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Best Smart Bias Lighting For Home Automation Enthusiasts

It seems that bias lighting is all the rage these days for providing awesome ambiance and enhancing color and contrast for your television. For smart home enthusiasts and others who are working on upgrading their home with the latest and greatest, not just any old bias light will do. If you’re like me, you’ll want something WiFi-enabled that you can operate with your voice assistant (Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home) and that you can integrate seamlessly with your other home automation. Below, I’ll take you through 6 awesome bias lighting products for smart home enthusiasts.

Contents

TV Bias Lighting For Smart Homes

A colorful bias light behind a TV, with colors matching the imagery on a TV screen. Some of the best smart bias lighting is able to provide synchronized patterns like this on the wall behind your television.
Image credit – filename changed

Below, I’ll take you through the best smart bias lighting for a TV in your smart home. The bias lights I’ll show you are products that have their own WiFi controllers and apps. Once the app is set up, you can then integrate the light with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or other home automation controllers.

Is this a comprehensive list of every bias light under the sun? No, of course not. What I hope to do is to harvest the best choices available in 2019 for smart bias lighting for your TV. In other words, the focus here is on bias lighting that is WiFi-enabled, or that will otherwise work with your smart home. I did include one bias light that does not have any smart home connectivity, but that is only because I was impressed with what the company is trying to do with that product.

If you want to learn a bit more about some of the benefits and specifications of bias lighting, you’ll find additional information further down on this page, below the list of smart bias lights.

How To Choose Smart Bias Lighting For Your Television

Bias lighting for a large television display.

There are a lot of schools of thought out there, but I’ve basically boiled it down to a few select criteria. I believe the smart bias lighting on the list below would be appropriate for any television up to 75″; possibly slightly larger. Realistically, if you have an 80″ or greater TV, you may need to fork over the additional dough for a larger bias lighting strip or kit. Here are the criteria under which I selected the lights on the list below:

  • Wi-Fi enabled (except Phillips Hue, which needs the Hue Hub)
  • Works with Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home (Google Assistant)
  • RGB LED’s (255x255x255 = “16 million colors”)
  • Around 16 feet (usually 5m, which is 16.4 feet) of LED strip lighting included
  • Received good reviews on Amazon (minimum of 4 stars, as of the time of writing: 11 Sep 2019)

Beyond that, there’s a bit of variety, such as presence or absence of IR remote, built-in mic for music mode, and additional features. Here are some brief notes on the choice of 16.4 foot LED strips:

LED Strip Length For Television Bias Lighting

When you set up bias lighting for your television, you want to end up with an even, continuous halo of light on the wall behind the TV. The length of LED strip that you will need to achieve a nice look with your bias lighting will vary as a function of basically two factors:

  • The size of your TV
  • The distance between your TV and the wall

There are bias lights on the market that are single LED strips, around 3-7 feet in length. If you have a large television that is mounted on the wall, these “single-strip” bias lights are unlikely to provide the smooth, even halo effect that you’re looking for.

Removing The Guesswork In Light Strip Sizing

If you have a smaller TV that is mounted on a stand, and is perhaps 1-2 feet away from the wall or more, 16.4′ of LED strip may not be necessary (and probably isn’t). So, you would be free to consider a smaller bias light for your smart home.

However, I recently conducted a survey of more than 175 smart home enthusiasts. According to those respondents, TV’s are wall-mounted in 65% of smart homes. Therefore, a single-strip LED bias light is not going to be the best choice for most people.

For most people, especially in the 55″-75″ TV range, you’ve got a lot of real estate to cover behind your television. You don’t want to end up with a light strip that won’t be long enough to create an even bias light.

Making A Safe Bet

Because there is a lot of variance between kits, televisions, and entertainments stands, 16.4′ bias lights are a safe bet for anyone with up to a 75″ TV, whether it’s wall-mounted or on a stand or entertainment center.

