The Best Smart Light Bulbs for the Home

Light bulbs you can turn on with a tap on a smartphone screen or your voice are an easy way to step into smart home technology.

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The Best Smart Light Bulb Options

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Smart light bulbs are a great place to begin making your home, well, smarter. You can turn them on and off, set timers, and even change light colors with your smartphone or voice assistant.

Most smart light bulbs are easy to install. Just screw a smart bulb into a lamp, hook it up to an app, and you’ll never have to fumble around in the dark looking for a switch again. Smart light bulbs have gotten popular as more complex smart home technologies like smart security cameras and smart thermostats have become the norm.

The best smart light bulbs for you depends on the type of network you want in your home and how you want to use the bulbs. Keep reading to find some of the best smart light bulbs for your home.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Philips Hue White and Color LED Smart Button Kit
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: NiteBird LED Light Bulbs
  3. BEST COLOR-CHANGING: LUMIMAN Smart WiFi Light Bulb, LED RGB Color Changing
  4. BEST WITHOUT A HUB: Kasa Smart Light Bulb
  5. BEST ZIGBEE: Cree Lighting Cree Connected LED Smart Bulb
  6. BEST BLUETOOTH: C by GE A19 C-Life and C-Sleep Combo
  7. BEST FOR SECURITY: Sengled Flood Light with Motion Sensor
  8. BEST PORTABLE: Philips Hue Go White and Color Portable Table Lamp
The Best Smart Light Bulb Options

Photo: freepik.com

Before You Buy a Smart Light Bulb

Smart light bulbs are great, but they are not suitable for every situation. They work well with standard light switches, but they don’t work well with dimmer switches. Lessening the electrical flow to a smart bulb—as a dimmer switch does—can cause the bulb to wear out prematurely.

Check to see whether the smart light bulb you want needs a smart home hub to operate properly. If it does, the light bulb won’t work correctly on its own. Make sure the bulb’s connection is compatible to your setup, too. Wi-Fi can connect to a range of devices, but Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-Wave are more limited in how they interact with smart home devices.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Smart Light Bulbs

Before choosing the best smart light bulbs for your home, learn the most important shopping considerations and some reasons to consider switching to smart light bulbs.

Type

Smart light bulbs come in four main types based on how they connect to your smart home system and phone.

  • Zigbee and Z-Wave smart light bulbs operate on a mesh network that can use smart home devices and a central hub to boost the network signal. This means each device extends the signal strength and range of the smart home system. Z-Wave and Zigbee are less popular than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you will have a smaller selection of compatible components to choose from.
  • Wi-Fi smart light bulbs connect directly to your phone through your Wi-Fi router or through a central hub. Wi-Fi is the most popular method of connectivity used by smart light bulbs. Many smart home systems, like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, use Wi-Fi to link all their devices. If a large smart home ecosystem is your goal, Wi-Fi is the best option.
  • Bluetooth smart light bulbs are inexpensive because they are not designed to communicate with a central hub. Instead, these light bulbs pair directly with your smartphone or tablet for direct control over the lighting.

Brightness

A bulb’s brightness is expressed in lumens (lm), a measurement of the total amount of light visible to the eye. The more lumens produced by a smart light bulb, the brighter the light. The average lumen output for a smart light bulb is 800 lm, but choose the lumens based on how you’ll be using the bulb. You want more lumens for outdoor lighting, fewer lumens for soft indoor lighting. Pick smart bulbs and other types of light bulbs based on your light needs.

Color

Some smart bulbs produce only white light; others can produce light in any color of the rainbow. Colored light is a good way to add atmosphere, but a bulb that can produce a lot of hues usually costs more. Both types of bulbs are dimmable.

Smart Home Compatibility

When picking the best smart light bulbs for your home, decide whether you want bulbs that tie into a smart home platform or bulbs that work directly with a smartphone. Bulbs that work directly with a phone are easier to install because you won’t have to link the bulb to a central hub. Just screw it in, download the app, and you’re ready to go.

If you’re more ambitious and want to achieve a smart home system at some point, go with a bulb that can tie into Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit. These smart home systems let you access, control, schedule, and configure all the smart light bulbs in your house from one location.

App Features

Basic smart light bulbs connect to your phone through an app, allowing you to control the bulb remotely by touching the screen. Using the app, you can schedule some smart light bulbs to turn on or off at specific times. Some smart bulbs have built-in motion sensors that send a notification to your phone when the light is triggered, so you are aware of a possible intruder. Some smart lighting apps can use geofencing to track the GPS in your phone and turn on the lights when you are within a specific range.

Setup

It’s relatively simple to set up a smart light bulb. If it operates through your phone independent of a smart home system, just screw it in, download the app, and you’re ready to go. If you’re using it with a smart home system, most manufacturers will have detailed information on their website about how to use their product. If you are uncomfortable setting up smart light bulbs, look for a bulb that offers setup videos and tech support.

Expandability

Having a smart light bulb on your porch you can turn on as you pull into the driveway is great, but you can take it a step further by expanding your smart lighting system to include your entire home. To build a smart home system, you need smart light bulbs that can interact with each other. This allows you to turn on or off a group of lights at the same time.

Our Top Picks

We chose these top-rated products for quality and price, with an eye toward the important considerations outlined above.

