IKEA has an ever-expanding collection of smart-home products – from lighting control and wireless charging to Sonos-partnered speakers and remote controls. Confused about the right smart-home gear for you? We’ve taken a detailed look at the lot to let you know definitively which are worth adding to your big blue bag (alongside the frozen meatballs and tea lights).
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TRÅDFRI Gateway kit, E27
Pros: Superb value; practical remote; voice control; good light quality
Cons: Clunky set-up; no bayonet bulbs
With two E27 colour-changing smart LED bulbs, a remote control and Gateway hub, this kit is a terrific way to try smart lighting at home without spending a fortune.
The remote control offers dimming, on/off and a selection of moods (you can create your own colour through the app) that make the most of the impressive bulb, that is a bright, flicker-free joy compared to many budget LED options.
The IKEA Home smart app works with Android (at least KitKat 4.4 or Lollipop 5.0) and iOS (at least iOS 9) and plays nicely with Amazon Alexa, Apple Home Kit, Google Assistant and Sonos. Given the low cost, it’s impressively connected.
The TRÅDFRI Gateway hub is the key to all app-related, voice-controlled options at IKEA, and at £25 is hardly breaking the bank. It’s a basic hub that plugs into your broadband router and then syncs with lightbulbs, remote controls and speakers, etc.
One thing worth noting, however: it’s Zigbee compliant, so the bulbs can work alongside an existing Philips Hue set-up or be controlled using Amazon Echo Plus as a hub.
If you don’t need two large pendant bulbs, or colour changing, IKEA has a separate TRÅDFRI Gateway Kit with two small white spectrum E14 and one large E27 bulb, plus the Gateway and remote for £65. And when it comes to expanding your smart lighting to other rooms, there are nine smart bulbs now available, including GU10 halogen replacements, and decorative filament designs, with prices from £6.
The Home app is neatly designed and easy to follow, but getting the bulbs and remote control connected involves quite a few processes. First, you connect the Gateway to your router and then link it to the app (this took us three attempts), before linking the remote control to the Gateway through a series of button presses (worked on our fourth try), and then, finally, you use the remote control to link to each bulb in turn (we nailed it on the second go!), which involves more button holding, and being no more than 5cm from the bulb – which is dandy if you’re installing a table lamp, but irritating if you’ve installed a pendant in a vaulted ceiling.
But once the (many) hoops have been jumped through, the remote, and app works well, and quickly, with almost instantaneous on/off and with impressively smooth dimming.
Price: £50 | IKEA
TRÅDFRI Control Outlet kit
Pros: Home Kit compatible; cheap
Cons: Limited remote range; fiddly app setup; requires TRÅDFRI gateway
Given this smart plug and remote is Home Kit-compatible, you could conceivably add app control to 10 different appliances for less than £200, which is laughably affordable. Admittedly, you need the TRÅDFRI Gateway (£25) to control via the app, but then that’s also well-priced compared to the competition.
Without the Gateway you can still use the remote control to turn sockets on and off, but you are limited to a maximum 10m range. We think, even without the app control, it’s a handy gadget, especially if you struggle to reach awkward switches, or just hate the idea of getting behind the sofa to turn off the Christmas lights.
If you do connect to the Home app, there’s simple controls and timers to experiment with, all great for creating moods and increasing home security. It’s a bit bare bones compared to the flagship competition, but it works well and can’t be beaten on price.
Price: £19 | IKEA
TRÅDFRI wireless motion sensor
Pros: Discrete; home safety booster; cheap
Cons: Familiar TRÅDFRI installation issues
If you’ve already invested in the TRÅDFRI smart bulb or seven and a Gateway, this budget sensor can quickly boost your home’s security – and give night-light functionality to areas after dark. It can control up to 10 bulbs, although they will all need to do the same thing.
The sensor can turn bulbs on from between 30 and 100 per cent brightness, with a movement range of 10m, with a 120-degree angle. It’s not the best on the market, but given the price and Zigbee compatibility, it’s hard to fault.
Once the light turns on, it will stay that way for three minutes before switching off again. And being IP44 rated, it is suitable for bathroom installation, which should put an end to one person waking the whole house for a bathroom visit in the middle of the night.
The two batteries should last up to two years, which is reassuring, and if IKEA could get the connectivity issues sorted with the Home app – it took us nine attempts before the dimmer would connect – it would be an essential addition to your smart home.
