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From smart locks to smart thermostats, smart lights are one of many new tools we have for automating energy use in our home. These devices help us save on monthly utility bills, optimize our comfort, and increase our security and safety at home.
With smart lights, you can match your indoor lighting to fit your lifestyle, down to the time of day, weather outside, and activity you’re engaging in. You can set mood lighting to create the ideal movie-watching experience, and turn all the lights on or off with a single voice command.
Smart lights can also work wonders for your sleep and daytime energy levels. Reinforce your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle with automatic adjustments in temperature and brightness. In the morning, smart light bulbs can fill your bedroom with strong bluish whites to wake you up with a natural energy boost. In the evening, they’ll introduce dimmer yellowish and red tones to calm your body and mind in preparation for sleep. Finally, instead of light affecting your sleep, you can use light to help your sleep.
Ranging from $20 to $60 each, smart lights cost significantly more than a traditional LED bulb, but it’s because they offer so much more than lighting. Read our buyer’s guide below to learn all about the top features these smart lights offer, and check out our top picks for the best smart lights you can buy for your home.
Our Editor’s Pick, the Philips hue LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit, offers exceptional versatility. Customers can choose from 16 million shades of color, including 50,000 whites, to achieve the perfect lighting in your home, fine-tuned to the exact shade. Adjust these settings and pre-set lighting schemes using a slider on your smartphone or tablet.
Owners can also connect voice speakers and smart home systems to the light in order to make future adjustments. Philips is compatible with all the standard smart voice assistants, plus home automation systems like Nest and Xfinity.
The Philips Hue Starter Kit is easy to install. Simply screw in the light bulbs like traditional bulbs, then open up the Hue mobile app, turn on the included Hub, and follow instructions for setting up schedules, programming scenes, and pairing the hub with other smart home devices. The kit requires the use of a Hue Hub.
The Philips Hue app also includes 30 pre-set scenes developed by Philips lighting designers that that mimic real-life sunsets and nature scenes. Other features include the ability to transform photographs stored on a smartphone into lightscapes, and pre-programmed scenes for waking up, gaming, and relaxing.
The eufy Lumos Smart Bulb is our Runner-Up Pick. Thanks to its accompanying app, this smart LED bulb allows owners to fill the room with a light of any color – up to 16 million shade options. Connect to Alexa or Google Assistant to change light settings with a simple voice command.
With up to 10 lighting schedule settings available, these smart bulbs can be used for a variety of useful things. Schedule the Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb to turn on or off at different times of the day, or use an “away” mode when on vacation to give the appearance of an occupied house.
Owners can also use the smart bulb as a silent, light-based wake-up alarm. Everything is connected via Wi-Fi. Extremely energy efficient, these smart bulbs emit a brightness comparable to a 60-watt light bulb while only burning nine watts, saving a considerable amount of energy.
The Sengled Element hub works with up to 64 Sengled smart bulbs throughout the owner’s home. As a white bulb, adjustments are limited to brightness. However, as a soft white, its brightness best reflects natural sunlight, which is ideal for sleep-wake cycles.
In the Sengled Home app, available on iOS and Android, owners can set schedules, turn the lights on and off, and dim them. The app comes equipped with wake-up settings. Simply program the time. To set bedtime lighting, create a timer for the lights to begin dimming in the evening. There’s also an Energy Saving mode, which will dim or turn off the lights automatically when not needed.
Sync the Sengled smart light bulbs with Alexa or Google Assistant to make voice adjustments. Owners can also coordinate with IFTTT to create trigger actions based on location, the time of day, and weather.
The Sengled Element Classic is an affordable way to get started with smart lighting. For this reason, it is our Best Value pick.
The Philips Hue Go is an excellent smart light designed for convenience and portability. This 6.5-inch diameter lamp has curved shape that allows owners to use it as a personal handheld light.
For full functionality, including the ability to integrate with other smart home devices and make adjustments using voice or mobile app, owners will need to purchase the Hue Hub. However, the lamp also offers great functionality on its own.
