Review: VocoLinc L3 SmartGlow Color Bulb packs a ton of features in at a fair price

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 21
If you're looking for an attractively-priced, feature-packed HomeKit smart bulb for your home, the VocoLinc L3 SmartGlow Color Bulb should be on your short list.




The SmartGlow Color Bulb -- or the L3 for short -- is the third smart bulb offering from VocoLinc. Offering significant upgrades over the L1 and L2, we took a look at the L3 to see if it could earn a spot in our smart home.

Design

The L3 is an E26/27 base, which means it'll fit into most standard lamps, and thanks to its multi-directional operation, you can put it in anything from a ceiling fan to a wall sconce to a floor lamp-- with a slight caveat.

If you're going to place the L3 in a table or desk lamp, you may run into issues. The L3 is a bit larger than an average light bulb. VocoLinc's L3 is about 5.12 inches tall, while a standard household A19 bulb comes in at 4.13 inches in height. For lampshades and desk lamps that don't feature a lot of headroom, there's a chance the L3 may poke out or not even fit at all.

Operational specs

A few of the millions of colors available to this bulb
A few of the millions of colors available to this bulb


Vocolinc suggests that the bulb should only cost you $6.30 per year to operate, assuming that you're running it for an average of three hours a day.

As far as brightness goes, it produces the equivalent amount of light that a 60W light bulb does -- meaning that it comes in just around 850 lumens. 60W bulbs are relatively standard as far as brightness goes, making it an excellent all-purpose bulb. According to VocoLinc, there are 16 million different colors possible with the VocoLinc L3.

Setup and connectivity

Setting up the bulb is easy, and the included instructions walk you through the three-minute-long process without much effort. Be sure to keep the packaging on hand, though, as you'll need to scan the QR code to link it to your router. You'll also need to download the LinkWise app, which is useful if you've got more than one VocoLinc product.

The bulb itself uses Wi-Fi, which means it can be controlled at a distance and eschews the need for a proprietary hub. If you're going to run it with HomeKit, you'll still need a Home Hub to control automation.

Features

The SmartGlow Color Bulb offers plenty of customization options for both brightness and color temperature
The SmartGlow Color Bulb offers plenty of customization options for both brightness and color temperature


Inside VocoLinc's LinkWise app
Inside VocoLinc's LinkWise app


There are many features a user can control from within the LinkWise app. The L3 has options to set to a wide range of colors and color temperatures, perfect for setting the mood of a room. The L3 also offers animated features: Breathe, Blink, Flow, Candle, and Flicker. We were surprised at how much we enjoyed the candle mode but did not find many uses for the blink mode.

The LinkWise app also allows the user to set schedules to turn lights on and off, control lights as groups, or even apply a specific "scene." It also supports voice control for Siri, Alexa, and Google.

Overall

The VocoLinc L3 bulb is an attractive entry-level HomeKit-compatible bulb that offers many of the same bells and whistles of the more expensive brands. We think that most folks would be more than happy to outfit their home with the L3 and save some cash while doing so.

Where to buy

VocoLinc's L3 SmartGlow Color Bulb is available to buy from Amazon for $23.99 for a single bulb, or $42.99 for a two pack.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Pros
  • HomeKit compatible
  • Easy to set up
  • Wide color temperature range
    Cons
  • Bulb is larger than comparable bulbs, limiting the fit into certain fixtures

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,754member
    How would this stack up against the LIFX mini? I already own a few of those and have generally been happy with them.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 16
    oneof52oneof52 Posts: 111member
    I have these bulbs and love them.
  • Reply 3 of 16
    "Vocolinc suggests that the bulb should only cost you $6.30 per year to operate, assuming that you're running it for an average of three hours a day."

    9.5 watts (at full brightness) x 3 hours/day x 365 days/year = 10.4025 kWh/year

    At a national average of 10.53 cents/kWh, that's $1.10 per year.