Price: £15 | IKEA
SYMFONISK table lamp with WiFi speaker
Pros: Affordable; good sound; Alexa, Google and Airplay control
Cons: No Bluetooth; no built-in voice; some Sonos features are iOS only
In a quick office poll, first reactions to the Sonos compatible SYMFONISK lamp speaker ranged from a charitable ‘That’s cute, what is it?’ to a disapproving, ‘My goodness, it’s ugly!’ – but whatever our collective thoughts on this table-lamp-speaker, we applaud the intent.
For £150, IKEA has developed a Wi-Fi multi-room speaker that integrates seamlessly into the Sonos family, without looking like yet another identikit box that does nothing for your home’s interior design.
Admittedly, the bulbous fabric-covered plastic and glass shade design won’t be to everyone’s taste, and at 40cm tall with a 21cm diameter, it’ll overpower most bedside tables, but as a first attempt to bring the two worlds of IKEA and Sonos together it’s ticked plenty of boxes.
The lamp doesn’t come with a bulb, but if you choose the £7 TRÅDFRI E14, it also becomes a smart lamp, and can be controlled via IKEA’s Home app.
Sound wise, Sonos told us to expect an almost identical profile to the Play:1, and with the same Class-D amplifiers, tweeter and woofer, when listened to side by side, it’s a damn similar sound: full, balanced and satisfying, even at louder volumes, whether you’re into the crisp sound of Billie Eilish or looking to hear the detail in an Angelique Kidjo album.
Set-up via the Sonos app, which is reassuringly simple – just go to settings and ‘Add speakers’. A blinking light later and you should be good to go. A recent update to the IKEA Home app means you can now control the speakers, and other smart-home devices through one app, although until we get to test it out properly, we can’t imagine it beating Sonos’s slick offering.
We tried various voice controls out with the IKEA devices, and it worked quickly and fairly accurately for requesting tracks or albums, pausing music, skipping tracks and so on, but be careful with your naming of devices, as it’s easy to confuse yourself and the various app protocols.
For iOS users, you get quick-access Airplay 2 controls and the option to use your iPhone for Trueplay tuning the speaker to the room. On Android, there’s no built-in Google Cast across third-party apps, and no Trueplay (yet), but you can still use Spotify Connect, for instance, from within the Spotify app.
If you want the very best sound at an affordable price, we’d still recommend you go for the basic Sonos One SL, but if the lamp’s mouth-blown-glass-shade-sat-on-a-HomePod aesthetic floats your boat, you won’t be disappointed, especially if you’re integrating it as part of a wider Sonos setup. You can also stereo pair two Symfonisks.
While it can’t replace Bruce Forsyth as The King of Light Entertainment, the Symfonisk speaker lamp offers solid sound and impressive connectivity in a thoroughly inventive form factor.
Price: £150 | IKEA
SYMFONISK bookshelf speaker
Pros: Affordable; design; good sound; Alexa, Google and Airplay controls
Cons: No Bluetooth; no built-in voice; some Sonos features are iOS only
Looking more like a Google Home product than a traditional Sonos speaker, IKEA’s fabric-fronted bookshelf speaker has been designed to disappear. Choose white/light grey (which we tested) and black/gold, it’s the prefect size to slot into the IKEA KALLAX bookshelf, and discrete enough not to look odd if you do decide to wall mount it (wall hooks and brackets cost from £5–£10) next to your bed, or hanging from KUNGSFORS or FINTORP rails in the kitchen.
One thing you’ll notice straightaway is that the Bookshelf is rather large, requiring the space of say, a Sonos Play:3, though it’s much shorter. It doesn’t have the output of the Play:3, making it ideally suited to bedrooms or small home offices, but the two class-D digital amplifiers, tweeter and mid-range woofer do an admirable job.
While the larger speaker lamp manages a performance akin to the exceptional Sonos One SL, the Bookshelf doesn’t quite hit the mark, so while bright and enjoyable with pop and podcasts, it can sound muddled with anything more impactful. Once again, however, considering the price, this is decent value.
Just like the speaker lamp, set-up via the Sonos app is simple: go to settings, ‘Add speakers’. A recent update to the IKEA Home app means you can now control the speakers, and other smart-home devices through one app, but we can’t imagine it beating Sonos’s offering (which itself is about to be updated).
iOS users can access Airplay 2 for control and have the option to use an iPhone for Trueplay tuning (which we strongly recommend doing). On Android, there’s no built-in Google Cast across third-party apps, and no Trueplay (yet), but you can still use Spotify Connect from within the Spotify app. Oh and there’s no Bluetooth, this is a Wi-Fi only speaker.
