Best Smart Light Bulbs for 2020
Here are eight of the best smart light bulb options for creative home lighting, featuring color-changing, dimming, automation and voice control.
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Why Buy Smart Light Bulbs?
Smart light bulbs can open up a host of options for creatively lighting your home, with features like changing color, dimming, automation and voice control. Here are our four favorite smart light bulbs plus a few other smart lights for interesting uses that go beyond the traditional bulb.
The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance (four bulbs + required Bridge for network connection, around $200) product line showcases their cutting-edge, full-spectrum, color-changing smart bulb technology. It’s regarded as one of the best for its excellent color production and lighting performance from the brightest to dimmest settings. The well-developed Philips Hue ecosystem offers a variety of base types, a range of smart switches and accessories, all managed by the excellent Philips Hue app.
The Hue app, paired with the Hue Bridge (Bridge is required for some Hue smart bulbs), offers an intuitive interface for color and dimming controls, scene and scheduling settings, and media sync capabilities. Hue bulbs can also be voice-controlled via any of the big three smart home control ecosystems: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.
The Wyze Bulb offers a lot of performance for a less expensive price — $8 per bulb or $30 for a four-pack, plus shipping. This bulb can be an excellent value if you just want a basic setup, or if you deploy it in your smart home setup where its specifications suit exact needs.
At this price, having white color temperature control at all is a great deal. But the range is comparatively limited, at around 2700K (warmer, more yellow light) to 6500K (cooler, more blue light).
Wyze small light bulbs also offer dimming, but again it doesn’t dim as much competitors. (We can say from first-hand experience that the Philips Hue White Ambiance gets noticeably dimmer and more yellow.)
The Wyze app offers basic controls, scheduling and sensor-triggering using the Wyze Sense contact and motion sensors. (Note: Sensors require a Bridge with at least one Wyze Cam in your setup, but they’re all ridiculously cheap.) Of the big three smart home ecosystems, it’s only compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so look elsewhere if you’re set up with Apple HomeKit.
Best for Ease of Use
The Kasa Smart WiFi Light Bulb ($15) by TP-Link features direct WiFi connection so you don’t need a hub. And setup is easy with the user-friendly Kasa smartphone app that includes illustrated steps and an intuitive interface. A secured 2.4GHz network is required.
Use the app to control the lights remotely, set up room groups, scenes and schedules. The basic version is dimmable, but they also offer a tunable white version (2700K to 5000K) and a multicolor version (2500K to 9000K) if you want color-changing capability. And voice control can be set up with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana.
Best Filament Style
For that old-school filament style with the longevity of LED, all bathed in a warm candlelight glow, look no further than the Kasa Filament Smart WiFi LED Bulb by TP-Link ($17). It’s also available in white, but this one produces an amber candle-flame color around 2000K. If that’s not enough mood for you, this bulb is also dimmable.
The Kasa system doesn’t require a hub, so just screw in the bulb and pull up the Kasa app on your smartphone to connect it to your WiFi. You can add voice control and automation with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana.
Best for Outdoor Floodlights
If you’re looking to replace your PAR38 floodlight bulbs, Philips has you covered here too with its Hue White Outdoor PAR38 Smart Bulbs ($50 for a two-pack). This is an especially great option if you already have a Hue setup; the Hue Bridge is required for network connection.
Another handy feature of the Hue system is geofencing, which automatically turns on your lights when it detects your phone approaching your home via GPS — a great safety feature to light your way from your car to your house.
These bulbs are dimmable and come in a 3000K warm white color similar to incandescent. We like that because it’s not as harsh, improving night vision. The bulb housing is built to withstand outdoor conditions and comes with a robust three-year warranty. And again, it works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.
Best Light Strip
For a party in a box, take a look at these Gusodor LED RGB Strip Lights ($46), with more features than you thought possible. Waterproof. Twenty-four key remote control. Built-in microphone for music beat sync.
Beyond the party scene, these could set the mood in any room, light up your Christmas or other holiday festivities, or encourage creativity with modes like flashing, breathing, gradients and 25 more dynamic options. Besides the remote control (included), you can use the free app on IOS or Android mobile devices.
Best Creative Form Factor
Nanoleaf Light Panels ($170) can help you paint a striking picture with illuminated triangular LED panels on your walls. The thin light panels stick to your wall with double-sided pads. Once you plug in the first panel, the rest can be daisy-chained together at their edges to make any shape you want; one power supply will handle up to 30 panels. Then you can customize the colors of each panel to make a work of art, or even activate the included Rhythm Module with sound sensors to sync your light panels to music. Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.
Best Landscaping Spotlight
The Philips Hue Lily Outdoor Spot Light ($340 per three-pack) illuminates your exterior spaces, featuring high-quality waterproof construction and a full spectrum of 16 million colors. It requires a Philips Hue Smart Hub to work, but you can add up to 50 lights on one Bridge. The Philips Lily and Calla product lines are standouts in the exterior landscape smart lighting market, providing several classy options to extend your smart home lighting to the outdoors. Control the lights and set schedules or timers with the excellent Philips Hue app, or use voice control with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.