Bulb Reviews: Feit Electric Wifi Smart RGB

Best read here: https://www.sevarg.net/2023/02/26/feit-electric-wifi-rgb-bulb/

I’ve… done something silly. I really, really have.

I’ve joined a lightbulb to my wifi network.

Why? To do some color analysis of a Feit Electric “smart” RGB bulb. I borrowed one to mess around with, and mess around I have, because one of my previous posts involving LED bulbs has raised the obvious question, “Well, what about the smart color changing ones? Are they any better?” And while I object, in almost all possible ways, to the concept of a “smart light bulb,” it’s a valid question and I’m interested in providing some details on it.

If you’ve not read my previous post on LEDs, you should consider it - that gives a lot of the background as to what I’m looking for any why I’m running random bulbs through a spectrometer.

Bulb Overview

If you’ve seen a LED light bulb, you’ve seen this bulb. It’s literally the same “opaque plastic base, translucent plastic cap” that is literally all the LED bulbs on the market. I assume someone produced the equipment to build these in large quantities, and it’s just “what’s out there.” I almost never see any variety in it.

Still can’t see anything interesting through them.

It’s a 9W, 800 lumen light, RGBW. Yup. Checks out.

Tunable white, don’t use with dimmers (but I like my dimmers), and RGB - yup. I’ll show those modes off later. The 2700K color temperature is a somewhat warm glow (think “incandescent at full brightness”), 5000K is daylight, and 6500K is a super blue light.

FCC ID SYW-A19RGBWAGT1. If you ever want to find what’s in a device, search for the FCC ID. You can usually find a decent teardown.

App Overview

The Feit Electric app is available for both Android and iOS in the usual places. Of course, it needs all the permissions for a range of somewhat valid (if annoying) reasons - location, Bluetooth, local network. It seems to fail to find a device if location services aren’t available, which… ugh. I run with location off unless there’s some concrete reason to have it on, but I suppose this won’t annoy most people as much as it does me.

Select a bulb, and you have five options: Dimming, Tunable, Color, Effects, and Schedule.

Dimming gives you a big slider to use to dim the bulb or turn it off at the bottom (being a Smart Bulb, you’re not supposed to actually turn off power to it with a light switch). For these bulbs, at least, dimming is a joke - they dim to maybe 40%, and then turn off. The 1% setting is quite bright, but this is standard enough for LEDs - they don’t dim very well at all. I was hoping that with “always on power” instead of a wall dimmer switch, these would dim deeper, but they don’t, so that right there is a problem in my book.

The various presets along the bottom (“Soft White”, “Cool White”, “Day Light”, and “Recent Color”) appear on all the screens, but if you want to use it as a variable color temperature bulb, the main interface will be the Tunable interface. This gives you a touch-n-drag style slider from fairly red to fairly blue, and these modes seem to have the white LED section up and running. There’s no reporting of actual color temperature that I can find, so just drag and guess.

The next interface is the “color” interface. This drives the various RGB modes of the smart bulb. Drag to the color you want. The “Saturation” slider along the bottom allows you to go from fully saturated colors at 100% down to more or less white at 0%. If you want a pink (for… oh, I don’t know, a gender reveal party that doesn’t involve starting wildfires or catching cars on fire, you can do it by setting the color to red and the saturation slider to about 75%. You get pink. The interface isn’t very useful, and the color wheel doesn’t seem to actually do anything except select the color - one would expect that picking a spot halfway between the center and the rim might do something different with the light, but if it does, I can’t tell what it does. There’s also no ability to specify a color in RGB levels, or with anything more than a “fat finger interface.” Precision is not present.

The “Effects” section gives you the option to do a few things, including strobe colors, strobing a solid color, or various fades. If you want details, go find someone else’s writeup, because they’re no substitute for a proper lighting board, and I simply don’t care enough about what they do to write up much detail on them. You can make your lightbulbs dance for a party. My daughter immediately identified these as “Party Mode” for the bulb, and that’s about it - a neat party trick you’ll rapidly tire of.