As the most affordable Sonos speaker available anywhere, it has a lot going for it, even if the sound can underwhelm at times. And whether you use it in bedroom or integrated into a 5.1 surround sound set-up, you won’t feel cheated at the price.
Price: £99 | IKEA
SYMFONISK sound remote
Pros: Simple styling; cheap; best remote for Sonos users
Cons: Irritating set-up; laggy at times
Ardent Sonos fans have been crying out for a simple remote control, and thanks to the brand’s IKEA collaboration that desire for a proper physical volume knob has finally been fulfilled.
The Symfonisk sound remote is a basic, but pleasingly designed plastic puck that lets you play, pause, skip and return songs, as well as adjust the volume of any IKEA SYMFONISK or Sonos speaker.
You will still need the £25 TRÅDFRI Gateway (and therefore a spare port on your router) and the IKEA Home app, but that’s a small price to pay for the pleasure of being able to turn up the volume on your wireless hi-fi with a simple dial, instead of shouting at Alexa or fishing about for your smartphone.
Set-up via the Gateway and app takes patience – see app review below – but once you’re done the remote is a pleasure to use, with one click pausing or playing, two clicks skips and three takes you back a track, while you just turn the whole dial for volume.
There’s a bit of a lag before the remote makes things happen, but no worse than that of the Sonos app, and quicker if you factor in the time it takes to get your phone out your pocket then find and open the Sonos app.
It can only be linked to one Sonos zone (or grouped zone) at a time, which is understandable given it costs £15, and if the mood strikes you can change zones in the app.
The remote has a non-slip ring on the base which keeps it in place on a flat surface, but it’s also magnetic, and ours quickly found its way to the front of the fridge. In the box, there’s also a metal mounting plate if you want a more permanent position.
Price: £15 | IKEA
ENEBY built-in Bluetooth speaker
Pros: 15hr (max) battery; discrete; USB charging; handsfree calling
Cons: limited sound quality; batteries not included
Designed to be installed into a desktop, worktop or any surface you can drill a 78mm diameter cutter through, this simple Bluetooth speaker can be powered using either the bundled USB cable, or wirelessly by installing three rechargeable AAA-sized LADDA batteries (sold separately). The £4 batteries can give up to 15 hours of use, although we imagine plugging a USB into the mains will be the preferred choice for most, unless positioning is really awkward.
With a rubber rim to help reduce vibrations, this simple Bluetooth speaker connects easily and sounds respectable enough for the price. It is not a main source of audio, though, and will work best on a bedside table or in a small kitchen rather than be used for a dinner party.
The speaker also comes with a 3.5mm AUX-in if you want to connect a media player, or really old phone, and although it only has one button, you can pause music and answer calls if you can’t reach your phone. Volume control is via handset though.
Price: £25 | IKEA
ENEBY Bluetooth speaker (20cm)
Pros: Minimalist Scandi design; well organised sound; value
Cons: EQ settings destroy sound; battery not included; default volume too quiet
At £45 you shouldn’t really expect much from a Bluetooth speaker, especially one that’s designed to be used around the house, instead of, say, being chucked in a bag and taken on holiday a couple of times a year. But this 20cm, 20W design punches well above its price point, with a really well-balanced sound that never feels underpowered, but also avoids the trap of trying too hard.
Like so much stuff from IKEA, it does the job admirably without the bells, whistles or much excitement. Available in black with charcoal grille, or white with grey grille, the design is clean and suitably Scandi. The metal handle attaches using the supplied Allen key – what else – and Bluetooth connection is painless.
A discrete £3 wall bracket adds flexibility, as does the alternative £15 metal speaker stand that angles sound up, supposedly enhancing the quality, but we didn’t notice a massive difference, and prefer the look of the speaker without it. It reminds us a lot of the Vifa Oslo Bluetooth speaker, that, admittedly at £399, is in a different league, but this remains a compliment to the design team.
As well as Bluetooth pairing, on/off and volume, the single control knob can, through a series of long presses, also adjust the bass and treble. Nice idea, but avoid tweaking unless you’re a fan of imbalance and distortion.
One thing we noticed is that if you turn off the speaker, instead of letting it lapse into standby (0.5W since you’re asking), the default volume when you turn it back on is whisper quiet.