Best Overall

The Best Smart Light Bulb Option: Philips Hue White and Color LED Smart Button Kit
Photo: amazon.com

Get your foot in the door of smart lighting with the Philips Hue Starter Kit. It has four smart light bulbs and a Hue Hub that lets you connect the bulbs to your phone or voice assistant. It also comes with the Hue Smart Button, a manual control. The Hue Hub can operate up to 50 Hue lights and connect to smart home systems like Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant so you get voice-activated control. Each bulb produces up to 800 lm of visible light, equivalent to a 60-watt bulb. You can choose many colors and brightness levels and create preset scenes. The app includes a how-to video that demonstrates what the bulbs can do.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Smart Light Bulb Option: NiteBird LED Light Bulbs
Photo: amazon.com

If you want smart lighting in your home but don’t want to empty your wallet, this inexpensive smart light bulb that operates with a Wi-Fi connection is a great option. The NiteBird bulb doesn’t require a hub to connect to your phone, and it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa devices or Google Home Assistant for voice control commands. It can switch between 16 million colors and has eight preprogrammed scenes for different mood lighting effects, with a maximum brightness of 800 lm. You can also put the bulb on a countdown timer or schedule it to turn on or off. You can even sync the bulb to music, and it will change color and flash in response to the beat, so your next party will rock like a rave.

Best Color-Changing

The Best Smart Light Bulb Option: LUMIMAN Smart WiFi Light Bulb, LED RGB Color Changing
Photo: amazon.com

Set a mood with light ranging from red to blue to white with this pair of smart bulbs that have a whopping 16 million colors each. Each bulb can produce up to 800 lm of brightness, and its colors are dimmable. The bulb connects to your smartphone through your home’s Wi-Fi so you do not need a hub, but it is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant for voice control. Say, “Alexa, set the bedroom to red,” and your wish is the bulb’s command. You can set up schedules for the bulb to turn on and off at a preset time.

Best without a Hub

The Best Smart Light Bulb Option: Kasa Smart Light Bulb
Photo: amazon.com

Hubs can be a pain to deal with. This smart light bulb cuts out the middleman by connecting to your smartphone through your home’s Wi-Fi network, no extra equipment required. Screw it in, download an app, and you’re good to go. The bulb can be controlled by touching a screen or with voice commands when connected to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The bulb produces 800 lm at its maximum brightness and can be dimmed in 1 percent increments from 1 percent to 100 percent. Set schedules through the app so the lights are on when you get home and go off to conserve energy when you don’t need them. You can combine several Kasa Smart Light Bulbs into a group that can be controlled with one button.

Best Zigbee

The Best Smart Light Bulb Option: Cree Lighting Cree Connected LED Smart Bulb
Photo: amazon.com

Cree’s smart bulbs are compatible with Zigbee devices but cost far less than some other well-known brands. They’re less expensive because they use a more basic technology and don’t need Wi-Fi radios built into them. The Cree bulbs are dimmable, and you can set different lighting scenes and profiles. They produce only white light and can generate up to 815 lumens. The app that operates them is simple to use. The Cree can also connect to Alexa devices that have Zigbee built in, including the Echo Plus, Echo Studio, and 2nd Gen Echo Show.

Best Bluetooth

The Best Smart Light Bulb Option: C by GE A19 C-Life and C-Sleep Combo
Photo: amazon.com

If you have only one or two smart bulbs in your home that operate on a network, and you don’t want to deal with a hub, go with these bulbs that link directly to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. These smart light bulbs produce up to 850 lm of brightness but only produce white light. You can adjust the brightness and hue of the light, and three settings for morning, midday, and evening lighting are included. If you want to expand your system in the future, these bulbs are compatible with a voice assistant via a hub.

Best for Security

The Best Smart Light Bulb Option: Sengled Flood Light with Motion Sensor
Photo: amazon.com

Sengled’s smart flood light has a motion sensor and will light up a driveway, porch, or backyard when you need it and leave it dark when you don’t. The bulb detects motion within 30 feet of the light fixture and illuminates the area for 90 seconds with up to 1,200 lm of brightness. The smart bulb requires a compatible hub, like a Sengled Smart Hub or another Zigbee hub like Samsung SmartThings or Amazon Alexa’s Echo. The light is rated for outdoor use and weatherproof, so rain, wind, or snow won’t cause it to malfunction.

Best Portable

The Best Smart Light Bulb Option: Philips Hue Go White and Color Portable Table Lamp
Photo: amazon.com

The Philips Hue Go offers you the advantages of a smart bulb and lets you use it on the go. This battery-powered smart light produces up to 520 lumens of light, which isn’t as bright as a typical light bulb but is good for mood lighting, accent lighting, and bedroom lighting. It connects via a bridge, so it’s intended for use as an in-home light. Its rechargeable battery lasts for three hours on a charge. It can connect to your phone via an app or to compatible smart home systems like Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Nest, and Samsung SmartThings. You can choose between 16 million light colors including shades of white light, so you have a lot of flexibility in your illumination.

FAQs About Smart Light Bulbs

Still trying to decide on the best smart light bulb for you? Here’s more information to help you choose.

Q. Do smart light bulbs use more electricity?

Smart bulbs do not use more electricity than standard bulbs, even though they are always drawing power because they must remain linked to their network. They use an average of fewer than 1 kWh per month in standby mode. The amount of electricity the bulb uses when lit depends on the type of light bulb.

Q. Do smart bulbs work with normal switches?

Yes, you can control a smart light bulb with a normal light switch.

Q. Can you control smart bulbs away from home?

Yes, you can control smart bulbs with your smartphone when you are away from home. Depending on the type of smart bulb you choose, you can connect your phone directly to the bulb and operate it via an app, hub, or smart home system.