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Published Sep. 30, 2021

Home automation is fast becoming the norm for all the convenience it provides—and smart lighting is now no exception. Connect a smart light to an available power source, typically a wall outlet or light socket, and then to a mobile app to control it from just about any location with your phone. Smart lights can also link with smart home systems, like Amazon Alexa, so that you can use voice commands—no more fumbling in the dark for your phone or light switch. Read on to learn more about these products and peruse some of the best smart lights available so you can choose what’s best for your home.

How We Picked the Best Smart Lights

Methodology

Home improvement and renovation have been my passion and career for well over a decade, and I’ve found smart lights to be an exciting technology that’s easy to install, set up, and experiment with to get the ideal configuration for home use. While my experience with smart lights and similar technology helped me form the basis of product selection, 30 options were extensively researched to identify outstanding features and any shortcomings to arrive at those described here.

The primary factors that impacted selection include the brightness, connectivity, and compatibility with the top smart home systems. Lights that lacked brightness typically failed to impress, though some had unique styles that didn’t rely on a high level of light to add innovative designs to the home. Similarly, lights with Bluetooth and hub-based connections often fell short of expectations when compared to the basic function of WiFi smart lights, but some exceptions stood out. 

The selection process also took into account that smart lights are a relatively new technology, so established, popular brands and products with demonstrated effectiveness were preferred over relatively unheard-of options, ensuring the quality of the compiled list.

Best Smart Light Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Philips Hue White and Color LED Smart Button

Complete Hub Lighting System

This comprehensive starter kit from Phillips includes both white and color smart bulbs, as well as the Phillips Hue hub for remote connection and control. Phillips

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Why It Made the Cut: This complete quality kit from Phillips product lets users automate the lighting systems throughout the home.

Specs: 

  • Connectivity: Connects to WiFi or Bluetooth through Hue Hub
  • Compatibility: Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant
  • Brightness: 800 lumens

Pros:

  • Multiple smart lights included 
  • Portable smart button to activate lights remotely
  • Compatible with the top smart home systems

Cons:

  • Must use with the Philips Hue hub

The Philips Hue White and Color Starter Kit is a complete system that includes everything required to set up convenient lighting control. The starter kit comes with three smart bulbs, the Phillips Hue hub to connect to the home WiFi, and a smart button with mounting plates. Each bulb has a brightness output of about 800 lumens and they can be set to almost any color with more than a million different options.

While these smart lights won’t work without the Phillips Hue hub, this central device can connect with up to 50 different smart lights, allowing users to fully automate home lighting via one hub. The smart lights are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant, and the kit also includes a smart button that can be used from anywhere in the home to control the lights. The smart button has a mounting plate that can provide a central control location, but it can also be carried around or even stuck to the refrigerator with the magnetic base, so lights can be controlled even if you don’t have your phone on you.

Best Value: Wyze Labs WLPA19C Smart Wyze Bulb

Brilliant Color Selection

Switch between 16 million colors or simply increase or decrease the light output using a smartphone with this affordable smart bulb. Wyze Labs

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Why It Made the Cut: Inexpensive and effective, the Wyze Labs smart bulb is easy to install and connect and offers millions of color choices.

Specs: 

  • Connectivity: Connects to WiFi
  • Compatibility: Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Brightness: 1,100 lumens

Pros:

  • 16 million different color options
  • Simple installation and wi-fi connection
  • Impressive brightness 
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Limited compatibility

Bring automated lighting home on a budget with this Wyze Labs WLPA19C Smart Wyze Bulb. It’s an ideal choice for bedrooms and offices because you can adjust color, tone, and brightness to create the perfect setting for a video call, a romantic mood, or even help the user fall asleep. This smart bulb is capable of switching between 16 million different color options, ensuring that even the most selective individuals can find the right hue.

Download the Wyze app to communicate with the smart bulb, then use the app to connect the bulb to the home WiFi. This affordable smart bulb can shine at up to 1,100 lumens and it is compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but not Apple HomeKit or Samsung SmartThings at this time.

