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MY HANDMADE HOME: Product profile Lighting it up (in vivid colour)


Heather tests ‘miracle’ bulbs

Most people know pink is my favourite colour, but I wasn’t expecting the lights in my home office to suddenly start flashing hot pink, soft pink and magenta while I was on a call.

I heard giggles from upstairs as my office exploded with colour like a nightclub at 1 a.m. The kids had gotten hold of my husband’s iPhone. Can you imagine how funny it would have looked if I’d been on a video call?

How did the kids control the lights in my office from another floor? They’d like to say it’s because they’re Hogwarts students, but really it’s because my office now has “smart” lighting that’s controlled by an app.

The folks at Lowe’s and RONA recent sent me the Sengled Element Colour Plus Hub Smart Home Lighting Kit, which retails for about $119. It includes a hub that you plug into your router anywhere in your home (so the bulbs can connect to the internet) and two of the most magical LED bulbs you could imagine.

They look like ordinary white light bulbs and they’re rated to last 25,000 hours (which seems to be the average for LEDs), but they can turn 16 million different colours. Sixteen million!

It took me less than five minutes to (A) locate our router, and (B) plug in the hub. Once I downloaded their app (Sengled Element) and “named” my bulbs, I could set them to lighting schemes like Romantic or Relaxed — or just go wild swirling my finger from neon green to blazing hot pink and royal blue.

Of course, deep red light bulbs aren’t great for being able to see your work very clearly. I felt like I was reporting a séance. So as much fun as it is to play around with the colours, I stick with boring old white when I’m working.

Luckily, there are five different preset white temperatures. I usually stick with cool on 100 per cent brightness, since it matches the rest of the bulbs in our house (bright white 5,000K LEDs). But it’s been nice to have the option to tap the bulbs to Edison (old-school orange-y light that remind you of your grandparents’ house) or warm (soft lighting that’s nice when you’re relaxing).

None of the lights in our homes have dimmer switches, so the idea that a bulb itself can be dimmed (through the app) is basically taking me back to the days of my beloved tap-tap touch lamp. The living room would be much cosier in the evenings, and I’m sure other rooms could benefit from softer (ahem, more flattering) lighting.

I’ve also been having fun with the scheduling feature for the bulbs. Monday through Friday, my office lights automatically turn on at 8:30 a.m. and turn off at 4:30 p.m. to signal that it’s time to wrap up what I’m working on. On the weekends, when I mostly use the room for painting and sewing, I have the lights programmed to come on between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a softer setting.

I must admit, I love getting down there a few minutes before “go time” and working away in semi-darkness, because it’s cool to see them pop on exactly on time. (I’m a nerd, I know.)

Not that we go away much, but I like that if we were away on vacation, we could easily change up the lighting in the house — from our smartphones — to make it look like somebody was home. Much more high-tech than the 1990s-era plastic timer plug we still use on our outdoor Christmas lights. We don’t have a voice-activated assistant like Alexa (yet) but if we did, I could pair it with the Element app and say things like “Alexa, dim the bedroom,”and “Alexa, turn off the office lights,” or “Alexa, set the living room to candlelight.”

Our kids now want Sengled Colour bulbs for their bedrooms so they can have pink or blue or purple lighting in there sometimes. They’re pushing the “they could be our night-light” angle, promising we could dim them really low. It would certainly make it easier to wake them up on a dark morning — I could crank up the brightness and turn the soft turquoise glow into a wake-me-up daylight white.

The Sengled Colour bulbs aren’t cheap (about $44 each at Lowe’s and Rona), so they should be reserved for rooms where you’d actually take advantage of the 16 million colours. Playrooms, kids’ rooms, and maybe living rooms or home offices if you’re into disco dance parties.

But the “classic” Sengled bulbs (which come in different shades of white) are only about $14. You can still control them, dim them and schedule them using the app. These are the ones I’ll be getting for rooms like our kitchen, foyer and master bedroom.

I don’t know if I can justify putting them in our bathrooms, but it would be nice to have a hot bath with dim lighting. Although I might find myself in total darkness — or a laser light show — if the kids get a hold of a phone while I’m in there.

COST: $120

EFFORT: 1 out of 5

RESULTS: 5 out of 5

Heather Laura Clarke is a crafty maker who perpetually has paint smears on her hands, sawdust in her shoes and bits of thread stuck to her leggings. She lives in Truro with her husband, son, and daughter. Follow her adventures at HeathersHandmadeLife.com.

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