Sengled missing manual: Your guide to the budget smart home lighting

Everything you need to know about the Philips Hue rival

The ultimate guide to Sengled
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When it comes to smart light bulbs, Philips Hue is no longer the dominant force. We’ve seen more smart home systems pop up in the last few years, and when it comes to pledging your allegiance to lumens there’s now a decent market of options to choose from.

Sengled has earned a good name for itself by balancing decent quality lighting against a more affordable entry price than what you’ll see from Philips and others. Sengled's bulbs start at $10 a pop, and the fact they don't need the Sengled hub to work means it's relatively cheap to fill your home with smart lights.

However, Sengled has a broad and varied catalogue of products to choose from, all working in different ways. It can be a little daunting, especially when you start factoring in integrations with third-party hubs and smart assistants. That's why we've distilled all the information down into an easy-to-digest guide that will hopefully get you on your way. Here's your missing manual to the Sengled universe.

Sengled missing manual: your guide to the smart home lighting

Sengled: Getting started

If you're familiar with smart lighting, you already know the score here. Sengled makes a range of smart bulbs that run on Zigbee and Wi-Fi so that you can control your lighting using an app or - by drawing on the powers of Alexa and Google Assistant - your voice. You can change brightness and color, create groups, and set schedules. Sengled's bulbs are largely Zigbee devices, and not repeaters, meaning that you may need to think about extending your signal if your Wi-Fi doesn't go the distance.

Bulbs are sold separately, in multi-packs, or in bundles that include a Sengled hub. Yes, like Philips Hue there's a hub that pulls all your Sengled bulbs together. If your home is already cluttered with various hubs, the good news is that you don't necessarily need to add Sengled's - but we'll get to that.

Last thing to mention here: Sengled's products are a bit different between the UK and Europe, a distinction we'll explain throughout. For fittings in the US, Sengled's bulbs fit the standard E26/E27 socket, as well as PAR38, PAR30 and PAR20, while in the UK you can pick up Sengled's bulbs in B22 or E27 fittings.

Sengled: Starter kits

Sengled currently offers four starter packages, which are a good place to start if you’ve decided to commit to the Sengled platform. These kits are made up of two bulbs and a Sengled hub. The most basic - and affordable - is the Element Classic A19 Soft White Kit, which bags you a couple of bulbs and a hub for $39.99. There's also the Element Plus, bulbs that support more variation in color temperature, which come in a starter kit for $59.99.

Sengled Element starter kit
Sengled Element starter kit

For US folks, you've got a few more starter kits to choose from than the Brits - the Element Classic BR30 and the Element Color Plus can both be bought in a package with the hub.

Sengled missing manual: your guide to the smart home lighting

Sengled: Do you need a bridge?

In short, no. Sengled’s Element bulbs work with the Samsung SmartThings, Wink or Echo Plus smart home hubs, and in our testing we’ve found these pairings to be perfectly responsive. As for the more elaborate bulbs, like the security camera bulb, these have their own individual apps that can pair directly to the bulb so long as your Wi-Fi is strong enough to go the distance. We reckon it would make more sense to just pile everything into one app, but for now that’s the way it is.

You do lose a small amount of functionality without the Sengled hub, much like other smart light providers, but most of the things you’ll want to do - control brightness, color, rooms - can be done without. Limitations include not being able to control color temperature on the Element Plus if you’re paired with a Wink hub, but we’d recommend checking the Sengled site if you’re concerned about specifics - a lot of it is covered on there.

We should also say you can’t import scenes and schedules from the Sengled app to, say, Alexa, but you can use Alexa to create your own groups and automations. Same with other hubs.

Sengled Element Classic
Sengled Element Classic

Sengled: The options

There's a lot on offer from Sengled, and it goes well beyond the lumens. Starting with the basic Element lights and moving up to lights that play music and even double as security cameras, you can make a smart home out of Sengled's bulbs alone. Below we've picked out the key ones to be aware of.

Sengled missing manual: your guide to the smart home lighting

Sengled Element bulbs

From $9.99, Amazon |

Kicking off with the basics are the Sengled Element bulbs, which come in white or colored variations. Sengled’s most basic lights here are the Classic A19 Soft White and Daylight bulbs, which cost just $9.99 a piece. Both emit 800 lumens and the Soft White has a color temperature of 2700K while the Daylight, which has less warmth to it, has 5000K.