Finally, the “Schedule” tab… lets you turn the bulb on and off on a schedule. No color details, no fades of color temperature, nothing fancy like that. You can simply schedule the bulb to turn on and off, and, being an IoT device, it helpfully informs you that the tolerances on this are +/- 30 seconds.

In short, the app is crap. It lets you make your fancy bulb do a few different things, and that’s it. I understand there are better ways to control them, but this app certainly isn’t useful for much of anything in my book.

Spectrum Analysis of White LED Mode

With a spectrometer, it’s super obvious that this bulb operates in one of two modes: “White light LED with adjustable color temperature” mode, or “RGB LED” mode. I expect the red and blue LEDs are being used to help tune the white LED color temperature, but there’s nothing obvious that stands out in the spectrum, so it might be the usual “shifting between two different white LEDs” mechanism in these modes - I’m not exactly sure.

My spectrometer is designed for operation in the 4000-580nm range, so the dropoff in the reds is just a measurement artifact on my unit. Mostly.

Starting off in the “Soft White” (should be somewhere around 2700K), it shows a standard enough “warm white LED” pattern - an awful lot of blue down at the bottom end, and then the broad phosphor arc from the magic that makes white LEDs work. It’s rather high in blue, even in the “warm” preset, compared to some other bulbs. That, alone, should disqualify the bulb from use in the evenings.

As you color shift around, it does exactly what you’d expect - more blue, and a slightly different shape of the rest of the light distribution. Here, in the middle, the right side of the main curve is slightly less fat, and there’s a lot more blue.

Going to the other end (which is very similar to the daylight position - it’s slightly less intense, I think daylight is 5000K vs this bulb’s peak of 6500K), there’s just an awful lot of blue, and then the rest of the light coming from the phosphor coating. Needless to say, this would be awful for sleep in the evening.

There’s also no discernable difference in spectrum as it dims - I see almost exactly the same thing with the LED dimmed as with it on full brightness and a neutral density filter in front of it. This also means that if, for some reason, you want a dim blue light, you can manage it with this. I’d say it’s a sickly grey, but this bulb actually doesn’t dim far enough to get that effect, because, as I noted earlier, it doesn’t dim very far at all.

But, remember: In all these modes, you see the “White LED” spectrum. Blue, followed by the rest. A good incandescent emitter (at full power) during the day will look a lot more like this, though this isn’t nearly as blue as the 6500K setting, obviously.

Now, let’s see how the RGB modes work.

Spectrum Analysis of RGB LED Mode

Once you switch to the RGB mode, the white LEDs go away entirely, and everything you see is a result of the RGB LEDs. Turn the saturation slider down to zero, and you get white light - but it’s not really a broad spectrum white. If you’ve played with RGB LEDs enough, you know what I’m talking about - it’s “RGB White,” and it’s not a very pretty color. Gone is the “blue LED pumped white LED” spectrum curve, and in its place is something very, very RGB. It’s worth noting here that while it looks like there’s not much red, this is a weakness of my spectrometer - the unit I have is optimized for the 400-580nm region, and it’s dropping off pretty hard in response as the colors head off into the reds. The red here is very red - the peak wavelength is somewhere north of 625nm, and my unit simply doesn’t reach up that high in current calibration.

Blue peaks around 460nm, and green peaks around 527nm.

Everything you see in the RGB modes is just some combination of that - red, green, blue. Scroll up a bit and compare this to the incandescent spectrum. Yes, it really does make a difference in how things look.

Here, I’ve got a bit of a “light pumpkin orange” going, and while it looks orange to our eyes, this is the actual spectrum coming out. Red and green.

If I look at the spectrum of something that’s actually orange in reflected (white) light, it looks a lot more like this - though I still think I’m seeing some of the dye colors being reflected (it’s an orange of roughly the same tint on a piece of junkmail).

The differences between a continuous spectrum and a discrete spectrum are best captured in a metric called CRI - Color Rendering Index, which measures how close a bulb gets to rendering like an incandescent light source - either the sun or an incandescent bulb.

