EDITOR'S NOTE: Updated Saturday, June 28th to include additional pricing info.
GE introduced its new Link brand of connected LEDs today, adding itself to a growing list of manufacturers releasing smart-lighting options in 2014. The new LEDs are slated to hit the shelves of over 2,000 Home Depots in the US this fall. GE also tells us that they'll be available for preorder on Homedepot.com starting Monday, where they'll sell for less than $15 per bulb.
That's a pretty eye-catching price, and one that might put some pressure on other smart-LED manufacturers trying to sell bulbs that cost significantly more. I'm thinking specifically of the $60 Philips Hue Lux and the $40 Belkin WeMo LED (both of which have yet to arrive to consumers), though we've also seen new smart-LED offerings from companies like Samsung and LG.
Bucking the pricing trend set by companies such as those, GE looks to be aiming instead for the kind of affordable price level set by the Connected by TCP Wireless LED Kit, with which it will compete on the shelf at Home Depot. TCP's kit comes cheap, with bulbs that sell for about $17, but with more of a market share and undeniably greater brand recognition in the lighting aisle (this is the company of Thomas Edison, after all), GE might be in a better position to flex its muscle here.
The Link LEDs will come in three varieties: a common, A19-shaped 60W replacement with a color temperature of 2,700K that costs $15, an indoor, BR30-shaped floodlight that also shines at 2,700K and retails for $20, and a PAR38 spotlight rated for indoor and outdoor use that glows at 3,000K and costs $25.
That 60W replacement model is rated to last 25,000 hours, and will put out 800 lumens from 12 watts, giving it an efficiency rating of 67 lumens per watt. That's respectable, but not quite as high as the Connected by TCP LEDs, which put out 73 lumens per watt. Other LEDs we've tested recently have pushed that efficiency score even higher. Cree's new Three-Way LED, for instance, is capable of putting out over 100 lumens per watt.
Like the smart bulbs from Philips, Belkin, and TCP, the Link LEDs will require a hub in order to communicate with your Android or iOS device. GE's hub plugs directly into a wall outlet, and costs $30. You'll also be able to purchase a $50 starter kit with a hub and two 60W replacement Link LEDs.
Interestingly enough, the ZigBee-based Link Connected LEDs aren't a direct product of GE's partnership with New York-based startup Quirky, but they will be fully programmable through Quirky's Wink app, which controls other Quirky+GE-branded smart-home products, such as the Aros Smart Air Conditioner and the Pivot Power Genius.
Moving forward, it'll be interesting to see whether the new Link LEDs get their own channel on the online automation service IFTTT, which recently introduced channels for the majority of Quirky's smart-home lineup. Something else worth watching will be SmartThings, a growing home automation network that's already integrated both Quirky products and third-party smart LEDs into its family of compatible devices. Both destinations feel like smart fits for Link.