Emberlight Smart Lightbulb promises to turn any bulb into a smart light, in just three steps: 1) Screw in any dimmable CFL or LED bulb, 2) connect to your Wi-Fi, and 3) take control.
Once set up, Emberlight’s iOS and Android apps allow you to communicate with your Emberlight Smart Socket via Bluetooth LE, giving you the ability to set the mood with a tap, turn on your lights when you approach your home, receive warnings if you forgot to turn off a light, and more.
In other words, unlike much of the competition, Emberlight allows you to control your light source, while they “add connectivity and intelligence.” And if you ever move, you simply take Emberlight with you and set up in your new home.
The Emberlight Smart Lightbulb seems pretty cool, right? But is it the best option for you? Here, we’ll spend our time helping you answer this important question.
How Does the Emberlight Socket Work?
Each Emberlight socket weighs 0.15 pounds, is 54mm in diameter, and adds 35mm in height to a standard Edison 26/27 bulb (73mm total height).
The company tells us you can use any dimmable incandescent or halogen bulb up to 40W, including LEDs and CFLs. The device is designed to work with all main frequencies and voltages up to 240V.
Note: Despite this dimmable bulb requirement, Emberlight tells us the smart device cannot be used on an existing dimmer circuit, such as a wall dimmer.
Keep in mind that, because of the extra height added by Emberlight’s socket, it might not fit all lamps and fixtures. If you run into any issues, the company recommends either selecting a smaller size bulb or purchasing a lamp harp extender.
According to Emberlight, their Smart Sockets work with any incandescent or halogen bulb up to 40W. Image credit: Emberlight
The Emberlight socket is certified for damp environments, but not wet environments. As a result, it can be used on the exterior of your home, as long as it’s not in direct contact with the weather.
In order to operate Emberlight, you’ll need to have an iPhone 5 or later or an iPad 3 or later, with iOS 8.0 and above. Android users will need 4.3 and above.
Emberlight communicates with your device (and other Emberlights) via Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz).
Speaking of communication…
With many smart lighting devices, you’re required to utilize the main hub where all communication between devices occurs.
With Emberlight though, the sockets utilize a master/slave communication architecture. This way, a master Emberlight unit (included in all packages) connects to Wi-Fi, as well as the company’s cloud on the backend, and then communicates to secondary units via Bluetooth.
Despite this architecture, we’re told that you’ll be able to seamlessly control any light independently, as long as a master unit is installed somewhere.
While your range will greatly depend on the layout of your house (as well as wall and floor materials), Emberlight tells us you can expect a range of 100 feet or more.
What Kind of Functionality Does Emberlight Feature? Does It Support IFTTT?
Once paired with your phone, Emberlight’s app gives you the ability to control a single light or an entire room with three functions: On, off, and dim.
Emberlight sockets can also integrate with IFTTT, which is a free web-based service that “allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called "recipes".”
This way, you can program lights to perform specific functions (such as turning on or off) when you approach your house, when you enter or exit a room, or even when your alarm goes off in the morning.
Pro tip: Even with IFTTT, keep in mind that you’ll still be limited by Emberlight’s built-in functionality. In other words, it won’t be able to do anything other than turn on or off, or dim.
According to the company, Emberlight’s app is also “built on a RESTful API with a realtime component for sending commands to devices.”
This way, third-party developers have the ability to create applications that integrate seamlessly with the Emberlight platform (keep this thought in mind, as we’ll come back to it shortly).
All the Emberlight sockets in your household will be assigned to a single owner account, who can then grant access to guests. From there, guests will be able to control lighting (guests are required to create an Emberlight account).
On top of this, all communication between applications, devices, and Emberlight’s cloud servers utilize SSL to prevent unauthorized access.
How much will this technology and ease of use cost?
How Much Does the Emberlight Smart Lightbulb Cost?
Available in White or Dark Grey, each Emberlight Socket is priced at $49.99 and includes free shipping within the U.S.
There weren’t any refund or warranty details listed on the Emberlight website, so we emailed customer service at email@example.com and will update this review as soon as a response is received.
In the mean time, what can we learn from Emberlight’s customer feedback?
Does Emberlight Smart Lightbulb Come With Glowing Reviews?
Co-founded by Steve Arnold, Gordon Kwan, Atif Noori, and Kevin Rohling, the Emberlight Smart Socket first became available to the public through a 2014 Kickstarter campaign.
