Home Automation Reviews

Home Depot Offers Color-changing LED Downlight for Beginners

Home Depot Offers Color-changing LED Downlight for Beginners
Home Depot's Commercial Electric recessed light retrofit kit gives you color-changing capabilities through Bluetooth but with significant limitations. This may be great for a standalone installation, but serious smart home geeks will be disappointed.

One of the challenges many homeowners face when shopping for connected lighting products is finding the right solution for ceiling cans already controlled by a dimmer switch. As many who’ve installed smart bulbs know all too well, these products don’t usually work well with wall dimmers and switches. A few manufacturers, like Sengled, have released bulbs that partially address this problem, letting you still use your wall dimmer.

It’s been hard to find similarly capable products for recessed ceiling cans, though, which are often installed on circuits controlled by a dimmer. Sengled doesn’t make a BR30 version of their Element Plus and most so-called “smart” bulbs are not dimmer-compatible, requiring you to use an app to adjust brightness.

Commercial Electric Recessed Trim installationHome Depot may have a solution, now offering a connected LED recessed trim kit that works with traditional dimmers. It’s the Commercial Electric 5 & 6in LED Color Changing Recessed Trim. The fixture is designed as a retrofit insert for existing 5″ or 6″ ceiling cans, and as a hardware solution, it’s pretty awesome. It’s wet rated (airtight certified), comes with adjustable torsion springs and retention clips to install in nearly any 5-6″ ceiling can, and uses a detachable socket adaptor to screw in where the light bulb would normally go.

The light itself is bright and offers multiple color and white tone options, all controlled through Bluetooth. And according to the documentation and packaging, it’s line dimmable (from your standard wall dimmer).

But Don’t Get Too Excited Just Yet

If this all sounds too good to be true, it just might be—particularly if you already have some smart home products installed.

First off, you must use the Commercial Electric app to control color and white color temperature. The app—available on iOS and Android—isn’t terrible, but it is limited. You can use the app to group fixtures together, toggle them on an off, change color, and adjust the dim level. It also shows you more usage information than you’ll probably care about (or understand). The app could use a quick review to catch some English grammar/language issues.

Commercial Electric syncing screen

Commercial Electric white tuning screen

Commercial Electric color changing screen

The app offers six white color tuning options and 15 preset colors. And aside from adjusting the dim level, that’s all the color control you get. Since it uses Bluetooth to connect to the fixture, it’s not cross-compatible with any other apps, systems, or devices—not Wink, not Google Home, not Alexa-powered digital assistants, and not even existing remote Bluetooth switches. And that may be OK for some consumers…but certainly not for anyone who’s seriously investing in this stuff around their home.

As for wall dimmer compatibility? We tested the product with a few dimmers, and it is true that you can dim the fixture from the switch. Even the remote color control features worked when dimmed. However, we noticed a subtle but annoying flicker when dimmed from the switch—particularly with digital dimmers. Your mileage may vary. The product package indicates that you can find a list of compatible dimmers and housings at homedepot.com, but no such information existed at the time of our review.

Our Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, our thoughts on this product depend on who’s getting it and for what purpose. For isolated installations, this product may provide what you need. And at a retail price of about $23, you may be able to deal with its various limitations. But if you’re building out a smart home with multiple fixtures and, possibly, a digital voice assistant, you’d be better off trying one of the Zigbee-based products from [amazon_link id=”B0798JMX2X” target=”_blank” ]Philips Hue[/amazon_link] or [amazon_link id=”B0196M601A” target=”_blank” ]LEDVANCE[/amazon_link].

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About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a digital consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.