It’s undeniable that our devices are getting smarter. With more “Internet of Things” products available than ever before, we can operate almost anything with the press of a smartphone button without getting off the couch—including the light switch. Although smart lighting has been around since the late ’90s (looking at you, Clapper), it’s advanced in recent years to include remote app and voice control. These systems are also becoming increasingly affordable, but you’ll still want to ensure that something so prominent in your daily life is also reliable, effective, and energy-efficient. The reviews here will help determine the best individual light bulbs and complete systems for your needs and price range.
Check out quick reviews below of the top five smart light bulbs and systems, then scroll deeper for more buying info and full reviews of these and other high-ranking options.
How to Operate
Depending on the smart light, you’ll either be able to control it from your phone and virtual assistant through built-in Wi-Fi connectivity or it will require a hub, through which you can sync the bulbs and control by voice or an app on your phone. A hub can be a smart speaker such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, or Apple HomeKit, but some systems come with their own. Even given that, some connect directly to your Wi-Fi for app control and only require a hub if you want access to voice control. CNET advised that if you already use a smart home speaker, “adding in lights that your assistant of choice can control is almost a no-brainer, and you’ll be able to use them alongside things like cameras, thermostats, and smart security systems.”
If you plan to use smart lights throughout your home, it’s best to stick to one brand to use the same app, whether it be the manufacturer’s or another smart home system. Even if you just want to dip your toes into the world of smart lights by purchasing one or two bulbs, we recommend going with a brand that offers more complete systems if you ever want to add more later. Within these apps, you will be able to set timers, dim the lights, and potentially even change the bulb’s colors.
What to Look For
Lumens: Measuring the brightness of a bulb, lumens are usually around 800 for the average 60-watt old-fashioned incandescent. Most smart and LED bulbs provide the same amount of light but use less wattage. (All of the top-performing bulbs that made the cut here are LEDs.)
Watts: All light bulbs consume power, but smart lights are generally more economical in the respect that they only use around eight to ten watts for about 800 lumens. Note that since smart lights are technically always on even when the light is turned off, they will use up slightly more electricity than typical LED bulbs, though the difference is negligible.
Bulb type: Almost every bulb in this article is an A19. This is the standard pear-shaped lightbulb, which will fit into the majority of light sockets and lamps. Most smart light kits come with standard A19 bulbs as they’re most common and compatible.
How We Selected and Rated Them
We consulted ten sources and publications with experience reviewing smart lights and other tech, such as Digital Trends, Consumer Reports, and CNET, and averaged their ratings out of 100 to come up with the Total Expert Score. Then we looked at 9,800 consumer reviews. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of customers who rated the product at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Walmart, and manufacturers’ webpages. Here are the most highly rated smart light bulbs and systems.
Nanoleaf Canvas Starter Kit
Total Expert Score: 91/100 | Consumer Score: 88% gave it 4 stars or more
Turns your walls into illuminated works of art
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit | Hub required: No | Lumens: 50 | Watts: 1
These certainly aren’t the most conventional smart lights available, but they are some of the most inventive. Nanoleaf’s Canvas system is made up of flat, tile-like lights that stick to the wall and allow you to create colorful, light-up designs. Each square measures six inches across, and this kit comes with nine squares. Once you set them up in the design you desire, you can control them through a virtual assistant, the Nanoleaf app. And they even respond to touch—a light tap turns them on and off, and a long press creates a ripple effect, for example. What’s more, you can program them to synchronize their color changes and effects to music, which makes them a great party focal point or entertainment for a child’s room. If you’re looking to cover a significant amount of space however, it will get pretty pricey–these run $200 for just one set of nine.
