There is no stopping the rise of smart home. For many, the first foray into making your home smart is lighting. But with so many products on the market, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Here’s our list of the best smart bulbs you can buy in 2018.
When considering which smart lighting system to buy, or even if you need smart light bulbs at all, it’s important to think about a couple of things. Firstly, the system you choose has to be easy to setup and use. After all, smart technology is all about making your life more convenient. But what can be more convenient than a light switch? Let’s take a look.
If you're at all interested in smart lighting you've probably heard of this brand. Hue by Philips was the front-runner of the smart lighting game and the bulbs are now on their third generation. If you are just getting started with smart lighting in your home, the Philips Hue starter kit is the way to go. These are not the cheapest bulbs on the market right now, but they are the most developed and refined smart lighting product currently available.
Cool features of the Hue lights include an audio synchronizer, which can change the lighting in the room to match music or movies that are playing. The required Philips Hue bridge, that you’ll need to connect your bulbs, comes with the starter kit. You can connect up to 50 lights at a time and Philips say that each bulb will last for 25,000 hours. The options are almost limitless with Hue. You can set up your lights to change based on events such as turning off when you leave the house, or even flash when you get a notification on your phone.
Setup is also super easy with Hue and the app is one of the best of any smart lighting product. Hue works with all the major voice assistants. The bulbs go up to a maximum brightness of 800 lumens.
Lifx (pronounced ‘life-ex’) started on Kickstarter in 2012 and has experienced success in The US as well as Europe. Lifx, unlike Hue, is a hubless system. Once you purchase a bulb and screw it into a lamp or light fixture it will power on. From there, all you have to do is search for the bulb via the mobile app and it will connect it to your Wi-Fi network.
The app is not quite as in-depth or feature-rich as Hue, but it is remarkably simple and easy to use, making Lifx very popular with newbies to smart lighting who don’t want to mess around with too many configurations. Lifx works with Apple HomeKit as well as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and the company says that the bulbs will last for more than 22 years. A maximum brightness of 800 lumens is available.
Wiz Connected Lights
Wiz is perhaps not as well known as Philips Hue of Lifx but these lights can do everything the big boys can, and more, and they can do it at a lower price point. Like Lifx, Wiz has the advantage over something like Hue that no hub is required for them to work. Each individual bulb connects to your Wi-Fi network and they everything can be grouped and controlled from the mobile app. Because it is a cloud-based system, there are no updates to install or anything like that. When Wiz gets an update, your home lighting is updated automatically.
Wiz lights also work with Google Assistant and Alexa. You can also control the lights from remote if you want to be old school too. You can also set up schedules to control your lights to change at certain times of the day or if you go on vacation and want to simulate activity in your home.
C by GE
The ultimate budget option. Rather than connecting via Wi-Fi, the C by GE bulbs use Bluetooth. You’ll need a hub to make these work, but the thing is tiny and is included in the low price. Of course, for this price, you are going to have to make some sacrifices. Unlike some smart lights which can glow in 16 million different colors, C by GE bulbs come with fixed color temperatures. There A19, for example, can glow in three different shades, whilst the R30 can do four. Because you are connecting via Bluetooth and not WiFi, you’ll also only be able to control your lights from close range, or about 10m (33ft) to be precise.
C by GE is the option to go for if you are curious about what having smart lighting in your home might be like, but don’t want to part hefty amount up front to see if it is going to work for you or not. If you fall in love with smart lighting you can always upgrade to Hue or something more expansive in the future.
And the ones to avoid…
IKEA has also gotten into the smart lighting business with an ‘affordable’ solution. The TRÅDFRI lights are incredibly bright (up to 980 lumens) but as a result, they did get very, very hot when we reviewed them last year. They’re also not that cheap at $80 for the starter kit considering you only get two bulbs.
What is your favorite smart lighting system? Let us know in the comments below.