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Best smart light bulbs 2020: Smart lighting and LED strips are here to illuminate

Best Smart Light Bulbs
(Image credit: Philips)

You've come here for the best smart light bulbs. If you’re setting up a smart home for the first time, one of your first stops should be to consider a connected lighting kit. From the best smart bulbs like Philips Hue to the crazy-artsy smart lighting wall decorations like the LIFX Tile, there’s something to suit every taste and interior decor.

Though smart bulbs will be more expensive than those that can’t be connected to the internet, they’re far more versatile than what is offered by old-school bulbs and strip lighting. Connecting to iOS and Android apps, smart bulbs can change color, be programmed to come on at certain times of day, can be set to different temperatures whether you want to relax or get some work done, and can even be programmed to interact with other gadgets in your smart home – whether that’s to change color based on what’s on your TV, or to automatically switch on when a smart lock or motion sensor is triggered.

If you thought dimmer switches were cool, you’ll be blown away by the voice control options many smart bulbs offer, too. Whether you’re using Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant, all our smart bulb offerings here can be controlled via voice commands to an app or smart speaker. No more getting out of bed to switch the lights off in the evening.

Being more expensive than regular bulbs, you’ll want to think carefully about which smart lighting kit you’re buying, and where you want it to go in your house. Are you looking for decoration, or practical lighting? Will it be fitted in a lamp, or in a hard to reach area of your home? As such, we’ve picked out a selection of our favorite smart bulb and smart lighting options below, each based on why we think it’ll be a good fit for particular uses around your home. Read on for our picks of the best smart bulbs and smart lights.

1. Philips Hue Color Ambiance: Best smart light bulbs overall

Philips Hue Color Ambiance Smart Bulbs Review

(Image credit: Philips)

Philips Hue Color Ambiance Smart Bulbs

Best smart lighting overall

Average price: From $50 | App support: iOS, Android | Voice assistant support: Apple Siri (HomeKit) Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung Bixby (SmartThings) | Color changing: Yes

Superb feature set
Solid brightness and color control
Many ecosystem options for expansion
Some rare connectivity issues

If you’re thinking about starting a smart lighting set up, that’s probably because you’ve been eyeing up a Philips Hue smart bulb set. It’s the daddy of smart lighting options, and for good reason: it’s reliable, comes in a variety of fitting and lighting options, and has great support from third party developers.

Our favorite pick from the Philips Hue range is its Color Ambiene smart bulbs. Available in all manner of fitting types, from screw ins to bayonets, it can be programmed to display 16 million colors, work with all major voice assistants and be programmed to work with smart home schedules and IFTTT (If This, Then That) app routines.

Bright and colorful, with an easy to use app and set-up process, perhaps the best thing about the Philips Hue Color Ambiance set is the way it can be paired with third party apps to add even more control options to your lighting array. Whether you want your bulbs to glow to match your gaming sessions, or to pulsate in time with your house party’s music, it’s got you covered. They’re expensive, but worth every penny.


2. Philips Hue Lightstrip: Best smart light bulbs for hard to reach places

Philips Hue Lightstrip Review

(Image credit: Philips)

Philips Hue Lightstrip

Best for hard to reach places

Average price: From $89.99 | App support: iOS, Android | Voice assistant support: Apple Siri (HomeKit) Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung Bixby (SmartThings) | Color changing: Yes

Versatile placement options
Bright and colorful
Some connectivity issues
Difficult to move once placed

Sometimes, a bulb just doesn’t cut it. If you want that smart lighting experience, but can’t get a light fitting or lamp in the area you want to illuminate, the Philips Hue Lightstrip is an excellent option.

In terms of connectivity and app support, it’s pretty much identical to the other Philips Hue Color Ambiance bulbs on this list – it’ll display millions of colors, work with voice assistants, and can be integrated into your wider smart home ecosystem.

What sets it apart however is its form factor. Coming in a long, sticky strip, you can place the Philips Hue Lightstrip almost anywhere, sticking even to the underside of surfaces – provided you keep it in range of a wall power outlet, of course.

