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Can You Use Smart Bulbs in Ceiling Fans?

By integrating Smart Bulbs into your wireless network, you can control the brightness and color of individual lights. You can also create lighting scenes and schedules, optimize your electricity usage, and all of this on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. If you’re starting to think about adding more smart bulbs to your setup, you may be wondering if you can add them to your ceiling fans as well.

You can use Smart Bulbs in a ceiling fan that has the correct sockets, but most ceiling fans have the smaller A15 sockets, which few Smart Bulbs are designed for. Luckily, you can use smart switches and dimmer controls to get around this limitation.

Smart technology is becoming more sophisticated as the days go by, and the integration between these very useful devices is becoming more pronounced. For that reason, it’s wise to learn more about smart devices and what kind of equipment they need to function at their maximum potential.

Using Smart Light Bulbs

Three multicolor LED bulbs with wireless remote control . 3d render

Smart Bulbs, like the steadily increasing number of “smart” devices and appliances now on the market (like the Smart Wi-Fi Alexa Bulb on Amazon, for instance) offer a level of control and flexibility many people find desirable. Through a wireless internet connection, one can make Smart Bulbs turn on and off, dim, and even change colors if the bulb offers that option.

There are many sizes and brands of Smart Bulbs to choose from. They all vary in efficiency, brightness, and features, and many will have their own dedicated apps for control. Nearly all Smart Bulbs are intended to be compatible with a “smart” home control system such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit (Via Hue Bridge), or Samsung SmartThings.

Some Smart Bulbs require downloading an app specifically designed by the manufacturer. Ikea, for example, offers a proprietary line of Smart Devices which include Smart Bulbs. Finally, most Smart Bulbs only require being screwed into an available socket, but some systems also require installing a specialized network hub connected to your Wi-Fi router which enables control of smart devices. 

When shopping for Smart Bulbs, consider the ease of use and installation of their accompanying system. There are many to choose from, and some may integrate more easily with systems you are already comfortable using. Pay attention to your system before you go out and buy one because your needs may be different depending on what device you’re using.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Smart Bulb for a Ceiling Fan

Light Bulb Socket Size

When you’ve decided to add Smart Bulbs to your ceiling fans, the first step is to check the type of bulb that your ceiling fan uses, and what wattage bulb is appropriate. All light bulbs are categorized by a letter and number combination indicating the bulb shape and size. If the bulb doesn’t fit into your fan’s fixture, it won’t work.

The most common light bulb size is A17, and Smart A17 bulbs are easy to find. A15 Smart Bulbs are rarer but, unfortunately, they’re the size more commonly used in ceiling fans. If you do want an A15 size Smart Bulb, a couple of examples include the Misfit Bolt, available from Home Depot, and the Al 15 Smart Bulb from Amazon.

If the right sized Smart Bulbs aren’t available, consider a bulb converter. An A19 to A15 size bulb converter would allow you to use a larger, more common size Smart Bulb in the place of the smaller A15 socket. This is an easy and inexpensive solution, but be aware that the adapter and larger bulb together will change the look of the fixture, and that the larger bulb might not have enough space to fit properly.

Smart Bulb Brand

Smarthome Home Automation System Smart Smart House

Once you’ve got a lead on which size Smart Bulb to use, the next question is which brand. If you’re already using Smart Bulbs in your home, it’s going to be easiest to continue with the brand of Smart home system that is currently working for you. Some recommended Smart Bulb options include the following which can all be found on Amazon: the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19, the Cree BA19 Connected 60W Equivalent Soft White, or the Ikea TRÅDFRI bulb range (on Ikea).

If you’re new to Smart Bulbs, be sure to consider which lighting features you’re looking for, as well as what interface would be the easiest to install and use for you. Be aware that some interfaces are not able to group individual lights together, which could make the ceiling fan lights a pain to adjust. Make sure to look for this feature when researching, and to choose your system carefully.

Design Features and Efficiency Rating

Once you’ve chosen a smart home system, simply select the bulb by its desired features and efficiency rating. Consider that features such as color-changing and adjustable whiteness are very hip and fun to play with, but may not get much practical use, and often add to the price of the Smart Bulbs. Finally, when installing your Smart Bulbs, make sure the switch for your ceiling fan’s light control is set and left to “on.”

If your fan uses a dimmer for the light setting, adjust and leave it at the maximum setting. These steps ensure that your Smart Bulbs will always have the voltage they need (our comprehensive guide) to work properly. If your ceiling fan and its attached lights do not have independent controls, or if the light switches cannot be left on, installed Smart Bulbs may not work well for you.

Making the Ceiling Fan Switch Smart Instead of the Light Bulbs

If changing to Smart Bulbs won’t work for your ceiling fan situation, consider replacing the switch that controls the attached lights, or the fan. Smart Switches are easy to find and can replace a standard “dumb” light switch with a little work installing. There are some Smart Switches specifically designed for ceiling fans as well, such as the Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus Smart Fan Control (from Amazon), which can be used for fan control or for dimmable lighting.

The considerations when choosing a Smart Switch are similar to when choosing Smart Bulbs. You won’t be able to change a standard light bulb’s color with a Smart Switch, but you will be able to control the ceiling fan’s light brightness via both Wifi and the switch itself, which could be desirable (we argued in our other article that smart plugs can also be used for dimming as well). As always, choose a Smart Switch that integrates easily with your existing smart home system.

If your ceiling fan uses only a remote control or a pull switch to control the lights, the Smart Switch option might not be best for you. If this is the case, reconsider the Smart Bulb option, making sure to always leave your remote set to “on”, at its maximum brightness, or the pull switch set to “on,” as well.

How to Solve the Smart Ceiling Fan Problem

If you’ve come this far and none of the above suggestions have worked for you, but you’re still feeling keen to exert Smart control over your ceiling fan and its lights, know that you still have options. One is to rewire your existing ceiling fan so that Smart Switches (our guide) can be used to control it. Note that this isn’t the simplest fix.

It may require an electrician, but depending on the application and size of the fan, it just may be the best option for you. The next option is to get a new fan. At this point, you might consider the inexpensive route and select another “dumb” ceiling fan, but one that can use available Smart Bulbs. Sometimes simplicity is best.

Finally, there are a few Smart Ceiling Fans on the market. The brand Lcaoful offers two models, on that’s 52-inches in diameter and a smaller 36-inch version (both on Amazon). The spectrum of styles and colors are limited, and the physical space profile and price are generally higher. It’s likely that as demand continues to grow, more options will become available.

As you can see, adding Smart lighting to your ceiling fan isn’t entirely a simple question, and there are a number of variables to consider. If there’s a message to leave you with, it’s that the simplest solution is often best, because there is no sense in needlessly complicating something when a simple solution is available.