IKEA Trådfri smart light review – not smart, underwhelming

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IKEA smart light review

IKEA is known for a being the king of flat pack furniture and do this really well, So when I heard about the IKEA smart lighting range I had high expectations given the relatively low price compared to the Philips Hue smart lighting product.

Smart lighting is starting to take off with companies like Hive, Wemo and Philips Hue already competing in the smart lighting market. So I was intrigued to test the TRÅDFRI smart lighting product from IKEA.

What is IKEA Smart lighting

What is IKEA smart lighting

If you don’t know what IKEA Trådfri is, it is the new range of IKEA smart lighting. The smart lighting product is available in the UK and other countries and comes in various fittings that come with lighting options, warm white, white spectrum and Colour and white spectrum. IKEA’s smart lighting can be controlled via a “steering device” such as a TRÅDFRI remote control or the TRÅDFRI app when connected to the TRÅDFRI gateway.

How much does IKEA Smart Lighting cost?

The big attraction to the IKEA smart lighting range is cost, IKEA sells one bulb with a controller for £25 or if you want the colour version £35. The hub is only £25 or they sell a starter pack with two bulbs and controller and hub for £65. The rest of the TRÅDFRI smart light range is from £7 with various options upwards.

So if you are thinking of putting smart lighting into your home then the IKEA TRÅDFRI smart lighting product is a good entry, but continue to read the TRÅDFRI smart lighting review for the pros and cons.

Must read review: Google Home review

IKEA Smart lighting range

  • TRÅDFRI Gateway 
  • TRÅDFRI dimmer 
  • TRÅDFRI remote control 
  • TRÅDFRI motion sensor 
  • TRÅDFRI E27 
  • TRÅDFRI E17 
  • TRÅDFRI G10

Check them out here

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TRÅDFRI smart lighting in pictures

IKEA Smart lighting review – Design

  • The gateway has a simple design with hidden cable ports for a clean design
  • Smart bulbs come in E27, E17, G10
  • Clean simple finish to the product range.

TRÅDFRI gateway

IKEA Trådfri smart light gateway

The design of the TRÅDFRI smart light range is simple and basic, the TRÅDFRI gateway is a simple circle design made of plastic and very light.  The power and network cable are hidden under the cover to allow for a clean finish once you have plugged everything in

TRÅDFRI bulbs

IKEA smart light review

The IKEA smart lighting bulbs work just like any other LED bulb on the market. The bulbs come in E27, E17 and G10 options and will fit nearly every fitting they are designed to fit. The bulbs feature a body that is made of a white plastic. One thing to note, when fitting the G10 in my ceiling lights, one became stuck so I think they might be slightly wider than non-smart lighting G10 bulbs.

IKEA Smart lighting review – setting it up

  • Fiddly to set up, takes a couple of times to pair the lights
  • Remember you need a steering device, even if you buy a gateway
  • Can only pair one bulb at a time unlike Philips Hue

When I was testing the IKEA smart light product for the review, I used the following kit

  • TRÅDFRI gateway
  • 6 x TRÅDFRI G10 bulbs
  • TRÅDFRI dimmer steering device – Purchased later – read why!

The TRÅDFRI smarting light range comes in very simple packaging which mirrors the rest of the IKEA range. Installing the TRÅDFRI gateway is simple and just requires you to plug the network cable and the power cable. You will need to install the gateway near your router in your home, so make sure you have a spare power socket.

IKEA Trådfri app

Once you have everything plugged in, you then download the TRÅDFRI app from the relevant app store for both iOS and Android. Once the app is installed you then follow the instructions which involved scanning the QR code on the back of the unit with your smartphone camera.

So once I had the gateway installed and was ready for the what I thought was the next natural step to install the bulbs, I was shocked to discover you need an IKEA steering device to pair the bulbs. So after a trip back to IKEA to buy the steering device, I started again.

To Add the steering device, first, you add it to the app. You need to press the button on the bottom of the IKEA steering device on and off 4 times in 5 seconds, then add it the app. I found this really tricky and you need to be careful with the timing of the pairing, it took a few attempts.

IKEA Trådfri smart light

The next step must add it to the hub. Again you must use the multipurpose button this time holding it in for 10 seconds when it is touching the hub.

Watch for the light changes on the hub and again holding it for too long will not pair it, then you are starting again

Next, to set up the IKEA smart bulbs power them on, hold an already setup controller so it’s touching the bulb or at most 2cm away. Press the multifunction button, again for 10 seconds and no more. The bulb should flash and be paired. So you need to take note that each bulb needs to be set up separately and if you have a lot of lights it will take time, but you only need to do this once… unless they unpair like they when I was pairing them

Setting up the IKEA smart lighting range reminded me of setting up electronics in the early eighties. It was overly complicated, drawn-out process that would fail at any time and you would need to start again.

