Home & Garden

Smart bulb recommendations

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 16th, 2018 3:01 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 21, 2018
9 posts

Smart bulb recommendations

Hey All,
My dad just got an Echo for his apartment. He is in a seniors residence and the wifi is shared so there is no possibility of using a router. Does anyone have any suggestions for bulbs that will work with the Echo, and without a router?

Thanks
19 replies
Sr. Member
Jul 2, 2013
688 posts
182 upvotes
Aurora
oftrobertson wrote: Hey All,
My dad just got an Echo for his apartment. He is in a seniors residence and the wifi is shared so there is no possibility of using a router. Does anyone have any suggestions for bulbs that will work with the Echo, and without a router?

Thanks
Yes, you should be looking into bluetooth bulbs https://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_ ... tooth+bulb
Deal Addict
Nov 16, 2008
2322 posts
498 upvotes
oftrobertson wrote: Hey All,
My dad just got an Echo for his apartment. He is in a seniors residence and the wifi is shared so there is no possibility of using a router. Does anyone have any suggestions for bulbs that will work with the Echo, and without a router?

Thanks
Not sure of budget but LIFX work without a hub...may be unnecessary though if he doesn't need colour, etc..lol. Not sure of other brands that are cheaper and do the same.
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
12281 posts
6842 upvotes
Brampton
oftrobertson wrote: Hey All,
My dad just got an Echo for his apartment. He is in a seniors residence and the wifi is shared so there is no possibility of using a router. Does anyone have any suggestions for bulbs that will work with the Echo, and without a router?

Thanks
Home automation and smart assistants were not designed for your dad's situation.

Unless you have an internet connection that he can stay connected to persistently it's not going ot work for you. Alexa's integration happens all over the cloud. So what ever bulb or switch you get needs to connect to wifi or a hub that can connect to wifi to connect to the cloud.

Alexa doesn't do integration via bluetooth, only cloud.
Deal Addict
Jul 3, 2017
3860 posts
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This is actually an interesting question that doesn't have an obvious answer.

There are plenty of WiFi bulbs around, such as those from TP-Link or LIFX (as suggested by redsfan). To set up those bulbs, your phone disconnects from your regular WiFi network and scans for the local WiFi signal put out by the bulb, connects to the bulb, and tells the bulb what WiFi network to use. The bulb then independently connects to the local area WiFi network, gets the internet gateway details via DHCP, and connects to the remote internet service used to control that brand. Your phone also connects separately to that service, and links up with the bulbs. You can enable remote control so that the controlling phone and the bulbs don't even have to be on the same WiFi network. There's no reason I can think of why this wouldn't work in the OP's situation, including control via Alexa.

Or you could buy Bluetooth-controlled bulbs, as suggested by lehmanr. These can be controlled locally by your phone using an app. But I don't know of any that can be controlled by Alexa. Does anyone?

Or you could get a local hub that controls bulbs via Z-wave or Zigbee (e.g., like Phillips Hue). These hubs are meant to wire-connect to a router as far as I know. Does anyone have experience with an exception? Could something like a SmartThings hub or a Wink hub stand on its own, allowing local control via a phone? And could it integrate with Alexa in that case?
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
12281 posts
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Brampton
Exp315 wrote: This is actually an interesting question that doesn't have an obvious answer.

There are plenty of WiFi bulbs around, such as those from TP-Link or LIFX (as suggested by redsfan). To set up those bulbs, your phone disconnects from your regular WiFi network and scans for the local WiFi signal put out by the bulb, connects to the bulb, and tells the bulb what WiFi network to use. The bulb then independently connects to the local area WiFi network, gets the internet gateway details via DHCP, and connects to the remote internet service used to control that brand. Your phone also connects separately to that service, and links up with the bulbs. You can enable remote control so that the controlling phone and the bulbs don't even have to be on the same WiFi network. There's no reason I can think of why this wouldn't work in the OP's situation, including control via Alexa.

Or you could buy Bluetooth-controlled bulbs, as suggested by lehmanr. These can be controlled locally by your phone using an app. But I don't know of any that can be controlled by Alexa. Does anyone?

Or you could get a local hub that controls bulbs via Z-wave or Zigbee (e.g., like Phillips Hue). These hubs are meant to wire-connect to a router as far as I know. Does anyone have experience with an exception? Could something like a SmartThings hub or a Wink hub stand on its own, allowing local control via a phone? And could it integrate with Alexa in that case?
No Alexa only integrates in the cloud there is 0 offline integration.

Basically OP is SOL. Most of the wifi networks in facilities like usually have time limits on their connectivity too. A good/well setup network should require you to log in (Captive) portal to agree to their TOU. They should also have some kind of NAC looking at traffic/clients. But this is me assuming it's done professionally.

Alexa will not integrate over BT. It needs cloud access to access the "Skill" to know how to control things.

Again if this network is a professional style guest network. If not then go nuts and treat it like your own home Wifi and add any old Wifi Bulb and it'll work. Might get interesting when they run out of IPs.
Deal Addict
Jul 3, 2017
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tebore wrote: No Alexa only integrates in the cloud there is 0 offline integration.
But I think the OP is saying that the residence has WiFi internet - otherwise there would be no point in talking about Alexa.
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Feb 9, 2006
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Brampton
Exp315 wrote: But I think the OP is saying that the residence has WiFi internet - otherwise there would be no point in talking about Alexa.
Daijoubu wrote: I think he meant router = hub like the ST/Wink, if so, then any WIFI bulbs

Like the TP-Link ones LB110*
https://www.tp-link.com/us/home-network ... mart-bulbs
At this point has OP even confirmed that Alexa works at this Dad's residence?

