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Best smart light bulbs for 2020

(Image credit: Future)

Smart light bulbs can be controlled using just your smartphone. But the best smart light bulbs often support advanced feature, like compatibility with a wide range of smart home platforms, such as Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Homekit

After testing dozens of smart lights, we've decided the best smart light bulbs are the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs. Lifx's offerings are excellent as well. Fairly simple to set up, these smart light bulbs have the most features of any lights on the market. 

If you’re on a budget, check out the Sengled Element Starter Kit or Wiz bulb. Both Wiz and Sengled lights are cheaper than Philips Hue’s bulbs, although they don’t have as many features and integrations.

See all of our top picks for smart speakers, lights, locks, and more on our best smart home gadgets page.

(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 | Wattage: 10 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Easy setup
Intuitive app
Extensive third-party integrations
Stunning color effects
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 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.

Philips Hue’s coolest feature, Philips Hue Sync, lets users synchronize their smart bulbs with multimedia content on their Mac or Windows PC. For example, you can set your lights to flash and change color in time with music, video or movies being played on your computer.

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

(Image credit: Koogeek)

2. Koogeek Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb

A reliable, low-cost lighting option

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 16,000 hours | Brightness: 900 lumens | Wattage: 8.5 watts | Bulb Type: E26

Easy setup
Nifty color effects, scenes and music sync
Lacks more advanced automation features
A bit dim
No HomeKit support

Koogeek's dimmable, multicolor Wi-Fi LED bulbs are easy to set up and use, and cost just $14. 

In the Koogeek home app, you can organize your bulbs into groups, preset schedules to sunrise, actions of other devices, and other times, and enable other cool features including music sync and customizable scenes. The bulbs deliver 900 lumens, and come with a 12-month warranty.

Credit: Sengled

(Image credit: Sengled)

3. Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor

Look no further for an awesome outdoor smart light bulb

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

Built-in motion sensor
Integrated daylight sensor
No Homekit support
Hub required

Sengled's $37 PAR38 floodlight is our favorite weatherproof bulb for security cameras and other outdoor fixtures. With built-in motion and daylight sensors, the bulb will light up when it detects movement within 30 feet, and will turn itself off during the day.    

Credit: Lifx

(Image credit: Lifx)

4. Lifx+

This smart bulb's infrared light is ideal for security cameras

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Cortana | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 200,000 hours | Brightness: 1100 lumens | Wattage: 11 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Very bright
Advanced automation options
Infrared light

The Lifx+ is an expensive bulb, but it's just about the best one money can buy. Like Lifx's other high-end products, the Lifx+ can produce 16 million colors, and it's rated for 1100 lumens, making it one of the brightest smart bulbs out there. It can create a number of cool effects, such as a candle flicker and a strobe, and can sync up to your music or other sounds nearby. Its defining feature is its infrared light, which can provide extra illumination for a security camera.

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

5. Xiaomi Yeelight Wi-Fi LED Bulb

A great budget color bulb

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 600 lumens | Wattage: 9.1 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Easy setup
Cool color effects
Lacks advanced integration outside Xiaomi ecosystem
A bit dim
No HomeKit support

Xiaomi's Yeelight Color LED bulbs are excellent, Wi-Fi-enabled lights that cost just $19 apiece, take less than a minute to set up and work with Alexa and Google Assistant.

In the Mi Home app, you can set schedules and timers for your bulbs, and dim or change color when another Xiaomi smart device turns on or off. These lights deliver 600 lumens and don't get particularly hot.

Credit: TP-Link

(Image credit: TP-Link)

6. Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Bulb

No hub needed

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 800 lumens | Wattage: 10.5 watts | Bulb Type: A19

Lots of smart automation options
Tracks energy usage
No HomeKit support
Automation requires separate smart-home router

TP-Link's second-generation Kasa bulbs have Wi-Fi built in, so you don't need a bridge to connect them. The lineup includes a $19 soft white bulb, a $24 dimmable bulb, a $24 tunable bulb and a $34 multicolor bulb. All work with Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana; you can take advantage of several advanced automation features if you have TP-Link’s smart router.

Credit: Sengled

(Image credit: Sengled)

7. Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED

Affordable Wi-Fi bulb

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

Super easy setup
No hub required
App tracks energy consumption
Missing more advanced automation features
Not dim, but not quite bright enough to light a full room

At $24.99, Sengled's smart multicolor Wi-Fi LED bulbs aren't the cheapest in their product category, but are still quite affordable. The Sengled app offers all the basic smart-bulb features, including timers, scenes, schedules and routines. Sengled also offers a $14 bright daylight bulb and a $12 soft white bulb, all of which are easy to set up with no hub required. 

Credit: Philips

(Image credit: Philips)

8. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lightstrip

Colorful lightstrips spruce up any space

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

Accommodates 40 inches of extensions
Requires bridge
Not waterproof

The Philips Hue Lightstrip is 80 inches long and can display millions of colors. You can trim the strip to fit your needs; 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.

Credit: Minger

(Image credit: Minger)

9. Minger DreamColor Lightstrip

A more affordable smart lightstrip option

Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 50,000 hours | Wattage: 24 watts

Built-in microphone for music sync
Super affordable
Can display multiple colors at once
No Homekit support

Govee's Minger DreamColor Lightstrip is a 16-foot strip of multicolor smart lights. You can cut it to whatever lengths you'd like, and stick its adhesive-covered back around your home, from your banister to under your kitchen counter. It's one of the easiest smart light products we've ever set up.

At just $39, it's cheaper than most competing lightstrips, and it can produce a number of unique and cool effects. For example, it can sync its color and animations to your music, or other sounds around it, using a built-in microphone.

Credit: Nanoleaf

(Image credit: Nanoleaf)

10. Nanoleaf Canvas

These smart wall panels are fun

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

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

If you want your home to make a statement, the Nanoleaf Canvas is one of the best wall decorations 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.

Smart light 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.