The bulb is dead! Long live the bulb! GE introduces fancy new ones

Jan. 7, 2022
At CES, new owner Savant continues to spruce up the old GE Lighting with connected smart products.

Bulbs still matter. In more ways than one.

With the lighting industry paying close attention these days to all the useful and wondrous things it can provide by outfitting its wares with Internet connections and sensors, it’s easy to lose sight of something that occupied center stage for a century — bulbs.

Leave it to a company with an iconic name in the lamps business to take care of that.

GE Lighting this week announced 11 new ones, part of a raft of new smart products it rolled out at the annual CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

In keeping with the IT theme that now drives lighting vendors, the 11 LED bulbs were, of course, all of the intelligent variety, designed to change brightness and in some cases color in response to app controls.

And they come not from GE Lighting as we used to know it, when it was part of the now pared-down General Electric conglomerate of industrial and engineering companies. Rather, Cleveland-based GE Lighting, known by its full name as “GE Lighting, a Savant Company,” is owned by Savant Systems, the self-described “home automation brand of choice for the world’s most luxurious homes, castles, and even yachts.” It sells fancy and connected controls for lighting, heating, cooling, home cinema, music, swimming pools, showers, window blinds, and other things.

Savant, based in Hyannis, MA, bought GE Lighting in May 2020. As LEDs Magazine noted, the acquisition stood to revitalize GE’s push into consumer smart lighting, where the company seemed to have drifted despite having once championed the concept, by running popular TV ads featuring the actor Jeff Goldblum and his smarmy Terry Quattro celebrity character.

With this week’s CES announcement, Savant’s ownership does indeed continue to breathe new life into the smart line, something that had started to become evident at last year’s show. At that time, Savant rebranded the “C by GE” suite of smart products, changing the name to “Cync” and adding products including wireless app control as well as an indoor camera, an outdoor plug, and a switch for ceiling fans.

At its core, Savant is a software and controls firm but one with a flair for design. With that, GE has poshed up the look of Cync with the 11 new LED bulbs, six of which fit the “decorative” category emulating filament bulbs with clear glass, and two of which are designed as recessed lighting for stylish fitting into ceilings. GE refers to the other three as “general purpose.” They fit into the company’s “reveal” sub-brand, in the chunkier opaque conventional look and shape of a bulb.

Prices range from $11.99 for a 9.5W general purpose, white-only bulb delivering 800 lm at 2700K, to $39.99 for a full-color recessed wafer rated at 16W delivering 1000 lm at 2700K and spanning temperatures from 2000K to 7000K. A less powerful 13W recessed wafer runs the same temperature gamut and provides 760 lm at 2700K, retailing for $34.99.

The six decorative bulbs start at $13.99 for a white-only 6W “candelabra” style providing 500 lm at 2700K, with a BC bulb shape. The same “soft white” specs apply to three other bulb shapes: BM, ST19, and G25. The BM is priced at $13.99 (same as the BC) while the other two retail for a dollar more at $14.99. The top end of the decorative line features two $14.99 full-color ST19 and G25 shapes, rated at 6.2W and 500 lm at 2700K. Temperatures start at 2000K and reach 7000K.

Users can control and schedule light scenes and operation, including remotely and by voice via the Wi-Fi-based Cync app. The lights also respond to Google and Amazon Alexa commands.

GE plans availability in March through Lowe’s, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon.

At CES, it also introduced a smart thermostat and a line of connected outdoor security cameras.

Now, to explain our “matter” quip at the beginning of this story: GE suggested that it will back Matter, an emerging standard intended to support interoperability between different brands of connected smart home devices such as lights, security cameras, doorbells, window shades, and the like. Part of the challenge in getting them to work together is that a number of different wireless and wired technologies can be involved, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Thread, DALI, and others.

Matter is under the purview of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, the new name for what was called the Zigbee Alliance. While the CSA pursues the broad scope of interconnectivity, it also continues to develop Zigbee.

The CSA had at one point hoped to ready Matter by CES, but it has now delayed Matter until later this year.

Last September, Signify said it will make its Hue and WiZ lines of smart home lighting Matter compliant.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

For up-to-the-minute LED and SSL updates, why not follow us on Twitter? You’ll find curated content and commentary, as well as information on industry events, webcasts, and surveys on our LinkedIn Company Page and our Facebook page.

About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.