I was definitely fascinated by the smart home trend at CES back in January, and particularly the smart light bulbs. Though they do seem more like a fun special effect rather than a necessity for your home. But after playing around the the energy-efficient LED LIFX bulb in my own home for a few weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re a smart investment, especially for parents, and here’s why.

First, I am impressed with how easy it is to set up and use. You simply pop the bulb into an existing lamp in your home, download their free app (for iOS and Android), and then connect to WiFi. From there, you’re able to do all sorts of fun things with it right from your smartphone or tablet.

LIFX smart light bulb app

Turn the bulb off or on remotely, change the color to fit your mood, set a timer — terrific if you have kids who like to keep a light on in their room to fall asleep, like mine — even try out a few special effects. Strobe lights for your disco party! Or set it to wake you up with the most gentle sunrise hue, something I think a lot of tired parents will appreciate.

I love that the LIFX bulb happens to connects with IFTTT (yes!) and Nest, which so many smarthome-connected families are using these days. That means it can do everything from alerting you if there’s high levels of smoke or CO by turning bright red, or even turning on and off at set times while you’re away on vacation for safety.

Handmade block lamp at Cool Mom Picks indie shop

I will say that it seems to deserve more than one of my not-so-stylish lamps or behind a traditional lamp shade. So if you are thinking about one of these bulbs, consider displaying it in a cool way so you get the most out of it. I happen to love the cool handmade block lamps (above) that are made from reclaimed wood by Few Bits and display it beautifully, even when it’s off.

Or check out this awesome pendant lamp by Tweelingen Design that we carry in our own Great.ly shop. Isn’t that cord fun? Of course you can always get a simple globe, which is what they feature in a lot of their photos. Either way, think about how you’ll use it and that should give you a sense of what lamp makes the most sense.

LIFX smart bulb: Why parents will get more out of it than disco lights

So. Price.

At around $80, the LIFX bulb is definitely not cheap, but it should last you for about 23 years. For real.

While the popular Hue bulb rings in about $20 less,  LIFX is definitely bigger, more powerful (1000 lumens compared to Hue’s 600), and waaaaay nicer to look at, if that’s something important to you. Plus, amortize it over 23 years. Not too expensive.

Now the LIFX app, while updated, still does not have as many bells as whistles as the Hue, which has various companion apps that let you do freaky special effects for Halloween or match your light bulb color to your television show (uh…). But LIFX is continuing to add new features so I imagine it will be comparable over time, and the integrations it does have, like IFTTT and Nest, are pretty solid.

If you’re like me and have been a little skeptical about the practicality of these new smart home gadgets, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by LIFX. I know I certainly was.

You can purchase a LIFX smart bulb on their website. 

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