Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance
While pricey, Philips Hue has the greatest number of features of any smart light.
Koogeek Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb
These Wi-Fi lights are inexpensive but offer a lot of customization.
Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor
A built-in detector activates this floodlight when it senses movement.
After spending hundreds of hours testing dozens of smart lights, the best smart light bulbs are the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs and the Lifx+. Fairly simple to set up, these smart light bulbs work with a lot of smart devices and have the most features of any lights on the market.
If you’re on a budget, check out the Sengled Element Starter Kit, or the Xiaomi Yeelight Smart Bulb. Both are cheaper than Philips Hue’s bulbs, but 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.
Latest News & Updates (August 2019)
- LIFX is debuting two new HomeKit-compatible smart light products: a candle bulb perfect for accent lighting and a ZTV light strip with completely customizable RGBW LEDs designed for the back of your television. The $44.99 candle bulb and the $69.99 light strip will be sold starting October 2019.
- Nanoleaf is launching the new HomeKit ‘Touch Actions,’ which upgrades your Canvas light squares into smart buttons for your entire home. With as little as a single press on a square, you can activate HomeKit Scenes to control any or all of your HomeKit products.
- Philips Hue has released a new lineup of Bluetooth-enabled E26 bulbs that don't require a Philips Hue Bridge or other smart-home hub. The lineup includes a $14 white bulb, a $24 white ambiance bulb, and a $49 colored option. All will work with Alexa and Google Assistant, but they won't have as many advanced automation features as some of their more-expensive counterparts.
Best overall smart bulb
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.
Best smart light value
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.
Best outdoor bulb
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.
Best smart bulb for security cameras
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.
Great budget color bulb
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.
No hub required
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.
Affordable Wi-Fi bulb
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.
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.
Budget light strip
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. At just $39, it's cheaper than most competing lighstrips, 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.
Really fun wall panels
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.
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.