    In order for this bulb to cost $6.30 per year to operate, it must consuming 5.6 watts even when it's "off". It looks like most of the cost is to keep the bulb connected rather than produce light. A traditional, 60-watt incandescent light bulb that costs less than a dollar will cost $6.91 per year to operate 3 hours per day, but it only produces one color and isn't HomeKit compatible. :)
    edited February 2020 dewmeGG1revenantGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    GG1GG1 Posts: 452member
    zroger73 said:
    "Vocolinc suggests that the bulb should only cost you $6.30 per year to operate, assuming that you're running it for an average of three hours a day."

    9.5 watts (at full brightness) x 3 hours/day x 365 days/year = 10.4025 kWh/year

    At a national average of 10.53 cents/kWh, that's $1.10 per year.

    In order for this bulb to cost $6.30 per year to operate, it must consuming 5.6 watts even when it's "off". It looks like most of the cost is to keep the bulb connected rather than produce light. A traditional, 60-watt incandescent light bulb that costs less than a dollar will cost $6.91 per year to operate 3 hours per day, but it only produces one color and isn't HomeKit compatible. :)
    Interesting calculation, so roughly $5/year/WiFi chip. I'm sure BTLE or Z-Wave will consume far less than WiFi (but with higher latency).

    If you have a house full of WiFi-connected devices (not only bulbs), this could add up. Talk about "phantom" power drain.
    zroger73watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 16
    Sounds like a good entry-level smart light product. If you want to get into the big leagues though of smart lighting the Phillips Hue system is the real deal. Invest in the starter kit and you can grow as your needs change in the future and still be part of a tremendous smart lighting ecosystem.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    mobirdmobird Posts: 623member
    And now, a word from our sponsor
    iOS_Guy80 (announcer)
    "...If you want to get into the big leagues though of smart lighting the Phillips Hue system is the real deal. Invest in the starter kit and you can grow as your needs change in the future and still be part of a tremendous smart lighting ecosystem".
    We now return you to your regularly scheduled show.
    (Imagine - some game show music playing in the background

    /s
    edited February 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 16
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 1,055member
    I'm still waiting for an indoor smart bulb that's capable of more than 60W, perhaps the 75-100W range... or have I overlooked any?
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 16
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,298member
    zroger73 said:
    "Vocolinc suggests that the bulb should only cost you $6.30 per year to operate, assuming that you're running it for an average of three hours a day."

    9.5 watts (at full brightness) x 3 hours/day x 365 days/year = 10.4025 kWh/year

    At a national average of 10.53 cents/kWh, that's $1.10 per year.

    In order for this bulb to cost $6.30 per year to operate, it must consuming 5.6 watts even when it's "off". It looks like most of the cost is to keep the bulb connected rather than produce light. A traditional, 60-watt incandescent light bulb that costs less than a dollar will cost $6.91 per year to operate 3 hours per day, but it only produces one color and isn't HomeKit compatible. :)

    Taking your word for the calculations of the cost of keeping the bulb in standby mode (no reason not to!) -- all of that cost could be eliminated simply by turning the bulb off at the light switch when you leave the room.

    In practice, it's a lot easier than pulling out an iPhone or selecting HomeKit on the Apple Watch -- which is not to disparage either of those because add to functionality of the bulb.   But it's still easier to hit the light switch to start & stop the bulb.  And isn't that what home automation is at least partly about:   Ease and simplicity of use?

    -----------------------
    Thank you AppleInsider!   I didn't know about this bulb, but it sounds like a really nice product at a very reasonable cost.
    edited February 2020
  • Reply 9 of 16
    zroger73 said:
    "Vocolinc suggests that the bulb should only cost you $6.30 per year to operate, assuming that you're running it for an average of three hours a day."

    9.5 watts (at full brightness) x 3 hours/day x 365 days/year = 10.4025 kWh/year

    At a national average of 10.53 cents/kWh, that's $1.10 per year.

