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Andy Gelme
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Attended Swinburne Institute of Technology
Lives in Melbourne, Australia
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ESP8266 NodeMCU first workshop presentation and example code is available here ...
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Looking forward to network-enabling them !
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Stuart suggested running a second gear to it and spinning the whole unit....
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Great to see all the hardware pieces operating now ... under the control of some firmware.
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LIFX Review 3: Results Of Recessed Fixture Testing

tl;dr: Based on additional testing of our LIFX bulbs, I believe they can be used safely and successfully (with a few minor hiccups) in properly sized, all-metal recessed fixtures.


Before I get into the details, as we are dealing with electrical devices that produce heat, here is a caveat:

My results are just that -- mine. This is what I have determined in our specific recessed fixtures, set up in our home. You very well might have different results as you most likely will not have the same type of recessed fixtures that are installed in the same way, positioned in the ceiling in the same way, wired in the same way, using the same electric service and the same WiFi network setup. Your decision to use LIFX bulbs in recessed fixtures, or in any fixture, is at your sole discretion and control. You are solely responsible for how your LIFX bulbs are used. It is solely up to you to determine the usability, suitability, and safety of LIFX bulbs in your situation.

Additional Testing Required

Last Friday I shared this LIFX unboxing post soon after our LIFX bulbs arrived. I performed initial testing using only one of the ten bulbs received.

See, Our LIFX Bulbs Have Arrived (

As detailed in my LIFX bulb unboxing post, link above, there is some confusion on whether or not LIFX bulbs can be used in recessed (can) fixtures. On the caption for photo 14 of that post, I state that, "I ran the LIFX continuously for three hours to determine the safety of using it in our recessed fixtures. The bulb stayed cool to the touch. I think they should be fine in our recessed fixtures".

What I did not realize at the time was that this particular bulb came from the factory set to 25% luminance. I discovered this only after I had unpacked and installed the other LIFX bulbs in the remaining recessed fixtures and then had set up the LIFX app.

So Saturday morning, I decided I needed to do a little kitchen science and further investigate the usability of LIFX bulbs in our recessed fixtures. The next few sections discuss my test setup and the results.

Materials and Methodologies

Location: Literally in our kitchen since our kitchen has four recessed fixtures, now each with a LIFX bulb.

Test Light Fixtures: Our recessed fixtures are 6-inch diameter, all-metal fixtures with plastic baffle trim that gradually slopes inward. We installed that trim when we replaced the larger incandescent reflector-style lights with the smaller-diameter CF bulbs. The LIFX bulbs are even smaller in diameter than the CF bulbs, so there is plenty of room in the can for a LIFX bulb.

LIFX Bulb Setup: By using the LIFX app I set each light to the exact same color temperature but then varied the luminance among the four bulbs. I set each of the four LIFX bulbs as follows: bulb one to 40% luminance, bulb two to 50% luminance, bulb three to 60% luminance, and bulb four to 75% luminance.

Test Methodology: Upon each measuring interval, I stood on a chair to access the target recessed lighting fixture. This was done to determine relative temperature of each surface.

Each LIFX bulb had the same three sample foci: the bottom (which faces down toward the ground), the sides of the bulb’s enclosure, and the top of the bulb’s enclosure (which is farthest up in the recessed fixture and, as heat rises, should be the hottest surface). Finally, after measuring those three points, I sensed the temperature of the surrounding plastic baffle trim which averages 3/4 of an inch away from the sides and top of each LIFX bulb.

Test Equipment: To assess the temperature of each test LIFX bulb, I used remarkably sensitive and highly evolved equipment -- the fingers of my hands. The system in those puppies have evolved over millions of years, providing me with a very accurate set of haptic devices capable of relaying relative temperature data to my brain almost instantaneously.

At each fixture, I simultaneously used both hands, wrapping them around the target LIFX bulb, gently but firmly touching the focus surface. At each sampling interval, I attempted to maintain contact with the surface for a count of ten. If the perceived temperature was too hot to remain touching a given bulb’s surface for a ten count, I took note at what count I was forced to remove my searing flesh.

I do not recommend others follow my Neanderthal methods as my sensitivity to heat is lower and my pain threshold higher than the average person. I suppose I could have used an Infrared Laser Thermometer to determine true temperature, but hey, this is kitchen science. My fingers worked fine and even after conducting a total of 36 samples over a period of three hours, I walked away without damaged finger tips.

Note: This method worked well for me as I am 2.9% Neanderthal ( So take that all you wimpy pure-bred Homo sapiens.

