Works well with motion-sensing Ring security products
Alexa and IFTTT integrations
Bright, neutral-white illumination
Requires the Ring Bridge
Lacks advanced smart-lighting features
Not compatible with Google Assistant or HomeKit
If you’re an existing Ring user and you’re looking to turn some of your outdoor bulbs into smart ones, the Ring PAR38 Smart LED Bulb is an enticing choice.
Amazon-owned Ring is spreading its wings into smart light bulbs (the company already has a broad array of smart light fixtures), and the Ring PAR38 Smart LED Bulb should appeal for people who haven’t invested in other smart lighting solutions or who are already in the Ring ecosystem.
This bright, dimmable, and weather-resistant outdoor bulb fits in standard light sockets, and you can set it to turn on when motion-sensing Ring cameras, video doorbells, and landscape lights detect movement. The PAR38 requires a Ring Bridge, but that shouldn’t be a problem for its target audience.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart bulbs, where you’ll findreviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.
Design and specifications
Rated to last up to 25,000 hours, the Ring PAR38 Smart LED Bulb joins the new Ring A19 bulb (reviewed here) as the brand’s first standard smart bulbs. Fitted with an E26 base that screws into a standard light socket, the Ring PAR38 is available in both black and white finishes. It feels reassuringly hefty, sturdy, and substantial.
The dimmable PAR38 has been tuned to a “neutral white” 3,500 Kelvin, a warm-but-not-too-warm color temperature that’s ideal for brightly lighting an outdoor space. Capable of emitting up to 1,500 lumens (nearly twice the output of a 60-watt incandescent), the PAR38 smart bulb had no trouble bathing my apartment’s rear entryway in light.
Measuring 2.34 x 2.46 x 0.79 inches, the Ring PAR38 Smart Bulb is UL rated for wet conditions, meaning you can install it outside where it’ll be directly exposed to the elements. My PAR38 test unit endured several April downpours here in Brooklyn and appeared no worse for the wear.
Like Ring’s A19 Smart LED Bulb, the PAR38 Smart Bulb requires the Ring Bridge in order to take advantage of its smart features (such as dimming, scheduling, and so on). You can buy a standalone Ring BridgeRemove non-product link for $50 if you don’t have one already, although you’ll find better deals when the bridge is bundled with other Ring products; a two-pack of PAR38 bulbs with the Ring BridgeRemove non-product link is currently selling for just $70, for example. The bridge communicates with the PAR38 bulbs using a proprietary RF long-range communication system and can support up to 50 compatible Ring devices, but you can deploy only one Ring Bridge per home.
The setup process for the PAR38 bulb is identical to that of Ring’s A19 smart bulb, and you can read all about that in our review of that bulb. The short version is that adding the PAR38 bulb to the Ring mobile app is a quick, painless process that worked flawlessly for me.
Features, app support, and smart home integrations
As with its setup process, the PAR38’s features are identical to that of the A19 bulb. In a nutshell, we’re talking standard light grouping and scheduling features, although the Ring app lacks the ability to ramp brightness up or down automatically, and it’s also missing a vacation mode to fool would-be burglars when you’re not around. That said, you can build brightness ramping into an Alexa routine, while vacation mode is arguably more important for indoor lights than it is for outdoor bulbs.
Also, one of the Ring app’s best features—the ability to turn on all the lights in a group when a Ring sensor detects motion—is key when it comes to the PAR38 bulb, which is well suited for illuminating driveways, backyards, side entrances, and other outdoor areas.
Besides its Alexa support, the Ring PAR38 Smart LED Bulb integrates with IFTTT, but (like other Ring products) it lacks support for Google Assistant and HomeKit.
If you’re an existing Ring user and you’re looking to turn some of your outdoor bulbs into smart ones, the Ring PAR38 Smart LED Bulb makes for an enticing choice. This affordable Alexa-enabled bulb works well with other Ring security cameras and lights, and it’s bright and UL-rated for wet conditions. The Ring app lacks the advanced smart lighting features of competing brands, but that’s more of an issue with Ring’s new indoor/outdoor A19 bulb than it is for the PAR38, which is mainly intended for outdoor use.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.