For an extra £15 you can upgrade with the ENEBY battery and get 8-10 hours of portability. It’s not overly generous, but good enough for an afternoon in the garden – and £60 for a portable Bluetooth speaker like this is still solid value.
Price: £45 | IKEA
ENEBY Bluetooth speaker (30cm)
Pros: Minimalist Scandi design; solid sound; fits KALLAX shelving unit
Cons: No battery option; SYMFONISK Bookshelf speaker is only £20 more
Sitting between the smaller (20cm), almost identical £45 ENEBY speaker (above) and the £120 FREKVENS design with subwoofer, this 40W, £80 version has two, seven-centimetre drivers and a single two-centimetre tweeter.
It has the same colour options and features as the 20cm ENEBY, but can’t be upgraded with a battery and stands 10cm taller and wider. The extra power and driver give the sound quality a welcome boost, making it a speaker more suited to a dining room, kitchen or small living room (the smaller version is great for student accommodation, studies and bedrooms). You can also mount on a bracket and stand.
At 30cm x 30cm it fits seamlessly into a KALLAX shelving unit, which makes for a neat and tidy finish, although we’d be interested to know if, when enclosed, the space behind the speaker will affect sound.
We’d happily recommend this speaker, and prefer the sound to the FREKVENS, particularly when we’re not having a party, but for just £20 more you can buy the SYMFONISK Bookshelf speaker, which has Sonos sound tuning, multi-room capabilities, app and voice control.
Price: £80 | IKEA
FREKVENS Bluetooth speaker
Pros: Modular and playful; punchy party sound; music AND lights; optional battery pack
Cons: Style won’t suit everyone; unrefined audio
IKEA and pioneering Swedish audio brand Teenage Engineering have created a build-it-yourself modular Bluetooth audio and sound-activated lighting system for the hipster generation. Anyone over the age of 40 will be thinking it’s simply a ‘modern mobile disco’ but how good is this house-party starter kit?
Our test kit centred around the Speaker with Subwoofer (£120) and £15 LED Spotlight. The idea behind the FREKVENS system is to be able to build and personalise your home audio by choosing whether the sub is connected on top, below or to the side of the Bluetooth speaker, attached the supplied canvas straps. The bolt-on lights can be mixed and matched with colour-specific grilles – black, red and yellow available – along with a screw-in selection of light baffles and handles (£15 for four).
It’s all done with a playful exuberance we’re not accustomed to, especially when reviewing audio products, and the addition of the 70s-style spiral cables and old-fashioned telephone exchange jumble of connectors at the rear is every bit as pleasing as the view from the front. It’s simple, innovative and fun, and the only audio we’ve needed an Allen key to fully enjoy.
The basic Bluetooth speaker (£65) measures 10x20cm, pairs with up to eight devices, has a 7cm driver, line-in and line out 3.5mm ports and a simple volume dial. Without the 12in subwoofer the sound isn’t exactly room filling, but would be acceptable for a small bedroom. You can upgrade with a BRAUNIT battery pack (£15) for 10hrs portability, which is certainly worth it.
Plug in the subwoofer and sound quality improves immeasurably. There’s a reassuringly solid thump to the playback, and while it won’t impress an audiophile, if you want clear and loud without distortion, it’s a winner. Again, the sub can be made portable with the ENEBY battery (£15).
But it ain’t no house party without disco lights, so IKEA has two 10x10cm LED cubes that bolt onto the speaker and flash to the beat (you can switch it off or use as a standard light). There’s a single LED spot (£25) or multi-light LED cube(£29), and if you want to go full wedding disco you can link up to seven together on a standalone tripod (£45).
In party mode, the lights are pretty full-on, but the design impact remains impressive with the bulbs switched on or off, and the tripod lends an old-school photoshoot quality to proceedings.
When you factor in the speaker, subwoofer and two battery packs, listening to the FREKVENS will cost you £159 not including a light show. If you want better audio and much longer battery life, you can get a UE Boom, or if portability isn’t an issue the £99 Sonos-toting SYMFONISK will see you right, but that’s not really the point here.
Price: £65-£120 | IKEA
IKEA FYRTUR and KADRILJ motorised blind
Pros: Smart control; DIY installation; affordable (compared to competition)
Cons: TRÅDFRI Gateway glitches; bulky mounting; so many installation steps; hope you like grey
IKEA’s long-promised smart electric blinds are finally here, and available in two guises – the FYRTUR blackout in grey and the slightly more sheer KADRILJ in a slightly darker grey. Both use the same mounting system, motor, remote control and app, and you can buy them in 60cm, 80cm, 100cm, 120cm and 140cm. They’re all 195cm long, but you can teach them to stop at your desired length.
