Would you pay £60 for a light bulb?

The LIFXlight bulb

A new LED light bulb that can be controlled with a smartphone has launched after attracting more than £1.3 million in funding.

There's no complicated installation required: the LIFX Wifi-enabled LED bulb simply needs to be screwed in to start working. It can be turned on and off - and the colour and brightness can even be changed - using a free iPhone or Android app.

"LIFX gives you unprecedented control of your lights, reduces your energy costs, lasts up to 25 years and delivers an amazing range of experiences," says the company.

The system allows lights to come on and go off at pre-determined times. They can be set to gently increase the amount of light in the morning and fade out gradually at bedtime, and mood lighting can be set to match the beat of music. They even make perfect childrens' nightlights, says the company. The app can be installed on multiple devices and existing light switches still work - "They just might get a little jealous," says the firm.

The LIFX bulbs come in Edison screw, standard bayonet and downlight fittings, and can be used around the house in any combination. They work with the UK electricity system - and there's free shipping to the UK.

Cost savings

They give out light equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb or 50-watt halogen downlight. Like all LEDs, they use much less electricity than standard bulbs, and only a tiny amount in stand-by mode. According to the Energy Saving Trust, switching to LEDs can save the average British household £50 per year.

"Light bulbs consume approximately 20% of electricity in homes around the world. They need to be more efficient, smarter and last longer," says inventor Phil Bosua. "In the twenty-first century, people need lighting that matches the 'smart culture' and eco aware sensibilities of our day."

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And while the LIFX bulbs cost a whacking $99 each, or $280 for a pack of four, they last for 40,000 hours. That's more than six times longer than the EU requirement for standard LED bulbs, which generally retail at around £10 apiece.

The LIFX was launched via a Kickstarter campaign two years ago which raised ten times the target amount in just six days. Over 9,200 backers contributed. Recently, the company has attracted further funding from partners and angels.

"The ability to control the light in your environment – from anywhere – is not something you think about until you spend a couple days living with LIFX," says Eric Scott from investor HVF. "It's just how things should be, and hard to imagine going back."

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