    In order for this bulb to cost $6.30 per year to operate, it must consuming 5.6 watts even when it's "off". It looks like most of the cost is to keep the bulb connected rather than produce light. A traditional, 60-watt incandescent light bulb that costs less than a dollar will cost $6.91 per year to operate 3 hours per day, but it only produces one color and isn't HomeKit compatible. :)

    Taking your word for the calculations of the cost of keeping the bulb in standby mode (no reason not to!) -- all of that cost could be eliminated simply by turning the bulb off at the light switch when you leave the room.

    In practice, it's a lot easier than pulling out an iPhone or selecting HomeKit on the Apple Watch -- which is not to disparage either of those because add to functionality of the bulb.   But it's still easier to hit the light switch to start & stop the bulb.  And isn't that what home automation is at least partly about:   Ease and simplicity of use?
    If you turn the bulb off using a switch then you defeat the primary purposes of having a smart bulb in the first place which include: 1) Being able to operate the bulb using your phone, watch, or voice without having to get up and walk across a room to flip a switch and 2) having the bulb operate automatically based on a programmed schedule.
    edited February 2020 StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 16
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,584member
    I'm still waiting for an indoor smart bulb that's capable of more than 60W, perhaps the 75-100W range... or have I overlooked any?
    I haven’t found a smart bulbs with any significant brightness. For some reason they’re all this paltry 60w-equivalent. 
    pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,584member

    zroger73 said:
    "Vocolinc suggests that the bulb should only cost you $6.30 per year to operate, assuming that you're running it for an average of three hours a day."

    9.5 watts (at full brightness) x 3 hours/day x 365 days/year = 10.4025 kWh/year

    At a national average of 10.53 cents/kWh, that's $1.10 per year.

    In order for this bulb to cost $6.30 per year to operate, it must consuming 5.6 watts even when it's "off". It looks like most of the cost is to keep the bulb connected rather than produce light. A traditional, 60-watt incandescent light bulb that costs less than a dollar will cost $6.91 per year to operate 3 hours per day, but it only produces one color and isn't HomeKit compatible. :)

    Taking your word for the calculations of the cost of keeping the bulb in standby mode (no reason not to!) -- all of that cost could be eliminated simply by turning the bulb off at the light switch when you leave the room.

    In practice, it's a lot easier than pulling out an iPhone or selecting HomeKit on the Apple Watch -- which is not to disparage either of those because add to functionality of the bulb.   But it's still easier to hit the light switch to start & stop the bulb.  And isn't that what home automation is at least partly about:   Ease and simplicity of use?

    -----------------------
    Thank you AppleInsider!   I didn't know about this bulb, but it sounds like a really nice product at a very reasonable cost.
    While you could turn them off at the switch, it kind of defeats the purpose of home automation. Scenes, voice commands, etc. I run them this way and haven’t been crippled by the cost of vampiric power consumption. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 16
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,298member
    zroger73 said:
    zroger73 said:
    "Vocolinc suggests that the bulb should only cost you $6.30 per year to operate, assuming that you're running it for an average of three hours a day."

    9.5 watts (at full brightness) x 3 hours/day x 365 days/year = 10.4025 kWh/year

    At a national average of 10.53 cents/kWh, that's $1.10 per year.

    In order for this bulb to cost $6.30 per year to operate, it must consuming 5.6 watts even when it's "off". It looks like most of the cost is to keep the bulb connected rather than produce light. A traditional, 60-watt incandescent light bulb that costs less than a dollar will cost $6.91 per year to operate 3 hours per day, but it only produces one color and isn't HomeKit compatible. :)

    Taking your word for the calculations of the cost of keeping the bulb in standby mode (no reason not to!) -- all of that cost could be eliminated simply by turning the bulb off at the light switch when you leave the room.