Best for Amazon Alexa: LIFX Color, A19 1100 lumens, Wi-Fi Smart

Bright and Brilliant

This light’s outstanding 1,100-lumen brightness allows for precise control over the tone and appearance of home lighting. LIFX

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Why It Made the Cut: When connected to the Amazon Alexa smart home system, this brilliant bulb with a 1,100-lumen output and 550-billion brilliant color configurations can illuminate the home with a simple voice command.

Specs: 

  • Connectivity: Connects to WiFi
  • Compatibility: Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant
  • Brightness: 1,100 lumens

Pros:

  • 550 billion possible color configurations
  • Impressive brightness output
  • Simple set up
  • Compatible with the top smart home systems

Cons:

  • Unique shape may not appeal to some people

With this smart light from LIFX, users can connect directly to Amazon Alexa to control lighting with simple voice commands—no phone or switch-flicking required. The smart light is also compatible with Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant with a simple installation procedure: Simply screw in the smart bulb, activate it with the LIFX app, and connect it to the home WiFi. 

This LIFX Color Smart Bulb can display over 550 billion different color configurations, even allowing the user to choose partial lighting displays, so that different parts of the bulb show a variety of colors, flooding the room in multi-colored light. The smart light shines at a brightness of 1,100 lumens, but its unique shape—a large body and flat top—may not appeal aesthetically to some users.

Best for Google Assistant: Nanoleaf Rhythm Edition Smarter Kit

Decorative Light Delights

These Nanoleaf custom panels allow you to light up your creativity with Google Assistant. Nanoleaf

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Why It Made the Cut: This product allows you to express your creativity with light and sound, using your smart home system.

Specs: 

  • Connectivity: Connects to WiFi through hub/controller
  • Compatibility: Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant
  • Brightness: 100 lumens per panel

Pros:

  • Interesting shapes create custom patterns
  • Built-in sound sensors allow lights to respond to audio
  • Drill-free wall installation
  • Compatible with the top smart home systems

Cons:

  • Low brightness only suitable for decorative/mood lighting
  • Panels can be difficult to remove after installation

Create an interesting, unique pattern in your space with this set of decorative smart light panels from Nanoleaf. They’re designed to be installed on the wall and can connect to Google Assistant for effective voice control. They’ll also work with Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit but must be connected to the home WiFi through the included controller. This set includes nine light panels and the controller, which is capable of linking with up to 21 additional light panels for a total of 30.  

These smart lights only have a brightness output of 100 lumens per panel, which suits them for mood lighting or innovative decoration. The kit features built-in sound sensors so that the lights can respond to ambient sounds, like music, video games, or even a movie to enhance the experience. While the panels are easy to install without a drill, they may be challenging to remove.

Best for Apple HomeKit: Yeelight LED Smart Light Bulb 60W Equivalent

Extensive Smart Home Compatibility

With 16 million different color options, this light can work with your smartphone or with the Apple HomeKit system for convenient voice control. Yeelight

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Why It Made the Cut: Sync music or video games to the smart light for automatic color transitions in response to sound for the ultimate gaming experience or improve the party atmosphere.

Specs: 

  • Connectivity: Connects to WiFi
  • Compatibility: Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings
  • Brightness: 800 lumens

Pros:

  • Compatible with a wide variety of smart home systems
  • 16 million color options
  • Adjustable brightness 
  • Game and audio sync capability

Cons:

  • Durability and reliability is questionable

The Yeelight LED Smart Light Bulb is specifically designed to work with Apple HomeKit (some similar products can’t connect this system) and can also connect to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and other smart home systems. It offers 16 million different color options and brightness is adjustable between one and 100 percent for the ideal color, tone, and brightness output. 

