Philips Hue versus TP Link

The best smart light

TP Link has traditionally been a manufacturer of network products such as routers and modems. The Chinese company TP Link is now also involved in the market for intelligent lighting systems. With the Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb LB130, TP Link sells an LED luminaire for E27 threads, the light colour of which you can set individually. You have the choice between different white tones and between real bright colours such as fire red or deep blue.

Wide range of colours

In addition to the light temperature (2500K / soft light up to 9000K / bright daylight) or the choice of colour, you can also regulate the brightness of the light. When turned up to the maximum, the brightness of the TP Link Bulb corresponds to a 60-watt lamp with 800 lumens. According to the manufacturer, the LED only draws 11 watts, as is typically known from LEDs and energy-saving lights.

You operate the LED exclusively via the TP-Link app Kasa for iOS on version 8 and Android from version 4.1; there is neither a separate switch nor a remote control for the lamp. Alternatively, you can also control the light via Amazon Alexa.

Installation takes place in three simple steps: Install the Kasa app on the mobile device, unscrew the old light from the socket and screw in the new LB130 and then configure the smart light with the Kasa app. A special gateway is not required, you connect LED directly to the router. However, you must create a TP-Link user account.

LB130 only supports 2.4 GHz WLAN

The smart lamp connects to your WLAN and communicates with your smartphone via WLAN. There is one hurdle to overcome: The LB130 is only compatible with 2.4 GHz WLANs. If you use a WLAN router that transmits both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz and offers both WLAN networks under the same name, you may have to explicitly rename the 2.4 GHz WLAN so that you can use it for be able to select the smart luminaire specifically. You also have to explicitly connect your smartphone to the 2.4 GHz WLAN in order to be able to access the LED. As soon as you have the TP-Link light from your smartphone or tablet you can disconnect your mobile device from the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and let the router do the automatic assignment.

This is important because experience has shown that the 2.4 GHz WLAN is often overloaded, while many more resources are free in the 5 GHz range and this is therefore preferable because of its better performance. The TP-Link light, on the other hand, has to remain connected to the 2.4 GHz WLAN because it is not compatible with 5 GHz.

If necessary, tell the Kasa app your location and allow you to send messages to your smartphone. Users who data protection take it particularly seriously, but better avoid it, but then also lose an automation function.

During configuration, we are offered a firmware update for the LB 130. Then we can adapt the lamp to our wishes. The lighting control is intuitive. You can set the brightness on a slider and use two colour palettes to select the light temperature or the light colour: one for white light and one for coloured light. As soon as you touch a point on the colour palette with your finger, the LED immediately adjusts its light colour accordingly.

You can set a schedule for the luminaire or have it switch automatically depending on sunrise and sunset. In addition, you can also set up scenes with which you define how different smart home devices should interact with one another. However, this requires further TP-Link devices. In addition, these additional functions only work in conjunction with a suitable TP-Link router. On your own, you can only influence the light from the smart LED.

The basic switching on and off, of the LED is carried out as usual via the light switch on the wall.

The white light with a high red component spreads a pleasant warm light. If you want to host a party, on the other hand, we recommend switching to the coloured light palette and there, for example, a bright red or purple.

The app also measures the power consumption and shows you how much you save on electricity compared to a standard light bulb. The LED can be reset by switching the light switch on and off several times. By the way: If you disconnect the TP Link LED from the WLAN, the last settings are retained!

If you cut the connection between the LB130 and the WLAN router and maybe even uninstall the Kasa app, the light will still keep the last light setting permanently. This is different with Philips Hue, where all the settings made are lost and the lamp always emits bright white light.

Good:

  • Large colour spectrum, pleasant and exciting light atmosphere
  • The app is easy to use
  • Remote access possible
  • Amazon Echo
  • No gateway required

Bad:

  • TP Link user account required
  • Only 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi supported
  • No Apple Homekit

Conclusion

Even if the systems are remarkably similar at first glance, they could not be more different in terms of IoT compatibility, installation effort and price.

If you want to control your lighting with Apple Home or Amazon Alexa, it is difficult to get past Philips Hue. The slimmed-down and cheaper variant is called Osram Lightyfy. Those who prefer to use a physical remote control or use an inexpensive dimmer set with changeable colour should stop at the lamp department the next time they visit Ikea. And all those who do not hesitate and need a small, smart person for the corner of the room may be happy with Elgato Avea. It remains to be seen whether and how the new TP Link LB130 can position itself on the market.