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LIFX Clean Review

Verdict

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Thanks to its HEV light mode, the LIFX Clean can be used to destroy bacteria. How effective this is will depend on far the bulb is from your items and the length of time for which it’s left on. For many homes, it may be difficult to achieve the right combination, making this an interesting but expensive option. Excellent colour reproduction and a great app make this a decent smart light – but the same is true of the standard LIFX bulb, which costs less.

Pros

  • Great app
  • Easy-to-schedule cleans
  • Bright bulb

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Disinfection depends on a lot of factors

Availability

  • UKRRP: £69.99
  • USARRP: $69.99
  • Europeunavailable
  • Canadaunavailable
  • Australiaunavailable

Key Features

  • TypeThis is a smart bulb that connects to your home network via Wi-Fi. As well as changing colour, this model can use HEV light to kill bacteria

Introduction

If there’s one thing the past year has taught us, it’s the importance of cleaning. Why bother to do things manually when technology can help? Step forward the LIFX Clean. This is a regular smart bulb that also uses HEV (high-energy visible) light to kill bacteria.

Notably, it doesn’t kill viruses such as COVID-19, and it’s most effective when run for long(ish) periods at short range. Add to this it’s high price and this isn’t a bulb that’s likely to have mass appeal.

Design and Features

  • Works with Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
  • Easy-to-use app
  • Can schedule cleaning cycles

The LIFX Clean is a fairly large bulb, taking the basic shape and form of the bright LIFX Colour, rather than the smaller LIFX Mini. The Clean has the distinctive shape of LIFX’s bulbs, sporting a flat top. 

Available in B22 and E27 formats, the Clean will suit the majority of lamp and ceiling fixtures in the UK.

As with previous LIFX bulbs, the Clean uses Wi-Fi to connect to your home network. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to set up, with Apple users getting the added benefit of HomeKit integration. 

LIFX has one of the best apps in the business. Although you can control lights individually, you can also group units together, controlling them all at the same time – much in the same way as you can do with Philips Hue.

At the basic level, you can set the light’s colour or colour temperature, and its brightness. Since this is the Clean lamp, you can also run the special Clean Cycle, setting the length of time for which you want it to run. This turns on the HEV light.

LIFX Clean app colour and temperature

There’s a schedule option, where you can select when you want your light to come on and the colour. From there, you can schedule a Clean Cycle; you can set it to run automatically, when you’re in bed, for example. 

LIFX Clean cleaning cycle

LIFX also has its Day & Dusk setting, which will change the temperature of the Clean bulb throughout the day to match daylight. It’s a neat trick, and one that’s available in the Dyson Lightcycle Morph. Hue lights can only access this feature through HomeKit and Apple Adaptive Lighting. Strangely, LIFX isn’t compatible with Adaptive Lighting.

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant control is supported, along with Siri. The usual commands are available, from setting a specific colour to toggling the light on and off, and adjusting brightness. The one thing that you can’t do is turn on the Clean Cycle.

Where LIFX misses out compared to Hue is with switches and sensors. While you can add these via a third-party system such as SmartThings, the integration isn’t as good. Hue remains the best overall lighting system, particularly when you have a lot of bulbs, because it has such a wide range of wireless controls.

Hue bulbs let you set the default power-on option, so you can use them as regular bulbs, but the LIFX Clean (and other LIFX bulbs) is missing this ability. If you use a regular light switch, then the bulbs use their last setting, no matter the colour chosen.

Performance

  • Very bright bulb
  • Excellent colours
  • Cleaning depends on distance and time

While it’s certain that UV light is better at killing bacteria and viruses than the LIFX Clean’s HEV light, it’s also harmful to humans and pets. That’s the reason that the Philips UV-C Disinfection Desk Lamp includes a motion sensor, so it can turn off automatically if anything living enters the room while it’s cleaning. HEV is safe for humans to be around, which would seem to be a step up.

