Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.

The Best Smart Light Bulbs to Brighten Up Your Smart Home

Smart light bulbs allow you to control the various lights in your home from anywhere. They're also one of the cheapest smart home gadgets you can buy.

tech
Gear Patrol

Smart light bulbs are one of the most entry-level gadgets you can get for your smart home. They’re almost exactly the same as conventional LED bulbs, except they have built-in wireless connectivity so that you can control them with your smartphone or voice. They also come with a host of other features and benefits.

The Smart Bulb Advantage

You can do a host of other neat things with smart light bulbs that you simply can’t with conventional LED bulbs, too. Most of them have to do with control.

Connectivity and remote control: Most smart bulbs require either a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection to work (some external hubs use a mesh network like Zigbee that piggybacks on your home's Wi-Fi network, too). The advantage is it allows you to control your smartphone with your smartphone or a voice assistant. If you have smart lights that connect over Wi-Fi (rather than Bluetooth), you can also control them when you're away; so you can turn off a light that you have forgotten about and left on.

Create schedules: You don’t need to turn your lights on or off manually. With schedules you can set them to turn on/off at certain times every day or night. If you have multiple smart lights you can have them all set to the same or different schedules, too.

Create scenes: A “scene” or “room” in the context of a smart home is a group of devices all working together. For example, you can group the three smart light bulbs that are located in your bedroom together, name them “Bedroom,” and then turn them all on or off with a single voice command: “Hey Google, turn off bedroom lights.”

Brightness control: Not every smart light bulb is dimmable, but many are. Dimmable smart light bulbs are neat because you can adjust the brightness without having to adjust a physical dimmer. You can adjust it via an app or using voice commands.

Energy efficient: The vast majority of modern light bulbs are LEDs, and that includes most smart light bulbs. They’re naturally more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, but the fact that they’re smart means you can always check on them; if you’ve left a light on by accident, you can turn it off from anywhere you have a Wi-Fi or LTE connection.

What to Look Out For

tech
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance are smart lights that are dimmable and completely color-changing. 
Tucker Bowe
tech
Philips Hue’s smart lights with an E26 size, which is a common size for most lamps — including this Herman Miller’s Nelson lamp.  
Tucker Bowe

There are many different smart light bulbs that you can choose from in 2020. Not all of them work the same way or have the same capabilities, however. Here are some common questions to ask when considering your choice.

Does it need a hub? Some smart lights connect directly to your home’s Wi-Fi network so you can easily control them straight from your smartphone or with a voice assistant. Others require an extra piece of hardware, like a hub or a bridge, to do the exact same thing. Knowing if the smart lights will need extra hardware, which also adds an extra expense, is one of the most important things before investing in smart lights.

Is it compatible with your other gear? The other big important thing to consider before buying a smart light bulb is knowing whether it will work with your home’s smart ecosystem. Not every smart light is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit, the Google Assistant or IFTTT, so you need to check beforehand.

What do you want for light color and temperature: If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can buy smart lights that have various colors and temperature effects. For instance, Philips Hue’s White And Color Ambiance smart bulbs can shine in millions of different colors and various shades of white light. These smart lights can also adjust the temperature of the light throughout the day, which can help you better wake up or fall asleep.

Smart Lights or Smart Switches/Outlets/Plugs: Which to Choose?

Smart lights are great smart home products but they aren’t great in every scenario. For example, an area in your home that has multiple lights controlled by a single light switch probably isn’t a great situation for smart lights. A better solution for such a scene, like a large family room with lots of overhead lighting, would be to buy a smart switch, such as the Wemo Light Switch, or a smart plug, like the Wemo WiFi Smart Plug, instead.

Smart switches are generally a little cheaper and can be used to control the "dumb" lights that you already have. This also means that you can use smart switches to control any light bulb. On the downside, smart switches usually require more installation — typically some light wire work — and they can’t be used to create scenes. While most smart light switches are able to dim the lights, they definitely can’t adjust the color or temperature like you’re able to with a lot of smart light bulbs.

A smart plug is a more versatile alternative. It's a little gadget that plugs into an outlet, connects to your home's Wi-Fi network, and then allows you to control whatever device that is plugged into that smart plug — in this case a "dumb" lamp — with your smartphone or your voice.

How We Tested

tech
Tucker Bowe

We have tested quite a few smart bulbs over the last few years. When testing, we judge them on their set-up (how easy they are to install and if they need an external hub or bridge), their brightness, what kind of features they have (f they're dimmable or cable of changing colors), as well as which smart home ecosystems they're compatible with. The good news is that in 2023 there are more smart bulbs that easy to install — no hub required — and are compatible with more smart home ecosystems. Here's our findings on the best smart light bulbs you can buy.

