There are many ways to add HomeKit-connected lights to your home, allowing you to turn them on and off from your phone at a tap or with your voice using Siri. You can buy special Philips Hue bulbs, change wall switches with Lutron or Elgato, or plug in lamps to a smart plug socket.
The Koogeek Smart Socket is a different approach to the same problem. It puts an adaptor between your existing light fitting and bulb. All you have to do is screw it in. Keep reading after the jump for my full hands-on …
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Systems like Philips Hue require you to run a hub in some part of your house and replace all your bulbs with the special Wi-Fi integrated Hue lights. This requires some initial investment and means wasting all the perfectly-working-order bulbs already in your home.
With the Smart Socket, you don’t need a hub and you don’t need to throw your existing bulbs away. To install the socket, you unscrew the bulb from the fitting. Then, you twist that same bulb into the Koogeek adaptor. The adaptor-bulb combo can then be replaced into the light fitting. That’s it.
When the bulb eventually dies out, you can buy another standard bulb from any shop and simply put that into the adaptor instead. The Smart Socket means you don’t have to buy special bulbs and you don’t have to change any of your fixtures. The only constraint is that it only works with Edison screw lights; probably the most common fitting for household lights. (It’s the type with the winding stalk that you can screw in and out of the socket with your hand).
The Smart Socket is powered by the electricity coming to the light fitting, and works like any other HomeKit accessory. Adding it to my Home was as simple as scanning the tag and took seconds using the iOS 10 Home app.
It then appears as its own tile; just tap the icon on the screen to toggle the light on and off. If the light is in a popular location in your house, you can add it as a Favorite in the Home app to access it anywhere in iOS from the Control Center pane.
Adding it to your Home automatically enables Siri voice integration, of course. You can control the bulb using any of the usual Siri features; I asked my Watch to turn on the light bulb whilst taking photos for this review and it dutifully obliged. The Socket uses Wi-Fi to communicate with HomeKit and was always very responsive to my remote commands.
On the negatives, the socket body itself is a large white bit of plastic. If you are using it with a light that doesn’t have a shade, it will stick out in the room and is unlikely to match your decor. In my case, this was not an issue as I used it with a standard ceiling light that includes a decorative shade. Once the socket is in the fitting, it’s very hard to see. I’ve included some pictures of before-and-after shots of the light to compare.
The other downside of this kind of product is that it relies on the electric wiring for power. This means the wall switch that the light is connected to has to stay on for the Smart Socket to be able to communicate with your iPhone wirelessly over HomeKit. It does reconnect quite quickly though if it is toggled on and off at the wall, which is nice.
(This latter point affects Philips Hue bulbs just the same of course; if you want a more elegant solution for the wall switch, you need to replace them with smart wall switches like Lutron.)
I also don’t recommend using the Koogeek Home app (which is what the included documentation directs you towards). Apple provides a very good HomeKit controller with the stock iOS 10 Home app and everything about the Smart Socket (aside from firmware updates) can be handled in the first-party app.
The Smart Socket is currently on sale for $40 at Amazon or ~$50 on eBay. I think the Socket makes sense for people that don’t want to invest in a comprehensive solution for every room, and just want to add some smart home features to a couple of places in the house. The Socket is a cool gift idea too for a friend — the novelty of controlling lights with Siri voice actions is really great.
Check out our previous review of the Smart Plug for more HomeKit accessories from this manufacturer.