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Best smart ambient lighting by room

By now, we're all familiar with smart lighting. Smart lights have the ability to operate on a schedule and do things like change color or be turned on or off with just your voice. A smart light bulb is perhaps the simplest form of connected lighting, but there are many more smart lighting options out there. In this post, we'll take a look at how you can achieve the best lighting effects for each room in your home.

Philips Hue 4-Pack with Hue Hub
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance smart lighting kit
Living Room
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Govee Glide Hexa Pro Light Panels
Govee Glide Hexa Pro
Gaming Room
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Kensington L1000 Bicolor Ring Light with Webcam Mount for Video Conferencing (K87653WW)
Kensington Bi-color Ring Light
Home Office
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GE CYNC Smart LED Light Bulb, Color Changing, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Enabled, Alexa and Google Assistant Compatible, Dimmable, Medium Base, Standard Bulb Shape (1 Pack), Packaging May Vary
Cync by GE Direct Connect Light Bulb
Bedroom
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Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Outdoor Smart Spot light Base kit 3
Philips Hue Outdoor lighting
Backyard
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GE CYNC Outdoor Smart Plug, Alexa and Google Home Compatible, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Enabled, No Hub Required
Cync by GE Outdoor Smart Plug
Outdoor
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Ring Wall Light Solar
Ring Wall Light Solar
Solar
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philips hue review white ambiance starter kit 2666
Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance smart lighting kit

Living Room

Pros
  • Useful features
  • Great range and responsiveness
  • Extensive third-party app compatibility
  • Works with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant
Cons
  • Bridge must be plugged into your router
  • Expensive

The living room, family room, or rec room: whatever you call it, the vibe is definitely more relaxing. You want smart lighting that can help you chill out after a long day.

A great place to start with smart lighting, and particularly for the living room is the Philips Hue Starter Kit. This smart lighting kit consists of three smart color-changing light bulbs and a hub or bridge that connects to your home Wi-Fi network. It’s easy to set up and configure even for technophobes or newbies. Once you’re connected to Wi-Fi, screw in each smart bulb. Place them in overhead light fixtures and lamps, then you can control them all from the app or with voice assistance from Google or Alexa. You can adjust the color too; blood red for scary movie night, or cheerful peachy-pink on a dreary morning.

Philips Hue 4-Pack with Hue Hub
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance smart lighting kit
Living Room
govee glide hexa pro review hero hexapro
Simon Sage / Digital Trends

Govee Glide Hexa Pro

Gaming Room

Pros
  • Easy set-up
  • Robust animation options
  • Great style
Cons
  • Janky PC sync
  • Iffy color accuracy

Gaming lighting calls for drama, and there’s no better dramatic ambient light kit right now than Govee Glide Hexa Pro 3D. This array of flat LED light panels can be configured for thousands of different colors, and can create dynamic light shows too. It can also listen and respond to your voice, a game track, or music, creating effects that match your room, beat for beat and boom for boom. Whether you want to use it as a dynamic backdrop for your livestreams or as an ambient light in the room behind your monitor, these lights can create cool effects. Nanoleaf makes a similar product too.

Govee Glide Hexa Pro Light Panels
Govee Glide Hexa Pro
Gaming Room

Kensington Bi-color Ring Light

Home Office

Pros
  • Great light for video calls
  • Doubles as task lighting
  • Bi-color for warm or cool light
Cons
  • May not be bright enough for all applications
  • Needs some kind of mount/tripod (sold seperately)

When it comes to the home office, we most often need two things: a task light and a video conferencing light. Kensington’s Bi-color Ring Light can be both, particularly if you clip it onto the Kensington Boom Arm. Point it down at the desk for ambient task lighting while you work, then flip it up and slide it over your camera for flattering light that makes your office look like a TV studio. Hate your laptop’s built-in camera and the Jabba the Hutt-neck it gives you? Toss Kensington’s webcam on the included mount in the center of your ring light and present yourself from way more flattering video angles.