If you're in the US, Sengled's colored bulbs will cost you a little more at $29.99 each. Sadly, these aren't available in Europe, unless you opt for the Paint bulb (also available Stateside), which does colors but requires a remote to work. Not quite the same, right?

Sengled missing manual: your guide to the smart home lighting

Sengled Pulse audio bulbs

From $99.99, Amazon |

Perhaps surprisingly, Sengled’s bulbs aren’t just about lighting. It offers a couple of bulbs that double as speakers, but will fit into your sockets like any other. Sadly these only work over Bluetooth, so you won’t be able to wire them into your mesh Wi-Fi.

And when you don’t want to play sound through them, they’ll still function as 600 lumen bulbs. Sengled also sells a Pulse Amp Adapter that can be plugged into an existing subwoofer system to make it part of the Pulse bulb orchestra.

If it's music you're after, there's also the Solo Plus bulbs, available in color and non-color variants, which are designed to act better as standalone speakers. I.e they're a tad more powerful.

Sengled missing manual: your guide to the smart home lighting

Sengled security camera bulbs

$129.99, | Amazon |

Wait, what? Your eyes don’t deceive you, Sengled really does have a bulb that doubles as a security camera. It also has night vision and a two-way intercom inside it. It’s got 1080p resolution and 140-degree field of view, while the bulb uses an E26 socket. It's worth knowing right now that you’ll need to choose your storage plan, but the good news is that there is a free option that still lets you make use of motion detection and view footage from the past 24 hours. Paid tiers start at $2.99 a month and increase with longer memory storage and features like motion zones and human detection.

Sengled missing manual: your guide to the smart home lighting

Sengled motion sensor bulbs

From $19.99, Amazon |

Sengled has a range of motion-sensing bulbs for indoor and outdoor use, which will ignite when someone is in the vicinity. The whole range is called Smartsense, but the 1300-lumen floodlights, which start at $19.99, are made for outdoor use, while the LED bulbs kick off at $9.99 and will give you the same hands-free lighting inside your home (though these are water resistant and can be used outdoors if you wish). All of the bulbs can detect motion up to 30 feet and can be bought in single or double packs.

However, despite having motion detection on those floodlights, you won’t get alerts from the app that someone is rustling around in the garden like you would with the security cam bulbs. But you will get ambient light sensing, so they’ll only respond to movement when it’s actually dark.

Sengled missing manual: your guide to the smart home lighting

Sengled Boost

$49.99, Amazon |

Remember we talked about Sengled bulbs not being Zigbee repeaters? Before you start knocking down any walls, consider the Sengled Boost, which has a wireless repeater inside to stretch your Wi-Fi signal further. Sengled says you should be able to extend the range by 100 feet.

And more...

We've covered the big ones, but as we mentioned earlier, Sengled's catalogue is pretty vast, including battery-powered backup lights (that double as flashlights for emergencies) and the Twilight bulbs, which have an auto-dim feature.

There's also the wares announced at CES 2019, which includes the now-released Smart LED bulbs and the Smart LED Multicolor Lightstrip, which we're still waiting on. We're also expecting the Sengled Smart Switch and Smart Sensor to launch in the first half of 2019, too.

Sengled: Integrations

Sengled supports Alexa and Google Assistant, whether that's coming directly from an Echo Plus or via a Google Home (you can't use the Google Home as a hub due to lack of Zigbee support, but maybe that will change soon). Right now at Ambient HQ, we're using Sengled's bulbs with a Samsung SmartThings hub, but we're doing all the controlling via the connected Google Home. If that sounds convoluted, trust us, it works great. And of course, Alexa works too. Both assistants can be used to control brightness, color, groups, or simply to check if the lights are on.

Here are some commands to try:

"Alexa, set brightness of [bulb/group name] to [X%]".

"Ok Google, turn on [bulb/group name].

"Alexa, brighten [bulb/group name].

"Ok Google, are my living room lights on?"

However, voice assistant integrations work a little differently across bulbs. For example, on the Solo Plus and Pulse speaker bulbs, you can stream music from an Echo or Google Home, but even if you have an Echo Plus, you can't change the colors on either unless you have the app, due to them only having a Bluetooth connection.

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