Light­ing it up

Heather tests ‘mir­a­cle’ bulbs

Annapolis Valley Register - - SPORTS - Heather Laura Clarke chron­i­cles the trans­for­ma­tion of her fam­ily’s builder-ba­sic house into a per­son­al­ized House of Dreams – us­ing paint, fab­ric, wood, and her trusty glue-gun.

Most peo­ple know pink is my favourite colour, but I wasn’t ex­pect­ing the lights in my home of­fice to sud­denly start flash­ing hot pink, soft pink and ma­genta while I was on a call.

I heard gig­gles from up­stairs as my of­fice ex­ploded with colour like a night­club at 1 a.m. The kids had got­ten hold of my hus­band’s iPhone. Can you imag­ine how funny it would have looked if I’d been on a video call?

How did the kids con­trol the lights in my of­fice from an­other floor? They’d like to say it’s be­cause they’re Hog­warts stu­dents, but re­ally it’s be­cause my of­fice now has “smart” light­ing that’s con­trolled by an app.

The folks at Lowe’s and RONA re­cent sent me the Sen­gled El­e­ment Colour Plus Hub Smart Home Light­ing Kit, which re­tails for about $119. It in­cludes a hub that you plug into your router any­where in your home (so the bulbs can con­nect to the in­ter­net) and two of the most mag­i­cal LED bulbs you could imag­ine.

They look like or­di­nary white light bulbs and they’re rated to last 25,000 hours (which seems to be the av­er­age for LEDs), but they can turn 16 mil­lion dif­fer­ent colours. Six­teen mil­lion!

It took me less than five min­utes to (A) lo­cate our router, and (B) plug in the hub. Once I down­loaded their app (Sen­gled El­e­ment) and “named” my bulbs, I could set them to light­ing schemes like Ro­man­tic or Re­laxed — or just go wild swirl- ing my fin­ger from neon green to blaz­ing hot pink and royal blue.

Of course, deep red light bulbs aren’t great for be­ing able to see your work very clearly. I felt like I was re­port­ing a séance. So as much fun as it is to play around with the colours, I stick with bor­ing old white when I’m work­ing.

Luck­ily, there are five dif­fer­ent pre­set white tem­per­a­tures. I usu­ally stick with cool on 100 per cent bright­ness, since it matches the rest of the bulbs in our house (bright white 5,000K LEDs). But it’s been nice to have the op­tion to tap the bulbs to Edi­son ( old- school or­ange- y light that re­mind you of your grand­par­ents’ house) or warm (soft light­ing that’s nice when you’re re­lax­ing).

None of the lights in our homes have dim­mer switches, so the idea that a bulb it­self can be dimmed (through the app) is ba­si­cally tak­ing me back to the days of my beloved tap-tap touch lamp. The liv­ing room would be much cosier in the evenings, and I’m sure other rooms could ben­e­fit from softer (ahem, more flat­ter­ing) light­ing.

I’ve also been hav­ing fun with the sched­ul­ing fea­ture for the bulbs. Mon­day through Fri­day, my of­fice lights au­to­mat­i­cally turn on at 8:30 a.m. and turn off at 4:30 p.m. to sig­nal that it’s time to wrap up what I’m work­ing on. On the week­ends, when I mostly use the room for paint­ing and sewing, I have the lights pro­grammed to come on be­tween 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a softer set­ting.

I must ad­mit, I love get­ting down there a few min­utes be­fore “go time” and work­ing away in semi-dark­ness, be­cause it’s cool to see them pop on ex­actly on time. (I’m a nerd, I know.)

Not that we go away much, but I like that if we were away on va­ca­tion, we could eas­ily change up the light­ing in the house — from our smart­phones — to make it look like some­body was home. Much more high-tech than the 1990s-era plas­tic timer plug we still use on our out­door Christ­mas lights. We don’t have a voice-ac­ti­vated as­sis­tant like Alexa (yet) but if we did, I could pair it with the El­e­ment app and say things like “Alexa, dim the bed­room,”and “Alexa, turn off the of­fice lights,” or “Alexa, set the liv­ing room to can­dle­light.”

Our kids now want Sen­gled Colour bulbs for their bed­rooms so they can have pink or blue or pur­ple light­ing in there some­times. They’re push­ing the “they could be our night-light” an­gle, promis­ing we could dim them re­ally low. It would cer­tainly make it eas­ier to wake them up on a dark morn­ing — I could crank up the bright­ness and turn the soft turquoise glow into a wake-me-up day­light white.

The Sen­gled Colour bulbs aren’t cheap (about $44 each at Lowe’s and Rona), so they should be re­served for rooms where you’d ac­tu­ally take ad­van­tage of the 16 mil­lion colours. Play­rooms, kids’ rooms, and maybe liv­ing rooms or home of­fices if you’re into disco dance par­ties.

But the “clas­sic” Sen­gled bulbs (which come in dif­fer­ent shades of white) are only about $14. You can still con­trol them, dim them and sched­ule them us­ing the app. These are the ones I’ll be get­ting for rooms like our kitchen, foyer and master bed­room.

I don’t know if I can jus­tify putting them in our bath­rooms, but it would be nice to have a hot bath with dim light­ing. Although I might find my­self in to­tal dark­ness — or a laser light show — if the kids get a hold of a phone while I’m in there.

COST: $120 EF­FORT: 1 out of 5 RE­SULTS: 5 out of 5

PHO­TOS BY HEATHER LAURA CLARKE

Heather was asked to try out the Sen­gled El­e­ment Colour Plus Hub Smart Home Light­ing Kit, which al­lows you to con­trol your light bulbs with your phone.

Us­ing the Sen­gled El­e­ment app, Heather can ad­just the tem­per­a­ture and bright­ness of her bulbs, with pre­sets like Edi­son (above left), Warm, Neu­tral, Cool and Day­light (above right).

Heather (and her kids) like play­ing around with the bold colours, but typ­i­cally she keeps them set on white.

The bulbs can be cus­tom­ized to 16 mil­lion dif­fer­ent colours

My Hand­made Home

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