I’m sure the white light side is probably fine, but the RGB side is just… gross. I mean, it’s fine, if you’re 7 and want a bunch of flashing colors at your party, but the fact that you can’t mix the white LED in at all, at least with the stock app, means that as soon as you switch to the RGB mode, your quality of light just craters.

Quirks and Gripes

In the color mode, if you have a color selected and go to the dimmer slider to turn the bulb on from the off setting, it will briefly flash bright white before going to the selected color. Why? No idea, but it does it quite reliably. It’s quite annoying.

It’s also only supports 2.4GHz WiFi, which is annoying if you live somewhere that’s crowded on the 2.4 band. It doesn’t matter to me, because I have plenty of clear 2.4, though it also doesn’t matter to me because this is the sort of bulb I wouldn’t leave running in my house.

Final Thoughts

I’m reminded of a quote I’ve heard, that I can’t find a source on, with the following sentiment: “Anyone who says Americans are materialists simply insults the materialists. Americans can’t be materialistic, because everything they surround themselves with is cheap, tacky, poorly made plastic crap.”

And that’s where I have to leave things. This bulb is a cheap (not inexpensive - there’s a difference that matters, and these bulbs aren’t particularly inexpensive) piece of tacky plastic crap with a couple party tricks thrown in. The app is rubbish, and while I’m sure there are things that can be done if you integrate it into your smart home network, I’ve no interest in the slightest in trying to figure out what those are. As-is, out of the box, it’s two light bulbs sandwiched together, that seemingly don’t interoperate, and it doesn’t dim worth a damn. The best I can say is that the white light side seems to do what any other white LED does, and if you want a lot of blue during the daytime, well, this will deliver it. But the rest of it is just ugly light, at best.

And in the “warm” color setting, it’s still shrieking out the blue.

Gross. Do not buy.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.sevarg.net/2023/02/26/feit-electric-wifi-rgb-bulb/

Standard relabeled Tuya bulb by the looks, very much the lower quality end of the spectrum and very limited local control.

I’m kind of waiting for the “dust to settle” around protocols for controlling IoT devices. I’ll likely opt for an open-source event-bridge Raspberry Pi solution on an isolated v-lan, but in the short-term I kind of just want some lights to use at night. Like normal ceiling lights during the day, and a few lamps with “warm light” for night use.

Two items I’m thinking about getting are:

(1) Red LED rope lights (like this one for example DINGFU LED Rope Lights) and
(2) “Sleep” LED light bulbs (like this one for example hooga Sleep Light Bulb)

But I’m struggling to figure out if these options are using “blue” LEDs with a coating, or if it’s an actual “red” LED.

The hooga for example claims:

1600K Color Temperature is lowest amongst all competing LED light bulbs and therefore emits only 0.06% of light from the blue light part of the spectrum

but then in the technical part it lists the light as “‎Amber, Blue”. Does that imply there are two LEDs inside: a blue one and a red one, to produce the amber color? If they certify a color temperature, is that enough? Or should I avoid anything that contains a blue LED inside?

I’m very much reminded of the Juliet Schor quote (I think from The Overspent American): “We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word, and we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word”

I have some of the Hue bulbs and they seem to be somewhat higher quality, and they (or at least the versions I have) run on their own wireless thing that is NOT wifi, you have to have a hub to communicate with them.

The same RGBW issues can be easily noticed; the “whites” are much MUCH brighter than any of the colors you can get, which causes the orange/red shift colors to be noticeably dimmer.

I might have an older “starter set” I’d be willing to part with if you want to poke it and do a review.

Doesn’t surprise me at all. It felt like a white label job through and through.

Eh, I’m just waiting for people to stop using them. Anyone want a Roomba? :smiley:

Those look like just red LEDs - should be fine, other than the generally annoying aspects of near-monochromatic light for living/working.

Regardless of what they are, I’ve got a LED nightlight like that, and it does what it says on the tin. We got a few for my kids rooms, and this is the spectrum coming out of them, which largely matches what they claim. However, the ones you link mention being non-dimmable, which… bleh.

