Smart bulbs, LED-based bulbs that can be controlled by hub applications or smartphones, are no longer a new idea. Than I know New is the extent to which this technology has emerged since its inception a few years ago. What's New: Products like the Nanoleaf Aurora, an interlocking LED panel system that allows you to decorate with light, fundamentally change the concept of the bulb.
The Smart Light Bulb Buyer's Cheat Sheet
Smart LED lights are not a good product, but they are close to maturity when it comes to the market. Today's lights are more compact, brighter, have better color representation, and for the most part have control applications that do more than before and are easier to configure. Prices have also fallen, with an anonymously configurable number of bulb lamps now available for less than $ 10. (Beware the buyer: you get what you pay for).
Updated August 13, 2019 to add our review on the new Samsung SmartThings smart bulb. The entry level white LED bulb, A19 / E26 style, $ 10 entry level is a good purchase for SmartThings users (requires SmartThings Hub operate), but I would not expect you to provide color at this price or not. Furthermore, the resulting white light remains at a color temperature of 2700K. You can click here to see a list of the best smart bulbs we've reviewed so far.
White LED lights are smart too
With countless rainbows and party tricks, colored LEDs get all the press in the world of smart lighting. This is fun, but the reality is that most of us rarely find much need to turn all the lights in the house to blue or red, unless it's time to celebrate our team winning the World Series. However, you may want to put everything blank after the celebration.
White light is also important in itself, because today there is much science to show how different shades of white, with variations in color temperature, affect our psychological condition. Cold light approaching blue has an energizing effect and is best in the morning. Warm light relaxes and is best after sunset. However, not all white temperature color lights can be tuned. Check the specifications before buying.
Smart white bulbs reject the party features that are the staple of color adjustable bulbs. On the other hand, white smart light bulbs are cheaper than color light bulbs, making it more affordable to throw them in some rooms.
We have tested almost every color and smart white LED bulb on the market. You'll find links to all of our reviews at the bottom of the page, and we'll update this story when a new model is introduced.
The best color smart LED bulb
Philips was one of the first players in this market, and the company's experience demonstrates this. Physically, the Hue Color and Ambiance lights haven't changed much since it was introduced in late 2012, but the last generation lasts longer and the company has added a Bluetooth radio that eliminates the need for the Philips Hue Bridge (but most homes smart) residents will still want the Bridge). The Philips Hue ecosystem is the deepest and broadest in the industry, including not only bulbs of every shape and size imaginable, but also interior and exterior accessories such as Philips Hue Calla track lights and Philips Hue Lily exterior bulbs, which we really like.
Second place winner
Top-of-the-linethe-line LIFX improves: This ball is brighter with a slightly smaller physical profile.
LIFX is a very strong competitor in smart lighting spaces and came in second place very close to our meeting. LIFX not only offers the A19 and BR30 form factors anymore, and we really like the exclusive LIFX + (which has a series of infrared LEDs that will help your home security camera see in the dark), but Philips still provides more diversity in this sense. ecosystem and universe of third party support.
The best white LED smart bulb
Our choice will not surprise anyone who follows this market. Philips dominates this space and is also our best choice for the best color smart LED bulb. The latest Hue bulbs offer high quality light, last for tens of thousands of hours and are backed by a solid warranty.
And while it will be easy for Philips to sit back and wait for the industry to set it as a de facto standard, it works hard to ensure that its products are compatible with other technologies, including Google's AmazonEcho and Google Homepage. Additionally, the Philips Hue bulb is available in more form factors than any other manufacturer, including the ubiquitous A19 (more commonly), BR (bent reflector), PAR (parabolic reflector), GU (U-shaped glass reflector, pin double base), and a series of special shapes and sizes. Philips also offers Hue-based lighting fixtures for indoor and outdoor installations.
Second place winner
The pint-sized LIFX bulb comes in a white model that can't be adjusted, but drops many features on the go.
