The $10 Connected Color Bulb Is Here (no, it’s not Wyze)

The era of the $40 color bulb has concluded. For me, anyway. And I’m unwilling to actually calculate how much I’ve invested in Hue over the years, as it’d surely make me wince.

For a good long while, Hue was the only game in town. But solid options have sprung up in recent years with downward-trending pricing. Startup Wyze made some positive noise a few weeks back in announcing inexpensive colors bulbs, possibly white-labeled, and shipped only in sets of four ($10.75/bulb) when available in April. Yet, last fall, LED pioneer Cree launched a new line of connected bulbs … including a color A19 that truly hits the magical $10 price point. And you can stroll right into Lowes to grab one today.

Whereas the original Cree Connected was an app-less, Zigbee affair, the new Cree Connected Max line incorporates a Bluetooth+WiFi module for hubless interaction. And the new Cree lighting smartphone app, with an assist from Tuya, incorporates many of the features you’d expect, including groups, scenes, and schedules… along with the requisite Alexa and Google Home integrations. Further, Cree provides some nifty advanced functionality right up front, like audio lighting sync and ‘follow the sun‘ adaptive lighting, without the need for 3rd party apps or having to delve into Hue Labs.

Having test a Cree over the last few days, all I have to say is: Color bulb; for $10! From an established, name brand company. It does exactly what you’d expect, rather well, and at a compelling price point. And, as my family contemplates an upcoming home move, I’m plotting connected Cree color in all sorts of places I wouldn’t have previously considered. Cheaper than a Hue White bulb and only $2 more than a pure tunable Cree white, why not go wild? Look, here’s a $57 color 6-pack — less than $10 a bulb. The only caveats to be aware of are Cree doesn’t yet natively support HomeKit, which could be a deal-breaker for some, and they haven’t yet implemented local Bluetooth control beyond setup. But Cree seems quite committed to this space, so beyond the current Connected Max line, I imagine we’ll be seeing additional bulb styles, switch/dimmer-type accessories, and expanded functionality down the road. Here’s to hoping!

8 thoughts on “The $10 Connected Color Bulb Is Here (no, it’s not Wyze)”

  1. Is there a Homebridge plugin for those who need HomeKit integration? I moved my Wemo wifi plugs over to Homebridge control and they pretty much stopped having their notorious connectivity issues.

  2. Here’s what I still haven’t figured out. In rooms with normal light switches, like my kid’s rooms, if I put a bunch of these bulbs in their overhead lights, I know they’re going to curse (they’re teenagers) that they have to use an app or tell Google to turn on the light. And that brings me to why I keep replacing light switches (where I’ve got the neutral wire) instead of bulbs. What’s the solution here? Surely I can’t be the only one that wants to, at least sometimes, use the light switch…?

  3. Rich, you have two solutions.
    Option (a) is to get IKEA bulbs with the associate zigbee’ish remote. Almost as cheap as Cree (though not color, only variable temperature) and mostly reliable.

    Option (b) is to get a smart switch and smart bulb. ONLY a a smart switch gets you on/off smarts, but doesn’t get you variable brightness/temp/color if those are part of what you want…

    Dave, THE issue you’re leaving out your revue is how reliable these Cree bulbs are. Do they randomly lose network connection? Does their HomeBridge plugin randomly time out? Do you have to physically power cycle them once a month?
    Life is just too short to acquire any more IoT a crap that is not 100% reliable and bulletproof.

  4. Yep, I hear ya. Several days of living with a single bulb may not be representative, so we’ll have to see how it goes. But that’s also why I made a point to mention no HomeKit and no local control at this time, as it could be a factor. To reinforce your point, in the short time I ran the Wyze tunable white, I lost control twice which was annoying and why I removed it from rotation. GE recently had a many hour outage that took their bulbs effectively offline. On the flip side, Cree being 1/4th the price of a Hue could make me a little more forgiving.

    I’m not aware of a Cree HomeBridge support, but I also hear you on pain there – it’s why I gave up on the MyQ plugin. Just way too much care and feeding.

    As for switches, in my bedroom I use a Lutron Aurora on top of a traditional switch to handle the light grouping. In my daughter’s room, we use a Hue Dimmer as a replacement for her wall switch. In the mudroom and garage, we’ve abandoned wall switches in favor of Hue Motion sensors. Given Cree’s commercial line, which includes a wired wall scene selector, I assume they’ll eventually provide consumers tangible control and perhaps with less cloud reliance.

  5. I’ve been happy with the Kasa bulbs, plugs, and switches. They don’t lose connectivity often (only once that I recall when someone didn’t turn a lamp off by the lamp controller). I have the lamp in the living room with two Kasa bulbs (I went this route so that I could control each side of the lamp individually), and the other lamp on a plug, and they do good if Alexa cooperates. The can lights all work great using the Kasa switch, even though they are normal (non-smart) LED bulbs. I have colored Kasa bulbs in my room, and am considering a 3-way Kasa switch to allow me to use either my voice or the wall switch (which my wife always uses) to control it. I am considering a couple more switches for the outside lights, too, except I need to find a plate that will accommodate the rocker style with a couple of toggles, and match the decor.

    These Cree bulbs are interesting, especially at this price point ($6 cheaper than Kasa), but I may be too far down the road for what I have. The kids rooms have some off-brand bulbs, and I may consider replacing them with Cree bulbs if we get good reviews on them.

  6. Anthony – Just replace the toggles with rockers and get a plate that’s all rockers. You’ll be happier in the long run. At $10 for a three way and much less for a single, you’ll get a new look for the entire switch bank.

    A recent Woot had $14.99 Meross Homekit single pole and I got 3. Then added 3 new three way plain switches for the other switches in the same banks, plus a new plate for each. A new consistent look overall.

    In the future, if you change another, it’ll be easier too.

  7. I have a number of them and am generally happy with them. They are the predominate bulb in my house with a few Hue thrown in. They occasionally lose sync and start flashing until you resync them. Costco often runs them on sale and you can sometimes get an even better price.

    I have tried the color bulbs in the past and was less satisfied. I had to get a couple replaced under warrantee (no problems) and notice that generally you lose a lot of light intensity when using colors vs white. I would stick to the white bulbs.

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