Results of Finger Testing

I can report without prejudice that when you touch a surface that is hot, it can hurt. Having said that, it took three hours of continuous operation before the lowest-powered LIFX bulb in my test, the one set to 40% luminance, was almost too hot on its top surface for me to be able to hold a count of ten -- but I did manage.

See the charts included in the album for the detailed results of my finger tests.

Thoughts On Results

As eight of our ten LIFX bulbs are installed in all-metal, recessed fixtures, heat dissipation is hindered. This undoubtedly causes a bulb's surface to heat up faster and retain heat longer than if it were installed in an open-air fixture that allowed for better air circulation.

I should also point out that even our old school 15W CF bulbs, which operated at cooler temperatures than our ancient school 75W incandescent bulbs, still got hotter than our new 17W LIFX LED-based bulbs. Perhaps had I set one of the LIFX bulbs to 100% luminance, the results would be different.

But even so, it is interesting to note that our CF bulbs would become too hot to touch (any surface) after operating for only 15 minutes. It took over an hour of operation before our two LIFX test bulbs set at 60% and 75% luminance became relatively too hot to touch.

Furthermore, after three hours of continuous operation of the one LIFX bulb set to 75% luminance, I could still touch its hottest surface (the top of the bulb’s enclosure) for a full second before I smelled the distinctive odor of a delicious steak on the grill. Had I tried that with our old school CF bulbs, I truly would have burned my fingers.

Finally, the bottom most surface of all four of the test LIFX bulbs remained cool to the touch over the entire three-hour testing period. Also the plastic baffle trim of the recessed fixtures never got hot, even with the LIFX bulb set at 75% luminance. In other words, in our particular recessed-fixture setup, there does not appear to be any concern that the plastic will get too hot, causing it to discolor or even melt.

Response From LIFX Labs

On the day our bulbs arrived, I submitted a support question concerning the use of LIFX bulbs in recessed fixtures. I received a response this morning which gives my high confidence that we will have no significant issues with using LIFX bulbs in our recessed fixtures. Not only do the results of my crude finger testing give me assurance, but also the sophisticated fail-safes engineered into each LIFX bulb. Here is the response I received:

The bulbs are designed in such a way that the heat sink (metal housing) heats up to pull heat away from the electrical parts. Our lead engineer is writing a blog post on this as we speak to explain how it works and we will include this in the FAQ's.

As for the recessed housing, technically they are not "designed" for recess fittings but we have been running them in all sorts of lighting fixtures over the past few months and have had no issues. If the bulbs do get too hot for some reason (its 100 degrees ambient temperature and the bulbs are in a fully enclosed metal box for example) the bulb will actually shut it self off before any damage is caused to the internal components so there they should be fine in what you have described.

The response time from LIFX Labs was quick and their description of the functioning of a LIFX Bulb in adverse conditions is surely reassuring. I give high praise to the LIFX Labs team for great customer service and superior attention to detail in product design.


The only downside I currently see to using LIFX bulbs in sufficiently roomy recessed fixtures is the one I described above concerning network connectivity -- and that issue so far appears to be relatively minor, not even significant enough to be irritating. After all, it has nothing to do with the LIFX hardware or software, it has nothing to do with the LIFX instructions or promises. It has all to do, I believe, with our choice to use them in a way that does not fully fit within the LIFX bulb and app operating parameters.

For the LIFX bulbs we have installed in our recessed fixtures, we do not plan on running them above 75% luminance on an extended basis. To me, setting the bulbs any higher does not seem necessary as they are very bright even when set to 75% luminance.

If an occasion arises where we might set them higher, we will try to keep the usage below an hour or so. If setting them to 100% luminance, we will not leave the room unattended for more than a few minutes at a time -- at least until we can determine how they perform and how hot the recessed enclosures get.

Read My Other LIFX Bulb Reviews

LIFX Review 2: LIFX Bulbs and The LIFX App In Action! (

LIFX Review 1: Our LIFX Bulbs Have Arrived -- Unboxing Photos (

/cc +Chris Messina +Cheta Manuel  +Shaker Cherukuri +Gregory Esau   

#internetofthings   #homeautomation   #connectedhome   #LIFX   
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LIFX Review 2: LIFX Bulbs and The LIFX App In Action!

tl;dr: LIFX Bulbs are an amazing new lighting innovation. After just a few, short hours of using them, it is clear to me that they will be a wonderful addition to our home. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in home automation, the Internet of Things, and who also happen to require photons to accomplish tasks at night.