—BEST BUDGET KIT—
Sengled Smart LED Soft White Starter Kit
Total Expert Score: 82/100 | Consumer Score: 73% gave it 4 stars or more
Smart lighting that isn’t stupidly expensive
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub required: Yes | Lumens: 800 | Watts: 9 | Bulb type: A19
Since smart lighting is still relatively young, it’s understandable if you’re wary of spending a lot of money on something that you aren’t convinced will work for your home. But at under $40, this two-pack kit doesn’t require much of a monetary commitment. And it’s garnered some great reviews. “For the price, I admit I didn’t have high expectations,” wrote an Amazon customer. “I was wrong! This is a great bulb! It paired quickly and was recognized with full functionality natively. The bulb is super responsive—switches off and on quickly with the SmartThings app as well as via Alexa.” Sengled also offers four different packages with one, two, four, and eight LED bulbs, all of which connect to both Alexa and Google Assistant.
Yeelight Smart LED Bulb
Total Expert Score: 89/100 | Consumer Score: 77% gave it 4 stars or more
Luxury is cheap(er) with these dimmable, colorful bulbs
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub required: No | Lumens: 800 | Watts: 10 | Bulb type: A19
Whether you’re looking for a way onto the smart lighting bandwagon or need some quality bulbs to add to your collection, Yeelight’s Smart LED is a great option. Each bulb is capable of connecting right to your Wi-Fi, no hub needed for app control. They can dim, with different lightings such as warm white and daylight depending on your mood and the time of day. Control the lights with either the Wyze app or through Alexa and Google Assistant.
C by GE A19 Bulb
Total Expert Score: 70/100 | Consumer Score: 96% gave it 4 stars or more
Choose light from almost any hue
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit | Hub required: No | Lumens: 760 | Watts: 10 | Bulb type: A19
Smart lights can be practical, but they can also be the highlight of a party. This C by GE bulb allows you to choose from all the colors of the rainbow as well as warm and cool white. A hub isn’t needed, but the bulb is compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. Since it was particularly designed for Google products, you will have the fastest response when using Google Assistant. And you can use a Google Home unit as a hub for controlling the lights from your phone via the Google Home app when you’re out.
—SMALL SMART LIGHT—
Lifx Mini White Smart LED Bulb
Total Expert Score: 98/100 | Consumer Score: 73% gave it 4 stars or more
Small and white, green and bright
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Home | Hub required: No | Lumens: 800 | Watts: 9 | Bulb type: A19
Smart lights aren’t just for overhead ceiling lights—these little guys can be placed in smaller places like desk or nightstand lamps. While they may not be as large as your average bulb, they still pack a punch with 800 lumens at full brightness, same as the full-size Lifx bulbs. They’re compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit, have full dimming capabilities, and don’t require a hub to operate.
—EASY ON THE EYES—
Harth Sleep-Shift Sleep Ready Bulb
Total Expert Score: 94/100 | Consumer Score: 76% gave it 4 stars or more
Put down the phone and turn on this light to get to sleep
Works with: None | Hub required: N/A | Lumens: 600 | Watts: 7 | Bulb type: A19
While this bulb can’t dim or change color, it’s smart in another way: It may help to improve your sleep by emitting less harmful blue light, which LEDs and electronic screens emit. It’s meant to simulate a sunset, giving you end-of-day vibes and lulling you into sweet dreams. One reviewer commented: “As a bona-fide night owl, it is always hard for me to wind down at the end of the day. After reading up on the ways that yellow/amber light better trains our brains to sleep, I bought this and swapped it for the low-watt bright white bulb I had in my bedroom. It’s much easier to fall asleep without a bright blue-white light keeping me up.”
Kasa Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb
Consumer Score: 90% gave it 4 stars or more
An elegant industrial-style bulb that’s still eco-conscious
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant | Hub required: No | Lumens: 600 | Watts: 7 | Bulb type: A19
Interior decorating has co-opted industrial style in the past decade, especially in factories-turned-luxury-apartments. And while the old-school look is coveted, the dated technology is not. This light gives you that vibe while staying modern. It’s compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, fully dimmable, and doesn’t require a hub. And despite the feel, this bulb is an eco-friendly LED. It uses only seven watts to give of a bright 600-lumen glow.