Cree’s $15 connected LEDs work with (almost) everything

For those bargain shoppers out there hunting for a connected bulb, Cree, the company that brought the first blue LED light to market, has a deal for you. It’s shipping a $15 connected warm, white LED that rivals the GE Link bulb in both price and functionality. And like the Link bulb, it’s compatible with the Wink hub system.

In fact, the Cree bulb wants to be compatible with just about everything. It uses ZigBee radios and Mike Watson, VP of Product Strategy with Cree, says the company is constantly evaluating new standards such as AllJoyn’s lighting standard or the upcoming Thread protocol. But currently you can link it into any hub that has ZigBee capability and ZigBee Light Link certified hubs, including Philips Hue, WeMo Link Hub and GE Link.

There are no hubs to plug in to buy or apps to download here: Cree just wants to sell you the connected bulb. That’s a bummer for the consumer who doesn’t have anything yet in the connected home, but obviously Cree is betting the market doesn’t stay unconnected for long. As for the bulb, it provides 815 Lumens and offers a high quality light. I would do my makeup by it, and find it a bit less yellow than the GE light and a bit less white than the Philips Lux white lights.

However, for those trying to place one of these in a dimmer lamp, don’t do it. It is a rare LED that can handle a dimmer without emitting a high-pitched buzzing noise (surprisingly, the GE Link can). The Cree bulb is no exception. When I tried it in a dimmer lamp, it sounded a bit like crickets from about 10 feet away. That said, in a normal lamp its dimming capabilities are fine.

So if you want to upgrade your traditional light bulbs for some smarter ones, this is a price point that might make it worth your while if you’ve got an existing hub, don’t have dimming fixtures and prefer the look of a more traditional bulb. You’ll find them at Home Depot stores later this month.