with access to the Amazon Echo and you can imagine that J.A.R.V.I.S is not too far away.

So far one of the hardest pieces to update has been the lighting.  You can purchase individual LED bulbs via the internet, at your local hardware store or multi-purpose stores such as Walmart or Target.  You can also buy expensive kits with or without control hubs. Truthfully, LED bulbs are much cheaper to power, last longer than traditional bulbs, but they do require more initial capital investment.  My wife cannot see spending more than a few dollars for a bulb.  When I showed her comparison charts of power over time, she was more willing to replace bulbs as they burned out.  Slowly we have upgraded/added and now most of the bulbs in the home are LED.  Alas, there is a difference between LED bulbs and smart bulbs.

I was excited to learn about and to review the Kasa Bluetooth Smart LED Light Bulb from Veho.  The E26 bulb arrives in a black cardboard box with clear window.  This allows you to directly visualize the bulb and to not rely on an image.  The bulb is typically shaped and has an upper lighting portion and a lower black portion with a silver screw at the base.  The bulb is a 7.5 watt LED bulb, which is equivalent to a traditional 40-watt bulb.  The bulb is detailed as an E26 screw (Edison socket, invented 1909), which is the standard bulb socket in most USA lamps.  This is not a candelabra bulb, which are typically E12 screws.  The Kasa bulb is purported to last 15 years or 15000 Hours, at 3-4 hours per day usage.  Additionally, this bulb is dimmable.

kasa lighting

It may appear that the hour rating seems a bit low when compared to other LED bulbs on the market that can last up to 25-50,000 hours.  However, the 15000-hour limit seems pretty typical of other similarly featured smart bulbs.  The packaging further details the features of the bulb to include: LED low energy, scheduling, countdown feature, mood presets, 16 million colors, room grouping, dimmable, 15-year life (3-4 hours per day). The bulb is capable of input voltage 100-245V AC at 50/60 Hz, is a standard RGB style bulb, utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 and is app controlled.

The bulb weighs 66 grams and measures 112mm x 60mm.  It has a standard E26 screw and will fit into any standard light bulb screw socket.   These types of bulbs are not meant for enclosed spaces, as they will overheat and potentially damage the bulb.  The bulb will work just fine with the use of an on/off switch.  However, if you do this, plan on not utilizing the app at all.  If you turn off the power to the bulb, the app has to reconnect to the bulb.  I had to close the app and restart it to be able to re-pair the app to the bulb.  If you want a LED light bulb to just turn on/off there are definitely cheaper options than this bulb.  Using the system with a simple on/off switch, you can expect real saving over CFL and Incandescent bulbs.  However, you will lose out on may of the features of the bulb.  This is where the app control comes into play.  Here is also where a quick internet search/Amazon search took away some of the excitement of my tests.

kasa app

The Kasa app is available for download in the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store.  Once downloaded, you will notice a “smart lighting,” bulb icon, and a “smart power,” power gauge icon. Tapping the smart power icon, nothing happened.  Apparently, this is not yet finished and nonfunctional.  A simple coming soon message would be appreciated.  Pressing the little cog icon in the top right will take you to a new screen labeled “Scanning.”  When complete it took me to a page with the following wording:  “Not found bulbs with low version firmware.”  It appears that this is the mechanism to update the firmware. Tap the smart lighting icon and you will navigate to a screen with 6 icons: add bulb, connected, groups, moods, schedule and timer.  Tap add bulb and the app will scan.  “No lighting found, add new bulb?”  This was incredibly weird as I had a single bulb, I was within 1/2 foot of the bulb and it was powered on.  You can touch the add icon ad infinitum, and this will not change.  The add bulb feature is only for more than 1 bulb, as the app syncs with one bulb automatically.  If you tap the connected icon, it will take you to the E26 bulb.  You can select the word “edit” and change the name of the bulb.  I chose to rename my bulb “Living Room Lamp.”

kasa lighting controlFrom the connected icon, you can select the “on” button and this will turn the bulb off and thus change the button to an “off” status.  This sounds odd, but in reality, it feels backward.  The button details the state of the bulb and not the function that the button will then perform.  Since I only have 1 bulb installed, at this time, group settings were not testable.  Selecting timer, you can adjust group or individual devices. Select “set” to the side and set a timer.  I set the timer for 1 minute and waited for the countdown to turn off the light. This was incredibly accurate to turn off the bulb but did not turn the bulb back on.  You can set moods such as “Sleep” and utilize only the red light.  Remember that blue light breaks down melatonin (sleep hormone) and can make getting to sleep harder.  In the mood option, you can adjust the hue, brightness, temperature of the light.  Once you select a color, the other 2 sliders are not functional.  These only work for white light.  You can name the mood and save it for later.   I created a daytime and a sleeping mood.

Navigate to schedule and then note that you can create a functional schedule of the bulb.  Have a go to bed time, a get up time, a fade time to start.  You can adjust the daytime frequency and the color and brightness of the bulb. The app has some neat features and it definitely seems that it has been updated (based on some of the previous reviews I have read). The schedule did not work as well as I would have liked.  I set a schedule for 2336 to turn on the bulb to white and then at 2337 to turn the bulb off.  The result was a green color change at 2336 and the bulb off at 2337.  I set another schedule to turn the bulb on at 2339 and to turn off the bulb at 2340. This worked okay.  Lastly, I created 5 schedules, each changing the color every 1 minute.  This also seemed to work okay.

kasa lighting app

I have read multiple reviews of the device, on amazon and a few other locations, stating that they had issues with the app.  So far I have tested 1 bulb and have not created any group/pairings.  The schedule, moods, timer seem to work okay with a single bulb.  Notice that I used the word okay. The bulb can be controlled with the native Kasa app, but is not controllable with the Home app on my iPhone.  The app itself feels a little clunky and I am disappointed that the Power savings icon is not currently working.  I wish that there were more presets and features within the app.  For example, changing the color of the bulb in the schedule, without actually changing the color of the bulb in real time.  I do not like that the bulb is not IFTT controllable, not Alexa controllable, not SIRI controllable.  This feels like an antiquated smart bulb.  If you are looking for an entry level smart LED bulb, one to give you more control over a single bulb, I would consider this as an option.  Perhaps you just want a bedside table lamp to wake you up.  Maybe you just want a dorm room desk to be more controllable.  It is not a bad system, there just seem to be better options.

The bulb colors are nice, quite nice actually.  This may be the best part of the device.  The lumen output and hues really do a great job.  The biggest issue was connectivity.  If you actually turn the bulb off at the switch and then turn the bulb back on, it reverts to white light and forgets the setting.  Since the phone controls the bulb, your phone must have Bluetooth on and must be near enough to the bulb to connect. You will need to exit from the app and re-enter to reconnect with the bulb.  This eliminates the utility in switch controlled lamps.  Overall,  I would rate the bulb and app at 3/5 stars.

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