Sengled Element Starter Kit: Cheap Philips Hue Alternative

Smart LED bulbs are an easy entry into the world of smart home devices, and at just $50 for the hub and two bulbs, Sengled's kit is helping lower the barrier to entry. Priced at $30 less than competing starter kits from Philips and IKEA, the Sengled Element Classic Starter Kit's bulbs and app are simple to use and work with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant (among other things).

While this kit is missing some features found with Philips's app, it's a good option for those who are looking to save some money.



Editor's Note (10/12): This review was updated to reflect the fact that Sengled lights now work with Google Home.

Setup

As is the procedure with the Philips Hue and IKEA Tradfri smart LED lighting kits, I plugged the Sengled hub into my router and then connected to the hub through the Sengled Element Home app on my iPhone (an Android version is also available).

When you set up the hub and the bulbs for the first time, Sengled says it will plant a tree for each of its lights you install, with the goal of reaching 1 million trees. You can select the continent on which the trees will be planted. Somewhat sadly, it said that only 6,711 trees had been planted as of my activating the app.

MORE: Our Favorite Smart Home Gadgets and Systems

Sengled's bulbs are rated for 800 lumens, as opposed to 840 for Philips', but I didn't notice any difference in brightness. IKEA's Tradfri lights are a brighter 900 lumens and can be tuned; that is, you can change the color temperature from warm (2200K) to warm white (2700K) to cool white (4000K).

App

Sengled's Elements Home app is not as comprehensive as Philips', but it gets the basics right. The hub comes pre-paired with the two included bulbs, which is a nice feature for those new to smart home devices. All you have to do is select the room in which the bulbs will be installed. I installed the Sengled hub in the same location as the Philips Hub (on the first floor of my house), and it was able to find a bulb in my attic with no problem.


From the app's dashboard, you can see what rooms the lights are in and choose to turn everything on or off. Diving into each room, you have the same options, plus the ability to dim all the bulbs in that room.

Select the Advanced tab, and you can set up three different schedules for when the lights should turn on and off. There's no vacation mode, nor any built-in geofencing—both features included with Philips' app.

Smart Home Compatibility

Sengled's bulbs will work with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, AT&T Digital Life and Stringify, a competitor to IFTTT. That's pretty good, but Philips Hue lights connect to many more systems.

Other Sengled Bulbs

Sengled sells a variety of other smart bulbs, though its offerings are not as extensive as the Philips Hue lineup. In addition to its Element lineup (which includes A19, BR30), Sengled sells Element Plus bulbs, which let you control the color temperature, from 2700K to 6500K. Sengled's Pulse and Solo lights have built-in speakers, while its Snap and SmartSense bulbs have security cameras and motion detectors, the Boost has a WI-Fi repeater, and the Everbright has a backup battery that provides up to 3.5 hours of light if the power goes out. However, there are no color lights, nor any LED strips, as there are with Philips.

Additional A19 bulbs cost $9.99 each, which is less expensive than the price for additional Philips bulbs, which cost about $13 each. IKEA's Tradfri bulbs cost $17.99 each for the color-tunable white bulbs and $11.99 for the nontunable white bulbs.

Bottom Line

The low price of its starter kit, coupled with its inexpensive replacement bulbs, make the Sengled Element Classic a compelling lighting package for those looking to save some money when kitting out their smart homes. However, Sengled's app, as well as its integration with other smart home systems, is not as robust as Philips Hue's, nor are its lighting options. But if you're looking for a good budget lighting kit, the Sengled Element Classic is a good bet.

Credit: Sengled

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