What you gain in safety you lose in efficacy, and the LIFX Clean works best over longer periods and shorter distances. In addition, it needs to be pointed at the items you want to clean. Even then, the quality of its cleaning depends on the type of bacteria it encounters.

LIFX Clean cleaning cycle

LIFX had Clean tested in a lab against E coli and S aureus. From 40cm away and running for two hours, the LIFX Clean managed to kill 90.32% of E Coli but only 20.57% of S aureus. At 80cm away, the LIFX clean is quoted as being able to deactivate 69.61% of S aureus over two hours – that’s more effective than at 40cm away. 

Upping the run-time can help. At a full 12 hours at 40cm, the LIFX bulb could deactivate 99.54% of E Coli and 98.67% of S aureus. Yet, most of us won’t necessarily be able to run the bulb at such close-range.

The maximum distance that the bulb was tested was 122cm away. Then, with a 12-hour cleaning cycle, 84.52% of E coli was deactivated and 73% of S aureus.

Whether or not your home has lights at the right height will depend on the build and light fitting. In my Victorian home, the light in the lounge is installed in a room with a ceiling height of 2.7m, and the bulb is more than 1.5m away from the table below. In the kitchen, I have bulbs 90cm above the island, putting them within tested ranges.

For many homes, then, trying to get a light fitting that’s in the correct place could prove difficult: a lamp that can be angled and directed where you want it would make the most sense, letting you cleanse a specific area of your home, say cleaning your phone, wallet and keys overnight, or disinfecting your keyboard and mouse on your desk.

While the HEV part of the bulb may not suit everyone, there’s no doubting the quality of the smart side. 

This is a super-bright bulb, with LIFX quoting it at 1100 lumens. I used a light meter and measured it at 10,460 lux, which is about as bright a bulb as I’ve tested. Neatly, the dimming circuit is impressive, dropping down to 59.5 lux. This covers a spectrum of cosy mood-creating lighting to that you can work by.

LIFX Clean white

Testing with colour, I found that the LIFX Clean was slightly dim on red (442 lux).

LIFX Clean red

It was very bright when green (2811 lux).

LIFX Clean green

And the bulb was decent for blue (626 lux).

LIFX Clean blue

The Philips Hue White and Colour Ambience bulbs, while not as bright in white, generally offer even colour distribution in terms of brightness – but the LIFX Clean at least produces strong colours.

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Should you buy it?

If you have a lamp that you can point at an area where you’d like an extra bit of cleaning – say, for cleaning a set of keys, phone, or a keyboard and mouse, the LIFX Clean can destroy bacteria if run for long enough.

The LIFX Clean’s effectiveness varies siginficantly depending on the length of time the cleaning cycle is on for and the distance at which it is run – a combination that’s not always easy to get right. Traditional cleaning and standard smart bulbs may be better.

Final thoughts

The LIFX Clean is a decent smart bulb, accompanied by a great app; it produces powerful colours and it’s bright, too. However, you’re over the odds for the HEV option, and how useful it will be depends on the length of time the light remains on: a 12-hour cycle is likely to be a push for most folk, as who wants a light on for half of the day? Then there’s the issue of height placement: this bulb, according to LIFX’s research, work best when relatively close to objects, so you need a lamp holder that can get this bulb close to the items you want to cleanse.

If you have the right setup – say, a desk lamp you can angle – and would like an automated way to tackle bacteria, the LIFX Clean is capable. However, it’s fiddly to get the ideal conditions for it to work effectively. The Philips UV-C Disinfection Desk Lamp can clean quicker and tackle viruses, too.

If you just want smart lighting, we suggest you opt for regular LIFX bulbs or Philips Hue.

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FAQs

Can the LIFX Clean kill coronavirus?

No – it’s designed to kill bacteria, not viruses.

How long does it take the LIFX Clean to disinfect?

Efficacy depends on range and the bacteria in question – expect to use this bulb for up to 12 hours for the best results.

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Jargon buster

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A voice assistant which is Google’s take on Amazon’s Alexa.

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