I decided to invest in smart recessed lighting for 2 rooms that we are renovating in our house. The main reason is I’ve always hated not being able to change the temperature of recessed lights. I know you can take the light down and change the temp on the little box, but not only is that not useful, all of those lights only allow changing temps in steps (they have 4 or 5 preset temps).
In our last house I always wanted the temp to be between two of the preset temps. I also always felt like the lighting felt “off”. I’m hoping this isn’t the case with all LED recessed lighting, but I’m hoping higher quality lights will help.
The first room I’m renovating is my office in the basement. The second is our kitchen. I started the office renovation a few months ago, and because I didn’t care as much about light quality as I would for the kitchen, I tried a cheaper option: Lumary smart canless recessed lights.
I put 6 of them up in half of my office and was pretty happy with them. They feel very bright. However, a big downside with these is they all connect over wifi (each light individually). Any action with these lights goes through the cloud, which makes them quite slow to respond sometimes. I’ve also had numerous problems with lights just not responding, or the app gets out of sync with the light and I have to restart it.
The kitchen lights are way more important to me for two reasons:
- My wife doesn’t care about smart lighting; she just wants the lights to switch on and work. I can’t ever have lights that sometimes just don’t work or my family is gonna complain.
- I want the light quality to be as good as possible when cooking.
Although I was fine with how the Lumary lights looked, their glitches made me invest in the more expensive Philips Hue slim recessed lights for the kitchen.
Oh, I just remembered another reason why I went with Hue: apparently Lumary doesn’t even offer a hardware dimmer switch?? They have a remote but it doesn’t mount to the wall. What the heck? That leads me to another requirement:
- I should be able to just walk over to the wall and turn on/off the lights or dim them.
Anyway, we haven’t installed the lights in our kitchen yet so I have a box of Philips Hue lights. I decided to go ahead and do a direct comparison with Lumary. That leads me to the main point of this post.
Lumary vs Philips Hue
How do the Lumary smart canless recessed lights look compared with Philips Hue slim recessed lights? I’ll be focusing on how they look and not on the app experience (but so far I’ve experienced far less glitches with Hue).
First, this is what the app looks like. Why don’t either of them give you an estimated temp in Kelvin? Lumary at least gives you the percentage number; I have to guess with Hue.
My tests below show a single recessed light in the exact spot at exactly the same time of day. I installed both right beside each other and turned them on/off. This ensures that any light from the window was the same.
All of these have a brightness of 100%.
I took these pictures with a Sony a6000 with a specific white balance setting (can’t remember which one, but the important part is it’s not auto). These pics are the corner of my currently-being-renovated basement.
Don’t ask me what 100% or 30% temperature is. I wish these apps gave me actual numbers, I’m just going by the setting in the app.
Note: these percentages map to different temperature values in each light. These tests aren’t to compare the actual color at each percentage, but overall show the range of each light and how they look.
Test 1: 100% temperature
One thing that immediately stood out in all these tests is the Lumary is generally brighter. At first I was a little worried about that, as I’ll explain later, it turned out OK.
The Lumary is brighter throughout the whole pic. It might be a little hard to tell, but notice how the Hue is more blue. The Hue overall has a much wider temperature range: it can go higher (more blue) and much lower (more yellow) as you’ll see later.
Strangely, the Hue lost some brightness at this 100% level. I knew it would lose brightness going warmer (lower) but didn’t expect it here. When comparing to 90% you notice a big difference in brightness.
Test 2: 90% temperature
This is where the Hue starts showing off. I can’t notice a big difference between 90% and 100% for the Lumary, but the Hue gets brighter and immediately more warm. This may be just how they map temperature ranges though.
We can start actually comparing the look here. The Lumary is still brighter; the center of the pic looks about the same brightness in both, but the Lumary definitely has a wider band of brightness.
However, the Hue just looks better. There’s something about the Lumary that looks more washed out and sterile. Compare the color of the concrete and wood. This is the exact same camera & settings, so the comparison is valid.
There’s something about the Lumary brightness that actually bothers me: it’s too consistent. The brightness doesn’t taper off as sharply, and maybe that adds to things looking more washed out.
Overall, I’m a lot happier with the Hue color though. The Hue recessed lights are listed with a 90 CRI, while the Lumary just states >=80. That’s likely the root of the difference: Hue has a higher CRI value.
Test 3: 60% temperature
This is where the Lumary starts mapping the percentages to temp very differently. Around 60% it gets quite warm, but the Hue keeps it at a higher temp. That’s the main difference here.
Rest of the comments still stand about color and brightness. Note that the Hue is quite brighter, but that’s expected since higher temps are brighter.
The colors of the objects in the picture gets a little better with the Lumary in the 60-75% range, but I think that’s only because the lower temp is adding some warmth back into the otherwise sterile colors.
Test 4: 30% temperature
Here the Hue is warmer than Lumary, which really shows their temperature range. At 60% they were colder, but between 30-60% the Hue surpasses the warm temps. For the Lumary, this is about as warm as it gets (going to 0% doesn’t increase it a ton), but for the Hue going to 0% makes it much warmer (and dimmer).
Overall, the Hue is clearly the best of the two. However, the Lumary is a good recessed light, especially when you consider it costs half the price. I just wish the app wasn’t glitchy and they provided actual wall switches.
If you can afford it, the Hue has a much bigger temperature range and higher CRI which makes looks a lot better. It also has things like the wall switch module for using real switches.
I’m still very skeptical about all of this smart lighting, but it’s certainly nice to be able to quickly change the temperature. I wouldn’t wire up my whole house with it, but I’m glad I went with the Hue for the kitchen (an important space). The Lumary will work fine in my office where quality isn’t as important.