With smart lightbulbs I can reduce my energy consumption, improve my morning wakeup routine, and keep my home safer. If I leave my lights on when I head to work for the day, I can quickly turn them off with my phone even after I get to the office. If I want to wake up to light that mimics the sunrise instead of being jolted awake by a loud alarm, I can set the bulbs to gradually increase in brightness until I’m ready to get up for the day. And if I want to discourage would-be burglars while I’m out of town, I can schedule the lights to turn on and off automatically so that it looks like someone is coming and going.
These bulbs are a bit of an investment, but they last for years, pair with lots of other smart home devices, and give you more control over your home. While we think the benefits of smartbulbs outweigh the costs, you’ll still want to make sure you’re investing in a lighting system that suits your needs and your lifestyle.
We researched the best smart lightbulbs on the market to find the ones that are worth the upfront cost. Keep reading to find out which ones we’d recommend.
Best smart lightbulbs overall—Philips Hue
It is important to note that the bulbs won’t work as intended unless you also get the hub. You can get this hub and two smartbulbs by purchasing a starter kit. Then you can add more lightbulbs as you need them.
What can you do with Philips Hue lightbulbs?
There are three types of Hue setups to choose from: white, white ambiance, and white and color ambiance.
Even if you get the most basic white system, you can do quite a few things:
- Control your lights from a mobile device
- Set lighting schedules
- Dim the lights
- Turn lights on and off when you’re away from home
- Pair your lights with Apple, Google, and Amazon devices and control those lights with your voice
White ambiance bulbs can do everything that the basic white bulbs can do, but they also offer more subtle shades of white light that are perfect for specific activities. Certain settings are warmer and others are cooler, so you can find the perfect setting for reading, working out, or unwinding in the evening. These lights can also help you wake up naturally in the morning with light that gradually increases and mimics the effect of a sunrise—much more pleasant than a blaring alarm that jars you awake.
The white and color ambiance bulbs are the most advanced. You can do all the things with the color bulbs that you would with the white bulbs—control them remotely, set up schedules, pair them with other smart home devices, and wake up gradually—but there are also a few advanced features that can be a bit more fun. The color lights can sync up with movies and music—for example, when I tested out these lights with the mobile app, I could set the lights to match the music automatically or to match the bass or treble track depending on my preferences. These bulbs also give you 16 million colors to choose from, and you can set your own scenes and save them for future use.
What other smart home devices are compatible with Philips Hue?
Philips Hue bulbs are our top recommendation partly because they are so easy to connect to the rest of your home. Since Hue uses IFTTT (If This Then That), you can do lots of creative and useful things with your lightbulbs. For example, you could set them up to turn on when you get close to home or to change colors during certain types of weather.
Hue lightbulbs work with lots of smart home devices:
Philips Hue products use the ZigBee automation language, which means they’re compatible with other ZigBee-based devices. If you’d like to learn more about these home automation languages, check out our previous post about ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Insteon.
Which Hue products are right for your home?
Hue has made it easy to customize your setup for your own unique needs. If you want basic white lights in your kitchen, wakeup lights in your bedroom, and color lights in your theater room, it’s easy to set things up the way you want and control it all from your phone. And you don’t have to commit to setting up your whole home all at once.
If, for example, you get the starter kit with two basic white lightbulbs and a hub, you can easily add more expensive white ambience or white and color bulbs to your system later. These bulbs are a bit of an investment, but they last for years and are much more capable than a standard incandescent or a traditional LED bulb.
Philips Hue bulbs are our top pick because they come with tons of features and are compatible with almost all of the major smarthome devices and systems. We also like that Hue makes it easy to tailor your setup to your budget and lifestyle. You can purchase just a few bulbs for your bedroom to make waking up more pleasant, or you can purchase lots of bulbs, lamps, and more accessories to connect your whole home.
While Hue is, in our opinion, the clear leader, there are lots of other impressive smartbulbs out there. Keep reading to learn more about the other smart lightbulbs we recommend.
Best for smart home enthusiasts—LIFX and Sylvania Lightify
Although the Philips Hue bulbs are our favorite, there are a lot of strong contenders out there. If Hue isn’t quite what you want, LIFX and Sylvania Lightify both offer gorgeous colors, convenient features, and lots of compatibility. Both have a lot of the same features as the Philips Hue bulbs, but LIFX is a good option if you don’t want a system that requires a hub, and Sylvania Lightify is a good choice if you want slightly less expensive color bulbs than the Hue bulbs.
These bulbs are pretty convenient:
- Control the lights in your home when you’re not there
- Set up schedules to change the lights automatically
- Dim the lights
- Turn lights on and off with your mobile device
LIFX bulbs are compatible with other smart home systems and devices:
- Samsung SmartThings
- Amazon Echo
- Google Home
- Logitech Pop
LIFX is a particularly good choice if you have a Scout Alarm home security system because LIFX lights easily sync with Scout equipment. (Scout earned sixth place on our list of the best home security systems, and the company offers excellent security equipment.) LIFX also offers smart lightbulbs with night vision that are designed to enhance the vision of your security cameras. The night vision bulbs use a specific wavelength of infrared light so that infrared night vision cameras can see more.
You can set schedules for your lights to turn on and off automatically or control the lights from a mobile app even when you’re not at home.
Because Sylvania Lightify uses ZigBee, these bulbs are compatible with a wide range of smart home devices and systems:
- Samsung SmartThings
- Amazon Echo
If you’d like to learn more about the many home automation companies on the market, check out our comparison table that provides more details on some of the leading companies.
Best for convenience and security on a budget—Cree Connected and TP-Link
While the lights offered by Hue, LIFX, and Sylvania are all incredibly cool, not everyone needs lights that come in millions of colors or sync with music. If you’re looking for something simpler (and less expensive), we’d recommend bulbs from Cree Connected or TP-Link. These lights have fewer features, but they will still make your home more secure and your life a little easier.
Cree Connected bulbs come with all the basic features you’d expect from a smartbulb:
- Change the brightness of your lights
- Control your lights while you’re away from home
- Set up schedules for lights to turn on and off automatically
- Use your smartphone to control lights without getting up from your couch
The slightly more expensive TP-Link bulbs come with color and can match circadian rhythms throughout the day. They also have a longer lifespan.
Protect your home and make the little things easier with smart lighting
Although smart lightbulbs are a bit of an investment up front, they last a long time, help you manage your energy consumption, and make your home safer. The ability to schedule your lights automatically and turn them on and off even when you’re away from home helps to deter burglars.
While some of these smart lightbulbs can be used outdoors, most of them are designed for convenience inside the home. We also recommend using outdoor lighting to make your home safe. If you’re looking for outdoor lights, read our post about the best security lights for outside your home.
Have you used smart lights in your home? Was it worth the upfront investment? Let us know in the comments below.