First, the fun stuff -- examples! Click on the photo album to see LIFX bulbs in action in the nook of our family room. Read the captions of each photo for more details.

We Have Liftoff -- Almost...

See the album images and captions for screenshots of the LIFX app.

The LIFX App is easy to install and the interface is very intuitive. I did have one issue when connecting the LIFX Bulb network via the LIFX app to our WiFi network -- it did not accept the password. I re-entered the password and the same issue occurred -- the connection failed.

I then remembered that I have access control set up via Airport Utility and I had to first add the MAC address of the LIFX Bulb network to our network’s access control list before it could connect. A MAC address has no relation to the fact that my computer and hardware are manufactured by Apple. In other words, MAC does not equal Mac. MAC stands for media access control. You can learn more here: 

I easily determined the LIFX Bulb network’s MAC address using a widget I have installed on my OS X desktop. There are various ways you can discover a device’s MAC address. If you are the person who administers your WiFi network, you probably already know how to do this. If not, Google is your friend. You should be able to find a widget or a simple app for whatever OS you’re running that will help with this quest.

Once I had entered the LIFX Bulb network’s MAC address in my access control list and rebooted our network, the password was accepted without issue. I then went on to explore the LIFX app, setup each light bulb, create groupings of lights, and finally preset lighting scenes.

Note: Upon firing up the LIFX app for the first time, one of the screens that will pop up is a request via the app to access your smart device’s microphone. If you do not allow it, then the cool Music Visualizer effect will not be accessible.

The LIFX Bulb Network

Before you establish a connection between your LIFX bulb(s) and your WiFi network, it creates its own network when powered up. The good news is that whether you have a single LIFX bulb or many, there is only one LIFX Bulb network.

This makes sense as the bulbs create a mesh network, all participating in a single LIFX connection, all communicating between each other, the LIFX app, and eventually your WiFi network of choice.

When I installed a single LIFX bulb in a single recessed fixture for initial testing -- before becoming fully committed and replacing all of our old school CF bulbs -- I had noticed that a new device appeared in the local neighborhood listing of WiFi-enabled devices. It was called LIFX Bulb. I wondered if each additional bulb when installed and switched on would appear as another item in the list -- i.e., LIFX Bulb, LIFX Bulb 1, LIFX Bulb 2, etcetera.

Fortunately, and not surprisingly, LIFX bulbs do appear to operate as a single mesh network. Once you’ve established a connection between the LIFX Bulb network and your WiFi network, the LIFX Bulb network listing disappears from the public listing of devices that anyone in the immediate area of your neighborhood can see. I am glad as I did not wish for my neighbors, if they were looking, to see LIFX Bulb network as something new and curious to explore. We’ve already had someone in our neighborhood try to crack into our WiFi network in the past. This was one reason, among others, that I set up an access control list on our network.

A Few Issues With LIFX Bulbs and The LIFX App

The next four subsections discuss a few, minor issues I’ve discovered about our LIFX bulbs and the LIFX Bulb mesh network.

Out Of Sync Bulb Sometimes a LIFX Bulb does not change to a preset scene, or go off or turn on when prompted via the app. When this happens it is always a single bulb that exhibits this behavior and it is never the same bulb.

This leads me to believe that this is a network connectivity issue caused by the all-metal recessed fixtures which surround the LIFX bulbs on all sides except, of course, the bottom. Each time this happens, I can resync the entire grouping of bulbs by changing to a different scene or toggling them off then back on.

To be clear, I believe this is not a design issue with the LIFX bulbs or a bug in the LIFX app. It is solely caused by the fixture -- the all-metal recessed cans -- in which I’ve chosen to install our LIFX bulbs.

In the “Best Locations for LIFX” subsection of the Tips and Troubleshooting section of the LIFX operating manual it states, “Don’t place your LIFX lightbulb in areas surrounded by metal on three or more sides”.

Our all-metal recessed fixtures thus are not the optimum place to have installed our LIFX bulbs. Even so, I am very pleased with how they are working so far.

Slight Concern over Under-rated Fixtures: Also in the Tips and Troubleshooting section, the “Recommended Installation Requirements” subsection states that, “This device should only be installed in light fittings and fixtures that are designed to accept a21-sized lightbulbs 80W or greater”.

As our recessed fixtures are 75W rated I was slightly concerned there might be issues, but the 5W difference does not appear to diminish their output.

