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The best smart light bulbs in 2020

Best smart light bulbs
(Image credit: Future)

The best smart light bulbs are useful for a variety of reasons. For starters, they're all LEDs, so they use far less energy than traditional incandescent, halogen, and CFL light bulbs. 

The other reason why we like smart light bulbs is that you can connect them to your home network and control them using your smartphone or a smart assistant like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. You can also link your smart lights to other smart home accessories, so that when you unlock your door, the lights turn on, or when you go away, your smart lights can turn on and off randomly to make it look like someone is home. 

After testing dozens of models, the best smart light bulbs are the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs. Not only do Hue lights connect to virtually every smart home product, but Philips has a number of features in its app that let you do more with its lights than any other smart light maker. (If you just want white lights, check out the Philips Hue White bulbs.)

While all of the Philips Hue lights can be controlled via Bluetooth, you'll need the Philips Hue bridge (which connects the lights to your Wi-Fi) if you want to use all their features. 

If you want something with a simpler setup, we recommend the Sengled Smart Wi-Fi bulb, as it connects directly to your Wi-Fi network. At around $12 per bulb, they're relatively inexpensive for a smart light bulb.

You may also want to check out Wyze's Wi-Fi bulb, which is even cheaper: $8 for a single bulb, and $30 for a pack of four.

The best smart light bulbs you can buy today

Best smart light bulb: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance (Image credit: Philips)

1. Philips Hue White And Color Ambiance

The best smart light bulb starter kit

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit | Hub Required: Yes | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 800 lumens | Power consumption: 10 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Easy setup with intuitive app
Extensive third-party integrations
Stunning color effects
Expensive
Requires bridge

Philips Hue’s White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit includes your choice of two or four dimmable colored bulbs plus a hub. What separates Philips from the competition—and makes it the best smart light bulb overall — is the depth of its app, which is packed with features, including routines, sunrise/sunset automation, scenes, geofencing and a vacation mode. Plus, Philips Hue works with just about every other smart home system or device you can think of: Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, Nest, SmartThings and more. If you’re looking for a white smart bulb that can be a versatile addition to your smart home, this is it.

However Philips Hue systems have known security flaw. Make sure you update your software because malware can jump from your bulbs to your bridge to your network. To update your Philips Hue bridge, go into the Philips Hue mobile app, open Settings and click Software update. 

Read our full Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit review.

Best smart light bulb: Wyze Bulb

Wyze Bulb (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Wyze Bulb

The best cheap smart light bulb

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 800 lumens | Power consumption: 9.5 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Inexpensive
Tunable white
Works with Alexa, Google Assistant
Doesn't work with HomeKit
No color option

The biggest problem with smart light bulbs is that they're expensive, even compared to other LED bulbs. That's why Wyze’s smart bulb is the best smart light bulb for those on a budget. It's least expensive smart bulb we’ve seen, yet it’s one of the best if all you’re looking for is a light bulb you can control and connect to other smart home devices. 

For starters, you can change not just the brightness, but the color temperature (2,700k - 6,500k), and not just from Wyze’s app; you can also make these adjustments with Alexa and Google Assistant, too. (The Wyze smart bulb also works with IFTTT.)

From within the Wyze app, you can create schedules for when the light should turn on and off—but only based on a specific time, not dawn or dusk—and set a Vacation mode, which turns the bulbs on and off randomly to make it look like you’re home. You can also create triggers based on other Wyze’s home security camera and motion sensors, too. At $8 per bulb, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option at this price.

Best smart light bulb: Sengled Smart Wi-Fi Bulb

Sengled Smart Wi-Fi Bulb. Credit: Sengled (Image credit: Sengled)

3. Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED

Affordable Wi-Fi smart bulb

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 800 lumens | Power consumption: 9 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Super easy setup
No hub required
App tracks energy consumption
Missing more advanced automation features

Starting at $12, Sengled makes one of the best smart light bulbs for those who are looking for an inexpensive and easy to install option. Unlike Philips' bulbs, the Sengled smart Wi-Fi bulbs connect directly to your home network—no bridge needed. You can choose from three options: a $12 soft white bulb, a $15 daylight bulb, and a $25 multicolor bulb.

The Sengled app works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and offers all the basic smart-bulb features, including timers, scenes, schedules and routines, but is less sophisticated than what you get with Philips. 

Best smart light bulb: Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor

Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor. Credit: Sengled (Image credit: Sengled)

4. Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor

This smart outdoor floodlight has a motion sensor built in

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT | Hub Required: Yes | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 1050 lumens | Power consumption: 11.5 watts

Built-in motion sensor
Integrated daylight sensor
Weatherproof
No HomeKit support
Hub required

We think Sengled's Smart LED with Motion Sensor is the best smart light bulb for those who need an outdoor floodlight. Not only does it crank out more than 1,000 lumens, but it has a motion sensor built into its center, so it can automatically turn the light on if it detects motion within 30 feet.

The Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and SmartThings. However, you'll also need to purchase the Sengled Smart Hub ($30) to control this bulb.  

Best smart light bulb: Lifx Mini

Lifx Mini (Image credit: Future)

5. Lifx Mini

Best smart light bulb for smaller fixtures

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 200,000 hours | Brightness: 650-800 lumens | Power consumption: 9-11 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Bright
Advanced automation options
No hub needed
Expensive

The Lifx Mini is the best smart light bulb for smaller fixtures, and not just because it's more compact than the competition. That's because Lifx's app works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit, and has a great set of features and effects, such as a candle flicker and a strobe, and can sync up to your music or other sounds nearby. 

