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The best cheap smart bulbs for 2020

Smart lighting has taken over. With just a single smart bulb and some Wi-Fi (and maybe a little help from Alexa), you can transform a drab and dim living room into a pulsating, kaleidoscopic disco. OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme. Smart lighting truly is an awesome investment for any home, though. Smart lighting can increase your home security, help cut down on your energy bill, and be customized to adapt and change with your lifestyle. In terms of investment, though, major smart lighting starter kits can tend to be on the pricey side.

Thankfully, there are a number of great companies that make budget smart bulbs and lighting systems that work just as well as some of the big brands, but at a fraction of the cost. Which budget smart lights are worth buying? We’ve put together a working list of some of the best budget lights out there and what we love about them.

Further reading

Lifx Mini White

Our favorite thing about the Lifx Mini is that it’s truly twist-and-play. Once your bulb is screwed in, just download the Lifx app and connect straight to Wi-Fi — no hub required.

This powerful little bulb puts out a pretty mighty 8 watts and a solid 650 lumens at full brightness. The Mini is dimmable, and its level of shine can be easily adjusted with the Lifx app, as well as commands to popular voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.

The app also lets you set routines for the bulb, turning on, off, or fading the lights on a set schedule. Further IFTTT experimenting can even have the bulb react to sunlight, weather conditions, and even the ring of your doorbell. For under $25, you really can’t go wrong with the Lifx Mini White.

Wyze Bulb

We’ve covered these bad boys before, but they deserve a big second mention. Whether you buy them as a single (under $10) or a pack of four (under $40), going Wyze is such a solid bet when it comes to smart lighting.

This is another hub-less contender. Just connect the bulb straight to Wi-Fi and start controlling with your favorite voice assistant (Alexa and Google-capable) or the Wyze app on your mobile (available for Android and iOS). The Wyze app lets you adjust color temperature and brightness of a single bulb, or more than one at the same time with the very responsive grouping feature.

To top it all off, Wyze Bulb even gives you a programmable “vacation mode” that turns lights on and off while you’re away to keep the cat-burglars at bay.

TP-Link Kasa Smart

The Kasa Smart joins our list of favorites because we can’t think of another bulb that does so much, yet for so little. This dimmable multi-color bulb can set the mood in any part of your home, from soft yellows for bedtime reading, to a calm indigo for a romantic meal-for-two.

The Kasa is another hub-free system. Just download the Kasa app (for iOS and Android) and connect your bulb to Wi-Fi. Voice commands are also available through Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana. Enjoy countless hours of building mood-scenes in the Kasa app and then say things like, “Alexa, turn on the party scene” to set your lights to whatever color and dimness you chose for that rocking Saturday night.

Want some extra goodness? The TP-Link Kasa Smart can be paired and grouped with other Kasa smart devices, such as their security cameras and smart outlets.

Ikea Tradfri E26 Dimmer Kit

Ikea smart tech is on the rise, and their Tradfri lineup of smart lights and switches are a force to be reckoned with. The E26 warm-light bulb is already paired up with the bundled dimmer switch; just unbox, screw the bulb in, and you’re good to go.

The Ikea Home app and voice control options for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit offer extra levels of control and customization, but you’ll also need to purchase a Tradfri gateway ($35) to get these Wi-Fi features working.

With the gateway in place, you can also create customized groups and scenes for up to 10 different bulbs from the Ikea Tradfri E26 Dimmer Kit, LED panels, and door lights.

Sengled Smart LED Soft White A19

Sengled’s 800-lumen A19 is truly one of the best buys on this list. The bulb can be controlled with or without a hub, and you can do quite a bit with just the Sengled app and the Wi-Fi-connected A19. Adjust brightness, create light schedules and scenes, view energy stats, and more.

If you want to crank things up a hair, you can buy the Sengled hub for around $40 to add voice control options from Alexa and Google Assistant to your Sengled Smart LED Soft White A19. Better yet, if you already own an Amazon Echo Plus, SmartThings hub, or a Wink bridge, you can use Zigbee to pair your bulbs with your preferred voice assistant.

C by GE Life LED

Our favorite thing about this starter pack of bulbs is GE’s out-of-the-box partnership with Google Home products. Just screw the bulb in and hop on your Google Home app to begin adjusting lights and setting schedules, no extra hub required. The quick-pair tech is all done through Bluetooth, so just make sure it’s enabled on your mobile device.

The C by GE Life LED bulbs are also compatible with Alexa and HomeKit, but both these assistants do require the C-Reach smart bridge and a Wi-Fi connection.

Berennis Smart Light Bulb

This cool multicolor pack can be controlled and automated with both Alexa and Google Assistant and without the need for a hub. That’s something, especially for bulbs that boast an impressive palette of over 16 million colors and thousands of white hues to choose from.

Just screw in, download the Magic Home Pro app (iOS and Android), connect the Berennis Smart Light Bulb bulbs to Wi-Fi, and immediately begin controlling with your voice assistant (just make sure to add the Magic skill in your voice assistant app).

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