One of the simplest ways to immerse yourself in smart home technology is with smart light bulbs. Here’s what you need to know to get started. Guide to choosing a smart light bulb.

The best smart bulbs

  1. Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED Multicolor
  2. Yeelight Smart LED Bulb (Color)
  3. Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb White and Color
  4. Philips Hue White
  5. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit
  6. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lily Outdoor Spot Light Kit
  7. Ring Smart Lighting System
  8. Cree Connected LED Bulb
  9. LIFX Color 1000

What do smart bulbs do?

Light bulbs have gotten exponentially smarter in recent years. Now you can replace your standard incandescent bulb with a variety of connected solutions that you can control with just a few taps on your smartphone or tablet. But with so many options flooding the smart home market, how do you choose the right smart bulb for you?

How much do smart bulbs cost?

Smart bulbs use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and a variety of technologies to work, so they are more expensive than traditional bulbs. It is important to keep in mind, especially if you want to install them throughout your home. Smart bulbs use less energy and last much longer, which means you can save money in the long run.

Color and luminance

Some bulbs are just white, while others have the ability to take on any color of the rainbow. Color is a fun way to add atmosphere to your home, but it often results in a more expensive light bulb.

Most smart bulbs are marketed as equivalent to 60-watt incandescent models, which seems self-explanatory, but some bulbs are brighter than others. To see how bright a light bulb is, you need to look at the lumens it emits – the more lumens, the brighter the bulb.

But even then, the light can scatter in a narrow beam or distribute the brightness across a wide band, so be sure to read the reviews to find out the characteristics of each bulb.

Another factor to keep in mind is the color temperature. Higher temperatures, like 8,500K, feel like harsh office lights, which are fine for staying awake or working. Lower temperatures, such as 2,500K, result in a warm, welcoming glow that’s perfect for relaxing.

How are smart bulbs controlled?

Since you’ll mostly be controlling these lights from your phone or tablet, you want to make sure it’s easy to do. If you have multiple bulbs, for example, you’ll want a companion app that allows you to easily arrange them into groups and adjust the brightness and / or color of an entire group at the same time.

Do you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home? Look for a light bulb that works with Alexa or Google Assistant so you can control it with your voice.

Of course, a smart bulb plugged into a socket can always be turned on or off by simply pressing the switch.

Features of the smart bulb

Smart bulbs offer a level of control and interactivity you can’t get with traditional bulbs, such as scheduled timers and remote control options. They are also more affordable; it is easier to touch a smartphone screen than to get up and trudge towards a wall switch.

Most light bulbs can be programmed or controlled remotely, which is great if you want to save on energy costs or often forget to turn off the lights before leaving the house.

Some bulbs use geofencing, which means they work with your smartphone’s GPS to pinpoint your exact location and can automatically turn lights on or off when you reach a certain point.

Color-changing bulbs are great for mood lighting, and some can even sync with certain movies and TV shows.

As mentioned, some bulbs connect with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit, or Google Assistant, so you can control home lighting with your voice. You can also integrate some light bulbs with security cameras, thermostats, and other smart home devices.

Compatibility with If Then That (IFTTT) allows you to create recipes that automatically make your lights react to certain triggers, like phone notifications or weather changes.

Do smart bulbs need a hub?

There is another important factor to keep in mind. Some smart bulbs need to connect to the smartphone via a home automation hub such as Philips Hue Bridge. Other bulbs skip the middleman and connect to your phone or tablet directly over Wi-Fi, like LIFX models.

Others connect with Bluetooth, but in that case, you’re limited to controlling only when you’re within Bluetooth range, meaning you can’t turn the lights off or on when you’re away from home. Adding a hub also means spending a little more money and adding another step to the installation process.

With all of that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best smart bulbs we’ve tested here. Depending on your needs, each of these options is a good starting point for connecting home lighting to more than just a wall switch.

The best smart bulbs

  1. Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED Multicolor
  2. Yeelight Smart LED Bulb (Color)
  3. Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb White and Color
  4. Philips Hue White
  5. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit
  6. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Lily Outdoor Spot Light Kit
  7. Ring Smart Lighting System
  8. Cree Connected LED Bulb
  9. LIFX Color 1000

What is a connected home?

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