If you’re looking to transform your home into a smart home, smart bulbs are one of the easiest ways to do so. From an aesthetic point of view, smart bulbs are a fun way to change up your living space. From a more practical side, they’ll let you live the hands-free future that all of those sci-fi movies promised us.
Smart lighting will make you be able to control it using either an app or voice command (if you have virtual assistant device set up, that is). You’ll never have to flip a light switch again. If you’re chucking on a movie you can dim your lights without leaving your couch. Throw in some multicolour bulbs and you can change the entire vibe of a room, or tone it to suit.
While Philips’ Hue line have firmly established themselves as the go-to choice for smart lighting, their price point can be a bit of a turn off. When a single colour changing bulb will set you back up to $100, it’s a bit hard to validate refitting a room with them.
If you’re looking for a more economical choice when it comes to smart lighting, we’ve put together a small list of alternative smart bulbs. That way, you can deck out your home with some slick LEDs that, for the most part, won’t cost you an arm and a leg to replace your current lighting set up.
One thing you should do before committing to any of these is make sure you can actually plug them in to your chosen fixture. Most bulbs come in two socket styles — an E27/Edison screw or a B22/bayonet mount.
If you’re looking to upgrade to a smart lighting set up, but are looking for the cheapest choice possible, these HaoDeng bulbs might be what you’re after. They come with all of the features you want with a smart bulb: you can schedule routines, customise colour settings and you can sync them with your music. It’s also controllable via an app and voice commands with Alexa and Google Assistant. The only downside is that the HaoDeng bulbs aren’t as bright, and their colours aren’t as vibrant as the other smart bulbs listed here.
For what you’re paying for them, TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Bulbs do a fantastic job. They come with all of the capabilities you want with a smart bulb – voice and app control, scheduling and the ability to pick preset lighting scenes.
When it comes to performance, you’ve got control over dimming, a decent white temperature spectrum and plenty of colour options. The only real set back is that they operate on 2.4ghz Wi-Fi signals.
If you’re not particularly interested in a multicolour set up and just want a plain white light, TP-Link also offer a soft white variant.
Xiaomi have done a really solid job with their Mi Smart Bulb. It comes with both white and colour options, with a brightness of up to 800 lumens, with a lifespan of up to 25,000 hours. The colour range has 16 million options, and the white’s temperature is adjustable between 1,700K to 6,500K.
These bulbs connect directly with your Wi-Fi, so getting them set up and ready to go is fairly simple. Your customisable lighting options are a bit limited, compared to the more expensive competitor bulbs, but that’s not to say it totally lacks adjustability. You can pair it with your Google Assistant or Alexa, allowing you to live your best hands free life.
Yeelight’s S1 smart bulb is a good mid-range choice. You can adjust the brightness or colour choice by using a companion app, which also works with smart home devices like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Homekit. You’ll get a solid 25,000 hours of life out of a single bulb, shining at 800 lumens at 85W.
Yeelight’s app comes with eight preset colour modes, so you can easily slip into an appropriate brightness for something like a movie night. There’s even an option to sync the bulbs with your music, so you can turn your home office into a micro-club.
In terms of competitors, LIFX’s E27 smart bulbs are the ones that give Philips a run for their money. The E27 shines at a bright 1,100 lumens and has access to 16 million colours. It also has adjustable cool to warm whites. Controlling a group of lights via the LIFX app is pretty simple, and you can easily set up an automated routine.
If you’re after a bulb with a specific use, like an adjustable white or multicolour, but don’t want to shell out almost $80 for a LIFX E27, their range of Mini bulbs might be of interest. While not as strong (800 lumens), they split up the functions of the main bulb over three — basic white, multicolour and the sun-inspired, day and dusk bulb.
Now you see why I used the qualifier “mostly”. Picking up a Nanoleaf starter kit will set you back a few hundred dollars, but you can’t argue with the results. While other smart bulbs will let you control the vibe of a room, these modular LED light panels allow you to create imaginative displays. The Canvas Smarter Kit ($272.65) that uses square panels and includes nine panels.
Like the other pieces of smart lighting on this list, you control your Nanoleaf via an app. You can set a schedule for your lighting, and you also have the option to download new designs and lighting modes. The panels use over 16 million colours, so you’re bound to find something that suits your mood. There’s even an option to have the panels react to music and sounds being played in the room.