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Do LIFX Bulbs Slow Down Or Disrupt Your Wi-Fi Network?

Because of their wide range of colors and overall ease of use, LIFX smart home LED lights have become increasingly popular. Not only do they offer a variety of customizable options, but they’re also Wi-Fi enabled – unlike their primary competitor, Philips Hue. 

Being Wi-Fi compatible often makes them more desirable for users, as they can be easily integrated into their already Wi-Fi-run smart homes. Connecting our devices via Wi-Fi helps us create the ultimate, connected smart home. 

But what happens when you add lots of LIFX smart home lights to your already connected smart home? No doubt you already run several other devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones that are connected to your Wi-Fi network. Will the addition of LIFX smart lights end up slowing down, or even disrupting your network entirely? The short answer is…

No, LIFX bulbs don’t tend to slow down or disrupt your Wi-Fi network. This would only occur if you had lots of LIFX bulbs and an old, poor quality internet router.

Read on as we delve further into this topic.

What Are LIFX Bulbs?

A LIFX full RGB bulb in my hand
One of my LIFX full RGB bulbs.

LIFX bulbs are a line of smart home lights that connect to your home and each other via Wi-Fi. They offer lights that are not only designed for the inside of your home, but the outside as well.

The lights inside and outside of your home can both be controlled via the LIFX app. For the lights inside your home, however, you also have the option of the LIFX Switch. This is an in-wall switch and requires professional installation for proper operation.

With the app and LIFX Switch, you have various smart options open to you including:

  • Turning your lights on and off.
  • Dimming your lights.
  • Color-changing features.
  • And even setting them to come on at specified intervals with set timers.

Outside of your home, LIFX offers products such as infrared lights that are designed to work with your security cameras in order to give them a better, more lighted view.

They also have a line of strip lights that can add color and atmosphere to and enhance your home entertainment and gaming systems.

LIFX Bulbs have become so popular because of their ability to connect via Wi-Fi, enabling them to easily integrate with other Wi-Fi enabled smart home devices and hubs – that Zigbee-powered systems like Philips Hue may not be able to.

But can adding these lots of smart lights to your smart home cause issues for your Wi-Fi?

Can LIFX Bulbs Slow Down Your Wi-Fi Network?

Unless you’re running a large amount of lights – say 30 – on the same router, it’s highly unlikely that the meager demands of smart home lights will cause much, if any slow-down for your Wi-Fi. 

The average smart light uses up to 50 MB of data per month – and even that figure is on the higher end! Most smart lights – such as LIFX bulbs – don’t use much data or have that much of a pull on your Wi-Fi network.

After all, smart home LED lights like LIFX don’t perform complex functions. The most common functions of smart lights are turning on and off, dimming, and changing color. Being these are rather basic, they don’t put much strain on the Wi-Fi network’s bandwidth.

It’s not like your LIFX bulbs can stream music or video, which would start to put a strain on your network’s bandwidth. (Side note – I’d totally buy a smart bulb that can stream my latest Netflix show..!).

The only time this may cause any kind of slow down issues, is if your network speed is on the slower side to begin with.

Take for example, if you’re using a lower-end consumer-grade router and internet connection that only gives you 3 Mbps (which is sadly still common in some ultra-rural areas). This will need to be divided between all of your devices.

So if you’re running say, 40 devices around your home, they’ll each get only about 75 Kbps of speed each – at most. If you’re using several smart lights, you may then notice a slight slow-down in this scenario.

Of course, many ISP’s are offering speeds beyond 100 Mbps as their most basic speeds, which would easily be able to handle 40 smart devices. In that case, this speed should suffice and offer a generous amount of bandwidth to all of your smart devices and allow them to perform their duties without any significant slow-down.

Can LIFX Disrupt Your Whole Wi-Fi Network?

TP-Link internet router
A TP-Link internet router

Because of the low-powered functionality of smart lights, this is highly unlikely. The only way a disruption of your entire Wi-Fi network would be possible, is if:

  1. You’re using a router with inferior quality and speed
  2. You’re using a large number of lights – such as 30 or more.

In this case, you may start to see an overcrowding effect which can even result in devices (such as your LIFX bulbs) failing to work properly.

Another factor is how many other devices you have running on your network, and how much bandwidth they need in order to perform their functions. In the typical connected home, most people have a variety of other devices already connected to the Wi-Fi. Devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones – even laundry machines! 