    In practice, it's a lot easier than pulling out an iPhone or selecting HomeKit on the Apple Watch -- which is not to disparage either of those because add to functionality of the bulb.   But it's still easier to hit the light switch to start & stop the bulb.  And isn't that what home automation is at least partly about:   Ease and simplicity of use?
    If you turn the bulb off using a switch then you defeat the primary purposes of having a smart bulb in the first place which include: 1) Being able to operate the bulb using your phone, watch, or voice without having to get up and walk across a room to flip a switch and 2) having the bulb operate automatically based on a programmed schedule.

    While those are features, I would not consider them the major features.   Instead, the ability to just brightness and color seem, to me, to be more important.   Flipping a wall switch as you enter or leave a room isn't a lot of trouble.

    But yeh, I do have lights working on a schedule and there I don't mess with the switch.   But those are not smart bulbs.
  • Reply 13 of 16
    LIFX bulbs don’t need a hub to work with HomeKit. I’ll stick with them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 16
    waverboy said:
    LIFX bulbs don’t need a hub to work with HomeKit. I’ll stick with them.
    But they are $60 apiece on Amazon!

    https://www.amazon.com/LIFX-Adjustable-Multicolor-Dimmable-Assistant/dp/B01KY02MS8

    Whereas the VocoLinc L3 are less than half that price, at $20 on Amazon (2 for $37)...

    https://www.amazon.com/VOCOlinc-Multicolor-Dimmable-Assistant-SmartGlow/dp/B07QSJQM1L/

    And also, while we have all been sitting here lamenting the lack of HomeKit-Compatible lamps ("bulbs" are actually plant-pods), the planet has quietly been creating a plethora of HomeKit-compatible multicolor lamps that are much less pricey than the Philips offerings.

    Wouldn't it be nice for AppleInsider to review a few of these somewhat lesser-known HomeKit-Compatible SmartBulbs (SmartLamps)?

    https://www.amazon.com/SYLVANIA-SMART-74484-Bluetooth-Adjustable/dp/B073S5LH41/

    https://www.amazon.com/Bulb-LED-Changing-Bulbs-Compatible-Required-Multicolor/dp/B07VGYBJTH/

    https://www.amazon.com/Feit-Electric-RGBW-OM60-HK/dp/B07J2NNZJM/

    https://www.amazon.com/Koogeek-Changing-Dimmable-Compatible-Assistant/dp/B07DLQQR54/

    https://www.amazon.com/Sylvania-Smart-Home-74988-Adjustable/dp/B078J2HFMV/


    Below are White only (some are "tunable-white"), but Dimmable through HomeKit:

    https://www.amazon.com/iHaper-B2-Smart-Light-Bulb/dp/B07LGTKLHF/

    https://www.amazon.com/Feit-Electric-OM60-SW-HK/dp/B07J2FP389/

    https://www.amazon.com/YEELIGHT-Adjustable-Temperature-Equivalent-Smartphone/dp/B076CJL8DL/

    https://www.amazon.com/Sylvania-Smart-Home-74579-Required/dp/B075KBHXFP/

    https://www.amazon.com/LIFX-Dimmable-Required-HomeKit-Assistant/dp/B072Y5QNKJ/

    https://www.amazon.com/Feit-Electric-BR30-SW-HK/dp/B07J2LVSLR/


    Most of the above are quite reasonably-priced. However, I wonder about the security of the WiFi-connected devices. It would also be nice if AppleInsider's reviews would speak to the subject of WiFi vs. Bluetooth for HomeKit...





    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 16
    Leaning towards purchasing these lights as my primary light source for my room/bathroom in my apartment. I would purchase the LIFX A19 with more lumens but not sure if i want to spend the money. Any other recommendations for smart lights or should i stick with purchasing these L3s?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 16
    iOS_Guy80 said:
    Sounds like a good entry-level smart light product. If you want to get into the big leagues though of smart lighting the Phillips Hue system is the real deal. Invest in the starter kit and you can grow as your needs change in the future and still be part of a tremendous smart lighting ecosystem.
    What makes the Philips Hue the smarter decision to grow your ecosystem overtime? 
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