What Is it: Connected by TCP Gateway Suite: three bulbs, a “gateway” that creates a wireless smart lighting network, and a remote control.
Price and Where to Buy: $143, available at TCPI.com.
Pros: The bulbs turn any lamp into a dimmable lamp—that’s particularly impressive considering that for years, most of us have been living with CFLs that can’t even dim in a dimmable lamp. The system allows you to set on and off times via the app. Any fixtures containing the bulbs can be controlled from outside the home. And the app also lets you create custom “scenes” (for instance, dinner party) for lighting levels that you’ve perfected in advance.
Cons: It’s expensive, and requires some basic set up plus a smart phone or tablet that can host an app. And it’s not great for spots where you regularly use the light switch to turn lights on and off (for instance, the bathroom) because the switch needs to be in the on position for the app/remote to work.
How it Rates:
- Usefulness: 10/10 Nice light quality (similar in color to an incandescent) and with the app, you have the ability to set on and off times for the lamp without using those loud plug-in timers. You can also turn lights on and off from outside the house via the app, which resolves any “did I leave the lights on?” panic, and increases the sense of someone being home even when you’re away.
- Value: 7/10. It’s expensive for sure, but it allows you a high degree of lighting control from outside your house, which is great for security while you travel.
- Durability: 10/10. Since light bulbs are fragile, they’re not physically durable. But, with an advertised lifespan of 23 years (using the bulbs three hours a day), they’ll be with you for the long haul.
- Cool Factor: 10/10. Before trying these, I would have never said that light bulbs were cool. But testing them out gave me a distinct the-future-is-now feeling that was very … cool.
Final Verdict: In general, LED light bulbs are still expensive, but they’re getting cheaper all the time. And if the Gateway Suite were just about light bulbs, the price would be too high. But because it does so much in terms of lighting control, programmability, and adding features (like the ability to dim) to existing lighting in your home, it’s certainly worth considering.
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