Reviewed by Louise Totton
One sentence that I never, ever thought I would mutter is “What’s the Wi-Fi password? The lightbulb is asking for it” – yet here we are! I have just set up my new lightbulb on our home Wi-Fi network and the kids have spent the last ten minutes asking Alexa to make their bedroom pink. No, blue. No, purple. What a wonderful world we live in!
We were sent an ENER-J smart bulb to try out, and I have to say that we all think it’s not only great fun, but also very useful and one of those things that has the potential to make your life that little bit easier. The ENER-J smart bulb is available in a number of different bulb types, from Edison Screw to Bayonet and GU10, but all of the fittings in our house are bayonet so that’s the one that we tried out.
On the face of it, the bulb looks like any other lightbulb but this one is a little different; it connects to a Wi-Fi network to allow it to talk to either an Android or iOS app, or to your Amazon Alexa or Google Home devices. The box suggests the bulb takes around sixty seconds to install and the bulb does not require a home hub or bridge – no tech other than a smartphone or Smart Home device is required.
Setting up the bulb is very easy –after downloading the app and setting up an account, the bulb is screwed into the normal light fitting and the wall switch is flicked on and off three times. The smart bulb will then begin flashing to indicate it is in pairing mode and you then turn to the app to complete the process – we used an Android phone. Our app then took around thirty seconds to find and pair the phone with the bulb, and we were done! It really is that simple.
We were then ready to start trying it all out, and as I’m sure you would guess, the kids were more than happy to step in at this point and help out. The app is divided into four modes – white, colour, scene and schedule. The white mode is my favourite and allows the bulb to be altered by both brightness and warmth of colour using two sliders – the sliders mean that there is an almost infinite number of combinations and you can get the ambience of the room just right; dim and warm for night time reading or cooler and brighter if you are working and need to be able to see clearly.
The kids loved the colour mode, which allows them to select the colour they would like the bulb to shine from a colour wheel, as well as the saturation and brightness of their chosen colour. The scene mode is fantastic fun and allows you to select and edit a number of pre-sets and add effects such as flashing and fading lights or changing colours. Finally, the schedule mode allows you to set either regular or one-off programmes to turn the lights on and off, which I think is very handy and a fabulous home security feature.
Pairing with Alexa was also very easy and took us less than five minutes – it would have been much less if we had realised that we needed to enable the Alexa ENER-J skill in our Alexa app first. Once we had done this, the Alexa and the lightbulb paired almost immediately, and we were able to control the bulb with our voice as well as with the app.
The voice control isn’t quite as reliable or customisable as the app control, but that is pretty standard amongst voice-activated smart systems anyway. It does, however, cope very well with commands like Alexa – turn the bedroom light on, Alexa – make the bedroom light pink, Alexa – dim the bedroom light etc. It manages a bit less well with multi-step commands such as turning the bedroom light on with a purple, bright light.
I have to say that I think that this is great fun and also a very handy and useful device. Being able to turn the light on without staggering to the door in the dark is incredibly useful, as is turning the light off at night when I’ve finished reading, without having to get out of bed or when I have an arm full of washing. The ENER-j does everything that it promises and does it all very well – any limitations with the Alexa integration will no doubt be ironed out in the fullness of time when Alexa’s software is a little more sophisticated and I think most people would probably mostly control it with the app anyway.
Available to buy from www.juiceelectricalsupplies.co.uk.