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The best smart light bulbs: Philips, Lifx, and more
Lights are often the first thing people choose to upgrade in a smart home, since they’re both a daily necessity and pretty spectacular when done right. What should you actually consider buying, though? We’ve curated a list of some of the best smart light bulbs to help.
With smart lighting, it’s less about specific models and more about what brand and ecosystem you prefer. In that regard, the two most prominent names in the industry are Philips Hue and Lifx, but there are other valid options.
The best smart light bulbs:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best smart light bulbs regularly as new ones launch.
1. Philips Hue
Philips Hue bulbs are the best choice for people wanting to upgrade as much of their lighting as possible. They’re well-made and reliable, the latter mostly because of the Wi-Fi hub you connect them to. Each Hue Smart Hub (a.k.a. Hue Bridge) supports up to 50 lights, reducing the burden on your Wi-Fi network while enabling functions like remote access. You can alternately add Hue lights to a third-party Zigbee hub, but it’s usually simpler to go with the Philips product.
Hue bulbs are compatible with all three major smart home platforms, namely Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. You can also find varieties to suit just about any budget or fixture, from basic white A19/E26 bulbs to outdoor, candle, and filament designs.
You’ll want to begin with one of Philips’ Starter Kits, which include a Hub and at least two bulbs. We’d recommend going with White and Color Ambiance bulbs if you can afford them. Should those be too expensive, White Ambiance bulbs produce “shades” of white from a warm orange to a cold blue.
Lifx’s smart light bulbs are superficially similar to those from Philips, including compatibility with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant. A key difference however is that each Lifx bulb connects directly to Wi-Fi, eliminating the need for a hub — just be sure your router isn’t overloaded with other device connections. These days, you may need Wi-Fi 6.
We’ve linked a more affordable 800-lumen bulb below, but Lifx’s flagship model (in the picture above) is rated up to 1,100 lumens, brighter than most alternatives on the market. The company even offers bulbs intended to improve night vision on security cameras, or clean out bacteria using HEV (high-energy visible) light, though those are overkill for most people.
Should you want a 1,100-lumen option that doesn’t break the bank, go with Wyze. In fact you can get a four-pack of Wyze bulbs for just a few dollars more than one from Lifx, which may make the former an instant buy for some people.
What are you sacrificing to get that price? Well, while Wyze’s bulbs still support Wi-Fi, they’re only compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, not HomeKit. Lifx also offers more effects options than Wyze, and its ecosystem is broader, with a longer track record to boot. Wyze is best known for its security cameras, and has been criticized for a lax response to data breaches.
4. Sengled Smart LED bulbs
While we’d recommend Wyze or TP-Link as a budget option instead, Sengled still has a following, and its bulbs will do the trick if price is your foremost concern. That’s not to be ignored — replacing all the lights in your home can get very expensive, very quickly. Sengled supports Alexa and Google Assistant.
Interestingly enough, the company offers both Wi-Fi and Zigbee-only models. If you go with the latter you’ll need to use a hub, though you’re already set if you have something like a fourth-generation Echo or an Echo Show 10. Both of those devices have Zigbee hubs built in.
5. TP-Link Kasa
Kasa’s smart light bulbs strike a nice balance between quality and affordability. Think of them as a workhorse — we’d choose them over Sengled, but head-to-head, they still can’t compete with with Philips Hue or Lifx. Platform support includes Alexa and Google Assistant.
You should probably stick with Kasa’s 1,000-lumen color Wi-Fi bulbs (linked below), but you can also get white, filament, and 850-lumen models. Particularly interesting is a “warm amber” filament, which looks like it belongs at a hipster patio bar in Austin.