This smart light can shine at up to 800 lumens and it connects directly to the home WiFi after installation, instead of relying on a central hub. It syncs to music and video games, so that the smart bulb can automatically change to suit the tone of a video game or ambient music. Once caveat: Yeelight is a relatively unknown manufacturer, so the durability and reliability of the product may not meet the standards of more established companies.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart Light

Smart lights are an innovative automated home addition that provides the ability to control home lighting from a smartphone or via voice commands. These lights can also be programmed to turn on or turn off automatically at designated times, such as returning home from work and heading to bed. Potential buyers should consider how a smart light connects, what smart home systems it is compatible with, and the maximum brightness output in order to determine the best smart lights for the home.

Connectivity

Smart lights can connect to a phone via a mobile app and/or a smart home system, depending on the specific product. They typically connect through WiFi or Bluetooth, though some products may need to be linked to a central hub or controller.

  • WiFi is the most popular method of connectivity because it’s easy to use, has a wider range than Bluetooth, and shouldn’t require an additional hub to function.
  • Bluetooth shares the simplicity of WiFi, but it isn’t a popular choice for smart lights because the Bluetooth system can’t be controlled away from home. This limit greatly reduces the benefit of smart lights.
  • Hubs, which are also known as controllers, are more common than Bluetooth systems. That’s possibly because they are designed to connect to WiFi, so they typically have the same extensive range. The shortcoming is that in order to use the smart lights properly, they must be connected to both a central hub and to WiFi, whereas a WiFi smart lighting system works without relying on a central hub.

Compatibility and Functions

Smart lights will typically be capable of integrating with a smart home system, allowing the user to control them with simple voice commands. However, smart home systems that the smart light can work with vary depending on the product. 

Most smart lights are compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, currently the most popular smart home systems. Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings are gaining in popularity, so many smart light products can integrate with them as well. If you have a lesser-known smart home system, you may encounter problems finding a compatible smart light, but often these smaller manufacturers have their own smart light line.

Brightness

The brightness of a smart light is measured in lumens (lm). One lumen is equal to the light produced by a single burning candle. Typically, smart lights can range from 100 to 1,500 lumens, so there is a wide variety to choose from, depending on the purpose of the light. Choose a very high lumen output for security lights and go with a far lower output for more decorative lighting. 

If you aren’t quite sure what would look best in your home, consider investing in a smart light that has an adjustable brightness level, so that you can set it to the ideal output after installation.

FAQs

Q: Are smart lights worth it?

Depending on your level of usage and personal preference, smart lights can be worthy of the switch from conventional lighting. They are especially convenient when used in locations where you may not have immediate access to the light switch, such as a basement. Instead of walking down the stairs in the dark, just turn the lights on with your phone or with voice commands and then head down the stairs.

Q: What smart home systems work with smart lights?

A smart light is typically designed by an independent manufacturer that can include features and protocols allowing it to function properly with a smart home system. However, the compatibility of a smart light with a smart home system is completely dependent on the specific product. Some smart lights are made to work with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, and more, while other products may only work with one or two of these top smart home systems. Always make sure to check the compatibility of the smart light before purchase.

Q: Do smart bulbs use electricity when they are turned off?

Smart bulbs remain connected to WiFi, Bluetooth or the smart light hub, regardless of whether they are on or off, so they do use a small amount of electricity to remain connected, similar to a smart TV. However, the amount of electricity consumed when these lights are in standby mode is minimal, costing at most a few cents per month.

Final Thoughts

Smart lights are the latest incarnation of home automation and they’re certainly a bright idea. They can allow you to control illumination throughout the house, not merely turning them on and off but, depending on the product, providing the ability to dim or brighten the lights to set the ideal mood, bring a broad range of colors to the scene, and even sync the lighting to music, video games, and movies.

Users can install multiple smart lights throughout the home and connect to WiFi for seamless smartphone control with the Philips Hue White and Color Starter Kit, or make the transition to home automation a bit slower with the affordable Wyze Labs WLPA19C Smart Wyze Bulb.

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