Need RGB Bulb solution for Outdoor spot lighting (BR20)

I hope this is the right section…if not, I apologize.

I can’t seem to find any relevant, recent information regarding RGB solutions that would apply to my specific need. I’m hoping someone here might be able to point me in the right direction.

I have a bunch of lights on the outside of my house that point up at the sides of the house for accent purposes. They’re sealed spot light type fixtures. All of them currently have BR20 style bulbs in them. I’ve got these lights hooked up to an Inovelli dimmer switch, and can turn them on and off via SmartThings, but that’s about all I’ve accomplished.

My better half is always trying to get me to decorate outdoors for holidays (mainly Christmas lights), but I get really tired of climbing on the roof to install clips and hang lights every year, just to have to take them down a month later.

I figured, I might be able to find some Zwave RGB bulbs that would fit these spot lights, and control them via ST to different color combinations, dependent on the holiday (Red & Green for Xmas, Red White & Blue for Independence Day, Orange & Purple for Halloween, etc). This, of course, would save me a lot of climbing, and overall effort, and perhaps keep the WAF high, as she would get holiday lighting for any holiday, with a simple change of program.

I understand that I would probably need to make sure that the switch powering the lights didn’t get turned on and off with the smart bulbs installed, and that’s easily remedied with the Inovelli device handler, as I can disable local control.

Problem is, I can’t figure out what, if any, bulbs would fit this purpose. I don’t necessarily want to spend a ton of money on Hue stuff…nor do I want a separate hub or remote to control them. Stock ST integration would be ideal. Something that isn’t going to die due to being outside (sealed enclosures, but heat/cold would still probably play a factor) would be necessary.

I have to assume lots of other people have done this before, but I can never find what I’m looking for when I do a search. Can anyone here point me in the right direction? I would appreciate any solid advice. Thanks in advance.

  • Gib

Your post says Zwave, but there tend to be more options in zigbee and Wi-Fi bulbs. Does the protocol matter? (For example, hue bulbs are Zigbee).

Also, what are the temperatures like where you live? There’s a big difference between being in Los Angeles in being and Aberdeen in this regard. :snowman_with_snow:

Finally, most smart bulbs need a vented enclosure to avoid overheating the radio. You said the enclosures are sealed, but are they totally airtight? That could be a problem for smart bulbs of any protocol.

I suppose it wouldn’t matter if it was Zigbee. All of my other devices are Zwave aside from a WeMo plug that I can’t stand. I guess “air-tight” might be an exaggeration. They’re more or less water tight. They face up with a glass lens that is sealed to the housing with rubber o-rings…but the bottom of the housing is possibly vented, and if not, I’m sure I can modify them.

I’m in Kansas City, MO. The temps in the winter can get pretty low, and highs in the summer sometimes top 100F.

OK, there are some BR 30 options that would work directly with SmartThings, but for BR 20 I think you have to go to Wi-Fi bulbs and use an indirect integration which might not be as reliable. So I have mixed feelings on these. I would definitely buy them from someplace with good returns policy in case you end up not liking them.

Lohas Is a pretty well-known Chinese economy brand. The bulbs are rated for indoors, but the seller says you can use them outdoors in a sheltered location, they will just not last as long.

There are some BR 20 Zigbee bulbs from China, But Zigbee is very popular there and it won’t necessarily be a profile that is compatible with SmartThings.

So I don’t have a great answer for you, but there are some things you could try. If you were willing to change the fixtures and go to BR 30 you would have more choices.

Also, you probably know this, but a BR 20 is 2.5 inches across and a BR 30 is 3.75 inches across so there can be quite a difference in fixture size to accommodate the larger bulb even though the base is the same.

Thanks for the helpful replies. Yeah, I’m aware of the size differences between BR30 & BR20 as I have like 40 6" cans in the house with BR30 & BR40 bulbs, and another 20 or so smaller cans with BR20 bulbs.

Unfortunately, the fixtures outside are only big enough for the BR20… Then again, I might be able to try an A19… That would probably open up a few more options.

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If you’re willing to go with an A19, then there are quite a few zigbee options which can connect directly to the smartthings hub. Since they’re in the enclosures, they will be somewhat sheltered from the weather, but I think you do have to expect a shorter life time for the radios if it it frequently goes below freezing.

I started looking at the A19 options after your post last night. I still haven’t gone out to check the fixtures to make sure one would fit, so I will try to do that when I get home from work today.

It looks like the two most popular options are the Sengled and the Sylvania/Osram. The Sylvanias are about $5-8 cheaper per bulb, but the reviews seem to paint a picture of unreliability. At $20-$25 a pop, I’m not sure I want to take that risk…especially since I’ll be placing them outdoors, which is already going to shorten their lifespan.

The Sengled seems to have a better reputation for reliability, albeit higher price tag. I thought I read somewhere here in the forums about them not having a built in Zigbee repeater, so I wonder if that’s going to cause issues. I don’t have any other Zigbee devices, so there’s no mesh to keep things tight. The fixtures are all outside, mounted on the exterior brick. Three of the lights are on the east wall, which is essentially where the ST hub is located inside…one is on the south wall adjacent to those, one is on an east facing wall in a vestibule type space where the front porch is, another is also on a south facing wall a bit further down from the porch, and the last two are on the side of the garage on yet another south facing wall. With all of those corners, all of that brick, and several interior walls between the hub and the farthest fixtures, I worry that I won’t be able to maintain connection. But…maybe Zigbee has better range than Zwave without having other wired devices to act as repeaters?

Zigbee has shorter range then Z wave (zigbee max around 15 m versus max of around 50 m for zwave plus through clear air) but Zigbee works better through high humidity, rain, and snow, so it’s usually preferred for outdoor operations.

That said, you’re definitely going to need some repeaters. You might want to wait until the IKEA Tradfri color bulbs come out, which should be in the next few months as they have already been certified (August 2018) but not yet released for sale. They will likely be a little less expensive than the Sylvania, but have a better reputation as zigbee repeaters.