Aside from adding motorised control to your existing roller blinds using a Soma, IKEA’s approach is the best value complete system available, and significantly, it’s one of the only options for DIY installation. The blinds are well made, and aside from the casing being a bit chunky, are easy enough to lift with one hand while standing up a ladder.
The blinds come with a small plastic and impressively inoffensive wireless remote, Micro-USB compatible rechargeable battery for the blinds and TRÅDFRI signal repeater that is needed if you want smart control via smartphone or voice. As with the smart lighting, you will need a £25 TRÅDFRI Gateway to plug into your Wi-Fi router.
Fitting the blinds is the easiest part of the process here, thanks to two small mounting brackets that clip into the top of the blind. You can screw these fixings into the wall or ceiling, but be warned, there’s a generous 1cm gap between the blind and the wall. Not such an issue if you’ve opted for the KADRILJ, but you do get quite a lot of light seepage with the blackout option. The size of the blind unit also means you’ll be lucky to find a curtain rack deep enough if you wanted to have one over the other.
If you’re not interested in smart control, the supplied remote comes pre-paired, and once the battery is fitted, you’re good to go. The remote has a magnetic mounting back and adhesive pad. The blind unit also has two small buttons for manual control, and in the event of a battery failure, you can pull it manually closed while you charge the battery. The motor isn’t silent, but it is no louder than the other smart blinds we’ve experienced, and quieter than the industry standard Velux motorised window blinds.
Moving on to the smart-home installation, getting the blind and the IKEA Home app to talk to each other took 17 attempts – and no, that’s not an exaggeration.
The instructions on the app are easy to follow – you have to connect the remote control to the Gateway, then the Repeater and finally to the blind. The first two steps worked seamlessly, but connecting the app to the blind was down to perseverance. That, or blind luck. It’s a problem well documented on various tech forums and remains one of the big stumbling blocks for IKEA. If they can smooth out the glitchy app they’ll be close to untouchable.
Once connected, the app gives you total control over the blind and the ability to set timers for wake-up and enhanced home security, plus you can set a maximum blind drop length, which is handy as you can’t cut the blinds to length.
You can also add lights and compatible speakers to the timers to create a pimped wake-up routine. It’s all Zigbee compliant, so if you want to indulge your inner nerd there’s no end to the home control ‘fun’ you can have.
Price: £90-£165 | IKEA
LIVBOJ wireless charing mat
Pros: Costs less than a fiver; QI-Certified; rubber grip base and top
Cons: No cable
Proof you don’t need to dabble in wish.com to find bargain-basement tech, this 91mm diameter Qi-certified wireless charging pad is neatly designed, comes with a simple rubber cross to grip a phone and show where the charging coil sits, and has a 5W output for perfectly adequate charging speeds.
It’s available in black or white, sits just 10mm proud and works a treat. Admittedly, you need to supply your own plug socket and USB-C cable, but assuming you have boxes of these kicking around already, that may not be an issue. IKEA sells its own LILLHULT USB-C to USB Cable for from £2-£6 if you get stuck.
It’s not exciting, but it does the job perfectly well, and, if something does go wrong with the product, we’d rather head for IKEA’s customer returns queue than deal with an unknown online faceless brand.
Price: £4 | IKEA
IKEA Home app
Pros: Clean OS; intuitive layout; good customisation
We’ve become accustomed to the majority of kit working first time, without fuss. Intuitive installation is vital to the success of smart-home gear, especially a product aimed at the general public, not early-adopting, tech-savvy spenders – which is why the IKEA Home app is only marginally better than disappointing.
It’s not a total disaster, though, and if you don’t hurl the Gateway out a window before you’ve managed to connect everything together, all the lights, speakers and controllers we’ve tested worked reliably. However, nothing we connected to it via the Gateway worked first time. Not one. We were using an iPhone 11 Pro with broadband speeds of 17mbps download and 11.4mbps upload, and still struggled to get the kit to connect, something IKEA certainly needs to address.
The saving grace with the whole TRÅDFRI ecosystem is the fact it comes with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri Home Kit compatibility, so once you do manage to get everything set up you can sidestep the app altogether.
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