BeOn Home’s new Home Protection System ($75 – $200) is a set of LED smart lightbulbs that are somewhat unique from anything else we’ve seen. Rather than focusing on simply providing a lighting experience, these bulbs are designed more with home security and protection in mind. While the bulbs fit into a normal socket, each one includes a removable battery and audio sensor module that can power the light even when the switch is off and can also be used to detect doorbells and smoke/CO alarms and respond accordingly. The Smart Modules provide wireless communication between bulbs, and the internal battery allows the bulbs to be used as emergency lighting even during a power outage.
BeON Home sells the individual bulbs for $75 each, or a set of three for $200, allowing for some mixing and matching depending on how many bulbs you need. The three-bulb set doesn’t offer anything additional beyond a discount over buying three bulbs separately. Each bulb includes the company’s unique Smart Module which fits into the middle of the companion LED Light Bulb and provides both battery power and the wireless intelligence. The modules use Bluetooth Smart with mesh technology, allowing them to communicate with each other even when the companion iOS app isn’t available, as well as extending the distance at which the bulbs can be setup — your iPhone only needs to be able to communicate with one of the bulbs to control all of them, for example.
The design of the Smart Module and BeON Home bulbs is actually quite clever, with the module designed to slide right into the center of each bulb. Modules can be easily popped out, inserted, and even swapped between bulbs — the identity and configuration of each bulb travels with the Smart Module — although you likely won’t need to do this once you’ve inserted it, we found it a nice touch that it was so easy to deal with. The Smart Module is also designed to turn the bulb on for a minute or so as soon as it’s inserted, which is a handy feature for screwing the bulb into a socket where less light may be available — it essentially provides its own light.
It’s worth noting that the BeON Home bulbs are an A21 size, slightly larger than a standard A19 light bulb — about 0.25” larger in diameter — so there may be some really tight fixtures they don’t fit into, but they’re actually noticeably smaller than every other Bluetooth LED bulb we’ve looked at, despite the addition of the Smart Module. That said, the Smart Module adds a fair bit of heft to each bulb, and while we didn’t have any problems in any of our fixtures, it’s something to keep in mind, particularly in some ceiling light fixtures where bulbs are normally screwed in horizontally and supported only by the socket.
The bulbs become active as soon as the Smart Modules are inserted, although you’ll probably want to screw them into light fixtures before configuring them. Once you’ve done this, loading up the free BeON Home companion app should take you through the steps of discovering and naming the bulbs. The app is actually designed to deal with configuring several bulbs at once, which makes the setup process even easier, although of course you’ll need to have installed each one of them already to do this. Bulbs will flash during the setup process as each one is discovered and added to your configuration, and basic names are assigned in a numerical order; you can rename your bulbs immediately after the setup is complete, or go back and do it later.
The difference with BeON Home’s bulbs from traditional Bluetooth Smart LED bulbs goes beyond the unique hardware design as well, and as soon as you get into the app it’s pretty clear that the focus isn’t just on using your iPhone as a glorified light switch, or making the bulbs display psychedelic colors (you actually can’t change the color at all, in fact — the bulbs are fixed at a “soft white” 3000K color temperature). Rather, these bulbs are focused almost entirely around providing home protection, as the main menu illustrates with its three categories of Security Lighting, Welcome Home, and Safety Lighting. While the app does provide normal on, off, and dimming controls, the expectation is that most people will probably just use their light switches to control the bulbs.
Plus, with BeON Home’s bulbs providing battery power, the ability to not worry about whether your light switch is on or off is a really nice bonus; most iOS-controlled Smart Bulbs we’ve used are less convenient than you’d expect due to their need to keep your light switch on all the time, leaving you reaching for your iPhone to turn off the lights despite standing right beside the switch. With BeON Home’s bulbs, it doesn’t matter — turn off the bulbs from the switch, and you can still turn them on back later from your iPhone.
In terms of power consumption and other specs, the bulbs themselves draw a modest 10W of power, while the Smart Modules draw an additional 3W when they’re charging back up. At 800 lumens of light output, this puts the bulbs about on par with most other 60W equivalent LED light bulbs, which usually draw 13W by themselves.
The Security Lighting features allow you to simulate lighting while you’re away, similar to the household timers that people have been using for years when traveling. The key difference here is that BeON Home’s system automatically learns your lighting behavior — which lights are on and off at what times during your normal daily and evening routine over a seven-day cycle — with no effort on your part. When Security Lighting mode is enabled, this schedule is replayed, with a bit of randomization, to make it look like you’re at home as normal. In addition, the Smart Modules in each bulb can listen for your doorbell and turn on a sequence of lights to make it look like somebody is being awoken in the middle of the night, deterring burglars from thinking nobody is home. Doorbell mode requires a one-time manual setup to recognize your doorbell chime, while the lighting mode pretty much works by itself. A “Welcome Home” mode similarly can turn on your lights for a few minutes when you approach your home, using Bluetooth proximity detection to determine when your iPhone is in range. And because the bulbs are powered by the Smart Module battery, all of these features work whether you’ve left your light switches on or off.
The battery-powered aspect of the bulbs also makes them usable as emergency lighting in the event of a power outage, with up to four hours of reserve battery life for each bulb at a lower illumination level. A “Power Outage” mode in the app provides a single button to turn on all of the bulbs or controls for individual bulbs, along with brightness controls and battery percentage indicators. The batteries in the Smart Modules automatically start recharging again once the power comes back. Similar to the doorbell mode, the BeON Home Smart Modules can also detect a smoke or CO alarm, providing exit lighting in the event of an emergency, so that if your alarm goes off at night, you won’t be left stumbling around in the dark or fumbling for light switches. The app also includes a “slow fade” mode that can be enabled for certain bulbs, providing a ten-second fade out after the light switch is turned off, useful for those rooms where the switch isn’t near the exit.
We’ve seen a lot of Bluetooth Smart Bulbs over the past couple of years, and it’s gotten to the point where most have become relatively uninteresting accessories that let you turn them on and off, set basic timers, and change colors from your iPhone, while sometimes adding a few other features. Most feel like little more than toys when it comes right down to it, as they rarely fit into a more complete home lighting solution, and depend too much on an iPhone app to do anything. What BeON Home has done here with its system is radically different from anything we’ve seen before, and the company deserves kudos for the combination of elegant and clever design and unique features in an iOS Smart Bulb. While these don’t really integrate directly into a complete home automation system either — HomeKit support would have been really great to see here — they serve a useful enough purpose by themselves to make them worth considering for anybody who is looking for lights that are unobtrusive during daily use while focusing more on safety and security that gimmicks.
For most users, the process will involve screwing in the bulbs and then going through a relatively quick doorbell and smoke/CO alarm learning process, and after that pretty much forgetting there’s anything special about the bulbs until there’s an emergency or you go away on vacation. The only real knock against BeON Home’s Home Protection system is the price – $67-$75 per bulb is pretty expensive, especially if you’re looking to equip your whole house with them. That said, though, home security is a complicated market in terms of options and pricing, and if you’re looking for something that focuses primarily on home safety features, BeON Home’s bulbs are considerably less complicated to work with and even less expensive than some alternatives.
Company and Price
Company: BeON Home
Model: Home Protection System
MSRP: $75 – $200
Compatibility: iPhone 4S or later, iPad 3 or later, iPad mini or later, iPod touch 5G or later, with iOS 7 and above.