Here is specifically why I chose 16.4′ bias lighting for this list:

The dimensions of a 75" TV. At the bottom of the image are some brief notes showing how the perimeter is calculated.
  • A 75″ TV is ~65″ wide and ~37″ tall (check out this great article on TV sizing)
  • (65 x 2 long sides) + (37 x 2 short sides) = 204″ ,which is 17 feet
  • Because bias lighting is installed slightly inboard of the perimeter of the television, 5 meter (16.4 foot) light strips are a great fit

The moral of the story is that any of the bias lights below should work for up to a 75″ TV in your smart home, no matter how far away it is from the wall. Most of these bias lights’ LED strips can be trimmed down to fit the size of your TV.

6 Best Smart Bias Lights For Home Automation Enthusiasts

A 65" living room television with bias lighting installed.

Below, you’ll find a link to each of the best smart bias lighting products out there on the market. For a comparison between all of these, keep scrolling beyond the list to see the major features of each bias light side-by-side.

Alright folks, here goes for the best smart bias lighting:

1. Lumiman Smart LED Strip Lights

Lumiman Smart LED Strip Lights.

Many of the kits on this list (and available on the market in general) are pretty similar to install. Generally, it’s something like:

  1. Plug in the bias light
  2. Set up the app specified by the bias light
  3. Add the bias light as a device in the app
  4. Register the app with Amazon Echo or Google Assistant
  5. Enjoy

I figured I’d start out with the Lumiman Smart LED Strip Lights as it’s the most straightforward bias light on this list. By that, I mean that it doesn’t have an IR remote, doesn’t plug into your TV via USB, etc. In other words, the HitLights kit is a “standard” Wifi bias lighting kit. Which, after all, is what we’re here to talk about.

If what you’re looking for is bias lighting that you can plug in, set up, and use, then this is a straightforward choice. With that said, this bias light, like each of the others, supports 16 million distinct color combinations, app or voice control (through your voice assistant), scheduling, and more.

2. WenTop LED Light Strip Kit With IR Remote

WenTop LED Light Strip Kit with IR Remote for TV bias lighting.

The Wentop LED Light Strip Kit is our next TV bias lighting option. Very similar to the Lumiman Smart LED Strip Light, the WenTop bias light also includes an infrared (IR) remote. With the remote, you can control your bias light while you’re watching television without having to ask Alexa or pull out your phone.

Now, granted, we’re looking specifically at bias lighting for your smart home, so a remote is not as critical as it would be with a “dumb” bias light. But, it’s always nice to have options. If you want a straightforward smart bias lighting kit that also includes a 24-key remote, this is the kit for you.

This WenTop bias light uses the Magic Home app. With the Magic Home app, you can sync your light to music, create custom colors and modes, and even select the color temperature.

3. Govee WiFi TV Backlight Kit With Camera

Govee WiFi TV Backlight Kit With Camera

This next bias lighting kit is pretty snazzy. The Govee WiFi TV Backlight Kit has a camera that you mount on your television. The camera monitors the image on the TV. When set to “Video Mode”, the Govee controller uses the camera to change different sections of the light to match what’s on your television. That’s a pretty cool feature, if you ask me.

In addition to the Govee’s Video Mode, it also has a microphone. The Govee has 4 “Music Modes” that sync the light with the sound detected by its built-in mic. While several of the bias lights on this list have a music mode through an app on your phone, a built-in mic has the potential to offer a better experience.

Music sync through an app on your phone can be laggy, whereas the Govee’s built-in microphone will ensure a responsive experience.

If you like the idea of Video Mode, or having your TV bias light pulse responsively with the music you’re playing, the Govee kit would be an awesome choice.

4. LE LampUX Super Bright WiFi LED Strip Lights

LE LampUX WiFi Smart LED Strip. This LED lightstrip's selling point is that for a low cost, the LED strip outputs a lot of light - it's about as bright as a 100w incandescent bulb.