Let There Be Light Of Varying luminance: Based on our small sample size of ten LIFX bulbs, I can state that in our case, the bulbs arrived with different preset luminance. Whereas most of the bulbs had a factory setting between 25% and 30% of maximum luminance, a couple bulbs had much higher initial luminance percentages. In one case, a bulb we took right out of the box and installed had a 78% luminance.

I am not sure whether LIFX Labs sets any standards for what luminance each bulb should be preset at before boxing or shipping. This is not a big issue as you can quickly set one, a group, or all your bulbs to the same settings -- color temperature and luminance -- with the LIFX app.

I only bring this up to give you a fair warning. When we installed eight of our ten lights and turned them on for the first time, it was a little disconcerting to notice the very apparent differences in luminance among several of the bulbs. Even slight differences in luminance -- in the range of 5% -- between bulbs were visually apparent. I tried not to worry as I assumed that once I had established a connection between the LIFX Bulb network and our WiFi network that I could equalize these differences. I was correct.

If you are purchasing a single bulb, this will not be an issue. But if you are purchasing more than one, or as in our case almost a dozen, you likely will see this phenomenon. But it is easily corrected once you have successfully established a connection between the LIFX app and your WiFi network.

LIFX APP Resets Itself: As we are still getting use to having networked lighting, on a couple of occasions over the past few days, we have accidentally turned off the LIFX bulbs using the wall light switches. Whereas LIFX bulbs work just fine with traditional light switches, the LIFX app seems to have a problem reestablishing a connection to the LIFX Mesh Network when you do turn off the bulbs with a light switch and then turn them back on.

What happens when you do this? The next time you fire up the LIFX app, it appears as if the LIFX Bulb network is not located and it asks if you want to setup the LIFX app. As I had put in twenty minutes or so configuring the app with our bulb descriptions, created groupings and scenes, I did not want to setup the app again. So I toggled off the lights using the light switches on the wall, waited ten seconds, and then toggled them back on.

I fired up the LIFX app once again and still received the same setup message. So, I powered off my iPhone -- I did not put it to sleep but actually shut it completely down. I then rebooted the iPhone and fired up the LIFX app once again. This time, thankfully, the LIFX app did find the LIFX Bulb network. All of my configurations were once again accessible.

Just to see if this was a fluke, I once again turned off the LIFX bulbs via the light switch on the wall and then turned them back on again using the same light switches. As before, when I fired up the LIFX app, it could not establish a connection to the LIFX Mesh Network. It asked me if I wanted to setup the LIFX app. So, I powered off my iPhone again, and when it rebooted and I fired up the LIFX app, the app had all of my saved configurations.

The moral of the story is that there appears to be some glitch either with the LIFX Mesh Network, the LIFX app, or with both of them that causes connection issues when you cut the power off to the light fixtures _and then- turn the power back on. You have to physically reboot your smart device before the LIFX app can discover the existing connection and settings.

Suggested Improvements -- Attention To Detail

Based on my initial testing and limited use of our LIFX bulbs to date, here are a few suggests for the LIFX Labs team (

* Ship all LIFX bulbs set to a standardized color temp and luminance

* QA/QC the fulfillment process to ensure properly padded shipments (see picture captions for photos two and three from my first LIFX review -- the unboxing post)

* Fix the glitch with the LIFX app not being able to properly re-establish a connection with the LIFX Mesh Network with the power has been manually toggled off then back on

* Update the FAQ with recommendations for recessed lighting (reference my LIFX Review 3 post, if you wish!)

* Add the ability to edit scenes -- change scene name, edit the contents and setting of each scene, and rearrange the order of scenes. Currently once a scene is set up, you can only delete it.

* Add a feature to the LIFX app settings to enable the cloning of scenes from one smart device to another so that you do not have to manually set up the same scenes again. Although each user will undoubtedly wish to have some of their owen, unique scenes, they may wish to share scenes too.

* Hands-free operation; allow the LIFX network to respond to simple voice commands (LIFX on / LIFX off ) and for preset scenes (LIFX Blue) to be triggered by voice. Sometimes you are not able to access your phone quickly enough and it takes awhile to launch the app.


Over all I am extremely satisfied with the current LIFX technology -- both the bulb hardware, mesh networking stability, and the LIFX app. I highly recommend the company and its innovative technology.

It is very rewarding to see a crowd-funded startup not only create a disruptive twist on an old technology, but also deliver more than what it promised to the public. Kudos to LIFX Labs! May the force of photons be with you.