If you just want a smart white light bulb that doesn't need a smart home center, LIFX Mini White is a good choice. Although slightly dimmer than a full-size LIFX bulb, it produces 60 watts equivalent to 800 watts.
The best semi-smart LED bulb
We argued to include Intellibulbs Feit Electric in this category, because they were technically incompatible with our definition of a smart bulb. They don't have Wi-Fi, ZigBee, or even Bluetooth radio, so they can't be controlled via the app, and they can't be programmed or entered into a larger smart home system in any meaningful way. Hell, for starters we weren't even impressed with many of them as light bulbs. But for those who just want a simple way to change the color temperature of light in a room, Intellibulb ColorChoice is a smart and simple solution.
The best smart bulbs to pair with security cameras
This smart color ball increases the night vision of your security camera through infrared LEDs, even when it is turned off.
Most home security cameras are equipped with infrared LEDs to provide night vision similarity. LIFX + is equipped with its own infrared LED, which is active even when the bulb is turned off by software. Infrared light is not visible to the naked eye, but LIFX + can bathe the room indoors so your security camera can see more space and detail than with the infrared LED.
Smart bulb features and protocols
Three control technologies continue to compete to become market leaders in smart bulbs (Z-Wave is a major competitor in smart lighting, but you won't find it in bulbs, only switches, plug-ins, control panels and home smart centers) )
- Zigbee: Light bulbs that use the popular smart home network protocol require a bridge to communicate with your home Wi-Fi network. This is the technology that Philips has adopted for its Hue range, but this is not the only one.
- Wifi: This kind of bulb speaks directly to your Wi-Fi router, without the need for a hub or bridge. LIFX and TP-Link produce excellent Wi-Fi bulbs, but no company has come close to Philips Hue's Signify line in terms of the depth and breadth of the Hue ecosystem.
- Bluetooth: This bulb skips your home network at once and pairs directly with your smartphone or tablet. As such, they cannot be controlled from outside your home. GE and other manufacturers make Bluetooth bulbs, some better quality than others.
Each of these technologies has advantages and disadvantages, so before trying to use a particular bulb, first try to determine which technology is right for you. If you want to connect a light bulb to a larger smart home system like SmartThings or Nest, Bluetooth lights don't exist. You can control more than one light bulb with your phone, but you cannot connect it to sensors or other systems in your home. Don't like the idea of connecting a light bulb to your phone? The Wi-Fi ball will work best for you, although you won't have enough options as you will find with ZigBee products.
Smart light bulb or smart switch?
There are important arguments about the best way to install smart lighting, and two approaches emerge on their own. You can use expensive smart bulbs and control them individually, or you can use cheap bulbs and install smart switches to control all the lights in the circuit. Both approaches make sense: With smart bulbs, the biggest issue is cost, but there are also complexities to deal with. While light bulbs can generally be grouped by location, this is as intuitive to manage as a light bulb control app.
Smart switches, on the other hand, are much more complicated to install, to the point where some users may feel uncomfortable dealing with exposed cables and prefer to hire an electrician. However, smart switches provide more flexibility in many installations.
Freed from years of turning on wire switches, many users (or their children) will instinctively use a wall switch to turn off lights when they leave the room. After that happens, all apps in the world will not be able to turn the lights back on until the switch returns to the active position. Although this won't be a problem if you install smart switches, they can't change the light bulb color or color temperature.
That said, smart light bulbs, whatever their technology, won't be right for everyone yet. In particular, most of these bulbs cannot be dimmed via a cable mounted wall switch (the power cord will be damaged, so it is not useful for the radio). Some will fail even if the dimmer is present in the circuit and plays at full power. And while today's light bulbs are brighter than before, they are still dimmed by "stupid" tuber standards. But the quality the light from an LED bulb will probably be much, much better.
The good news is that the price of a light bulb has dropped, making it easier to start with a smart light bulb and less punitive if you find that a product doesn't work for you. With that said, we want you to start off on the right foot. So without further ado, here is a deep dive into the most valuable color and smart white LED lights on the market.