Next, we haves the LE LampUX WiFi LED Strip Light. This is an interesting product as it has two different models of LED’s on its light strip. Specifically, it is actually an “RGBW” light strip. This means that it has both RGB and Daylight (White) LED’s.

For those interested in staying pure to bias lighting theory, these lights are advertised as having “high CRI”. CRI, or “Color Rendering Index”, is a measure of how close this white light is to the “ideal” white light to which television and video are calibrated. The accuracy of the white bias light can help to improve the color you perceive from your television.

Additionally, the product specifications for the LE LampUX strip light show the brightness of the white light as 1,650 lumens. By comparison, a 100-watt incandescent lightbulb is about as bright. Online reviews confirm that this TV bias light is “SUPER bright”, as one customer puts it.

5. Phillips Hue White & Color Ambiance Lighting

The Phillips Hue White & Color Ambiance Lightstrip for use as a television bias light.

Phillips Hue is a strong name in lighting for home automation. With its own little ecosystem of cool lights for every part of your home, Phillips Hue has carved out a definitive corner of the market.

The Phillips Hue White & Color Ambiance Lighting package is the only device on this list that does not have its own WiFi controller. This LED light strip requires the Phillips Hue Hub, Phillips’ proprietary controller for their lighting products.

If you’re already a Phillips Hue owner and a fan of their smart lighting products, the White & Color Ambiance Lighting might be a good choice for your TV bias lighting. This light strip is flexible, waterproof, and conceals the LED’s and circuitry in an appealing translucent track.

One thing you’ll get for the money with the Phillips Hue White & Color Ambiance kit is a very bright light. Depending on the color temperature, the specs for the Phillips Hue list its output as high as 1,810 lumens.

6. Alitove Addressable Smart LED Strip Light

Alitove Addressable WiFi Smart LED Strip Light. This lightstrip could be used for TV bias lighting. Its selling point is addressable LED's, which allow you to set different coloring schemes on different parts of the lightstrip.

Lastly, we have the Alitove Addressable Smart LED Strip Light. What makes this bias light interesting is that the LED strip is addressable. By this, what’s meant is that the light strip itself is smart. Whereas many of the other strips can only be one color at a time, the Alitove Smart LED Strip Light can be many colors at once.

With 300 mixed-color modes available, the Alitove strip light is capable of a much more dynamic display than many of the other bias lights. Additionally, like the Govee bias light, the Alitove has a built-in microphone. With the bias light set to music mode, the built-in mic can provide a responsive experience.

Another Option For Bias Lighting

This next light reviewed so well that I had to include it. I’m cheating a bit, though, as it’s not actually a smart bias light. In fact, it’s not even an RGB light. Further, it won’t do any of the flashy things that some of the bias lights above do.

What it does do is provide very accurate white bias lighting. MediaLight, the company that manufactures this TV bias light, focuses very heavily on CRI and LED chip selection. Take a look at their rating on Amazon in the banner below:

MediaLight 6500K Quad Bias Lighting System

The MediaLight Quad 6500K TV Bias Light. This is the cream of the crop for CRI, providing the highest-fidelity reference bias lighting on the market.

The MediaLight Quad 6500K Bias Lighting System for TVs is designed for videophiles. MediaLight strives to provide excellent white lighting fidelity. To do this, they select LED’s which provide an overall Color Rendering Index of 95 Ra or greater (out of a possible 100 Ra).

The MediaLight Quad doesn’t come with a WiFi controller. As such, you’d have to buy a separate WiFi smart plug or other means of controlling this light through your smart home.

Because the light does not have its own WiFi controller, you would not be able to adjust the brightness with Amazon Echo or Google Home. You would only be able to turn the device on or off with your smart plug.

Why Choose The MediaLight Quad?

As mentioned above, what the MediaLight Quad bias light does do is emit high-fidelity white light. It does come with a remote which allows you to adjust the light’s brightness.

