We live in a smart world. Just about anything you could imagine has an internet connected version available. Do you want a connected refrigerator? There’s plenty out there to choose from! One place where the Internet of Things has really taken is lighting. And it makes sense — who doesn’t want to turn their lights on and off with their phone (or even with their voice, provided they have an Echo or Google Home)? It’s just convenient!
Today, we’re going to dig into the Xiaomi Yeelight Smart Light Strip. It’s a 2-meter (6.56-ft) strip of LEDs that connect to your home Wi-Fi to let you control them from your phone, or remotely.
Obviously, the first name that comes to mind in connected lighting is the Phillips Hue, and in the case of smart strip LEDs, the Hue goes for around $90 (and needs a hub). There’s also the LIFX Z starter kit that sells for the same price. The Xiaomi Yeelight is available from GearBest for just $30!
The first thing you’ll notice when you get your Yeelight Smart Light Strip is that nothing about it feels cheap. It comes in a very Apple-like white box that makes it feel much more expensive than it actually is.
Once you crack it open, you’re greeted by the flexible lighting strip, with the power lead and remote tucked underneath. The power cable is quite long, coming in at 3 meters (9.8ft), while the strip itself measures 2 meters. The single-button remote sits on the cable. You hit the button quickly to turn the light on and off, and you hold it down to change the color.
Of course, you’re buying a smart light strip, which means you’ll probably be using the Internet features to work with the light more often than not. Still, having the remote is nice for situations where your Internet is down, or you just don’t feel like pulling your phone out.
Quickly, before we jump into all the internet features of the Yeelight, let’s just take a moment to look at the actual lights themselves. First, they have support for 16 million colors with RGB LEDs, so you can definitely tweak them to support whatever mood you’re trying to achieve. There’s no separate white LEDs though.
The lights are also quite bright, coming in at 140 lumens. At full brightness, these will light up an area quite well. If you’re using them under cabinets to light up your counter, for example, they’ll keep everything well-accented.
The strip itself is flexible, so you can safely bend it to get around corners or to cast focus on something round. It also has specific spots on the strip so you can cut it if you don’t need to full length for the DIY project you’re trying to do.
Speaking of which, it comes with an adhesive backing so you an easily stick it to just about whatever you want. Depending on the situation, you can also get more creative with how you mount it, but for most people, the adhesive backing will get the lights up and rolling.
They’re also somewhat rugged, coming with an IP-65 rating thanks to the rubberised coating that covers any electrical contacts. This means they’re highly resistant to water hitting the surface of the light (but not fully submersible), and completely dust-tight.
The real key to the Xiaomi Yeelight Smart Light Strip is the fact that it connects to the internet. Once you plug the light in, you need to download the Yeelight app and follow the process. It all worked on the first try, and was easy to get up and running. The app does make you choose a server location, and the only options are Singapore and China mainland. I’m in the US, but it worked fine with the Singapore server.
The app itself does what you’d expect — you can turn the lights on and off, change the color, and adjust the brightness. The basic functions you’d expect from a light are certainly all there.
You can also set them to run on a schedule. You can tell them to turn off and on automatically at a specific time, or you can turn on the sleep timer to have the lights go off after a certain amount of time.
Another cool function within the app is the ability to create preset scenes. They’re easy to make, and it’ll allow you to jump between multiple presets without needing to manually drag the colors around. Obviously, this feature is much more useful if you have multiple Yeelights, as you can set scenes to make them all work together in unison – but it’s also required if you want to use IFTTT with your lights (and trust me, you do).
The Favorite option in the app lets you choose from a number of recommended looks (or create your own). For example, you can choose sunrise to have the light ease into a bright yellow light over 15 minutes. You can choose sunset to go the opposite way over 10 minutes, as well. These preset scenes offer a fun way to enhance the mood in any room.
Right out of the box, the lights have Alexa certification, which means they have full support to work with Echo for voice control. I don’t own an Echo, but based on user reviews, it does seem to work quite well.
Where I really put the Yeelight through its paces is with IFTTT support. You open up all kinds of possibilities with it. I set it up to work with Google Home through it, and it worked perfectly. I set the command to, “Hey Google, turn on/off the strip light,” and it did just that. You could also set commends to change colors. For me, I set the commend, “Hey Google, make the sun go down” to cause the light to go to sunset mode. You can get creative with setting the commands however you want.
Another cool use I found for IFTTT was setting the lights to turn on when I arrived home. If you attach the lights along your stairs, and use this command, you can make sure you can see where you’re going!
Here are just a few other ideas for IFTTT and the Yeelight strip:
- Turn blue when you get a Facebook notification
- Turn light to favorite team’s color when their game starts
- Change scene when temperature outside drops below a certain point
- Link smart home devices to work together
Those are just a few off the top of my head, but you get the idea. You can certainly get creative, and depending where you put the lights, you can do some pretty cool stuff with them.
All in all, I’m impressed by the connected features offered here. Between the built-in features and IFTTT, I really can’t think of anything the lights should handle, but don’t.
Should you buy the Xiaomi Yeelight Smart Light Strip?
When it comes to connected lights, Xiaomi may not be the first brand you think of, but perhaps it should be. In terms of features and functionality, they offer just as much as the more expensive brands out there, and they do it at a fraction of the price. Whether you use Google Home, Alexa, or just your smartphone – these lights will work with them, and they’ll do it with ease. If you think accent lighting could have a place in your home, these are perfect for the job.
They’re not going to replace your traditional light bulbs, but if you’re looking for some cool accent lights that can handle all kinds of tasks, these are a great option, especially when you consider how much cheaper they are than other connected options on the market