For many, smart lights are one of the first things bought when they first start out with smart home technology. LED smart bulbs are extremely easy to set up, and while color-changing bulbs might feel a bit gimmicky, if you use them right can add some extra flair to your home decor. The best smart lights produce vivid colors and offer a wide variety of ways you can control them via popular smart home systems and are much more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Smart lights come in various shapes, from your traditional lightbulbs to light strips and even floodlights. Some lights offer different “temperatures” of white light: a bright cool white to keep you alert during the day and a yellow-hue warm white to help you unwind at night, similar to the daily patterns of natural light.
They make the perfect companion for a video doorbell or other smart home devices: you could set your lights to turn on when somebody rings the doorbell or triggers one of your motion sensors, helping to scare off intruders. You could also have your smart lights turn on and off based on the amount of light measured by the UV and light sensor on your smart weather station. Of course, there are always voice control options through Alexa and Google Assistant.
Before we reveal the list of the best smart bulbs, we wanted to answer some common questions we hear from our readers.
How do smart light bulbs work?
Like the best smart home devices, a smart light bulb uses either Wi-FI or Bluetooth to control via an app or virtual assistant. If your bulb supports Bluetooth, you’ll be able to control your smart lighting even when no Wi-Fi is available. They often can be connected to other smart devices to turn on and off when a trigger is activated, such as motion or flash when your video doorbell is rung.
Are smart light bulbs worth it?
Smart light bulbs are more expensive than your existing light bulbs, but over the long run may actually end up being cheaper. Most smart bulbs will last for years: the oldest Hue bulbs in our setup are now over five years old — and we haven’t had a single issue! Plus with prices dropping, and some really good budget brands now’s a great time to upgrade your home to smart lighting.
Do smart bulbs need a hub?
Most smart light bulbs no longer require a hub since they connect directly to your Wi-Fi network. A notable exception is the Philips Hue bulb, which requires the Hue bridge to work.
Are smart bulbs compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit?
Yes, but some bulbs only support certain voice assistants. Most will support Alexa or Google Assistant. Some will also support Apple HomeKit as well, but the certification process is much stricter, so there are far fewer options.
How many bulbs can you have on the same network?
It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but here are the specs for the smart bulbs in our list: Philips Hue – 50 bulbs per bridge; LIFX – tested up to 100 bulbs; Sengled – 50 bulbs per bridge; Kasa – Wi-Fi network bandwidth dependent, but likely up to 100 bulbs like LIFX.
Best Smart Lights
Here are our current picks for the best smart light bulbs currently available. We’ll update this list regularly, so keep checking back: manufacturers are launching new smart bulbs all the time.
Philips Hue and LIFX Are the Best
While we have owned the Philips Hue smart lights for years and believe they’re some of the best smart lights on the market, LIFX has really impressed us, and is arguably the best smart light bulb on the market right now. LIFX lights seem to produce richer colors, brighter light, and require no hub to control them (The
- No hub required works via Wi-Fi
- 1100 lumens
- 550 billion color steps
- Wide range of white light (1500-9000K)
There’s only one drawback to LIFX lights, and it’s their lack of any other connectivity options other than Wi-Fi. If your network goes down for any reason, you also lose the capability to control your lights. The latest generation
- Includes four A19 bulbs and hub
- 16 million colors
- New Bluetooth compatibility
Sengled and Kasa Are Great Alternatives
If you’re willing to accept some sacrifices in color reproduction and/or some connectivity, there are two great options to consider. Sengled’s smart light bulbs come in a pack of six and only require a Zigbee-compatible smart hub. You’re not completely locked out of remote control of these lights, however, as Amazon Alexa devices can be used to control Sengled bulbs by voice.
- Zigbee-compatible smart hub required
- Pack of six
- 16 million colors and soft to bright white (2700-6500K)
If you’d prefer Wi-Fi to control your lights (which has a significantly better range), and don’t have a lot to spend, the Kasa smart bulb is the most affordable color bulb on our list. While they’re noticeably less bright, and the color reproduction is nowhere near as good as
- Cheapest smart bulbs on the market
- 16 million colors, 800 lumens
- Uses Wi-Fi (2.4GHz)
Wyze Bulb is a smart LED lightbulb that can change the color temperature as well as be scheduled to turn on and off on a custom schedule. Wyze Bulbs connect directly to your WiFi network without needing a hub or bridge, which makes them extremely user-friendly for those who want automated lights but don’t want to deal with the hassle of unnecessary middleware.
Wyze Bulb offers flexible ways to control both individual bulbs and groups of bulbs, making it possible to synchronize lighting throughout the entire home. The app also includes Shortcuts so users can program different sets of lights across their house for various activities, making it easier than ever before to automate your home lighting.
Nanoleaf’s wall panel style smart LED lights are a nifty addition once you’ve installed your smart bulbs to add a little “mood lighting.” We think they’re one of the most creative smart LED light bulbs on the market right now, and come in three styles, hexagons triangles, and most recently, lines. You can buy additional packs of Nanoleaf panels to add to your setup and create just about any design you can think of.
One massive drawback? They’re very expensive. You could easily spend hundreds of dollars on a setup. We recommend Nanoleaf, but only after you’ve outfitted the rest of your house first (and quite possibly with Nanoleaf’s own color bulbs, which were just recently released, and are quite affordable).
Purchasing a smart switch is a great way to control your smart lighting without having to reach for your phone. Some completely replace the wall switch itself, others can be retrofitted onto the light switch itself. Below we’ve listed some of our favorite options. Just a fair bit of warning: some of these switches only work with certain smart lighting, so be sure to purchase the one that controls your smart lights.
Choosing the best smart light bulbs
With smart lighting, we believe the old adage “you get what you pay for” seems to hold true here. Yes, you can save money by buying cheap smart light bulbs almost anywhere these days, but there is a dramatic difference in color reproduction and light quality between cheap bulbs and more expensive ones.
The best smart lights in our opinion are either the Philips Hue or LIFX. While we believe the LIFX smart bulbs are the best overall value,
LIFX is catching up here though, with several new bulb types expected to release early next year. But for now, the
But you can get great smart lights for a cheap price. Besides the Sengled and Kasa brands, Wyze’s bulbs are also quite impressive. Like other smart home device categories, we do recommend staying away from generic brands as customer support is typically lacking.
How we test the best smart light bulbs
We test the best smart light bulbs on a number of criteria, including ease-of-setup, brightness, value, and library of features. We compare most bulbs against Philips Hue lights, which are pricey but offer everything you could want out of smart bulbs. Some budget smart bulbs brag that they have a lot to offer, but we only recommend the ones that live up to their claims.
Smart home compatibility is key to our testing. The bulbs above work with at least two top smart home systems, if not more. You don’t want your light bulbs to lock you into a specific smart assistant when there are plenty of options that work with Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, SmartThings, and IFTTT.
All of the brands we test are trustworthy and feel comfortable adding to our own home networks. Use caution when shopping for smart bulbs from unknown manufacturers.