One other feature that some may like about this bias light is that it can be powered by USB. If you have a USB 3.0 port on a TV that plays well with bias lighting, you could consider plugging the Quad directly into your TV’s USB port. If you do so, however, you’ll eliminate most easy options for making your bias light smart. With this said, TV’s that turn their USB ports off automatically would at least automate that function for you. You can read more about using a USB port to power TV bias lighting below.

Lastly, like the Phillips Hue light strip, the quality LED chips that MediaLight uses are very bright. When plugged into the wall (not into a USB port on your TV), the MediaLight Quad’s maximum output is nearly 2,000 lumens, making it the brightest light on this list.

In summary, it all depends on what you’re looking for. The MediaLight Quad is not a smart bias light. It is, however, a very high quality TV bias light that offers excellent brightness and CRI. If that is what’s most important to you, the MediaLight Quad may be a great choice.

Smart Bias Lighting Comparison

Here’s a summary of the specs and features of the TV bias lights listed above:

 LumimanWenTopGoveeLEPhillips HueAlitoveMediaLight
Distinct FeatureLow priceIR remoteVideo ModeVery bright for low costPhillips Hue productAddressable (mixed colors)Very high CRI
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
ConnectivityWiFiWiFiWiFiWiFiHue HubWiFiNone
LED TypeRGBRGBRGBRGBWRGBWW*RGBWhite
LED Chips5050505050505050 & 2835*50505050
Output (lm)1,4001,500**1,6501,810**2,000
Segmented?
Trimmable?
Remote?
Camera?
Built-In Mic?
Addressable?

Notes On Specifications In The Comparison Above

  • LED Chips
    • All or nearly all of the devices on this list use a 5050 chip, which is larger, brighter, and generally regarded as better than the 3528 chips that have been popular on LED strip lights in the past
    • You can read more about LED chips in this article from Flexfire LEDs
  • Strip Segmentation
    • Whether or not the LED light strip is one continuous strip, or whether it has connectors that divide several segments
    • Most of these LED strips aren’t very flexible, which makes it difficult to round the corners on the back of the television with a continuous strip
    • The connectors on segmented strips provide a solution for rounding the corners, and so segmented strips are easier to mount
  • Trimmable
  • * Notes on the Phillips Hue lightstrip
    • Phillips Hue appears to be pretty hush-hush about precisely what class of LED chip they’re using
    • What it does seem that they’ve done is made a great effort to produce a nice, balanced, white light
    • Per the information collected in this SmartThings forum post, Phillips Hue has a 5-channel LED strip:
      • R
      • G
      • B
      • C (Cold White)
      • F (Warm White)
  • ** Lumen Data Unavailable
    • I was unable to find the brightness of these two lights online
    • Tech support for both companies was unable to provide this information
    • Both have customer reviews suggesting they are bright lights

Benefits of TV Bias Lighting

A smart LED lightstrip used as television bias lighting.

Improves Perception of Color & Contrast

You can’t look up “bias lighting” on the Internet without seeing the following image:

One of the benefits of TV bias lighting is improved contrast. Because the eye perceives greys as darker against a light background, the best smart bias lighting can provide a richer perceived contrast.
Image credit – filename changed

What this image illustrates is referred to as the Simultaneous Contrast Illusion. The grey bar in the middle is the same shade of grey throughout. Despite this, the brain perceives the grey bar differently against a dark background than it does against a light background.

How does this relate to bias lighting for your television? Bias lighting illuminates the wall behind and around your TV. By doing so, bias lighting provides a light background around the image on the screen. This helps to improve the contrast that you perceive as you watch your shows.

Also, bias lighting helps to improve color perception. It does so by providing your eyes with a consistent reference light, to which your eyes compare the imagery on the screen.

Reduces Eye Strain

Your eye has two types of cells that process the light coming into them:

  • Rod cells
    • Control your pupil dilation
    • Provide peripheral vision and night vision
    • Able to work in dim light
  • Cone cells
    • Provide color vision
    • Work best in bright light

When you watch a bright TV in a dark room, your eye’s rod cells will ask your pupils to dilate because of the low ambient light level in the room. This in turn leads to your cone cells being hammered by the bright light from your television, through your dilated pupils. This causes eye fatigue. Further, changes in the brightness level of the show or movie will cause your pupils to change their dilation repeatedly.

