Smart bulbs do more than turn on and off when you clap your hands. Upgrading your home with smart bulbs can reduce your energy consumption. You can use your phone to turn your lights on and off remotely or use a smart home device to create an automated schedule for your lights. Smart bulbs typically come with additional features like adjustable brightness or colors.
Shopping for smart bulbs can be confusing if you’re not familiar with home automation. When you are ready to make the switch from traditional bulbs to smart ones, our guide can help you decide what the best choice for your home and lifestyle is. They use very little energy, and they are available at different price points.
At a glance
- The best smart bulb kit: Philips Hue White Ambiance Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit
- The best budget kit: Sengled Element Classic A19 Kit
- The best starter bulb: Sengled Wi-Fi Smart Bulb
- The best budget bulb: Wyze Bulb
- The best color-changing smart bulb: Lifx Mini 800-Lumen Light Bulb
- The best on-the-go smart bulb: Philips Hue Go
- The best dimmable smart bulb: Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Light Bulb
- The best mini smart bulb: Lifx Mini White
- The best bulb for better sleep: Harth Sleep-shift Bulb
- The best “cool for the sake of being cool” bulb: Rhythm Starter Kit
- The best night light bulb: Maz-Tek Plug-In LED Night Light
The best smart bulb kit
Though it comes in at over $100, the Philips Hue White Ambiance Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit is the best by far. The kit comes with four A19 LED smart bulbs that project a soft, white light, that can be warmed up or cooled down to your liking, from “warm white to cool daylight.” Up to 50 bulbs can be linked together using the Philips Hue Bridge that comes in the kit. To change the brightness, put the lights on a schedule, or dim the bulbs, you can use the Hue app on iOS or Android.
While the kit works with the app, it can also be controlled with a wide range of hubs, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and more. This means you can control the bulbs using just your voice.
The best budget kit
The Element Classic A19 Kit by Sengled is an affordable all-in-one kit that includes two bulbs and one hub as well as an Ethernet cable. Emitting the power of 800 lumens on a mere 9 watts of energy, these super-efficient bulbs will last up to 25,000 hours. They also connect to your Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, allowing for hands-free voice control.
The Element Home app is compatible with both iOS or Android, and the group control function lets you turn all the lights in your home on or off at the same time. You can also schedule when you want your lights to turn on, and plan your mornings with the Wake-up Time feature. The performance section shows you how much power you are using relative to the money you are saving. It’s the perfect kit for newbies.
The best starter bulb
The Sengled Wi-Fi smart bulb connects to your 2.4 GHz network without a hub. It is super easy to set up. You just download the Sengled Home app, twist in the bulb, and the bulb flashes on and off to indicate it is ready to set up. Once you go through the usual steps (log in, connect the device to Wi-Fi, etc.), you have dimmable smart lights you can control with your phone or with your voice via Amazon Alexa.
The low cost and easy setup make this the perfect starter bulb. The Sengled WiFi bulb comes in 2700K soft white.
The best budget bulb
At under $10 (and under $40 for a four-pack), the Wyze bulb is a no-brainer. You can control all of your bulbs, or just one, using your Alexa or Google Assistant or the Wyze app. The bulb is dimmable and you can control how cool or warm the light it emits is to set the mood you want in a room. Temperatures range from 2,700k – 6,500k and a dimmable 800 lumen (60W equivalent).
The best color-changing smart bulb
Still hunting for that double-rainbow? Look no further than Lifx, the Australian illuminators that took the world by storm. The Mini 800 Multicolor by Lifx offers over 15 million customizable color options with dimming capabilities and easy install — all this without the need of a pesky hub. All Lifx bulbs connect directly to your home Wi-Fi and are easily controlled with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. With the Lifx app, available for iOS and Android, users can group bulbs into different zones based on mood, time of day, preset scenes, and Lifx-curated color themes. Need a vacation? Program your lights to turn on and off at the same time for home security while you’re at Disney with the kids (just make sure your light switches are on!), then log in and cancel your “away” routine when you return home.
Also boasting an intuitive IFTTT channel for all us real smart-light nerds, Lifx lets you program your bulbs to react to weather conditions, music, and your own personal schedule. Imagine arriving home after a grueling day and when you walk into your house, your living room smart lights are set to soft, pleasant golds and your Echo Dot greets you by name and tunes to your favorite soft piano playlist. What better way is there to exorcise your office demons?
Lifx packs all of this multicolor grandeur inside an 800-lumen bulb that only pulls in around 9 watts, making the Mini a stellar choice for energy savings, too.