The Philips Hue Go comes with a button that allows owners to adjust the brightness, temperature, and color of the lamp. When they are home, the Philips Hue Go functions as part of the overall lighting system. It is also ideal for travel, as well as camping.
The Sylvania Smart Home light bulbs offers cutting-edge functionality housed a fashionable, classic design. These vintage-style light bulbs uses Bluetooth to pair with Apple HomeKit devices, enabling Siri to dim the lights, turn them on or off, or switch to a programmed scene.
The lower lumen setting (40W equivalent) is ideal for table and floor lamps versus overhead lighting. There’s no hub required, and owners never have to worry about the internet going down. As long as Bluetooth is on, the Sylvania Smart LED Bulb can still be commanded using Siri voice control, dimmed and adjusted according to schedule.
What happens when you apply leading smart technology to the traditional concept of lighting? You get smart lights, bulbs that use wireless connectivity to control your home’s lighting in a variety of ways. In this guide, we’ll explore how smart lights work and some important things to consider when buying them.
“Smart” is a term applied to WiFi or Bluetooth-capable products that can be controlled via apps on various devices. Smart lighting involves specially designed LED light bulbs that pair with apps on your smart devices, allowing you to utilize a variety of features. Perks of smart lights include:
Millions of colors options Smart bulbs can cycle through millions of colors, allowing you to set a unique atmosphere anytime you want. This sets them apart from older, more traditional bulbs with a more limited color range.
Healthy, light-driven alarm: There’s been an increase in non-traditional alarms on the market, including wake-up lights. Certain smart bulb apps allow you to use your light as a gentle alarm that mimics the natural sunrise, which works with your body’s circadian rhythm for more refreshing wake-ups.
Energy conservation: Perhaps one of the “smartest” aspects of these bulbs is their ability to give off the same brightness as regular bulbs while consuming far less energy, making them very eco-friendly by comparison.
Lower utility bills: Smart bulbs use less wattage than traditional bulbs. Smart bulbs might cost more than traditional bulbs upfront, but they lead to energy bill savings in the long term.
Here are some common features to look for when shopping for smart lights.
As previously mentioned, certain smart lights have a sleep/wake setting that allows you to use lights to mentally prepare you for bed and then later gently stimulate you awake. To understand how this is possible, you’ll need to know a bit about how light affects your body’s natural wake and sleep cycle.
For many generations, humans used natural light as an internal guide. During daylight hours, early humans would hunt and gather food, stopping to rest for the night when the sun went down. Even now, light can have a direct impact on your body’s wake/sleep system.
Light and circadian cycle: One of the biggest factors influencing your sleep-wake cycle is light. Exposure to bright light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone that is responsible for sleep. When you’re in a dark and quiet environment, however, sleep hormone secretion increases, letting you drift off to sleep.
That’s why it’s important to dim your lights or cut them off completely at night, because beyond a certain time of day, light exposure can negatively interfere with your circadian cycle and make it hard to get a good night’s rest.
Blue light vs. natural light: When we think of “natural light,” we often associate it with sunlight or moonlight. Natural light contains a full spectrum of colors, but artificial light tends to focus on certain parts of the spectrum. Blue light in particular is known to suppress melatonin and make it harder to sleep. The light emitted from smartphones, televisions, computers and even regular light bulbs consist of high amounts of blue light, often keeping people awake who are exposed before bed. Even if your room is dark except for the light of your phone, it can still negatively affect your ability to fall asleep easily.
Limiting your exposure to bright light at night is important for improving your sleep quality. At the same time, understanding how light naturally stimulates wakefulness is an essential part of the equation.
It’s possible to use your smart light’s settings to help prepare yourself for sleep. One method is to use warm colored light tones instead of blue lights before bed, as red and yellow lights are less likely to interfere with your circadian rhythm than blue colored lighting. If the option’s available, you can prepare a timer to have your lights turn off when it’s time for bed. Additionally, you can set your lights to turn on in the morning, preferably with blue lighting if color functionality is available.