Bias lighting helps to balance your visual load between rod and cone cells. The consistent ambient light level helps to keep your rod cells happy, and helps to prevent frequent pupil dilation.

Provides Ambiance

Colorful smart bias lighting. A television is shown with a landscape image. The bias lighting around the TV matches the coloring of the image.

One thing’s for certain: bias lighting that’s properly sized and installed looks great. In addition to the benefits to your viewing experience, bias lighting provides your room with a modern, appealing aesthetic.

Additionally, the smart bias lighting that we’re looking at can be integrated with your home automation. Like other lights in your home, you can use your smart bias light to light your way at night, or to set the scene for parties and events.

What Is CRI?

CRI, or Color Rendering Index, is a measure of how accurately a given light renders color when compared to a reference light source. The reference light source could be daylight, or an incandescent lightbulb; it could be anything that emits light. CRI is generally measured on a scale of 0 up to 100, but it even allows negative numbers.

A 6500K light source is close to the color of daylight, and is the “reference standard” to which video is color corrected. When a TV bias light manufacturer says their product has a “high CRI”, they (should) mean in reference to a 6500K light source. As you can see in the color temperature scale below, 6500K is a slightly cool white:

The Kelvin temperature scale. 6500K is the reference standard for video color correction, and thus is the ideal bias lighting color.
The black body color temperature scale, in degrees Kelvin. Image credit – filename changed

For TV bias lighting, a CRI of 85-90 when compared to a 6500K light source is considered very good. For the best smart bias lighting in terms of color rendering, a CRI of greater than 90 is considered excellent.

A common misconception is that CRI is a measure of how closely a light will render colors when compared to daylight. This is true only if daylight is what you’ve chosen as the reference light source. A light may have a very high CRI when compared to a halogen light, but very low CRI when compared to daylight. CRI is dependent on the reference source that is selected.

How Is CRI Relevant To Selecting The Best Smart Bias Lighting For Your TV?

It depends on what you want out of your TV bias light. You may be the type of viewer who likes something like the Govee WiFi TV Backlight Kit with Camera. The Govee kit includes a camera that uses the image on the screen to make the wall behind your TV come alive with color. A kit like that is built for someone who is looking for that type of colorful, immersive experience from their bias lighting. For purchasers of the Govee kit, CRI is likely not a concern.

If you’re interested in a less flashy, but more fundamental bias lighting experience, something like the MediaLight Quad 6500K Bias Lighting System may be for you. This bias light’s principle feature is its high CRI when compared to 6500K light sources. MediaLight’s position in the market is that it only provides a white bias light, but it provides an excellent white bias light. For videophiles, or those looking to maximize color and contrast, MediaLight would be your best choice. However, keep in mind that the MediaLight is not a smart light. If you want Alexa or Google Home to be able to turn MediaLight on and off, you would need to pick up a smart plug or other home automation device.

A Lot Of Bias Lights Are Powered By USB. Why Did I Choose Ones That Have Separate Power Supplies?

There are two issues with using USB power for TV bias lighting. The first issue is that USB ports on TV’s seem to exhibit 1 of 3 possible behaviors:

  • USB port turns on and off with the TV
  • Or, USB port exhibits unusual behavior when the TV is off
  • Lastly, USB port is always on

If you are trying to setup a smart bias light for your TV, you would really only want a TV with a USB port that is always on.

USB Ports That Turn On And Off With The TV

Some USB ports turn on when the TV is on, and off when the TV is off. This type of power scheme would be fine for a dumb TV bias light. If you plug your bias light into a USB port of this type, you could only use the light when the TV is on. Most of the time, that would be fine. There may be cases, however, where you want the bias light to work even if the TV is off.