Things I don’t understand and because IKEA has provided no support for this review, these questions remain Unanswered.

  • Why do you need a steering device if you have a gateway?
  • After pairing the steering device to the app, why do you need to pair it with the hub? Why don’t you just pair it via the app?
  • Why do you have to hold every bulb within 2cm of the steering device when pairing?
  • Why do you need to pair every light one by one?

IKEA need to rethink the setup process and user experience. The gateway and app need to be the centre of the IKEA smart lighting system to make it as seamless as possible.

IKEA Smart lighting review – in your home and app

  • TRÅDFRI app is basic, but it does the job
  • IKEA smart lighting supports Apple HomeKit, Alexa.. but no Google Home support
  • The bulbs get really hot during use

Once you have jumped through all the hops of setting up, you then have the IKEA smart light system setup. Turning off the lights can be done easily by the app, this is the easiest part of the TRÅDFRI range.

TRÅDFRI app

The TRÅDFRI app is basic, but it does the job of turning off lights and setting alarms. However, if you are a user of the Philips Hue app then you will feel like you have been short-changed as some of the advanced features are missing. During my testing, I used the IKEA app to set up and then after getting to know the TRÅDFRI app for the purpose of the review I ditched it and just used the HomeKit app to control the TRÅDFRI smart lights.

TRÅDFRI with HomeKit, Alexa and Google Home

IKEA smart light homekit support

The IKEA smart lighting range supports Apples HomeKit, but only if you are using the TRÅDFRI gateway and this is why I am confused why the setup process is the way it is. The steering devices from IKEA don’t work with HomeKit yet, so if you have one of these then you are out of luck unless you buy a gateway. I had no issues using TRÅDFRI with Apple HomeKit and I didn’t see any performance difference between the Philips Hue product I have installed through 80% of my home and the IKEA TRÅDFRI range.

Using TRÅDFRI with Alexa works well also with just a quick configuration on the Alexa side you are all set, you can control your lights via Amazons voice assistant without any issues.

Google Home is still coming to the IKEA smart lighting range and I am not sure what the delay actually is given they have enabled support for the more complicated Apple HomeKit solution and rolled out support for Alexa.

IKEA Smart light performance

Overall I was impressed with the light levels of the TRÅDFRI lighting range and they compared well with the likes of Philips Hue and Hive smart lights. However, one thing I was concerned about was how hot they actually got and this was not after long periods of use. When I installed the IKEA smart lights, I decided to move two to another location and it was then I discovered how warm they actually got, this was only after 15 minutes of use

Must read review: Neato Connected D5 review

IKEA smart lights work with Philips Hue

Ikea smart lights with philips hueYes, IKEA’s smart lighting range TRÅDFRI works with Philips Hue and I did get it to work. The process is a little fiddly like I found with the setup using it with the IKEA gateway. The lights work in the exact same way and I didn’t find anything different in terms of performance or colour options. However, one thing to note, if you connect the IKEA smart lights via Philips Hue then you cant use them in HomeKit

Disclaimer – Active JR normally gets support from the PR and media team to answer any questions. I reached out to IKEA about doing the review and was told “We only loan out products for features in publications focused on home interiors” Despite several emails since I have received zero response since the original reply by IKEA. If IKEA choose to respond then the article could be updated with the outstanding questions

IKEA smart light review
Conclusion
IKEA smart light Summary
Starting the review for the IKEA TRÅDFRI smart lighting range I had high hopes due to being a fan of the IKEA brand, however, I felt the smart lighting product lacked in many areas. The setup process is complicated and despite having a gateway hub in its product line, you still need a steering device to pair lights, which adds to the cost. The bulbs perform well for lighting a room and the app works to alter the lights and made adjustments. The biggest worry I had was the IKEA smart lights became really warm to the point I was worried about having them in. IKEA has now added support for Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa, but Google Home is still coming soon.If you are deciding between the IKEA TRÅDFRI and Philips Hue smart lights then go for the Philips. The Product has some fundamental issues and the user experience is not great. You do have the option if you are a Philips Hue user to add these lights to your setup to benefit from the reduced cost, however, take note that Apple HomeKit will not be supported
Design66
Features41
Usability49
Performance65
Value81
Reader Rating0 Votes0
Pro's
The TRÅDFRI range is a cheap way to put smart light in the home
Clean and simple design
Con's
Bulbs don’t work without a “steering device”
The bulbs get very hot to the point I was worried about use
Set up is fiddly and not user friendly.
60

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2 Comments on "IKEA Trådfri smart light review – not smart, underwhelming"

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Stephen
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Got these from IKEA and not a patch on the Philips Hue. The only think they have going for them is the price like you have said in the review