After spending hundreds of hours testing dozens of smart lights, the best smart lights are the Philips Hue White bulbs and the Lifx+. Fairly simple to set up, these 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 (May 2019)
- Lutron's new Aurora Dimmer Switch ($40) attaches to the top of a traditional light switch, and allows you to control Philips Hue lights directly, without the risk of someone turning off power to the actual switch itself (which will render the Hue lights inoperable).
1. Philips Hue White
Best smart starter kitRating: 4/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit |Hub Required: Yes | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 800 lumens | Wattage: 10 watts | Bulb Type: A19
Pros: Easy setup; intuitive app; extensive third-party integrations; dimmable
Cons: Expensive; requires bridge; not tunable
Philips Hue’s White Starter Kit includes your choice of two or four dimmable white 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.
Read our full Philips Hue White Starter Kit review.
Best smart bulb with night visionRating: 4.5/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Cortana| Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 200,000 hours | Brightness: 1100 lumens | Wattage: 11 watts | Bulb Type: A19
Pros: 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 most unique feature is its infrared capability, which can provide night vision to an indoor or outdoor security camera.
3. Xiaomi Yeelight Wi-Fi LED Bulb
Top smart light valueRating: 4/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 600 lumens | Wattage: 9.1 watts | Bulb Type: A19
Pros: Inexpensive; easy setup; cool color effects
Cons: 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.
4. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance
Our favorite color starter kitRating: 4.5/5 stars
Works With:Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit | Hub Required: Yes | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 800 lumens | Wattage: 10 watts | Bulb Type: A19
Pros: Easy setup; intuitive app; extensive third-party integrations; stunning color effects
Cons: Expensive; requires bridge
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.
5. Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Bulb
No hub requiredRating: 4/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 800 lumens | Wattage: 10.5 watts | Bulb Type: A19
Pros: Lots of smart automation options; tracks energy usage
Cons: 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.
6. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lightstrip
Best lightstripRating: 4.5/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit | Hub Required: Yes | Lifetime: 20,000 hours | Brightness: 1600 lumens | Wattage: 20 watts
Pros: Trimmable; flexible; super bright; accommodates 40 inches of extensions
Cons: Requires bridge; not waterproof; pricey
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.
7. Sengled Smart LED with Motion Sensor
Best outdoor bulbRating: 4.5/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: Yes | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 1050 lumens | Wattage: 11.5 watts
Pros: Built-in motion sensor; integrated daylight sensor; weatherproof
Cons: 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.
8. Sengled Smart LED Multicolor Starter Kit
Budget color starter kitRating: 4/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub Required: Yes | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 800 lumens | Wattage: 8.6 watts | Bulb Type: A19
Pros: Easy setup; polished app; Tracks power consumption
Cons: Requires hub; No HomeKit support
Sengled's $79 Smart LED Multicolor Starter kit is a budget alternative to Philips Hue's White and Color Ambiance kit. The bulbs—compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung SmartThings— are a breeze to set up and control and can display more than 16 million hues. Just keep in mind that like the White Kit, it requires a hub (included) to work.
Read our full Sengled Smart LED Multicolor Starter Kit review.
9. Lifx Color A19
Brightest bulb you can buyRating: 4/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Cortana | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 200,000 hours | Brightness: 1100 lumens | Wattage: 11 watts | Bulb Type: A19
Pros: Cool, unique lighting effects; super bright; no hub required
Most color smart bulbs, despite their fancy features, are too dim to realistically light a room. Lifx has raised the bar with its 1100-lumen A19, which can easily light a full room on its own. It's also easy to set up with Wi-Fi built in, and has a number of cool effects and advanced automations.
10. Nanoleaf Canvas
Really fun wall panelsRating: 4.5/5 stars
Works With: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit | Hub Required: No | Lifetime: 25,000 hours | Brightness: 50 lumens | Wattage: 1 watt
Pros: 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.
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.