Yeelight Blue II
well priced, changes colour
dimmer than competition, no multi-user controls
The Yeelight Blue II bulbs let you dim the lights and set the mood without getting off the couch, but they fall short on smart home features.
Yeelight Blue II bulbs are available with bayonet or screw connectors. Measuring 104mm long and 50mm wide, while weighing in at 115gm, the bulbs are more compact than some rivals like the bulky LIFX bulbs. They still run hot, so they’re not recommended for fully enclosed light fixtures.
Setting up the bulbs is simple using the iOS or Android app – search for ‘Yeelight AU’ in the app store. The bulbs communicate with your gadgets via Bluetooth, so you don’t need a home Wi-Fi network or a central control hub.
The Yeelight app controls up to 10 Blue II bulbs, giving each a name and letting you adjust them in groups. You can also control the $69.95 Yeelight Blue Lightstrip, a 2m string of LED bulbs designed to hang around the house.
The Yeelight app has a similar look and feel to the LIFX app. You can turn an onscreen wheel to change the colour of the light, then dial the brightness up or down. There are no colour temperature readings, but the app offers a few pre-sets including sunlight, reading, nature and romantic.
You can save your own pre-sets, dip into a collection of colour swatches or match colours from images in your camera roll. There’s also a disco mode, which changes colour and pulses with your music.
One frustration is that you can only control bulbs from one device at a time. If you adjust the lights in the lounge room and then walk into the kitchen, someone still sitting in the lounge room can’t take control of the lights. The person who left the room needs to kill the Yeelight app, disable Bluetooth or walk out of range of the light. It’s one of the limitations of using Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi – something that you may find upsets household harmony.
The wall dimmer switch has no effect on the Yeelight bulbs. If you turn off the light switch, next time you turn it on you’ll get a standard white light with a slight yellow tinge to mimic an old-school light bulb. But you still may not wrest back control from the device in the next room.
When it comes to brightness, the six-watt bulbs only produce around 500 lumens, which is roughly equivalent to a 40-watt standard bulb and will suffice for some living areas. They’re too dim for my liking and when they’re hanging from the ceiling you may not find them bright enough to read, work or cook. They fall short of the 600-lumen Philips Hue bulbs, 800-lumen Belkin WeMo bulbs and 1000-lumen LIFX bulbs. Philips and LIFX bulbs also change colour, with their extra brightness allowing you to achieve lighter colour shades, which you can’t get from the Yeelight bulbs.
One shortcoming of both the Yeelight and LIFX bulbs is that there aren’t separate colour saturation controls, so your romantic pink becomes a murky red as you dim the lights – perhaps not the mood you’re looking for.
If you’re after smart home features, the Yeelight app only offers a basic timer for switching the light on or off. It’s a one-off setting, not a daily timer. There are no remote access features. It’s all rather basic compared to the slick Belkin WeMo smart home ecosystem, while the LIFX and Philips bulbs talk to the ‘If This Then That’ online automation service.
Bottom line. The Yeelight Blue II bulbs are tempting if you just want basic colour control, but if you’re dreaming of an integrated smart home you should weigh up the competition. It’s also a shame the Yeelight bulbs aren’t brighter for when you’re in the mood to get some work done.