Ikea enters smart lighting market with £15 iPhone-controlled bulb

Trådfri bulbs claim to be simpler and cheaper than rivals, but lack colour options and Alexa control.

The Ikea Trådfri smart light range starts at £15Ikea

Ikea has entered the smart lighting market with a range of new products starting at just £15, but with no multicolor bulbs or integration with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa, it has opted for simplicity over sophistication.

Arriving in UK stories in April, the Ikea lights include LED bulbs, lighting panels and doors for attaching to cupboards and sideboards already sold by the Swedish furniture company.

At the heart of the system is the new Trådfri bulb, which can be attached to your existing light fittings. Negating the need for hard-wiring, the bulbs can be controlled either by an included remote control or Ikea's new Trådfri smartphone app.

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The physical control can be positioned anywhere in the room and because the technology is housed within the bulb itself they can be fitted to any regular socket.

The £15 starter kit comes with one bulb and one wireless dimmer switch. Up your budget to £25 and the single bulb comes with a motion-detecting switch which can be programmed to illuminate the room when you walk in and switch the light off when you leave; this sounds good in principle, but could be frustrating in a house-share.

For £29 Ikea sells a kit with one bulb and a more advanced controller which adjusts the bulb's colour (from cool to warm) as well as its brightness.

The kit most likely to be compared to the Philips Hue system costs £69 and includes two bulbs, a remote for controlling brightness and warmth, and a "gateway" which connects to your home Wi-Fi network and hands over control of the bulbs to your iPhone and Ikea's new app. The app lets you control all aspects of each bulb and makes it easy to add more to your existing setup.

The Hue starter kit also includes two white bulbs and a "bridge" to connect your smartphone (but there is no physical wall switch), and costs £59.

Different atmospheres can be created and saved to the app; say you like bright, cooler light when working during the day but prefer warmer, softer light when watching television in the evening, these can be configured, saved and switched between with a tap.

Helen Akinsete, lighting sales leader for Ikea in the UK and Ireland, said: "Our research told us that the existing smart lighting technology was perceived as being too expensive and difficult to understand. With this in mind, we set out to make our smart lighting solutions easy to use and affordable."

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With regard to expanding Ikea's offering of smart home technology in the future, Akinsete said: "We're busy exploring new ways of implementing technology in the home and will continue to develop ranges in the years to come."

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