Smart lights are a lot less novelty and a lot more commonplace. Mainly because manufacturers have made it easy to set up and manage a smart light ecosystem; no longer do you need a degree in advanced electronics to program your smart lighting system. The ‘anyone can use it’ sentiment is the idea behind Kasa smart light bulbs by TP-Link. In this Kasa smart bulb review I’ll look at what these bulbs are like to install, set up, to use and to schedule, how they integrate into smart home and voice control systems like Google Home and Alexa, and if I think they’re a good addition to my smart home ecosystem.
Kasa Smart WiFi Light Bulbs
Kasa Smart WiFi Light Bulbs by TP-Link are affordable and simple to use. Just make sure you take a little extra time to get used to the app’s design.
- Easy to install and use
- Bright & colourful
- App isn’t intuitive
- Some smart actions are confusing; seem duplicated
Kasa smart bulbs: What you get
I purchased the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi light bulb multicolor 4-pack from Amazon. These lights (unlike Philips Hue) do not need a hub or bridge to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network, which makes them easier to set up, and cheaper too.
Selling for about $10US/$15US each they are in the class of the most affordable smart bulbs you can buy—and particularly attractive when compared to something like Philips Hue which stubbornly still charges $30-50 per bulb and needs a hub to connect. I actually fear for Philips Hue’s future.
I opted to install these in sealed fixtures outside; I couldn’t find anything that says whether or not these are outdoor rated but I’ve used plenty of smart bulbs outside, so I was confident these would be okay. One thing to note: These bulbs will not work with physical dimmer light switches (but of course you can dim them in the app).
The Kasa smart bulbs use the IEEE 802.11 b/g/n wireless protocol and operate on your 2.4 GHz WiFi band. You’ll need iOS 10 or higher, and if you’re on Android, Android 5.0 or higher to use the app.
While you can still turn on the Kasa smart light bulb with your normal light switch, you also have the ability to control it via the Kasa smart app, allowing you to change the color the intensity and even dim the bulb.
As a weird aside, the package I got had one bulb that would just not connect right out of the box. I tried it multiple times until I finally had a closer look at it; turns out it’s a Sengled bulb! It appears someone bought the box, took a light and swapped it with another brand. In hindsight, the box wasn’t sealed, so here’s my advice: make sure your package is factory sealed or inspect each of the bulbs inside.
The Kasa Smart Bulb set up is claimed to be easy , and I’m glad to say I found this was true. Simply screw in the kasa light bulb like you would any other. how to connect kasa smart bulb? download the Kasa smart app, log in or sign up, and follow the setup instructions. You’ll name each light individually so that you know what you’re controlling. You can also group them together to change the color or intensity in an entire room simultaneously. As these were going outside I opted to create an ‘Outdoor’ group.
I was able to get my bulbs set up in just a couple of minutes by following the prompt in the app. My next task was to schedule them to come on and off on their own each day.
Wireless Control with Kasa app
One of the reasons I decided to try these bulbs out is because on Kasa’s website they talk about being very easy to set up, control, and schedule, and they can be grouped together for easier management. While this may be true, it’s sure not intuitive.
Right away I found the Kasa app to be rather confusing. The app seems to prioritize cameras over other smart home devices, and I wasn’t quite sure where in the app to best manage my lights. I was able to see my lights in the Home tab, and though I had been hoping to be able to simply hit one button to turn the whole group on or off, I couldn’t see how to do this.
How to control a group of Kasa lights
Even though I had assigned my bulbs to a location (‘Outdoors’) it turns out this is not the same as creating a group. Grouping lights together is also required for managing more than one bulb at a time.
A word to the wise; it’s also best for you to create groups or rooms before you try to schedule timers and smart automations… More on those in a few moments.
To do this, go to the app’s Home screen and click the + . Choose Group from the menu.