Philips Hue White

Courtesy

Philips Hue White

amazon.com
$49.98

  • Works with Alexa and Google Home
  • Dimmable
  • No hub required

  • Expensive
  • Requires hub for HomeKit support
  • Brightness: Up to 1100 lumens
  • Dimmable: Yes
  • Color charging: No
  • Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit (with Bridge), Samsung SmartThings
  • Smart Hub? Optional

    Philips Hue makes the most popular smart bulbs. Its "White" smart bulbs are the most affordable smart bulbs that the company makes. The main tradeoff compared to the "White Ambiance" bulb is that the "White" bulbs produce a warmer light that isn't quite as cool or natural (or blue). It also can’t produce the many shades of color as the “White and Color Ambiance” smart bulbs. Other than that, they're still dimmable and work in much the same way as the company's other smart light bulbs. The only other real downside — other than being fairly expensive — is that in order for the Philips Hue White to support Apple's HomeKit, you'll need to buy the Hue Bridge separately.

        Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance

        Courtesy

        Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance

        amazon.com
        $182.99

        • Works with all major smart home ecosystems
        • Dimmable
        • Color changing

        • Expensive
        • Requires hub for control outside the home
        • Brightness: Up to 800 lumens
        • Dimmable: Yes
        • Color charging: Yes
        • Compatibility: Apple HomeKit (with Bridge), Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings
        • Smart Hub? Optional

          These are the best option for people who really want to play around with all the customization options smart bulbs have to offer. Like the company’s "White Ambience" bulbs, they work with pretty much any smart home ecosystem and you can control them with your voice. The big upside with them is that, via the app, you can adjust the smart lights to change to one of 16 million colors and shades of white. The downside is that you need to use the Hue bridge (included in the starter pack) to get them to work with Apple's HomeKit. You also need the bridge if you want to control the Philips Hue bulbs when you're not connected to your home's Wi-Fi network.

          Wyze Bulb White

          Courtesy

          Wyze Bulb White 2-Pack

          amazon.com
          $22.98

          • Affordable
          • Works with Alexa and Google Home
          • Can connect over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

          • No HomeKit support

          • Brightness: Up to 800 lumens
          • Dimmable: Yes
          • Color charging: No
          • Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
          • Smart Hub? No

            At just $8 a piece and even cheaper in packs, you’re not going to find a more affordable smart bulb than the Wyze Bulb White. And it’s actually pretty versatile to boot. The smart bulbs are compatible with both Amazon’s and Google’s smart speakers. You can adjust its brightness and color temperatures (from warm to cool) via the Wyze app. In that app you can also easily set schedules and timers for each of your lights. Another cool thing is that if you use Wyze’s other smart home products, you can set the Wyze Bulb White to light up when the company's motion sensors or smart home cameras detect motion.

            Wyze Bulb Color

            Courtesy

            Wyze Bulb Color

            amazon.com
            $14.76

            • Can connect over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
            • Works with Alexa and Google Home

            • No HomeKit support
            • Brightness: Up to 1,100 lumens
            • Dimmable: Yes
            • Color charging: Yes
            • Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
            • Smart Hub? No

              The Wyze Bulb Color is effectively the exact same as the Wyze Bulb White — it's a little more expensive, but it can get brighter and change colors. It has all the same features, including Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility; you can change the color and temperature of the bulbs via the Wyze companion app; you can also set different schedules and routines for each of your lights via the app, too. The only real downside is that there's no support for Apple HomeKit.

                  Nanoleaf Essentials A19 Bulb

                  Courtesy

                  Nanoleaf Essentials A19

                  apple.com
                  $49.95

                  • Works with Apple HomeKit and Google Home
                  • Relatively affordable
                  • No hub required
                  • Support Thread for faster connection

                  • Need a Thread hub (like a new HomePod) for Thread connection
                  • No Alexa support
                  • Brightness: Up to 1,100 lumens
                  • Dimmable: Yes
                  • Color charging: Yes
                  • Compatibility: Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant
                  • Smart Hub? No

                    If you're looking for color-changing smart bulbs that work with Apple's HomeKit, the Nanoleaf Essentials A19 bulbs are one of the best bets. They're excellent (albeit a little expensive) smart light bulbs that support both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity — so no smart hub needed — and the companion app is really easy to use. These smart bulbs also support Thread, a new-ish low-power mesh networking standard (similar to Zigbee or Z-Wave), that allows it and other Thread-supported devices to establish a more secure and more energy efficient connection between each other — which is kind of a new-age smart home feature to have. And lastly, if you own any of Nanoleaf's other smart light panels, shapes or canvases, these bulbs are a good choice as you can easily group them into a scene via the companion app.



                        Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
                        More From Buying Guides