Real Life Review: The TCP White Smart LED Starter Kit

Apartment Therapy Tech Test Lab Review

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Product: TCP 60W Equivalent Soft White Smart LED Starter Kit
Price: $109.99
Rating: Strong Recommend*

It's rare for a home technology to come along that seemingly bridges the gap perfectly between tech obsessives and mere enthusiasts, but the TCP Smart LED Home Lighting Kit has this potential. Truthfully, it's just fun to control lights with a smartphone. However, it's the fact that this system has some very practical applications for home safety and cost savings which make it a real winner.

There are three key reasons this system is worthwhile:

First, you're using less energy by being able to turn lights on and off as you need them. In addition, there's no more excuse for wondering if lights got left on in another room, because that information is at your fingertips. Turning them off is as easy as firing up the app.

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Second, timed commands make it possible to implement a variety of safety measures. Whether it's being able to turn on lights in another room when you hear a clunk in the night, turning lights on before the kids get home from practice or timing lights for when you're out of town - there seems to be endless ways to create a sense of security around your home through strategic lighting.

Last, you can now have dimming on demand. Hands down, my favorite thing about this system is the dimming feature. Installing dimmers throughout a house is a cost-prohibitive and tedious process, but as an avid movie watcher, I always wanted to have the ability to control light levels any time. The dimming is intuitive, instantly reactive to the app and capable of varied levels of light, not just dark or subtle, like some dimming bulbs.

On the down side, the in-kit remote is pointless and redundant. It's essentially a dumbed down version of what can be done on a smartphone or tablet, but after assigning a few bulbs, I tossed it to the side because it's completely unnecessary once the smart phone features are set up. However, users who have someone living in the house without a smartphone might want to make it available for their roommates or guests.

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In the future, TCP has stated that they have plans to open up their API to other developers. I could see their lights being adapted for other smart command features in a house, like a door opening or closing or a movie playing or stopping. These kinds of developments would really take it to the next level.

Putting these lights throughout your home is not a cheap adventure, though. Additional bulbs that match those in the kit run about $16.97 for another 60W Equivalent and it goes up to $24.99 if you start adding other lights, liKE A 65W equivalent flood light. With four of those in my kitchen, it would cost $100 just for that one room. There are non-dimmabble bulbs which are significantly less expensive and come in multi-packs, but to be honest, the dimming is such a great feature, it shouldn't be missed.

For people who want to give the system a try, skip the three piece kit we were testing and go for the two bulb kit currently being offered for $49.99 at Home Depot.

Pros: Easy installation. Dim feature is a clear winner for people who don't have dimmer switches in their homes. Room assignment feature is slick and great for tech savvy families. Travelers will appreciate being able to set timers for lights on and off.

Cons: Cost prohibitive for more than a few key locations. Instructional screenshots in the box are slightly different than the user interface on the up-to-date app.

Our Ratings:

Strong Recommend*
Recommend
Weak Recommend
Don't Recommend

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was provided by the manufacturer for testing and review purposes.

(Image credits: Elizabeth Giorgi)

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