Lifx's bulbs also connect directly to Wi-Fi, so there's no hub needed. However, The Lifx Mini bulbs are a bit more expensive. Within the Mini line, you can choose from a Mini White ($18), Mini Day & Dusk ($28), which lets you control color temperature, and the Mini Color ($37), which lets you choose from 16 million colors. 

Best smart light bulb: TP-LINK Kasa Filament WiFi Light Bulb

TP-LINK Kasa Filament WiFi Light Bulb. Credit: TP-Link (Image credit: TP-Link)

The best filament-style smart light bulb

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 600 lumens | Power consumption: 7 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Lots of smart automation options
Tracks energy usage
Dimmable
No HomeKit support

Filament, or "Edison"-style lights are all the rage, as they cast a warm, old-timey glow that's great at creating some nice ambiance. The TP-Link Kasa Filament WiFi Light Bulb (KL50) are the best smart light bulbs for this purpose; they connect directly to your Wi-Fi (no hub needed), and the Kasa app lets you control them in myriad ways.

We also like that this bulb costs $15—pricier than a non-smart bulb, but reasonable for this market. TP-Link also makes a warm amber version of this bulb for the same price. All work with Alexa, and Google Assistant, and you can take advantage of several advanced automation features if you have TP-Link’s smart router.
 

Best smart light bulb: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lightstrip

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lightstrip. Credit: Philips (Image credit: Philips)

7. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lightstrip

The best smart lightstrips

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit | Hub Required: Yes | Lifetime: 20,000 hours | Power consumption: 1600 lumens | Wattage: 20 watts

Trimmable
Flexible
Accommodates 40 inches of extensions
Requires bridge
Pricey

Because they all use LEDs, the best smart light bulbs aren't confined to traditional light bulb shapes. Case in point: The Philips Hue Lightstrip. This 80 inch-long strip can  can display millions of colors, adding a fun accent to cabinets, TVs, or around other pieces of furniture. 

You can trim the Philips Hue Lightstrip strip to fit your needs, as well as add up to 40 inches of extensions; adhesive backing makes it easy to stick to a wall or other surface. Like other Philips Hue lights, the LightStrip works with Alexa, HomeKit, Google Assistant, Nest and Samsung SmartThings. However, you'll need to already own the Hue bridge to get these lights to work.

Best smart light bulb: Nanoleaf Canvas

Nanoleaf Canvas. Credit: Nanoleaf (Image credit: Nanoleaf)

8. Nanoleaf Canvas

These smart light wall panels are fun

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 50 lumens | Power consumption: 1 watt

Customizable touch commands
Simple setup
Striking color effects
Unlimited designs and scenes
Expensive

They're not bulbs per se, but if you want your home to make a statement, the Nanoleaf Canvas is one of the best smart lights out there. For less than $300, you’ll get a set of nine square panels, each measuring 6 inches square, which you can easily hang in whatever arrangement you want. The panels are very easy to connect and stick to your wall; the Nanoleaf app recommends designs and helps you plot out the placement.

You can use the Nanoleaf app, Google Assistant, Alexa, HomeKit or buttons on the panels themselves to cycle through colors and effects to create a custom light show. The panels are also touch-sensitive; you can tap them to turn the lights on and off, long press to create a ripple, and map other gestures to various effects. And with a nifty feature called “Rhythm Mode,” the Canvas can also synchronize colors and effects to the music it hears.

Read our full Nanoleaf Canvas review.

The best smart light bulbs: Buying tips

What do smart lights cost?

Smart lights are generally more expensive than traditional LED bulbs because they cram in other tech options. That said, they’re not as expensive as they used to be, and quality smart bulbs can range from $10 to over $40. Fancier fixtures, such as wall panels and outdoor floodlights, can cost hundreds of dollars. If you have to replace a lot of lights in a single room, a smart light switch may be a more economical option. Be sure to check out our best smart light switches page.

Bridge versus Wi-Fi-enabled lights

Smart bulbs fall into two categories—those that require a hub (or bridge) to connect to your home Wi-Fi network and those that don't. Philips’ and Sengled’s Element bulbs fall into the former camp, while those from Lifx and Kasa are the latter.

The advantage for bridge bulbs is that they tend to be smaller and, on a bulb-per-bulb basis, they’re less expensive than Wi-Fi-enabled bulbs. However, setup takes a little longer for bridge bulbs, and involves connecting a hub or bridge to your Wi-Fi router and then linking the bulbs to the hub.

If you decide to purchase bulbs that need a bridge, be sure to get a kit with one included.

Color Temperature

Just because a bulb is white doesn’t mean it lacks color. White bulbs come in a variety of color temperatures, ranging from a bluer white to a more reddish white.

2700K: These bulbs are labeled “soft white” and will cast a gentle warm glow that’s good for the bedroom, as well as table and floor lamps.

3000K: “Bright white” bulbs have a more neutral glow, being neither warm nor cool.

5000K: Lights that are 5000K and higher will typically carry a “daylight” label and edge towards the bluer part of the spectrum. However, they best approximate actual sunlight.