The Philips Hue Lightstrip then opens up all sort of unexpected lighting options. Got a dark cupboard that needs illuminating? Let there be light. Want to give your home cinema some mood lighting? Tuck it around the back of your TV. Need a soft glow to read by at night? Stick it to your bed’s headboard. There need not be a dark corner of your home ever again.


3. LIFX Tile: Best smart light bulbs as design-led statement lighting

LIFX Tile

(Image credit: LIFX)

LIFX Tile

Best as design-led statement lighting

Average price: From $249.99 | App support: iOS, Android | Voice assistant support: Apple Siri (HomeKit) Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant | Color changing: Yes

Great mood lighting
Easily affixed to a wall
Flexible arrangement
Can be hard to hide the wiring

Sometimes, it’s not all about how well a smart lighting kit illuminates a room. Sometimes, it’s more about how stylish it can make your home look, and the LIFX Tile might be the most stylish option of the bunch laid out here.

Affixing to your home’s walls with safe-to-remove stick Command Strips, the LIFX Tile is a pack of illuminating squares that can be stuck directly onto your walls. They can be arranged in any pattern that you like, and once connected to the LIFX app, can be programmed into any color configuration you choose.

Like the Hue options, the LIFX Tile can be made to work with smart assistants and all manner of other connected gadgetry around your home. But where it comes into its own is in how customizable it is. You can literally paint any pattern, with a selection of millions of colors, using your fingers on representations of the Tile in the app. Add to this luxurious pre-programmed patterns and special effects to spice up a party, and it’s our favorite smart lighting statement piece.


4. LIFX Beam: Best smart light bulbs for arty accent lighting

LIFX Beam

(Image credit: LIFX)

LIFX Beam

Best for arty accent lighting

Average price: From $199.99 | App support: iOS, Android | Voice assistant support: Apple Siri (HomeKit) Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant | Color changing: Yes

Simple to set up
Easily to place on a wall
Great for accent lighting
Some connectivity issues

Is the LIFX Tile a little too in-your-face for your liking? Then try the LIFX Beam. It follows the same principles as the Tile, but does so in a more subtle form factor.

All the connectivity and color changing options of the Tile are present in the Beam, and it too affixes to a wall with damage-free Command Strips. But whereas the Tile is a relatively-large selection of, well, LED tiles, the Beam is instead a set of thin strips that can act as accent lighting for your walls.

With the potential to arrange them in a line, T or L shape configuration, the Beam is a great option if you want to highlight the edge of a door or picture frame, or want to add a splash of color to a wall without dominating a room. It’s not the best suited for reading by or illuminating a room without the support of other bulbs, and it can be a bit unstable in terms of connectivity with the rest of your smart home devices. But its unique form factor makes it another good choice for those looking to add some flair to a connected home.


TP-Link Kasa Filament Review

(Image credit: TP-Link)

TP-Link Kasa Filament Smart Bulb (KL50)

Best on a budget, and for retro style

Average price: From $16.99 | App support: iOS, Android | Voice assistant support: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant | Color changing: Yes

Great retro style
Simple set-up
Affordable
App can be problematic

The vast majority of smart bulbs may look great when powered up and glowing every color of the rainbow, but switch them off and their bulky, industrial globes can be a bit of an eyesore. This is particularly true when used in a light fitting that doesn’t include a shade, where a dull glass bulb can be a bit of an eyesore.

TP-Link’s Kasa Filament Smart Bulb is a perfect fit for this situation. Using a clear glass bulb, it makes use of a warm, retro-styled filament bulb, making it a great match for those looking to add connected smarts to a vintage-look decor.

It’s also a great option for the budget conscious too. While it isn’t color changing or as well supported by third-party developers as some of the other picks on this list, it’s also dramatically cheaper, while retaining the same level of smart home interoperability with other connected gadgets as the rest of our picks. And, as well as letting you program money-saving schedules for the light, its app also offers a neat look at how much energy it’s helping you save when compared to an old-fashioned dumb bulb.