What is it?
Smart bulbs connect wirelessly through a special wireless router in your home to all your web devices (PC, tablet, smart phone). The client app permits flexible scheduling and remote control.
How does it work?
A smart bulb kit consists of wireless-ready LED bulbs or fixtures and a wireless router that connects to the internet and sends control messages to bulbs and fixtures.
What are the most appropriate applications?
The technology is intended primarily for the residential market—especially smart home enthusiasts. Similar technology is available for commercial and industrial uses, however this usually involves controlling fixtures instead of individual bulbs.
What are the savings?
Though some of these products have earned the ENERGY STAR label, product ads boast mostly about the controllability and novelty features of the product—not energy savings. Decent savings are possible if you replace an old incandescent bulb with one of these, or if you routinely forget to turn your lights off.
For example, if you replace four 60-Watt compact fluorescent bulbs with this product, you could expect to save about a quarter per year (assuming 2,000 hours annual usage and $0.10/kWh). People who can’t remember to switch off their lights might save an additional 40-50 cents per year by using the product to reliably schedule their lights off.
What are the non-energy benefits?
The biggest non-energy benefit is a high level of controllability, including: voice activation, security, colored light, and ability to interact with other media such as music, movies, and games.
What is the cost?
Typical cost is $25-$30 per bulb (including wireless transmitter and web interface), though sale prices can be as low as $15 per bulb. Retailers are selling protection plans for this product–evidence that it belongs in a different product category than ordinary, disposable light bulbs. Energy cost savings would not exceed the cost of the product before it wears out.
What is the status/availability of the technology?
The product is available for sale now.
What kinds of incentives/programs are available?
Incentives would be the same as for LED light bulbs and fixtures.