Security Cameras That Work With Lifx Plus Night Vision BulbBy - 10/15/2018
I’m about two years too late for a LIFX Plus review. The white/color, Wi-Fi connected smart bulb with night vision launched two years ago and was well covered at that time. What hasn’t been covered is a simple how-to as well as a list of the security cameras that do and do not work with the bulb.
Adding Night Vision to LIFX Plus
If you want to use LIFX Plus (LIFX+) for night vision, there’s nothing you need to do as night vision is on by default. When lighting conditions warrant the use of night vision and you turn LIFX+ off using the app, the bulb will emit 950nm infrared light.
If you want to adjust this, you can do so using the Lifx app. Simply click on the bulb you want to control and then navigate to the settings menu.
From here, click on “Night Vision Brightness.”
From the Night Vision Menu, you can disable night vision or choose between 50% and 100% brightness. For my tests, I selected 100%.
Selecting a Home Security Camera
I think the most important thing to understand is that the bulb will not add night vision to any security camera. The camera has to be able to see the light emitted. For example, I tested it with my Maximus Smart Security Light, a camera which does not have night vision. Of course, the bulb did nothing.
On LIFX’s website, they state to, “check your camera manual, or website, to make sure your camera can see 950nm IR light(s).” Of course, I tested cameras that use both 950nm and 850nm IR LEDs.
950nm IR LEDs
The picture below is using Logi Circle 2’s night vision ability:
This second picture shows the difference when using the LIFX bulb. As you can see, it appears that the lamp is on, it’s not. This is simply the camera picking up on the Infrared light emitted by the bulb. You can see how it changes the shadowing on the ceiling fan and also the detail of the hardwood floors.
850nm IR LEDs and Other
The picture below shows what the room looks like when relying on Arlo Pro 2 alone:
And this is what it looks like when we add in the bulb. As you can see, there is very little difference.
Next up, I tested Wyze Cam 2 alone:
And then, Wyze Cam 2 using LIFX+ for additional illumination. Adding the bulb allows you to see more texture on the floor and lights up the wall on the left.
Finally, I threw in Amazon’s Cloud Cam. Here’s a shot taken using Cloud Cam alone:
And here we have an example of what Cloud Cam looks like when using the bulb.
Examining Results and Other Options
I think what was most surprising to me is that there seems to be a pretty major performance difference between the cameras, and I don’t know why. For example, Arlo Pro 2 and Wyze Cam 2 both use an 850nm LED IR light, and yet, Arlo Pro 2 barely picks up on the light emitted by the bulb where there’s a fantastic performance improvement for Wyze Cam 2.
I think it’s important to call out that LIFX placement is another factor in the equation. LIFX+ was created to extend your camera’s night vision. For example, if your camera is pointed at a dark hall, you might place LIFX+ in the dark area to add illumination. Ideally, I would have placed the lamp in the back left hallway, but decided to test in the living room.
According to LIFX,
“A LIFX + will not add brightness to existing camera IR, in confined spaces, like a bedroom, or kitchen. But when used to highlight the corner of a building or down a long hallway, it can truly add value to a camera’s available viewing area, at night.”
The difference in performance makes me a little hesitant to suggest the bulb to enhance your camera’s night vision, but for those cameras that seem to do a better job of picking up on the light, the difference is exciting. To me, what’s even more exciting is the prospect of using the bulb outside.
While the bulb I tested is an indoor camera, LIFX also makes the LIFX+ BR30 which is outdoor-rated and IP65 compliant. You can use the outdoor bulb to extend the view of your outdoor cameras like Nest Cam Outdoor and Canary Flex.
Bottom line, the bulb is meant to extend the range of your cameras, but your cameras still need to put in effort. Overall performance will vary based on the camera you use and your placement of the bulb.