For instance, you may choose to use your TV bias lighting to help you see your way to the fridge in the middle of the night. However, if the USB port turns off when the TV turns off, you would be unable to control the bias light via your home automation.

USB Ports That Behave Erratically When The TV Is Off

Of course, the worst case scenario is that you have a television which cycles power to its USB port when the TV is off. As an example, the Sony Bravia appears to do this.

Let’s say you have this type of TV, and you still want to try to power your light via USB. You could create an Alexa (or other) routine that turns off both the TV and the bias light simultaneously. Then, whenever you’re done watching, you give Alexa a certain command to execute that routine.

This would work fine if you only want your bias light to be on when your TV is on. But, as in the case with USB ports that turn on and off with the TV, you wouldn’t have the option to use your bias light in any other context.

The Other Issue With Using USB Ports For Bias Lighting

The other potential problem with using your TV’s USB port is the power rating. Each TV’s USB port is rated to provide a certain amount of power. You will need to check the specifications for your television to determine if it can power your LED strip light. If the USB port is under-powered, it may act up, or burn out entirely.

Let’s do a brief case study

Your smart TV has a USB port. It looks like the open ports in the following image:

The back connector panel on a computer monitor. There are two open USB 2.0 ports. Each port provides 500 mA of power, which may not be enough to power certain LED light strips.
USB 2.0 ports on the back of a monitor

If the little piece of plastic in the middle of the port was blue, you could take an educated guess that it was a USB 3.0 port. Because the plastic is black, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s USB 2.0.

Both USB 1.0 and 2.0 have the same standard for power output: 500 mA.

Now, you have decided you want to pick up a MediaLight Quad and power it off of USB. Unfortunately, the Quad’s power draw is greater than 500 mA. In fact, the MediaLight’s Q&A for the Quad specifically states that you’ll need a USB 3.0 port if you want to use USB to power the light.

What If My TV’s USB Port Doesn’t Provide Enough Power?

Luckily, the MediaLight Quad comes with an AC adapter, as well. By doing so, MediaLight has made the USB connection optional. In other words, if your TV cannot power the bias light, you can simply plug the light into the wall.

There are, however, other smart LED strip lights and bias lights on the market that only accept USB connections. You would need to do your homework to determine whether your TV could support the light, or not. However, even with a USB-only light, you of course still have another option. That is, you can still simply plug the USB cable into the wall with a USB charging block.

Ok… But… Can I Use A USB Port To Power A Bias Light For My TV, Or Not?

In the end, the answer is: most likely, yes. If you’re considering this option, however, you’ll want to do your due diligence. By this, I mean that you will need to check your TV’s specifications:

  • What is the power rating for your TV’s USB port?
  • Also, what is the power consumption of the bias light you’re considering?
    • Does the port provide sufficient amperage to power your bias lighting?
  • What is the behavior of the USB port when you turn off the TV?
    • Best case scenario is that the USB port is powered constantly, even if the TV is off. In this case, you’ll be able to control the smart lightstrip through your home automation controller
    • You may also be fine with the port powering down with the TV. If this is the case, though, you will not be able to use the bias light unless the TV is on

If you’d like to read more about USB power output, you can check out the following article on Wikipedia.

Additional Information

A living room television with a smart bias light installed. This bias light is integrated with the Amazon Echo products in this smart home.

Firstly, if this article was your cup of tea, then don’t miss out on future posts. Sign up for my email list, below. I’ll let you know when I have something new to share with you. You can expect about 1-4 emails per month.

If you’re looking for additional information on bias lighting, you can do some further reading at any of these links:

  • An article on bias lighting and its benefits from Power Practical
  • Bias lighting fundamentals from BiasLighting.com (MediaLight’s website)
  • A brief technical write-up to help you understand CRI from topbulb
  • A nice visual explanation of CRI from cnet

Thanks for reading! Did this article help you to select an awesome smart bias lighting kit? If so, I want to hear about it! leave me a comment below and let me know how it went!

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