I've done a few projects for connectivity and I find it hard to believe they aren't using some type of captive portal for resident wifi. Because if it is like any kind of "professional" guest network it would kibosh anything further plans.
Newbie
Nov 29, 2016
93 posts
66 upvotes
Hey All
Again, thanks for the input.
The Echo is working perfectly at the apartment. Unlike Google Home, Echo allows you to enter captive portal username and password via the app.
A travel router, i believe, is not an option as the apartment has no ethernet outlets to plug in to
Deal Guru
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Dec 11, 2004
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Montreal, QC
hm not sure if the WIFI bulb will be able to deal with the captive portal, I doubt it.

Unless you find some WIFI repeater than can handle this and have Alexa and the bulb connect to it.
Deal Addict
Jul 3, 2017
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There are a couple of methods to deal with a captive portal that requires authorization:

1. Create a private WiFi hotspot. I have a Belkin travel router for example that can link to an area WiFi network for the internet uplink, and then create its own WiFi hotspot on a separate channel. Most Android phones can do that too.

2. Use a device like a laptop or router that can change its MAC address, set it to the MAC address of the device you are trying to authorize, connect and authorize on the captive portal, then change the MAC address back and substitute the pre-authorized device with the same MAC address.
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Feb 9, 2006
12281 posts
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Brampton
Exp315 wrote: There are a couple of methods to deal with a captive portal that requires authorization:

1. Create a private WiFi hotspot. I have a Belkin travel router for example that can link to an area WiFi network for the internet uplink, and then create its own WiFi hotspot on a separate channel. Most Android phones can do that too.

2. Use a device like a laptop or router that can change its MAC address, set it to the MAC address of the device you are trying to authorize, connect and authorize on the captive portal, then change the MAC address back and substitute the pre-authorized device with the same MAC address.
While those methods will work for some networksS
That's a hell of a lot of work because you'll be doing that every hour-day just to keep it working.

It might even get you banned depending on policy.
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tebore wrote: While those methods will work for some networksS
That's a hell of a lot of work because you'll be doing that every hour-day just to keep it working.

It might even get you banned depending on policy.
I agree that it would probably be a lot of effort to keep it working, knowing how often these things need a reset.

It's unlikely to get you banned, as nobody would be aware of it, and it certainly wouldn't be generating excessive network usage just for controlling a few smart bulbs.
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Feb 9, 2006
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Brampton
Exp315 wrote: I agree that it would probably be a lot of effort to keep it working, knowing how often these things need a reset.

It's unlikely to get you banned, as nobody would be aware of it, and it certainly wouldn't be generating excessive network usage just for controlling a few smart bulbs.
Like I said depends on policy. On the networks I've been part of setting up a single user is only allowed a certain number of devices for a certain time and the networks are smart enough to see if you have another switch/router on the network (NAC) if detects something weird it's a temp ban. Smart home devices actually generate a stupid amount of traffic because they're always updating their status.
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Jul 3, 2017
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tebore wrote: Smart home devices actually generate a stupid amount of traffic because they're always updating their status.
Got a reference for that statement? It's obviously not necessary for a smart bulb to communicate much, but I would believe that they do communicate more than necessary. But how much?

I'm pretty sure that a single voice instruction to Alexa would overwhelm any communication volume due to smart bulbs for the day.
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Feb 9, 2006
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Brampton
Exp315 wrote: Got a reference for that statement? It's obviously not necessary for a smart bulb to communicate much, but I would believe that they do communicate more than necessary. But how much?
If you want to see for yourself Just wireshark it.
I wireshark everything that goes on my network.

It's obviously specific to the product.

White papers exist on the topic. In network design it's been a factor for a while because it IoT devices are quite "chatty."

http://www.rroij.com/open-access/a-revi ... ?aid=63427
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6142167/
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7023940/
Deal Addict
Jul 3, 2017
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tebore wrote: If you want to see for yourself Just wireshark it.
I wireshark everything that goes on my network.

It's obviously specific to the product.

White papers exist on the topic. In network design it's been a factor for a while because it IoT devices are quite "chatty."

http://www.rroij.com/open-access/a-revi ... ?aid=63427
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6142167/
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7023940/
Nothing there really that would give us a good handle on real-world traffic. I'm asking because I've noticed that my internet usage recently jumped up by 30 Gbytes/month after I added a Google Home unit and a bunch of smart switches and bulbs. That seems like way too much for home automation to be the cause, but it could easily be something else, like an upgraded Android media player, or heavier usage of a server I run at home. I keep meaning to investigate, but it's sufficiently complicated that I haven't gotten around to tracking down the cause yet because I have a couple of different networks, with lots of both wired and wireless devices, so I'm afraid Wireshark alone won't do it.
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
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Brampton
Exp315 wrote: Nothing there really that would give us a good handle on real-world traffic. I'm asking because I've noticed that my internet usage recently jumped up by 30 Gbytes/month after I added a Google Home unit and a bunch of smart switches and bulbs. That seems like way too much for home automation to be the cause, but it could easily be something else, like an upgraded Android media player, or heavier usage of a server I run at home. I keep meaning to investigate, but it's sufficiently complicated that I haven't gotten around to tracking down the cause yet because I have a couple of different networks, with lots of both wired and wireless devices, so I'm afraid Wireshark alone won't do it.
Just Wireshark a device by device to get ball park.

Speaking generally ( I have a lot of devices from a lot of vendors)
I noticed that during state transitions most devices do a kind of rapid poll to report status to give your app and assistant a nice responsive feel.

They shouldn't be large transmissions, but do they do a lot of transmissions. Large number of small packets.

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