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The best smart bulbs without a hub that you can get

If you want smart lighting but don't want a central controlling device accessible by all, this list is for you.
September 28, 2022
LIFX smart LED light bulb stock photo 5
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Let’s say you want to install smart home lighting, but you don’t want to deal with first-party hubs, or third-party ones for Zigbee or Z-Wave — you want a light that connects out of the box. We get it, and we’re here to help with our guide to the best hubless smart bulbs.

All of the bulbs on this list are A19 models that fit into an E26 socket, which you can see illustrated in a chart here. They rely on Wi-Fi, Thread, or Bluetooth — the first two being preferable, since you’ll otherwise be limited to controlling lights at home from a mobile app. Just be aware that too many bulbs can oversaturate a Wi-Fi router, especially if it doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6. Also, without a hub, automations may fail if you lose internet access.

Here: What is a smart home and why should you want one

The best smart bulbs without a hub:

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best smart bulbs regularly as new ones launch.

1. Philips Hue

Philips Hue Hubless Bulbs

Phillips Hue bulbs may be the most popular option for smart homes. While they previously they required a dedicated Hue hub, that’s no longer the case. Many recent Hue bulbs have Bluetooth, so all you need is the company’s smartphone app for setup and control. They are best with a hub however, since that enables remote access and automations, as well as integration with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.

Also: The best smart light switches

We’ve linked a pack of white bulbs here since they’re the cheapest, but you can also find color-changing and White Ambiance models, the latter supporting “shades” of white from warm to cool.

2. Wiz A19 Smart LED

Wiz A19 Smart LED

If Philips Hue bulbs seem appealing but too expensive, Wiz may be an alternative. Wiz is owned by Signify, the same company behind Hue. So while they might be missing some features — they lack HomeKit support, for example — they will get the job done.

Related: The best smart lamps you can buy

Wiz lights connect via Wi-Fi, and can be controlled via the brand’s phone app as well as Alexa and Google Assistant. We recommend you start with the 60W-equivalent base model. It’s dimmable, and offers a warm 2700K color temperature with 800 lumens of brightness.

3. Nanoleaf Essentials

A Nanoleaf Essentials bulb and a HomePod mini

Nanoleaf’s bulbs do support Bluetooth, but the real star of the show is Thread, which enables a mesh network with instant response so long as you have another compatible Thread accessory to act as a “border router.” At the moment, the compatibility list includes Eero Wi-Fi routers, the 2021 Apple TV 4K, the HomePod mini, and Nanoleaf’s Shapes and Elements panels. Just be sure to check if your bulb/router pair will work with your platform(s) of choice.

Without Thread, Essentials will still work with HomeKit and Google Assistant over Bluetooth. They can also be synced with your PC using Razer Chroma or the Nanoleaf desktop app.

4. Lifx Color 1100 Lumens

A Lifx Color 1100 lumen bulb

Lifx is often considered the king of Wi-Fi bulbs. The brand has been around since 2012, and offers a range of options, including some of the most powerful bulbs you can get. Like Philips, it’s committed to supporting HomeKit alongside Alexa and Google.

Also read: The best smart light bulbs

Leading the Lifx lineup is a 1,100-lumen Color bulb, bright enough to be the only source of illumination in some rooms. It also offers the best color saturation in the market, so if setting the mood matters, this should be on your shortlist. 

5. Sengled Wi-Fi LED Multicolor A19 Bulb

Sengled Wi Fi LED Multicolor A19 Bulb

Sengled was one of the first companies to make smart bulbs without a hub, and the tradition continues. The Sengled Wi-Fi LED Multicolor A19 operates over Wi-Fi and can be controlled with a mobile app, Alexa, or Google Assistant.

Its app and technical features are pretty standard, but that’s arguably the point. You can buy four for $30, which is less than some individual rivals cost.

6. Wyze Bulb Color

A single Wyze Bulb Color

Wyze has made a name for itself in the smart home world by selling low-cost accessories that punch above their weight, the Wyze Bulb Color being a prime example. The product tops out at 1,100 lumens, putting its brightness on par with Lifx models more than twice the cost. Wyze also claims better color accuracy than most LED bulbs, so that scheme you’re envisioning should look the way it’s supposed to.

Platform support includes Alexa and Google Assistant. We’ve linked a single bulb below, but a little searching should turn up two- and four-packs, as well as a bundle with the Wyze Switch. 

7. TP-Link Kasa KL50

TP Link Kasa KL50

Those after something unique may love the Kasa KL50. It mimics old-school filament bulbs, and creates a soft white ambiance — in fact its brightness is capped at 600 lumens, so plan on getting several if you want to properly illuminate a room.

That’s not hard, though, since the bulb’s price has dropped to about $15. And as you’re probably expecting at this point, you can group it with other accessories in Alexa or Google Assistant.

8. Yeelight Smart LED Bulb W3

The Yeelight W3 bulb and its box

Though Xiaomi’s Yeelight brand isn’t that well-known in North America, the W3 has some surprisingly solid specs for a budget bulb. Its brightness is rated at an above-average 900 lumens, and it’s compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Razer Chroma. If there’s a drawback, it’s that color accuracy is below that of alternatives like the Wyze Bulb Color.