Kensington L1000 Bicolor Ring Light with Webcam Mount for Video Conferencing (K87653WW)
Kensington Bi-color Ring Light
Home Office

Cync by GE Direct Connect Light Bulb

Bedroom

Pros
  • Simple set up
  • Easy starter product for smart home
  • Good color and scheduling options
Cons
  • May not have as many features as other systems

If you’re new to the smart home game and intimidated by setting one up, there’s an easy way to sample smart lighting, and that’s with smart light bulbs that don’t need a bridge or hub. Cync by GE is a low-risk, high-reward lighting system since there are no extra components required. Just screw in the Cync by GE bulbs and use the Cync app to connect for wireless access. Adjust the color to a soft, sleep-enabling candlelight setting, and drift off to dreamland.

GE CYNC Smart LED Light Bulb, Color Changing, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Enabled, Alexa and Google Assistant Compatible, Dimmable, Medium Base, Standard Bulb Shape (1 Pack), Packaging May Vary
Cync by GE Direct Connect Light Bulb
Bedroom
philips hue lightstrip outdoor review feat
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Philips Hue Outdoor lighting

Backyard

Pros
  • 16 million colors with adjustable output to 900 lumens
  • Weatherproof operation in all conditions
  • Freestanding or screw-clip mounting options
  • Simple installation with extension kit available for longer runs
  • Support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Cons
  • Strips can’t be cut to size
  • Drab silicone cladding

The backyard could be considered a room, right? The truth is, with all the time we spend outside in warmer weather, it's an easy space to beautify. While you could add some tiki torches or dollar store solar stake lights, we're here to tell you that smart lights can make all the difference to backyard ambiance.

Philips Hue makes a variety of smart connected outdoor lights, from bollards and spotlights to wired lighting fixtures and waterproof strip lighting. Whatever your configuration or need, there's probably an outdoor light for that from Phillips Hue. It has been my go-to system for outdoor lighting for several years now. I can also attest that the Hugh outdoor lights are able to withstand extreme temperatures and they've stood the test of time over numerous harsh winters.

Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Outdoor Smart Spot light Base kit 3
Philips Hue Outdoor lighting
Backyard
ge expands cync smart light adds climate control camera game room full color
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Cync by GE Outdoor Smart Plug

Outdoor

Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to use
  • App is uncluttered
  • Great variety of lights
  • App control is quick and responsive
  • Works with all digital assistants
Cons
  • Could use a few 'extra' features
  • Motion sensor was glitchy

If you're on a budget and don't want to splash out for dedicated smart lighting, you can always add brains to older lights. For example, those Edison bulb string lights that everyone likes to weave overhead in their yard; by simply plugging a string of these into a smart outdoor plug, you can get instant smart home control. One of the products I love for this application is the Cync by GE smart outdoor plug. It simply connects to an AC outlet, and it houses two additional plugs under its waterproof cap. You just connect it with the GE Cync app, and you can set daily timers, or sunrise or sunset on/off features; and use different timers for each individual plug.

GE CYNC Outdoor Smart Plug, Alexa and Google Home Compatible, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Enabled, No Hub Required
Cync by GE Outdoor Smart Plug
Outdoor
three outdoor ring accessories provide peace mind wall light solar
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ring Wall Light Solar

Solar

Pros
  • Effortless installation
  • Bright light output
  • Extended battery life with solar charging
  • More functionality with linking
Cons
  • Solar charging is a bit slow

Ring also makes dedicated outdoor lighting. There are different components and both wired and battery-powered options. These can connect with and intertwine with the ring home security system so that if your motion detector is tripped, lights and cameras can automatically start recording. If you don't need the full home security option, you can simply add some ring solar-powered outdoor lights. Ring makes Solar Wall Lights, Solar Steplights, and Solar Path Lights (stake lights). These are excellent for illuminating sidewalks or side yards without having to worry about needing to replace batteries.

Ring Wall Light Solar
Ring Wall Light Solar
Solar

From Philips Hue to LIFX, Cync to Govee, plus Sengled, Abode, and Wyze, there are so many lighting brands that can help you make the most of your space. If you have a favorite let us know which one and why in the comments.

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Erin Lawrence
Erin has over 20 years of experience as a journalist in the media and news industries, with time both on camera and behind…
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