Do you remember when cordless phones were the new thing, with no wires and cords holding you back? But when your power went down, so did the dial tone?
You were left without a phone service that had nothing to do with power! Enraging.
And at that moment, what came to the rescue was the old-school wired phone connected through the telephone cable. In this case, a technological feature (going wireless) added a drawback (dead phone)!
Sometimes technology takes ten steps forward and 2 steps back. But eventually, it all catches back up.
The modern-day equivalent of that lag in technology is where your smart home is run on the internet of things.
You are afraid that the day your internet goes down, you won’t be able to get a drink from your smart fridge or turn on your smart lights. After all, those devices are run on the WiFi network.
But it’s not all that doom and gloom.
Some smart bulbs only run on 2.4 GHz wireless protocol, where local WiFi connection is needed for the bulbs to communicate with the phone app. However, the majority of manufacturers also have Bluetooth within the bulbs to allow close-range communication between app and bulbs through Bluetooth, in case there is no WiFi signal.
Can You Use Smart Bulbs Without WiFi?
You’d think that you will do just fine with smart bulbs that operate through the internet in this day and age of connectivity. Surely, if your smart bulbs are connected over WiFi to your phone, you are all set.
But there are many times when things don’t always continue as expected. And you need a backup solution beforehand. Which is likely why you are reading this guide!
For many reasons, you may be disconnected from WiFi. Either your internet provider has reset, or your router is experiencing trouble. Your internet is cut off, or very simply, the bulb in the corner room upstairs is not getting a strong enough WiFi signal!
So will your smart bulbs still work?
In most cases, yes.
Bulbs that have a Bluetooth connection radio, in addition to WiFi connectivity, can communicate with your smartphone app via Bluetooth. The tool they use to connect is called the communication protocol. So Bluetooth, Zigbee (hub), and WiFi networks are all protocols.
Therefore Bluetooth protocol is an added option when Zigbee, or WiFi become unavailable.
Will Smart Bulb Work Through Bluetooth?
To know if smart bulbs will work through Bluetooth, let’s first look at the various ways that bulbs connect to its app.
In addition to WiFi, some smart bulbs also require a hub to work. The bulbs and the phone are connected to the hub and communicate through the hub’s WiFi network.
Most notably, Philips Hue bulbs were WiFi-only and needed the Hue Bridge to operate.
But Philips has now added Bluetooth enabled smart bulbs to their line-up that don’t need a hub.
Even before Philips, many other smart bulbs already came with Bluetooth radios within the bulb.
Bluetooth allows you to control the bulb without WiFi or the internet, or a hub. You need a Bluetooth enabled smart devices such as your phone or tablet.
To control your smart bulb without WiFi, you simply turn on the light switch, open the Bluetooth app of the bulb, and the bulb automatically “found.” You then press ‘add device,’ ‘connect’ or ‘pair’ on the app.
Then you control the bulb’s basic functions through the app as normal. The phone and the bulb need to be within 50 feet of each other for the Bluetooth signal to transmit. Usually, if you are in the same room as the bulb, you can control them easily.
You can also control Bluetooth enabled smart bulbs while you are away from home. In this case, you do need a hub that the bulbs are connected to, and the hub needs to be connected to the internet.
Can You Control Multiple Smart Bulbs With Bluetooth?
The smart bulb company will have a dedicated app for controlling the bulbs through Bluetooth. When you are setting up the first time, you may need to be right next to the light fixture for relay signals.
The app automatically detects and pairs the smart bulbs. Most manufacturers mention a limit of 10 bulbs that can be connected via Bluetooth.
You can also group all the bulbs in one room as one group, so the Bluetooth would control all bulbs in that group at the same time.
You can’t remotely control all the bulbs in your home through Bluetooth, though. Firstly, apps cannot support more than a certain limit of bulbs. Secondly, you would have to be close to each fixture to control the light.
Can Smart Light Hubs Work Without WiFi?
A hub is offered by many manufacturers as a way to increase the functionality of the smart bulbs.
If your internet goes down, it is unlikely that the hub will not work. It will continue to turn the lights on, off, and dim them. However, added functionality like moods, schedules, and timers might be unavailable.
The hub works on the local WiFi network, the communication protocol between the hub and the lights.
But if for some reason your local WiFi network is also down, or your router is not working, then the hub too will stop communicating with the bulbs.
Once the hub is no longer connected to the WiFi, you also lose the ability to control the lights while you are away.
Remember, if your smart bulbs are NOT connected to WiFi but are connected to a hub by Bluetooth, and the hub is in turn connected to WiFi, you could have controlled your lights while away from home.
It takes a little trial and error to set up a seamless smart home suited to your specific needs, but it is convenient at your fingertips when you get there.
Thanks to backup Bluetooth technology in most WiFi smart bulbs, your lights can still operate if the WiFi or internet is down.
Having hubs increased functionality and greater control over the lights. Still, they do need a working WiFi network to do all that.
Have you run into trouble with your lights while resetting your WiFi router?
Are you considering getting smart bulbs and are doubtful if they’ll run without WiFi.
Share your concerns with me in the comments below.