If you’re ready to make the switch to smart lighting, here’s what you need to know.
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Smart homes are taking over and it seems like smart light bulbs are the gateway drug to all things Internet of Things. However, as with any new fangled device, the smart light bulb market grows on the daily — and is possibly the most saturated smart device market out there. If you thought there were a lot of Amazon Echo devices to choose from, the smart light market is that, times a bazillion.
It’s totally normal if you have a lot of questions.
Which smart bulbs require hubs or extra equipment?
Which ones are easy to set up?
Which ones change colors?
Why is life so hard?
You’re fine, it’s fine, everything’s fine. No, seriously — we probed Amazon and its massive selection of smart light bulbs to find ones with the highest ratings, best customer reviews, and best prices.
The main thing to know when buying your first smart light bulbs is the difference between those that require a hub and those that don’t. A hub is an external device that can also be purchased on Amazon, with the most popular ones being the Amazon Echo Plus, the Wink Hub, or the Samsung SmartThings. Some smart light bulbs, like the ones from Philips Hue, will come with their own hub.
From there, your lights will be “smart,” which just means they now have the ability to be controlled at home or away through your smartphone, or via voice commands to Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri — depending on the device.
Compatible with Alexa/Echo, HomeKit, and Google Home • Create schedules using the app • Rave reviews
Requires a hub • On the pricier side
If you’re ready to start out with a smart-lighting kit, this one is highly rated.
Philips HueAn Amazon’s Choice product, customer reviews rave about the Amazon Echo and Alexa compatibility and about how insanely easy set up is.
- Price for 2:
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Once you set up the included Hue Bridge hub, the smartphone app can be used to communicate with the Bridge. Never come home to a dark house again by creating a recurring schedule or, if you come home later or earlier than expected, just manually flip lights on through the app.
Name your lights for easy recognition, and control or dim single lights specifically or an entire room simultaneously. Choose from a starter kit of two for $69.94 or four for $88.99 .
And, if you need to get the party started in specific rooms, check out Philips Hue’s collection of , said to have 16 million color choices. Each kit comes with a Hue Bridge, and you can choose between packs of three or four, with prices starting at $170.69. While these prices seem steep to some competitors, keep in mind that the Hue Bridge is included in the kit, so no extra hub purchase is necessary.
Look like regular light bulbs
If you want smart lights but don’t want a futuristic look, these are perfect.
Cree Connected LED BulbIf you’re not in the smart lights game for anything flashy and just want a standard-looking bulb, these bulbs are perfect.
- Price for 1:
- Price for 6:
This is cheaper than a Philips Hue 4-pack, but keep in mind that some sort of external hub will need to be purchased well. However, if you already have an , , or some other type of hub, this deal is A+.
Affordable • Last for 20 years • Compatible with Echo, Google Home, and Wink Hubs
If you already have a hub, these are an especially good deal.
Some 67% of users gave 5 stars and speak about how simple it is to connect with Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Wink hubs. The smartphone app allows you to monitor energy use, set light schedules or times, and turn off any lights you may have forgotten when you left the house. The listing also claims that each bulb should last for 20 years, so constantly having to change dead bulbs is old news.
A single bulb is just $9.99, with a 4-pack at $38.99 and an 8-pack at $72.39, which you can get . Because these bulbs do require a hub, an extra purchase will need to be made — but the overall cost of the setup would still be impressively low compared to some competitors. And, if you already have a hub due to other smart devices in your home, then $10 a bulb is a hell of a deal.
Very highly rated • Play music and light up in different colors
Only one Bluetooth device per speaker
If you want music with your light, these highly-rated speaker bulbs are a gem.
Texsens Smart Bulb with SpeakerThese bulbs are seriously versatile, great for lulling babies to sleep, entertaining party guests, and even for jazzing up office waiting rooms.
These bulbs have an almost perfect rating on Amazon, with overwhelmingly positive customer reviews proclaiming that they’re extremely easy to set up and use with a smartphone or Amazon Alexa. The reviews also make it clear that the Texsens bulbs are seriously versatile, with comments about how great they are for lulling babies to sleep, entertaining party guests, and even for jazzing up office waiting rooms. Note: While one controller can operate multiple bulbs, only one Bluetooth device (like a smartphone) can be paired with one speaker at a time, so one person is going to have to be the designated DJ.
While the may not be the loudest Bluetooth speakers you’ll ever come across, the fact that they double as multi-colored smart lights and are only means they’re a pretty good deal.
No hub required
The smart bulbs in this category are made for the no-fuss types. If lights are the only smart devices you want in your home at the moment and you don’t need a hub for say, smart locks or blinds, the smart lights in this category are for you. Why? Because installation is easy breezy.
With built-in Wi-Fi and no hub required, all these bulbs need is a wireless connection and a smartphone app to set timers, schedules, and to make sure that you never walk into a dark home again.
After reading countless reviews for purely Wi-Fi bulbs, the general consensus is that the strength of connection may not be as reliable as that of the smart lights that require a hub, simply because the built-in Wi-Fi of these bulbs is just not comparable to the connection of the hubs. However, these lights are still rated highly, so if you’re balling on a budget or aren’t quite sure smart bulbs are even for you, then these are a good starting point.
Choose from dimmable, white light, and multi-color • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant • No hub purchase needed • Affordable
Some reviewers say they sometimes go off randomly
These bulbs come in different styles and are an excellent deal.
TP-Link Smart BulbYou can choose between dimmable, white light, and multicolor options, and these bulbs are a steal compared to similar options.
Choose from dimmable, white light, and multicolor options. Each bulb is sold separately (except for the regular dimmable version, which come in 3-packs). This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on whether you’re powering an entire house or just one room in an apartment. The TP-link bulbs use the Kasa app and are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The main draw of these bulbs is that they’re seriously a steal. At $19.99 a pop for the dimmable bulbs, $24.99 for the higher brightness version, and $34.99 for the multicolor bulbs, these are some of the lowest prices we’ve seen for singular bulbs that don’t require a hub. This means no extra purchase of an external hub — all you need is the bulb, which you can browse .
Choose from millions of colors and set schedules • Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit • Reviews say these are some of the brightest bulbs out there • Look cool and futuristic on their own
Some reviews say these tend to lose signal sometimes • Might be tough to style with a traditional lamp
Reviewers rave about the brightness of these bulbs, but some say they tend to lose signal.
LIFX ColorLIFX claims that your choices of color exceed 16 million, with the LIFX app or voice commands allowing you to choose colors and set schedules and timers.
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Similar to other multi-color bulbs, the listing claims that your choices of color exceed 16 million, with the LIFX app or voice commands allowing you to choose colors and set schedules and timers. These bulbs are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit with Siri.
Because the LIFX Smart Bulbs are such a unique shape, they would make the coolest hanging, shadeless lights in a living space with super modern decor, but may prove challenging when pairing with a standard lamp. They run at $59.00 each, with 4-packs available for $195.96. Check them out .