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Emberlight offers BYOB smart lighting (bring your own bulb, that is)

You bring the bulb, Emberlight brings the brains.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology | Wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
2 min read


Smart lighting certainly has a lot of appeal, but what if you've already invested in non-smart bulbs that promise to last decades? San Francisco-based startup Emberlight thinks it has the solution, with a brainy adapter that promises to smarten up your existing stock of light bulbs.

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Essentially, Emberlight is a smart bulb without the bulb. You screw it in, then screw in whatever bulb you want -- LED, CFL, halogen, you name it. Emberlight takes it from there, offering smart scheduling, proximity detection, and full automation controls through direct Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE connections with your Android or iOS device -- no hub necessary.

Emberlight is seeking its capital through Kickstarter, where the campaign has already surpassed its $50,000 goal despite still having well over a month left on the clock. Emberlight's suggested retail price is $60, which converts to roughly £35, or AU$65 (orders outside of the US will need to tack on an additional $15 for shipping). At launch, Emberlight will only be available in Edison 26/27 screw base configurations, but down-light and bayonet-style models are said to be on the way, as well. And it's designed to work with the various main voltages and frequencies in use around the world.

Emberlight's app is compatible with Android and iOS devices that use Bluetooth 4.0. Emberlight

That isn't an insignificant price tag -- especially if you're planning on outfitting multiple lights in your home. Still, there's an awful lot to like about the notion of adding a la carte smarts to existing light bulbs.

One obvious benefit is that by keeping the bulb separate from the smarts, you won't need to throw out (and replace) that smart hardware just because the bulb breaks or burns out. The fact that you'll be able to add smarts to the specific bulb of your choosing is another nice perk, and likely music to the ears of anyone who's picky about the look of their lights.

That said, Emberlight looks like it'll add a good inch or so to the length of your bulb, which might keep it from fitting into tight fixtures. Even if the bulb does fit, there's a good chance that it'll stick out more noticeably than before, which seems like the sort of thing some consumers might find irritating.

Emberlight is scheduled to ship out to Kickstarter backers in February 2015. If you don't feel like waiting that long, consider checking out the Connected by TCP Wireless LED Kit or the newly announced GE Link LEDs , two relatively inexpensive smart-lighting options.