Sometimes The Right Product is The Wrong Application

This past weekend, I gave the Z-Ben ZB-PL01 IP Camera Bulb a try. Experimenting with an IP Camera bulb has been a priority to me for some time now. I would like to have video coverage of different areas around my home without the expense or bother of running wiring. Having a camera hidden inside an LED light bulb seems to good to be true!

The bulb’s camera supports 960p resolution with a minimum 2 MB bit rate. Power consumption is 6w. It has a microphone and speakers for 2-way communication via the app and supports up to a 128 GB SD card for local recording. Features include motion detection, alarm photo email, and a 1.3 MP video sensor. Nice!!!!

The setup was amazingly simple.

1) Screw in the bulb.
2) Download and install the mobile app
3) Create an account and enter WiFi credentials
4) Connect to the bulb (the app sets the credentials)
5) Watch video on demand from the bulb

There are some core limitations to keep in mind with an IP camera bulb. First, the bulb must have power on at all times so you don’t want to use it in a motion-activated floodlight. By the time the light powers on and the bulb connects to Wi-Fi, you’ll often find that the timer on the flood expires, turning the lamp off. The other major limitation is that the camera is on the “north pole” of the bulb – meaning you want the bulb to point down in order to capture an image.

Unfortunately for me, none of the three locations I’d had in mind for the bulb will work.

On inspecting the light fixture over the front stoop, I found that the light was another “L.O.” special (the chuckle-head who owned the house before me). The light cover is sealed shut with weatherproof caulk. I can take the screw out, but I’ll have to cut away all the caulk (over my head, while on a ladder) and the afternoons are too hot for that this time of year.

The fixtures by the cabana door in the back and the side door by the garage are brand new ones that my wife recently picked out and which I installed a week ago. They look great but the globe and the cage for each are too small to work with this bulb. Even if I wanted to run the bulb bare, which would not win WAF points, the fixtures are just above my head, so they’ll have poor video coverage in those areas.

So while I can wholeheartedly recommend the bulb for anyone with the right fixture to install it, that fixture will need to be directly overhead, at least 12 feet off the ground, pointing down.  I’d have to say that is a very rare combination for your average home owner’s lighting.  I’m going to have to find a secondary install location to make the bulb useful, while still looking for the right solution for surveillance. Maybe Jules will want a new fixture for the front door…. is the website for our Facebook community, The Smarter Home Club – which is an umbrella for all kinds of smart home technologies – home automation, security, custom electronics, weather stations, alternative energy, you name it. DIY focused.

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