By using smart lights for sleep, you begin to train your body to react to certain light stimuli. This is a great way to help improve your sleep hygiene. It’s a subtle way to positively influence nighttime changes that will let you ease into a relaxed, sleep-ready state at night and then wake up refreshed and ready to go the next day.
Smart lighting systems help you fine tune the lighting in your home for additional comfort, convenience, and security. They’ll automatically light up your bedroom in the morning to help you wake up more easily, dim to make movie watching more enjoyable, or turn off when you’re not using them.
One of the obvious benefits to smart light bulbs is their convenience. You don’t have to walk over and turn the switch off and on anymore. You can turn multiple (or all) of your lights on or off, simply by speaking a verbal command or tapping a button on your phone.
Pre-program schedules according to your daily habits, and your smart lights will automatically turn on or off, dim, or change color accordingly—preventing you from even having to use your voice. Some bulbs use the GPS on your phone to determine whether the lights need to be on in a specific room or in your house as a whole, depending on your location.
There’s also a matter of security. When you go on vacation, you can assign a schedule for your smart lights to randomly turn off or on, making it appear as if you are home. You can even use the mobile app to make adjustments during vacation, so it doesn’t appear pre-programmed. This is much more convincing (and a lot cheaper) than leaving all the lights on, like you’d be forced to do with a standard bulb.
Finally, many people enjoy the futuristic feel of having smart light bulbs. If you’re already outfitting your home to be more modern, by investing in smart security cams or smart speakers, smart light bulbs are just one more step toward a smarter home overall.
Smart light bulbs cost significantly more than a standard LED bulb. Standard LED bulbs can cost around $5 each, while the cheapest smart bulb is more than double that. When you get into additional features, like scene programming and multi-system compatibility, smart light bulbs can range from $20 to $60 each.
Smart light bulbs do have a significantly higher upfront cost than traditional bulbs, especially if you haven’t already purchased a compatible smart hub. However, they provide significant cost savings in the long run. As you experience energy savings thanks to their efficiency, your smart lights will pay for themselves fairly quickly.
It depends; some smart light bulbs require a hub to function, while others function independently.
The biggest thing you need to consider when purchasing a hub is whether you’re willing to “commit” to that brand. Non-branded lights typically will not work with a branded hub. Many brands let a smart home device serve as their hub, while others, most notably Philips, require you to use their particular hub.
Smart light bulbs last as long as a non-smart version of the LED light bulb, which can be up to 20 to 25 years.
Installing smart light bulbs is generally a pain-free process. You start by screwing in the light bulb like any other bulb you’d purchase. Then, you’ll need to download the manufacturer’s mobile app to pair the bulb with the hub, WiFi, or Bluetooth connection.
From there, the app will walk you through how to identify the bulbs in different rooms in your house, group them into rooms, set up your schedules, pre-program scenes, and plug in your sleep and wake times.
Most smart light manufacturers design their bulbs to be compatible with the most popular smart home systems, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings. Before purchasing, review the compatibility of any smart light bulbs you’re considering to avoid having to make a return.
Many smart light bulbs can operate using both Bluetooth and WiFi. The advantage of using a WiFi connection is that you’ll be able to make adjustments remotely whenever you want, whether or not your Bluetooth-connected device is in range.
However, if you choose to use a WiFi connection, that means you’ve now introduced one more device onto your home wireless network, which will eat up some of your bandwidth. If your internet goes out, you will not be able to adjust your light bulbs.
Although they last the same amount of time, smart light bulbs cost more than traditional LED bulbs because of their enhanced functionality. The upfront cost can be even higher if you don’t already own a compatible smart hub. Fortunately, there are ways you can save money on smart lights.
You can buy smart light bulbs in the same big box retailers you purchase traditional bulbs, including The Home Depot or Best Buy. You can save money during certain times of year by watching when these stores have sales, such as during Black Friday weekend.
Or, you can save year-round by purchasing online. Many smart light bulb manufacturers offer discounted pricing for multi-packs on Amazon, and Tuck readers can save even more by using the affiliate links we’ve provided above.