Home Depot has attempted to market and sell smart home products for years now, and arguably, they haven’t done a very good job of it. After licking the wounds left from a bumpy, early relationship with then Quirky’s Wink Hub, the retailer made various attempts at merchandizing smart home devices in stores—most of which fell flat. [Get it? That’s a play on how so many of the product displays are stocked with cardboard cut-outs instead of actual products.]
Two New, House-Branded Products
But now Big Orange is getting serious with two new offerings of its own: a Commercial Electric-branded smart Wi-Fi outlet and the EcoSmart-branded smart bulb and remote. You should forget about the smart outlet—it depends on an app and services that big box stores don’t have a good track record of maintaining (see Staples Connect, Lowe’s Iris, and Insignia by Best Buy). What’s of real interest here is the bulb and remote—and the remote in particular.
At a list price of $12.88, the EcoSmart Smart Bulb with Remote combo-pack includes a Zigbee white-tunable bulb and battery-operated remote control. The bulb is a 60W equivalent (at 800 lumens) with an advertised white range of 2700–6500K.
…and a Ringer
The real gem in this whole thing, though, is the remote itself. It’s a well-designed device with a great ergonomic feel. About the size of the Philips Hue dimmer, it features a rounded, rubberized back and sides. The build quality is more like Lutron’s solid Pico remotes, though, and the whole thing is reminiscent of Lutron’s since discontinued Connected Bulb Remote. Four buttons control power, adjust dim level, cycle color temperature, and “reset” to default (full on at about 3000K)
Out of the box, this remote controls the included bulb, but you can pair it with up to 20 Zigbee bulbs. And that’s where it starts to get interesting. Because it’s Zigbee, you can use the remote to control other Zigbee bulbs—not just these EcoSmart bulbs. We tested with IKEA’s TRÅDFRI and Cree Connected. Both worked great. It even adjusted the color temperature on IKEA’s white tunable bulb. Unfortunately, compatibility between Zigbee products is still inconsistent, so don’t expect it to work with all brands. We tried pairing the remote with Philips Hue, Sengled, and Sylvania bulbs without success.
If you decide to use the EcoSmart bulb with a hub like SmartThings or an Echo Plus, you won’t be able to use the remote with that bulb anymore. This is because you can’t pair a Zigbee bulb with multiple controllers. But developers in the SmartThings community are already working to find a way to get the remote to work with SmartThings. If they’re successful, it might be possible to assign nearly any action to the remote’s buttons.
We’re intrigued by Home Depot’s new smart lighting products. The bulb seems like a solid contender with good color temperature range. But this doesn’t suddenly mean that Home Depot has figured it all out. The information on the box is a hot mess of confusing features and disclaimers (see sidebar). The product wasn’t even shelved in the lighting section of the stores we visited. But that some buyer had the foresight to deliver a physical remote for consumers to control their smart bulbs? That’s progress. The pricing is also impressive: $13 for the white-tunable bulb and the remote. A Pico alone costs about $15.
If you pick up one (or more) of these packs, let us know how you end up using it. Leave a comment below if you find it pairs (or doesn’t) with brands we haven’t mentioned. And hurry…we scored ours for $9 on sale at a local Home Depot. At the time of this writing, they’re selling for under $5 at homedepot.com. Five dollars for a white tuneable bulb and remote! You should totally click that link and get one—it’s not even an affiliate link!