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Never Flick a Light Switch Again with the Best Smart Bulbs

Written by on September 7, 2020

There are plenty of awesome smart home gadgets that can give your place some high-tech flavor, but few have the flare of smart bulbs. Kitting your house out with smart bulbs is not only a handy way to help lower your power bill, but also a delightful way to keep the aesthetics of your home fresh.At the very minimum, a smart bulb will enable you to control it remotely, so you can turn it off if you accidentally left the house with it still on. Some will let you set schedules or integrate them with smart home automation, so they can automatically turn on when you get home or automatically turn off when you leave. Many also include multiple white color temperatures and can include a full spectrum of colors. This can let you go for vibrant white during the day, a calm glow in the evening, or rainbow hues during a party. You can also simulate a sunrise on some smart bulbs if you find waking up to a traditional alarm too jarring.We’ve picked out a variety of smart bulbs at all price points, so you can find the lights you need for your bedroom, party room, bathroom, and every other room in your house.TL;DR – These are the Best Smart Bulbs

1. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance
Best Smart BulbOur PickPhilips Hue White and Color Ambiance

Philips Hue is probably the best-known name in smart lighting. It got in the game early, and today has an impressive lineup of bulbs and fittings to choose from. And when you’re ready to go beyond the standard bulbs, there are more interesting fixtures and accessories, such as the Hue Dimmer Switch or the Hue Lightstrips.Hue lights offer a large gamut of features such as color control, scheduling, and integration with third-party apps. It’s platform-agnostic too, working with HomeKit, Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and more.However, you’ll want a Hue Bridge for the full effect. Yes, its latest lights offer Bluetooth as well – a great way to trial Hue if it’s your first time – but the range of features is more limited. Hue’s White and Color Ambiance bulb is a great place to start.2. Sengled Color Changing Light Bulb
The budget choiceSengled Color Changing Light Bulb

Sengled offers a more wallet-friendly option. Most of its bulbs require a hub, although it now offers its white, ‘daylight’, and color bulbs in Wi-Fi versions that talk directly to your router.The app is good enough and gives you all the expected features, but it’s not as fully rounded as Hue or Lifx. The same goes for the quality of the bulbs themselves, which also aren’t quite as bright. We do like the power consumption tracker that lets you see how much energy your individual bulbs are using.Alexa and Google Assistant support are here, but no HomeKit.3. Lifx Mini Color
The best without a hub

Lifx’s bulbs are very expensive, but on the plus side, they connect directly to your router over Wi-Fi, which negates the added cost of a bridge.And its bulbs are of very good quality: nice and bright, with 16 million colors to choose from. Its A19 and BR30 bulbs have a slightly strange shape that fires the light more upward than we’d like, but otherwise, we’ve no complaints about the performance. Lifx supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.We’d recommend starting with the Lifx Mini bulb, which comes in white, ‘Day & Dusk’, and color variants.4. Yeelight LED Bulb 1S
Cheap but plenty functional

Yeelight’s smart color LED bulb almost sounds too good to be true: no hub, low price, a good color temperature range, and integration with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit. And yet, it delivers, with a fantastic smart bulb that should have Hue, Lifx, and company watching their backs.The app has features like scheduling and timers, with good responsiveness overall. The bulbs are plenty bright too – 800 lumens – and the color bulb offers 16-million hues. It doesn’t support as many third-party platform integrations as Philips Hue, but Yeelight ticks a lot of the right boxes.5. Wyze Bulb
For the absolute basics

Wyze wants to lower the price of entry to the smart home, and its smart light does exactly that. $8 a bulb or $30 for four. It’s hard to argue with that.But despite costing a fraction of the price of some rivals (looking at you, Hue and Lifx) Wyze’s Wi-Fi bulbs offers all the basic features you’d expect and doesn’t require a hub to get going. That means app control for adjusting temperature, setting schedules, and turning your bulbs on/off when you’re out of the house. They also integrate with Alexa and Google Assistant.The problem with Wyze it that it only has one white bulb right now, with no color options.6. Nanoleaf Canvas
Best for decorating your home

Nanoleaf isn’t like the other brands on this list; instead of bulbs, it makes light panels of different shapes for you to combine in interesting formations.Whereas some smart lights are meant to blend into the background, Nanoleaf’s are made to be seen. You have a choice of triangle or square panels, and there will be a hexagonal version available in the spring.You’ll need a starter pack to kick things off, then it’s a case of adding expansion sets until you’ve realized all of your geometric fantasies. Just plan out the shape you want to make, affix the stick pads to each panel, and then get arranging. It’s more effort than simply screwing in a lamp bulb, granted, but the end result is so much more impressive.7. Peace by Hampton
Best Smart Bulbs to Buy in Bulk
If you know you want to buy a huge stack of smart bulbs, Peace by Hampton bulbs are a solid bet. You can get a pack of four bulbs for $60, letting you easily outfit a whole room with smart bulbs, or you can get several packs to tackle the whole home. You won’t be adding just any old bulb to your home with these picks either.The Peace by Hampton bulbs connect over Wi-Fi like many smart bulbs, giving you remote control of them with your phone, and they support Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant for voice controls from a wide range of devices. These bulbs offer a wide range of white color temperatures, letting you dial in the lighting for calm evening hues or energetic daylight. They also support a full range of colors, so you can get much more elaborate with your in-home color schemes.What to look for in a smart bulbSmart lighting can really change your home life, but with so many available options out there it’s important to first do your research. The first port of call is to check that the base fittings are correct for your home. Luckily, many smart bulb manufacturers make a variety of different fittings. Here’s what else you need to think about.Hubs, Zigbee and Z-WaveThe above bulb recommendations can be split into two camps: those that require a hub, and those that don’t. If they don’t, that means they’re either connecting to your router using Wi-Fi or to your phone with Bluetooth.If they need a hub, then in all likelihood the bulbs are running on Zigbee or Z-Wave. For the uninitiated, these are two wireless protocols that function like mesh networks. The benefit is that Zigbee and Z-Wave networks are more stable and avoid putting more strain on your Wi-Fi.But Wi-Fi bulbs are growing in popularity due to the fact they don’t need a hub and can connect directly to your router. The main drawback here is connectivity – you need to have a strong Wi-Fi signal wherever your bulbs are, which mesh Wi-Fi systems and Wi-Fi extenders can help. However, be careful not to overload the home network with all of your lights.Finally, some bulbs come with Bluetooth. Hue now sells its bulbs with Bluetooth built-in, giving you the choice of controlling them just from your phone. The obvious drawback here is that you lose that control when you leave the house, and the overall range of features is thinner.Your platform of choiceAs well as how your bulbs connect, you need to think about your smart home platform. Do you live in an Alexa home? Worship at the altar of HomeKit? Make sure any smart lighting you buy plays nicely. Most work with Alexa and Google Assistant, but a smaller number are HomeKit-friendly.Brightness, temperature, and dimmingNot all smart bulbs are born equal. Color temperature within white bulbs – letting you shift from a colder white to a warmer yellow – is an important feature. Not all white bulbs support color temperature, and of those that do, the range can vary.Finally, do you want your smart lights to be dimmable? Chances are the won’t work with an existing in-wall dimmer in your home, but some smart light brands now sell dimming accessories. Worth thinking about. Of course, you’ll be able to dim with the app/voice controls in most cases, but sometimes you just want a good old fashioned light switch.More Expert Tech Roundups

Hugh Langley is a tech journalist who’s fascinated by wearables, health tech, the smart home, and more. You can find him tweeting (often nonsense) over at @hughlangley.Was this article informative?Read More

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