The right lighting can go a long way to setting the right mood for your next date-night dinner, holiday party or movie night. Smart LED light bulbs make it easy to customize the lighting in your home as much as you want. Maybe you want to deck out your family room with multicolored lights that you can control to your heart’s content, or maybe you’re new to the smart home space and just want lights that you can schedule to turn on or off at certain times. Either way, smart lights are the best way to do all of this — and thankfully, they are some of the more affordable IoT items out there, coming in at roughly $10-$50 per bulb. There are dozens available now, though, and we tested out many of the top smart light bulbs to see if they’re actually worth your money. Not only will this guide lay out our top picks, but it will also help you understand the factors you should consider before picking the best smart light bulb for you.
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Smart LED Bulb
Best overall smart light bulb
LIFX Color A19 1100 Lumen Smart LED Light Bulb
TP-Link Kasa Full Color Smart Light Bulbs
Best smart light bulb on a budget
LIFX White A19 Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb
Best smart light bulb with all white light
Sengled Color Changing Wi-Fi Smart Light Bulbs
Another good option
Philips Hue Gradient Signe Table Lamp
Best smart lamp
Govee M1 RGBIC LED Strip Lights
Best smart light strip
What to look for in smart light bulbs
Connectivity (To hub or not to hub)
One of the biggest appeals of smart lights is being able to control them from your phone. Most of them are able to do so by connecting to it via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or via an external hub, which handles the connection for them. Bluetooth connectivity limits the range in which you’ll be able to control the light, so it’s only best for a limited number of bulbs and ones you don’t expect to control when you’re away.
Wi-Fi smart lights are easy to set up and can be cheaper overall since they don’t require a hub to connect them. However, having something like a central Zigbee hub can make your whole system more reliable since its connection is separate from your home’s Wi-Fi network. For that reason, hub-based bulbs tend to be more expandable, so we mainly recommend those if you want to eventually have dozens of smart lights around your home.
White or color?
Most smart bulbs you’ll find today are “white and color” bulbs, meaning they can glow in vibrant blues, pinks, greens and everything in between, as well as shine with different temperatures of white. But there are some white-only bulbs out there, and they are often a bit more affordable than their color counterparts. While we recommend springing for the white-and-color devices, if you’d prefer white only, make sure you’re getting a bulb that can span the color temperature spectrum (typically from about 2000 to 5000 Kelvin), offering you various levels of warm and cool white light.
One of the perks of smart lights is the amount of control you have over them thanks to their various app-connected capabilities. Most companion apps let you do things like set lighting schedules and timers, group individual lights into room designations and create your own custom light “scenes” with different colors. But we have seen other features that aren’t as ubiquitous like vacation mode for automatically turning lights on and off to enhance your home security, and sync with media, which changes the colors of lights depending on the music you’re listening to or the game you’re currently live-streaming.
Smart home compatibility
If you use a smart assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant regularly, make sure the smart lights you get work with your favorite. All of the bulbs we tested supported both Amazon’s and Google’s virtual assistants, allowing you to use voice commands to turn lights on and off, dim them and more. The wildcard here is Siri and Apple’s HomeKit; while numerous smart bulbs have added HomeKit support, not all lights are compatible with Apple’s smart home system.
We alluded to this above, but you’ll want to consider how many smart lights you eventually want in your home. Some brands and lighting systems are easier to expand than others, and we generally recommend going for hub-based bulbs if you plan on putting smart lights in every room in your home. If you’re only looking to deck out your home office or living room with some fancy lights, Wi-Fi options should serve you well. Thankfully, these are some of the most affordable smart home devices you can get, so even if you don’t have a clear answer to this question now, you can reconsider your options down the line if you do decide to outfit your home with multiple smart bulbs.
Other smart bulbs we’ve tested
Nanoleaf Smarter Kit
While we’ve recommended Nanoleaf’s Smarter Kits in guides in the past, they’re a bit more niche than other smart lights on this list. They’re best for adding flare to your living room or game-streaming setup as they come in different shapes like hexagons and triangles and can sync with music. In addition to different colors, light animations and schedules, Nanoleaf’s Smart Kits also support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands.
Smart light bulb FAQs
What’s the best smart light bulb for Alexa?
There is no best smart light bulb for Alexa. Amazon doesn’t make its own smart bulbs (like it does for smart plugs and thermostats), but rather there are dozens of smart lights made by third-parties that work with Alexa — including all of the ones we tested. Before picking the best smart light bulb for you, make sure to check the voice assistants that the contenders support. You’ll find that most smart light bulbs available today work with Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, and plenty of them also have support for Apple’s Siri and HomeKit.
Can you put a smart bulb in any lamp?
Smart light bulbs can go into most modern light fixtures — but just like regular bulbs, they need to be the right shape/size for the fixture. A standard A19 smart light bulb should work properly in most table, floor and other lamps. If you have a fixture that takes a specific type of bulb, look for smart bulbs that will fit properly.
Do smart light bulbs use electricity when off?
Smart light bulbs do use a negligible amount of electricity when their fixtures are turned off. This is due to the fact that the smart bulb needs to stay in constant contact with your home’s internet connection or Bluetooth in order to work properly. However, their energy-saving benefits usually outweigh the small amount of power they consume even while turned off.