Smart lighting is a great way to transform your home and can offer everything from mood-enhancing ambient colors to specialized gaming and study illumination. But with so many options available it’s important to consider a number of key factors before you buy: brightness, dimming and color-tuning capabilities, smart-home compatibility and price.
Smart lights come in a variety of forms, from traditional bulbs to panels and strips that add a sci-fi vibe to any room. However, smart bulbs are usually the best place to start as they’re easy to install and can work with most existing light fittings.
Most smart bulbs connect directly to your Wi-Fi network so you can control them from your phone, but some require an extra piece of hardware, such as a hub or bridge, to function. Knowing whether a smart bulb requires additional hardware can be a crucial factor before you decide to purchase one, as hub-based bulbs tend to be more expandable and reliable than those that connect directly to WiFi.
The Philips Hue system is the most well-established of all the smart lighting options, with a huge range of bulbs in every shape and size. It’s also one of the most compatible, with support for Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (plus Samsung SmartThings if you have them). The three-pack of Philips Hue White + Color Ambiance bulbs we’ve reviewed here is ideal for people looking to get started with smart lighting and offers a good balance between price and features.
Other popular options include the LIFX lights, which don’t require a hub to operate and are simple to set up. They offer millions of colors and are compatible with HomeKit, Alexa and Google Assistant – plus they can be controlled via voice. The LIFX app isn’t as slick as the ones from Philips or Hue, but it still provides all of the essential functionality you need, including room groups, schedules and automations.
Another excellent option is the C by GE Breathe Light Bulb, which can be programmed to automatically adjust throughout the day to match your circadian rhythm and help you wake up or fall asleep. Like the Philips Hue Gradient Signe, it’s easy to setup and use, making it a fab choice for beginners to smart lighting.
Other good options include the Nanoleaf’s Hexa Light Panels, which can be joined together to form different shapes and can be controlled individually or as a group using the companion app. They’re perfect for anyone who wants to create a more immersive gaming environment and also work with other Nanoleaf smart products, such as the Pixel Curtain Wall Sensor and Multi-Point Controller. You can even sync the Hexa Light Panels with your music and video apps to really enhance your entertainment experience. best smart lighting