The best on-the-go smart bulb
If you need to take your light with you, the Philips Hue Go is the ideal choice. You can plug the device into a power outlet for a light show on your wall, or unplug it and use it as a compact centerpiece. It can also last up to three hours when fully charged, and its 300-lumen bulb can last up to 20,000 hours before needing to be replaced.
To use the light, simply press the button on the back. Philips Hue features seven different light effects, including a warm white light, energizing daylight, and five natural dynamic lights. You can even connect your Philips Hue Go with the Hue bridge (not included), giving you full control of your home lighting via your smartphone. Currently, the device works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant.
The best dimmable smart bulb
No colors or frills necessary, Kasa’s Smart Wi-Fi LED Light Bulb offers dimmable, soft white light that’s suitable for all occasions. The 800-lumen bulb also has a lifetime rating of 22.8 years and reduces energy use up to 80% when compared to a 60-watt incandescent, without brightness or loss of quality.
The accompanying mobile app, Kasa Smart, is arguably one of the most straightforward smart home apps out there. You can manage everything remotely via your phone or tablet, as well as Echo devices, Google Assistant, Cortana, IFTTT, and Nest, making it the most functional bulb available. Wake up with the sun while in circadian mode — which automatically matches light appearance to the time of day by adjusting brightness and warmth — or track your energy consumption using the aforementioned app. All you need is a secure Wi-Fi connection — no hub necessary.
The best mini smart bulb
The Lifx Mini White is the perfect compact bulb for lighting your nightstand or home office and emits 800 lumens using a mere nine watts of energy. You can control the bulb from just about anywhere using the company’s proprietary cloud technology, and the eco-friendly LED comes with a lifespan of 22.8 years and a two-year warranty.
Like many of the bulbs on our list, the Lifx app is compatible with both iOS and Android and works with voice services such as Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant. It doesn’t require a hub, either, which makes this small ray of sunshine even more delightful.
The best bulb for better sleep
We humans are our own worst enemies when it comes to getting off our phones and going to bed. It’s no surprise there’s a whole corner of the light bulb market that is purely dedicated to lulling our overactive minds to sleep. The Sleep Shift Bulb by Harth is truly the best that sleep science has to offer, and a no-brainer for our restless brains.
While not a “smart” bulb in terms of apps and programming, the real brains behind the Sleep Shift is Harth’s focus on reducing the disturbing blue light output that many of our favorite mobile devices emit in favor of much warmer amber hues — lighting that simulates a natural sunset before we head to bed. Just by its design, the Sleep Shift bulb promotes healthier sleeping by keeping us closer to our true circadian sleep cycles (our body’s natural sleep-and-wake reactions to the sun) and increases melatonin production, making it easier to actually fall asleep and stay asleep for the appropriate amount of time.
The Sleep Shift’s added bonus: The bulbs produce a specific set of calming wavelengths, making it that much easier to hit the hay after a long day at work.
The best ‘cool for the sake of being cool’ bulb
If you’re willing to spend a bit more on setting up smart lighting in your home, the Rhythm Smarter Kit is the light show of your dreams. With it, you can create your own World of Color (water not included), or just set up the nine, triangle-shaped panels on your wall in whatever formation your heart desires.
You can fully customize the light inside the Nanoleaf Smarter Series app, or create scenes and set schedules — and the panels connect to all the typical voice services (Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant). The coolest feature, however, is called Rhythm, which allows the light panels to react to music of all genres in real-time. With the Smarter Kit, you are the conductor of your own light symphony, one that reacts to every searing guitar riff, bass drop, and vocal solo. Check out our full Nanoleaf Aurora Smarter Kit review (here).
Best night light bulb
The Maz-Tek Plug-in Night Light is a back-to-basics, plug-and-play bulb with just the right amount of extra goodies (and awesome price) to land on our list. A quick and easy option for lighting bedrooms, kitchens, and hallways, the Maz-Tek lets you choose between a white glow or panorama of cycling colors with just the flick of a single switch. You can also set and forget your own color by turning a wheel on the side of the unit. A built-in light sensor reacts to ambient light in real time, powering down the bulb during the daytime and relighting when it’s dusk and the room gets dark again.
The slim design ensures you won’t block the outlet above or below the pack, and the bulb is rated for up to 20,000 hours, making the Maz-Tek a great long-lasting option for children’s rooms or an affordable way to keep the whole house comfortably lit through the night.
- The best Apple HomeKit-compatible devices
- The best Philips Hue deals and Philips Hue Starter Kit deals for August 2020
- The best smart light switches for 2020
- The best Alexa-enabled devices for 2020
- The best home security systems in 2020