How to Choose the Best Smart Lighting for Your Money
Whether you’re replacing your old light bulbs with smart ones or using them to add some tech-savvy ambiance to your home, you’ll want the best smart lighting for your money. Luckily, there are more options than ever when it comes to smart lights. In recent years, many brands have thrown their hat in the ring and developed smart bulb systems with features like Alexa or Google Assistant compatibility, smartphone app usability and more. Choosing the right one depends on what kind of home automation features you’re after and which smart ecosystem you use (or plan to use).
If you’re not sure what kind of smart lighting you want or need, you can always opt for an LED light that works with any smart speaker and/or smart display and doesn’t require a separate hub. For example, GE’s C by GE line of smart bulbs work with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices, so you can control them with either of those speakers or with any Android or iOS device that uses the Google Home app. And because it’s a Made for Google partner, you don’t need to get the extra hub that other brands offer to make them compatible with your Google device setup.
Of course, there are also smart lights that integrate with more specific products like security systems and home theater setups. For instance, Ring’s smart lights are primarily focused on security and are meant to be used in conjunction with the company’s video doorbells and other security products. But if you’re looking for smart lights that are more focused on design and ambiance, there are options like Govee’s hexa light panels, which can be stacked together to form different shapes, or LED strips that go along the back of a TV to help with contrast while streaming video games.
The best smart lighting systems will also be compatible with the other devices you already own, so if you use an Arlo or other security system and/or a Nest or another smart thermostat, your lights should work with those too. The smart bulbs we’ve reviewed here all support the most popular smart home ecosystems, including Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa. Some, like the Philips Hue White and Color ambiance bulbs, even have built-in integrations that let you pair them with other devices in your home without requiring an additional hub or bridge.
As for the best smart lighting overall, we’ve kept the Philips Hue White and Color ambience bulbs in our top pick due to their reliability and ease of use on a day-to-day basis. They’re a bit more expensive than Lifx, but they have the advantage of offering the most complete integrated experience for those who already use a lot of other Philips-compatible home automation products. You can pair them with floor lamps, sconces, a variety of different switches and outdoor lighting fixtures to create the ideal home automation setup. They can also sync with music and media to change colors automatically, depending on what’s playing or being streamed.