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Next, there are the controllers, and youll need at least one of these to unlock the bulbs functionality. The puck controller lets you turn lights on and off, adjust the colour temperature and the brightness, while the motion sensor allows you to set your lights to be triggered by movement in the room.
Youre also more limited on the type of bulb available within Ikeas range. Most are of the E27 variety, which is a large screw fitting. There are also options for E14 and GU10, but nothing for the common bayonet fitting. Philips Hue and British Gas Hive have a wider selection in this respect, but you can pick up adapters pretty cheaply if you need to Ikea itself does a two-pack for 1.
Trådfri is every bit the smart lighting you might expect Ikea to produce basic with no frills, but beautifully done.
All the extra functionality added by the Trådfri gateway works without hiccup too. You can set individual timers for lights to go on or off, set multiple timers to fool burglars when youre away from home. The rise and shine mode gradually raises the light levels over 30 minutes a more agreeable wake-up call than an alarm clock.
UnlikePhilips Hue, the Trådfri doesnt offer you any colour options. If you were hoping to turn your home lighting into a veritable rainbow, youll want to look elsewhere.
You can also set moods. The White Spectrum bulb comes with three pre-installed focus, everyday and relax but you can also create your own, with your own combination of colour temperature and brightness.
I set up three rooms within five or so minutes. The app is really clear at walking you each step, but there are also loads of helpful set up videos and troubleshooting questions should you run into any problems.
For a start, there are two types of bulbs the White Spectrum (15) and the Warm White (9). The Spectrum is the more talented of the two, and lets you notch up your lighting through five levels of brightness and three different colour temperatures, warm to cool. Its worth the extra 6 that youll pay on the Warm White, which is only dimmable.
People interested in the fancier functionality ofPhilips Hueor British GasHive Active Lightarent going to be swayed by this approach, but anyone who fancies dipping their toes into smart lighting will find this an affordable and accessible way to do so.
Philips Hueoffers similar a setup, as does British Gas with itsHive Active Lightsystem, but the Ikea Trådfri costs around half as much. If youve been thinking of giving your lighting an upgrade, this is a really affordable way to do it.
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Once your Trådfri system is set up, its a cinch to use. Whether you use the app or a controller, the system is responsive with no significant delays between command and action. I did find the controller just a touch quicker at delivering what I asked for, particularly when dimming lights, but its close enough for both to be good options.
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Finally, the Trådfri gateway is a hub that needs to be connected to your router, and unlocks the ability to control your system with the Trådfri app. This is worth it if you want to be able to group lights together and create timers.
The Trådfri system is made up of a number of components, and the best thing is that you can start small and build up over time. Youll need the whole kit and to use Wi-Fi to get the most out of it, but you can go for the basic offline approach too.
Once you have them all installed, you can then group them into rooms or zones as you see fit. This way you can control all the bulbs in a room at once using your controller, but also have individual control over each bulb within the app.
Unfortunately, the motion sensor isnt weatherproof, so it cant be used to control outside lighting. This feels like a bit of an oversight by Ikea, but heres hoping there are weatherproof options in the pipeline.
Not the smartest light system going then, but what it does offer it does very well indeed.
For many, what it offers will be just fine anyway, especially when it does it this well.
Limited functionality compared to competitors
The gateway itself costs 25. The most economical option is to get the 69 gateway kit, a handy two-room starter pack that also includes a puck controller and two White Spectrum bulbs.
Smart-lighting aficionados will want to look elsewhere, but for everyone else, the Ikea Trådfri is a cheap and easy way to make your home lighting that little bit smarter.
Youll then want to start adding your bulbs and controllers to the gateway, which you do using the same pairing button. The app will guide you through this too, and tell you when its added a new bulb or controller successfully.
To get the most out of them, youll need to invest in the Trådfri gateway, which is well worth it. The Trådfri app (iOS/Android) will run you through the process step by step, but its as simple as plugging it in and connecting it to your router via the bundled ethernet cable. The app will then ask you to scan the QR code on the bottom of the gateway to connect to it, and youre all set.
Ikea already owns the flat-pack furniture market, but now the Swedish megastore is taking on smart lighting.
Bulbs from 9, gateway kit costs 69
Bulbs can change warmth and brightness
The physical controllers, on the other hand, should work up to around 10m or so enough from one end of the room to the other.
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The bulbs go bright too, up to around 1000 lumen, and should last for a few years before they need replacing. The official figure is around 25,000 hours, which is a decent lifespan.
Motion sensor can detect movement up to 5m
One thing to bear in mind is that any bulbs will need to be within good Wi-Fi reach of the gateway in order for them to be controllable via the app.
Related:Nest vs Hive which is the best smart thermostat?
The motion sensor is a little different. You still pair it the same way, but then set how long you want it to wait for no movement before switching off a choice of 1, 5 or 10 minutes. You can also set it so it only triggers in night time hours.
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That is, a lighting system that lets you play around with the brightness and colour temperature of your bulbs, set timers, install motion sensors and control it all from your smartphone. In typical Ikea style, this new system has a funky name: Trådfri, which is Swedish for wireless.
The beauty of the Ikea Trådfri system lies in its simplicity.
All handy features for sure, but there are limitations. For example, theres no ability to turn your lights on or off remotely, no geofencing to have them turn on as youre pulling into your road like Philips Hue, and no voice control. Its also a very closed system, so cant get involved in any IFTTT functionality.
You can get started on just one bulb and a controller for a little as 29. Theres no need to connect to your Wi-Fi network, just place the bulb and controller close together and pair them with a long hold of the controllers pairing button.
Plus, Trådfri is in its early days. Im not saying you should invest expecting it to get better, but I wouldnt be surprised if it did.