The Amazon Alexa smart home devices are among the most popular and best selling smart home products. Besides having a huge brand name like Amazon behind it, they work with a wide range of 3rd party smart home devices plus they have a low barrier of entry especially the Amazon Echo Dot, which costs just $50 but it can do just about anything its bigger siblings can do. Recently we hunted for LED smart bulbs that are designed to work with Amazon Alexa and being the cheap skates we are, we decided to go with the cheapest bulbs that we can find. That is how we ended up with the Yeelight Smart Bulb.
Before we jump into details about the Yeelight, we would like to touch on what you can do with an Alexa supported smart lightbulb. Having Alexa support means that you can control the lights in your house using voice control. This includes turning lights on and off. You can also adjust the brightness by saying, “Alexa, dim bedroom lights” or “Alexa, set bedroom lights to 25%”. Multiple lights can be grouped together so that you can control all the lights in a room with a single command.
In order for a smart device to work with Alexa, it must have an Alexa skill. A skill is like an app for Alexa that adds capabilities to Alexa which in this case is to communicate with the smart device. There are ways to get Alexa to work with devices that do not have a skill but the voice command is a bit convoluted and not as intuitive. The Yeelight bulb does have a skill and it is marked as Amazon Certified to be used with Alexa.
There are 2 types of lightbulbs that are supported by Alexa. The first are the Zigbee compatible bulbs. These bulbs require an additional hub that communicates with Alexa. They do not work with Alexa without the hub. Examples of this kind of bulbs include the Philips Hue, GE Link and Sengled.
The second type of bulbs are the Wifi enabled bulbs that can communicate directly with Alexa. They do not require an additional hub and can communicate with Alexa using Wifi.
The Wifi enabled bulbs are more expensive than the Zigbee bulbs. However, the Yeelight bulbs cost around the same price as the Zigbee ones and since we do not own any of the Zigbee hubs, it is the most cost effective solution for us.
To set up the Yeelight bulb, all you have to do is to replace your existing light bulb and turn it on. This can be a ceiling light fixture or a table lamp. Then you need to install the Yeelight app from either the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Follow the instructions to link the app to the lightbulb. When prompted to select a server, choose the Singapore server. We found out that this is necessary in order for the Yeelight bulb to work with Alexa.
The Yeelight app allows you to remotely control your lightbulb as long as you have an internet connection. You can also set timers and schedules for the bulb to turn on and off. This is perfect for when you are away from home for extended periods and want to make your home look like it is still occupied.
Once you have connected the Yeelight to its app, you can now pair the bulb with Alexa. Make sure you have enabled the Yeelight skill using the Alexa app. Then use the Alexa app to search for the Yeelight bulb. Once it has been discovered and paired with Alexa, you need to name the bulb and put it in a group if needed. Congratulations, you can now control your Yeelight LED smart bulb using your voice.
The Yeelight bulbs that we tested are the white bulbs. There is also a color version of the Yeelight bulb. Recently Amazon has added the capability for Alexa to control the color of the light. We did not get to try this out since ours don’t support multiple colors.
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