You’ll name your group and you can add a location too if you like. Then you’ll choose the bulbs to have in the group. Well this feels like extra steps and a bit of confusion, the benefit of having both a group and the location is not for me I was able to group my lights in the front yard and in the backyard, providing me additional control and precision.
One early annoyance is that when using the app and controlling a group, you can’t tell if the group lights are already on or not; nothing in the app indicates their current state. It turns out you have to back out of your group and go to the Room or Location to actually see. Or, just look outside.
I wanted to set my lights to turn on to a soft blue glow in the evening. There’s a couple ways to so this. Kasa app has a smart sunrise-sunset timer. To get to it, find the Smart tab along the bottom of the app, then when it opens look along the top for three more tabs (see, confusing) and choose Scenes. Scenes and Smart Actions are quite similar and in fact you can set up a sunset time in both Scenes and in Smart Actions, making it again more confusing.
What’s the difference between Scenes and Smart Actions?
In a nutshell Scenes let you create a shortcut to actions you do every day.
Smart Actions enables device interconnections and home automation, and you can set up multiple triggers and steps. (Think more like Google or Alexa Routines, i.e. When a Kasa Camera sensed motion, turn on a Smart Bulb). For that reason if you’re just looking for a simple on-off for night, a Scene is likely all you need.
When you set a Scene you can choose which lights to control, what colour and brightness they should come on at (look under Set Lighting to adjust). You can also set how many hours they’ll turn off after, or set another sunrise Scene to turn them all off when the sun comes up.
This is a bit clunkier-feeling than some other smart lighting apps (notably Philips Hue or Govee which are much more intuitive) but in the end it works.
Despite being a bit confusing to get a grasp on initially, the scenes and smart automations work quite well. I set up just a simple timer for on at sunset and off at sunrise, and it’s working well for me.
How to add Voice control and Google-Alexa control to Kasa bulbs
You can add voice control to your Kasa smart bulbs by linking them with a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device.
I added the bulbs to both Alexa and Google.
With Alexa it just requires going in to the Alexa app and choosing add device them searching for Kasa; the app will ask you if you’d just like to move over your bulbs from the Kasa app. That’s what I chose and it was done in seconds.
With Google, open the Google Home app and then choose add device and Works with Google. You’ll be able to link your Kasa account and similarly it will pull over your bulbs.
Range of Colour
The kasa smart bulbs offer over 16 million colors according to Kasa. The dimming feature allows you to adjust between a soft glow and a full 60-watt equivalent so that the light can change with your mood or the time of day. The whites are tunable from 2500 K through 26500k, which is a fancy lighting technician way of saying you can have warmer white light (like a sunset) or brighter, starker light (more like a fluorescent) with a click.
Although these bulbs rely on Wi-Fi and are always connected, they use very little energy when in their standby mode, less than 2 watts which will help you save energy and help you out on your electric bill. Adding the bulbs to a routine will allow you to control them and turn them off when no one’s in the room. If you go out and forget to turn off the bulb, you can do so through the app.
While they can draw up to the equivalent of a 60-watt bulb, the actual power draw is only 9 watts. this will give you a lumen output of 800 lumens. The dimming range goes from 1% to 100%. The bulbs operate from temperatures of minus 15 to Celsius up to 40° C (5 F to 104 f).
Overall review: Kasa smart lights
Overall the smart lights seem like a pretty reasonable option. While they’re not as intuitive as some other smart lighting kits I have tried, once you get the hang of how to run them, they’re easy. Other pros for kasa smart bulbs are range of colors, many scheduling and timing options as well as integrations into your larger smart home. I found the lights to be very bright and colourful and we’re easy to control with my voice or the app, and they seem to be managing fine outdoors. Plus the price is right.
When it comes to the downsides, some of the integrations in the app aren’t super easy on the user-interface side like I said, but if you’re willing to take a few extra minutes to learn and understand these are going to be a solid, affordable light for you.
Check out my reviews on other smart light bulbs currently on the market:
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