Of course I don’t see the ones I have for sale anywhere…

My guess is that either they’re green pumped, or simply have a thick enough coating to entirely absorb the blue. I’m not sure, but these are a few years old and still do what they say on the tin.

The problem with color temperatures is that they’re “If this were glowing, what would look like this?” sort of averages. Though I believe it’s very hard to get anything below about 2000K with much blue of any sort in it.

You might find something dimmable, though.

I have some of the current gen Phillips Wifi bulbs, will probably do those in two weeks, and they’re certainly nicer - they’ll stay on the white emitter for longer, but as you fade out to a saturated sort of orange, at some point it falls off the white emitter’s range and you get a spike in blue as it goes to pure RGB.

They also dim properly… but only on white modes. Once you go to RGB modes, they won’t obey a wall dimmer and just glitch out. Because I guess when you bolt different equipment together, it doesn’t have to all behave.

Eh… maybe. Do you want it back when I’m done? I’m not keeping any of the smart bulbs around, I’m just going to review them and then sell them of.

However, if someone had some old Cree LEDs, I’d be interested in some of those. I think the early LED bulbs were an awful lot higher quality.

I’m fine either way, we currently use the bulbs and I went a bit nuts buying discounted starter kits, so I have extras I’m not using. They definitely have a “shelf” though the app seems to allow some pretty fine-grained control, and if I remember my research you can use the Zigbee (that’s what it was) protocol and manually drive them (even doing things the app won’t let you do, such as the white LED full on AND the three RGB full on).

I’ll check if I can find some old Crees - I had some but I think they committed hari-kari quite quickly (the “lifetime” of LED bulbs is way overstated, those things seem to die about as often as I remember incandescents). At least they’re not compact florescent.

Any comments on halogen compared to incandescent? The local grocery store is clearing out a bunch of “incandescent replacement halogen” bulbs and I’m considering grabbing some.

Eh, I probably don’t want to bother with getting all that set up. I’m working on analyzing some papercraft spectrometers, should you want to play with them eventually, though!

The halogen incandescents are just halogen capsules in an outer envelope, about 28% less light for 28% less power, I’m not quite sure what the point is. I’ve got a bunch, but haven’t (yet) applied a spectrometer to them. I have a wide range of incandescents to play with and test, though!

freaking lightbulbs reaching end of support life is a joke


IoT is such a shitshow, the amount of e-waste alone caused by this stuff probably far outweighs any savings we ever got from getting rid of incandescent.

about ready to get angry enough that the spectrometer will have difficulty reading the red light I’m giving off sheesh


I mean, look at it this way, it’s the manufacturer forcing you to boost their profit margins by buying new stuff! And I’m sure as a satisfied customer with obsoleted products, you’ll use the same company again, right? Right?

I’m pretty sure that’s what did BionX in, among other things - telling people “I’m sorry, your $3k ebike system is no longer supported and we can’t sell you a new battery for it, would you like a loyalty discount to buy another one?” is a good way to ensure you don’t have repeat customers.

In any case, I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on the IoT train. It’s insecure, artificially obsoleted nonsense, and it’s an awful lot cheaper to just not bother with it in the first place.

I’ve already encountered this once; I have a few best buy “smart light switches” that are HomeKit compatible; they continue to work in HomeKit because Apple (peace be upon Jobs) demanded that HomeKit work without cloud access.

I have not tried to see if they can be JOINED to HomeKit now that the Best Buy servers are gone (and to Best Buy’s credit, they gave every customer a gift card equal to the FULL PURCHASE PRICE of the hot garbage (and yes, spellchecker, hot is fine for IoT here)) but at least they haven’t stopped working (and when they do, they’ll still work as an physical switch).

and once you get done with the “oooo I can tell Siri to turn off the lights” it’s just not really something used much in “real day-to-day life”.

Unfortunately, that will just lead a lot of people to hope they get the next generation of IoC for free. :frowning: Because there are no costs to consider but the money required to buy something, in our modern thinking.

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Thanks for posting this I was thinking about maybe bringing this line in, but I don’t think I will now.