Read My Other LIFX Bulb Reviews

LIFX Review 3: Results Of Recessed Fixture Testing (

LIFX Review 1: Our LIFX Bulbs Have Arrived -- Unboxing Photos (

/cc +Chris Messina  +Cheta Manuel +Shaker Cherukuri  +Gregory Esau 

#internetofthings   #homeautomation   #connectedhome   #LIFX  
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Very cool !
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The led strip looks like angelfire.
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Starting a huge day of hacking at International NodeBots Day in Melbourne Australia
Building robots with JavaScript with  25+ cities internationally. 
This Hangout On Air is hosted by NodeBots Day. The live video broadcast will begin soon.
International NodeBots Day #1 (Australia)
Fri, July 25, 2014, 8:00 PM
Hangouts On Air - Broadcast for free

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Looking forward to using and hacking on your POC !
Trivial POC controlling +LIFX via node-red at +Connected Community HackerSpace (Melbourne)

node-red =>

Lifx smart light bulbs =>

Kevin Bowman's LIFX node.js library =>
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A lifx node based on that library had been on my very long todo list, not gotten to it.
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 LIFX Review 1: Our LIFX Bulbs Have Arrived -- Unboxing Photos

After almost a year since ordering (10 months, to be exact), our ten LIFX, WiFi enabled LED bulbs have arrived! If you’re not familiar with LIFX, visit their homepage and watch the video ( It gives a great overview of the concept and the promise of their technology.

Note: LIFX is one of the KickStarter success stories. It is a young startup made possible by #crowdfunding . The last 14 months have been a startup and ramp-up period. They are just getting to the point where they can ship product out at a faster rate. Here's their original KickStarter page: 

Unboxing The Bulbs

Attached to this post are the unboxing photos. To spare you too many words on this post, I have captioned each photo. You can read those by launching the photos into the viewer.

Note: I have pinged LIFX via Twitter to report the very-poor packaging quality. Come on, LIFX, no Google Plus Page?

Update: LIFX replied to my tweet fewer than 30 minutes after I posted. They said they appreciated the heads up and will bring this issue up with their fulfillment provider. Great customer service and engagement by such a young, under-staffed startup!

Usability In Recessed Lighting?

There has been confusion on whether or not LIFX bulbs can be used in recessed (can) fixtures. A few reviews by early recipients of LIFX bulbs have reported on Amazon that the bulbs get too hot for use in can fixtures. Also, there are some blog posts that offer the same warning.

As LIFX does not provide any guidance to this specific issue, I decided to do two things. First, run my own test using a single LIFX bulb in one of the eight recessed fixtures we wish to install LIFX. Second, submit a support question on the LIFX support site.

In short, here is what I have discovered after three-hours of continuous use of a single LIFX bulb in one of our canned fixtures. The LIFX bulb is still cool enough to touch (the bottom of the bulb as well as the sides and top of the enclosure too). In fact, it has remained significantly cooler than our CF bulbs -- which are not safe to touch after being on for five or ten minutes.

Note: The instructions at the back of the tiny manual indicate that LIFX bulbs should not be installed in fixtures rated fewer than 80 Watts. As our can fixtures are 75W rated, I was slightly concerned, but the 5W difference does not appear to diminish their output.

Initial Impressions

Once I set up all ten of our LIFX bulbs and connect them to our home network, I will write a follow-up post on my initial impressions. I'll focus on performance on the bulbs, ease of use of the smartphone app used to control them, and overall aesthetic appeal and fun in using them.

Order Your Own LIFX Today

Recently, I believe literally today, LIFX opened up orders for their Batch 3 bulbs ( If you want to get a bulb or a dozen to use in your house, order them now as it takes a long while before they are manufactured (in China), sent back to the states, and then packaged to send off to each customer.

Note: I ordered our LIFX bulbs under the Batch 2 program which ran about a year ago. We received a nice discount compared to the current prices, but even then, we paid close to $800 for our bulbs.

Read My Other LIFX Bulb Reviews

LIFX Review 2: LIFX Bulbs and The LIFX App In Action! (

LIFX Review 3: Results Of Recessed Fixture Testing (

/cc +Chris Messina 

#internetofthings   #homeautomation     #lighting   #wifi   #lifx  
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Wow, talk about a thorough review! +Jeff Sayre has made a number of great observations, and his advice looks useful -- I'll keep it in mind when my batch of #LIFX  globes arrives. :)
Nice of LIFX to respond so quickly, and I hope it makes for an even better user-experience.
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