Overall, many of these articles liked the fact that Emberlight’s smart technology and the bulb were separate, although many felt the price tag might be a stumbling block for those looking to outfit their entire home.
On the other hand, many noted that Emberlight’s added length could keep some bulbs from fitting into tighter fixtures. Even then, it might stick out more than you’re used to, potentially changing the look of some of your lighting.
What Are Consumers Saying?
From a consumer perspective, 57 Amazon customers had given the Emberlight Smart Lightbulb an average rating of 3.7 stars at the time of our research. There, most compliments referenced its easy setup and effortless functionality.
However, several customers didn’t like Emberlight’s limited integration with other smart home platforms (more about this soon), its couple-second delay when turning on a light via a wall switch, as well as its bulky look.
More than one also complained that Emberlight began malfunctioning after a short period of time (wouldn’t turn on, not recognized by the app, couldn’t connect to Wi-Fi network, etc).
The good news is that Emberlight responded directly to many of these complaints in an effort to find a solution. Per one of these responses, the company “will be adding more advanced features, such as scheduling/timers, in the coming months.”
Emberlight’s iOS app had 15 user reviews and an average rating of 3.5 stars. Most seemed to like its ease of setup and use, while many complaints referenced inconsistent or lackluster performance.
On Google Play, the Emberlight app had a slightly higher average rating of 4 stars, based on 21 reviews. Most of the compliments and complaints mirrored those found on iTunes.
Are There Other “Smart Sockets” Like Emberlight?
Emberlight vs. iDevices vs. Everspring
Looking for something that functions exactly like the Emberlight Smart Lightbulb? Including hub-less functionality and standalone app functionality? If so, the only direct competition is the iDevices Socket.
Here, you’ll get a customizable light ring on the exterior, as well as the ability to create custom scenes (e.g. a combination of events activated by some other event). A couple scene examples include:
- Your garage door opens, which automatically turns on your hall and kitchen lights, along with your TV.
- Your alarm goes off, which turns on your bathroom light and tells your coffee pot to start brewing.
On the downside, the iDevices socket will set you back $60, which is $10 more than Emberlight.
Outside of this, perhaps your closest option is the Everspring Lamp Socket Module, which seems meaningfully larger than Emberlight, but it also communicates through ZWave.
This popular communication protocol can provide broader functionality than a plug-and-play system like Emberlight, but might come with a steeper learning curve. You’ll also need a central hub in place with Everspring, which Emberlight helps you sidestep.
If you have the know-how though, at about $28, Everspring is the least expensive of the three.
Traditional Smart Lighting Options
If you’re willing to expand your horizons and consider more traditional all-in-one lighting control systems (the bulb and the electronics are housed in the same unit), Twist and SVET might be two of your first choices.
Twist has the unique ability not only to self-adjust its hues throughout the day and match the sun but also to play music directly from your mobile device. SVET only features lighting adjustability.
At $100, both of these options are meaningfully more expensive than Emberlight.
Finally, keep in mind that there are other lighting automation products out there, such as hardwired outlets and even mountable plates like Switchmate.
While neither of these will provide the level of control delivered by Emberlight and much of its competition, if you’re looking for basic functionality and nearly unlimited customization (using protocols like Z-Wave), they might deliver more value for the money.
Let’s go ahead and bring together everything we’ve discussed.
Will Emberlight Make Your Home Brighter?
We’ve reviewed many of the most popular home automation systems and individual products here at HighYa (several of which we discussed earlier), and we’ve learned that customers tend to fall into one of two camps:
- Those who want plug-and-play setup and effortless functionality
- Those who crave customization
From this perspective, it seems like the Emberlight socket might provide a bit of both. You can be up and running in just a couple minutes, and the IFTTT ability can deliver basic customization.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to create complex scenes or directly integrate Emberlight into your existing home automation setup, you’ll probably want to look at some of the competition.
Another thing perhaps worth considering is that, despite the fact Emberlight has been on the market since 2015, third-party companies don’t appear to have exactly jumped on its API for integration with their products.
In a nutshell, this means you’ll likely have to wait longer until it’s supported by a range of other home automation manufacturers.
Finally, you’ll certainly need a strong Wi-Fi connection in order for Emberlight’s hub to communicate with the app, which might be especially troublesome if you’re planning to use it outside.
Before you go, tell us about your Emberlight Smart Socket experience. Are you a home automation newbie or a seasoned pro? Give us the details in your review below!