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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.
Best Smart Light Bulbs
Editor’s Choice – Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit
Runner Up – LIFX Mini Day & Dusk White Smart LED Light Bulb
Best Budget – Sengled Element Classic Smart LED Light Bulbs
Best Portable – Philips Hue Go LED Smart Light Table Lamp
Best Design – Sylvania Smart Home Soft White LED Bulb
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance is a homeowner favorite, because it has all the bells and whistles you could possibly want from a smart lighting system.
You 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. You can adjust these using a slider on your smartphone or tablet, which is also where you’ll pre-set lighting schemes. Connect your voice speaker and smart home system to make future adjustments using your voice. 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. You’ll need to screw in the light bulbs like you would a traditional bulb. Then, you can open up the Hue mobile app, turn on the included Hub, and the app will walk you through setting up schedules, programming scenes, and pairing your hub with the rest of your smart home devices.
The Philips Hue does require the use of a Hue Hub, so you’ll need to purchase Philips light moving forward to continue enjoying the automation and making the purchase worth it. It also means you’ll have one more physical device in your home.
The Philips Hue app packs in even more special features like: 30 pre-set scenes developed by Philips lighting designers that that mimic real-life sunsets and nature scenes; the ability to transform a photo in your phone’s camera roll into a lightscape; and pre-programmed scenes for waking up, gaming, and relaxing.
The LIFX Mini Day & Dusk is a variation on the best-selling LIFX Mini White, but with a specific focus on sleep. These LIFX smart light bulbs are designed to mimic natural sunlight.
Simply input your daily routines into the LIFX app, and the Day & Dusk bulbs will automatically adjust the brightness and temperature to reinforce your natural circadian rhythms. The bulbs introduce cool whites in the morning, and replace them with warmer whites in the evening. In between, the bulbs slowly intensify the bright white light during the day, helping you stay energized, before introducing an amber glow to help you wind down at night.
There’s no hub required for LIFX Mini smart bulbs to work; all you need is your home wi-fi connection and the app on your phone. The app works not just on Android and iOS, but also Windows 10. In the LIFX app, you can schedule timers, set up light groups per location, and create your own lighting scenes or choose from included ones.
The LIFX Mini bulb’s unique shape is not only visually appealing, it’s designed to fit a wider range of light fixtures more easily. Bulbs can be purchased individually or in packs of 4 for additional savings.
The Sengled Element hub works with up to 64 Sengled smart bulbs in your home. As a white bulb, your adjustments with the Sengled Element will be limited to brightness. However, as a soft white, its brightness best reflects natural sunlight, which is ideal for your sleep-wake cycle.
In the Sengled Home app, available on iOS and Android, you can set schedules, turn the lights on and off, and dim them. The app comes pre-built with Wake Up settings, so you don’t have to figure it out yourself. Simply program the time you want to wake up, and the app will take it from there in regards to timing and brightness. To set bedtime lighting, just create a timer for your lights to begin dimming in the evening. There’s also an Energy Saving mode, which will dim or turn off the lights automatically when you don’t need them.
Sync your Sengled smart light bulbs with Alexa or Google Assistant and you can make all adjustments using your voice. You can even coordinate with IFTTT to create trigger actions based on your location, the time of day, and the weather outside.
The Sengled Element Classic is an affordable way to get started with smart lighting, but it’s a budget price for a reason. It’s compatible with fewer systems, and there’s no scene programming included.
The Philips Hue Go is everything you like about the Philips Hue Ambiance, but in a portable lamp you can hold in your hand. This 6.5-inch diameter lamp has a pleasing curved shape that acts like your personal handheld light.
For full functionality (including the ability to integrate with your other smart home devices and make adjustments using your voice or mobile app), you’ll need to purchase the Hue Hub, but you can still get most of what you need out of manual adjustments on the lamp itself. The Philips Hue Go comes with a button that allows you to adjust the brightness, temperature, and color of the lamp.
When you’re home, the Philips Hue Go functions as part of your overall lighting system. Then, whenever you travel, you can take it with you to enjoy the sleep and wake settings wherever you are. You can even turn on a candle setting to mimic candlelight when you’re camping.
The Sylvania Smart Home light bulbs allow you to enjoy the functionality of the future, with a fashionable design from the past. These vintage-style light bulbs uses Bluetooth to pair with your Apple HomeKit devices, so you can tell 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 you don’t have to worry about the internet going down. As long as Bluetooth is on, your Sylvania smart light bulbs can still be commanded using Siri voice control, dimmed and adjusted according to schedule.
The Sylvania lights are one of the most affordable on this list, and that’s mostly due to their Bluetooth and Apple-only compatibility. The bulbs also have a shorter lifespan than most, by about 7 years.
Smart lights are not your traditional light bulb—far from it. Smart and non-smart lights both illuminate your home, but the similarities stop there. Learn more about the sophisticated features you can expect from smart lights below.
Review the below FAQ to learn more about how smart lights work, understand important shopping considerations, and empower yourself to choose the best smart light bulbs for your home.
Smart light bulbs work by using a wireless connection in your home. Often, they connect to a multipurpose smart hub, such as an Amazon Echo, or a special hub for the lights alone, such as a Philips Hue Bridge. Sometimes, they can work on Bluetooth or WiFi alone using the manufacturer’s mobile app.
After you screw in your light bulbs, you’ll need to download a mobile app. The app will walk you through how to install the hub if necessary, connect your smart bulbs to your home internet (such as identifying which bulbs are in which rooms), and preprogram any schedules or scenes.
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.
Preprogram 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. Whenever 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.
As much as it helps us get things done, modern lighting is one of the biggest hindrances to our sleep. As diurnal animals, our sleep-wake cycles roughly follow the rising and setting of the sun. The decrease in sunlight in the evening is one of many environmental and biological factors that signals to our brain when it’s time for us to fall asleep.
However, with indoor lighting that shines bright well past sunset, our brains can become confused as to what time of day it is. This light, especially from our electronic devices, keeps us up later than normal.
When you use smart lights, you can have them automatically begin dimming in the evenings, signaling to your brain that it’s time to prepare for bed. Moreover, many smart lights can adjust the color temperature to remove blue from the light, replacing it with red tones. It’s a similar effect to using the red light night filter on your smartphone.
In the morning, your smart lights can do the opposite, introducing bright blues to help you wake up more naturally than a piercing jolt from your alarm clock. This is especially the case if you sleep in total darkness (as you should). Smart lights can naturally brighten your bedroom to mimic sunrise, preparing your body to wake up right in time for your alarm to go off.
Many smart light bulbs actually come with sleep and wake settings preprogrammed, so all you have to do is opt in to elect to use these as a supplement to your alarm clock.
There’s one last benefit smart lights offer your sleep. When turning them off is as quick as uttering a verbal command, you don’t have to waste time walking around your house turning them all off before bed!
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.
Smart lights turn off or on according to where you are in your home, reducing your overall electricity use. Smart light bulbs allow you to manage your home lighting efficiently, even when you’re not there, by using the app on your phone. Finally, since they use LED technology, smart light bulbs are already designed to use less energy to work.
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, up to 20 years. You can expect to enjoy this functionality for a long time.
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.