Because these devices perform more complex functions, they’ll have a higher demand than LIFX bulbs, and will end up using more bandwidth, data, and signal than the lights would.

As mentioned earlier, adding on LIFX lights would actually have very little – to no – effect unless, again, you’re using a large number of lights, or an inferior router. But even in a large home, a network disruption is unlikely to happen.

Ways Of Protecting Your Network From Lots Of LIFX bulbs

Even though LIFX bulbs don’t take much from your Wi-Fi bandwidth, you may still want to take steps in order to lighten the load on your router – particularly if you operate, or plan on operating multiple lights.

Approach #1 – use a smart hub and compatible smart light

Connecting your smart LED lights to a smart hub is one step you can take to avoid any slow-downs on your network. Doing this can help alleviate any extra stress on the network. 

This works because instead of each individual light being connected to the Wi-Fi router, showing up as several devices, they’re essentially viewed as one (i.e. the smart hub). So the issue of having loads of connected WiFi devices is bypassed.

One issue here is that LIFX bulbs are designed to connect directly to your internet router, and then a smart hub such as Samsung SmartThings or Home Assistant can control them.

SmartThings 3rd Generation Home Hub box and SmartThings phone app
SmartThings home hub (3rd gen) plus mobile app.

So whilst these hubs are really useful because they also function as a way to streamline the operation of other devices in your smart home, they won’t work too well with LIFX bulbs as they’d still connect directly to your router first.

As an alternative, some people prefer using Zigbee-operated smart home bulbs, like Philips Hue. These lights connect to each other and also a Hue Bridge, in a sense creating an entirely new mesh network. So each light is connected individually to each other, and in turn, operates as a mesh network of lights without using Wi-Fi.

In this way, your internet router only sees one connected device – the Hue Bridge. All the Hue lights connect to the Hue Bridge and so they won’t impact on your Wi-Fi router.

However switching to a Philips Hue ecosystem is a big move, especially if you’ve purchased loads of LIFX bulbs. The below approaches cover how to stick with your LIFX bulbs instead.

Approach #2 – buy a better internet router

If you do suspect that your internet router is the problem that’s plaguing your LIFX lighting system, you could always just buy a better internet router – this will likely cost you much less than the 40 LIFX bulbs you have invested in!

Any of the newer ‘whole of house mesh WiFi‘ internet routers can work wonders here, since they are specifically designed to have a strong and robust internet signal, even if hundreds of Wi-Fi devices are connected.

Approach #3 – setup a wireless access point for your LIFX bulbs

Just like approach #1 spoke about using a Hue Bridge to alleviate load on your internet router, you can do the same with LIFX bulbs by purchasing (or re-using) an internet router and setting it up as a wireless access point.

Then you can connect all your LIFX bulbs to this new Wi-Fi access point. This has the benefit of reducing the number of connected devices on your main internet router – it’ll only see the wireless access point, after all:

Diagram showing how a wireless access point could benefit WiFi smart bulbs
Diagram showing how a wireless access point could benefit WiFi smart bulbs

Conclusion

Though they perform many functions, LIFX LED smart lights actually put very little strain on your Wi-Fi network. Their functions don’t require much energy, and they don’t use a lot of data – even if you’re running several lights at one time.

However, if you’re still concerned about a Wi-Fi slow-down or disruption, consider using a hub or separate router, as it will lighten the load on your router, and streamline the operation of your smart home.

2 Comments

  1. Interesting.
    However your repeated comment about “unless you have a large amount of lights, say 30” is unrealistic.

    I have 20 lights in my kitchen alone.

    I went with GE Wiz and have them in all recessed lights in kitchen, living room, dining room, 3 bed rooms. Plus strip lights, and about 20 screw in bulbs.

    It crushed my google wifi mesh system.

    Not throughput but just reliable wise.

    Switched to a Netgear Orbi RBR850 mesh system and so far so good.
    But a 700.00 router was a painful fix!

    1. Thanks for your comments – that is a good point, not all ‘high quality’ mesh systems are equal. I’ve heard some bad comments about the Google WiFi mesh system, but the Ubiquity and Netgear Orbi systems do seem really good. I’ll bear that in mind thanks – i.e. that simply buying ‘a mesh system’ isn’t always going to fix the issue with dozens of connected devices.

      [This is another reason why I love Hue which handles 30-40 lights without much issue, but that’s another topic for another day 🙂 ]

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