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If you’ve finally decided it’s time to start your smart home, but don’t know where to start, our recommendation is getting a set of smart light bulbs. These bulbs screw into a regular sized light fixture, and can be controlled with your existing light switch.
In most cases you won’t need any additional hardware to set smart light bulbs up, so they’ll basically be invisible to the outside world. This subtlety, combined with their ease of use and quick setup process, make smart light bulbs the perfect beginners smart home accessory.
You can get one bulb at a time, but depending on your situation it may be smarter to go for a bundle instead. Not only can you cover more ground, but you end up saving money compared to buying them individually. The cost savings isn’t substantial (usually around $10), but it’s still worth considering.
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Smart-home integration: All smart light bulbs can be controlled by using an app on your phone (iOS or Android), but most of them can also work with a smart home hub, like an Amazon Echo. These hubs allow you to turn your lights on and off using only your voice for a totally hands-off experience.
Color temperature: One of the biggest advantages to using a smart bulb is that many of them allow you to change their color temperature. Most people have heard of blue light, which is given off by your smartphone, computer, or TV, and may disrupt your sleeping cycle. Changing your bulb’s color temperature allows you to reduce the amount of blue light it emits, which will be easier on your eyes (and brain) at night.
Requiring a hub: Some smart light bulbs can be used straight out of the box, but the more sophisticated ones require you to connect a “hub” into your WiFi router with an Ethernet cable, and plug it into an outlet. You only need one hub to connect to dozens of smart light bulbs (and other accessories), so it’s a one-time investment.
Energy savings: All of the smart light bulbs on our list are energy-efficient LED bulbs, which require less energy to power, and last longer than traditional bulbs. They can also be scheduled to turn on and off at certain times, so your bulbs only consume power when necessary.
Because you’re able to set them on a timer, and check to see if they’re on or off after you leave the house, smart light bulbs may actually help you save a little money on your energy bill each month.
1. Philips Hue White LED Smart Bulbs
Philips basically invented the modern smart light bulb with its Hue line, and this four pack of its white bulbs are a great choice if you plan on getting really into smart lighting.
Their one big restriction is that you can’t change their color temperature, but if you’re OK with that, you’ll find a lot to like. You can set the bulbs to work on a timer, group them together to control several of them at once, and control them using an app on your phone, or smart-home hub.
Previous Hue bulbs required a Hue Hub to work, but Philips’ latest generation doesn’t. You can screw them into your current light fixture, and set them up using the Hue app (iOS and Android). You can only use up to 10 Hue bulbs without a Hue Hub (getting one increases that number to 50).
The reason to get this set of bulbs is because they fit into a larger ecosystem of Philips Hue smart lighting that includes light strips, color changing smart light bulbs, and portable smart lights. If you plan on outfitting your whole house out with smart lights, it’s easier to stick with gear from one company.
If you’re interested in starting small, but planning on getting really deep into smart lighting over time, Philips Hue White LED Smart Light Bulbs are the best choice.
Buy:Philips Hue White Smart Bulbs (4-Pack)at$44.99
2. Sengled Smart Bulb
One feature that smart light bulbs can support that traditional ones can’t is changing color.
Sengled’s four-pack of smart light bulbs let you change each one to one of 16 million colors. You can choose your colors in Sengled’s app (iOS and Android), which is also required to set them up. You can control each bulb individually, or group them together to create “scenes,” which adjust multiple bulbs to different colors to recreate pleasant lighting conditions like sunsets.
These are the most advanced smart light bulbs in our guide, and they don’t require an external hub. You can adjust the color temperature of Sengled’s smart light bulbs between 2,000K and 6,500K, which is extremely useful if you use their Wake Up and Sleep Mode features.
These settings allow you to set the bulbs to slowly turn on to wake you up without an alarm, and dim when you’re trying to get to bed. These visual cues may make it easier for you to regulate your sleep schedule than setting timers on your phone.
If you want smart light bulbs that can create a fun atmosphere in whatever room you’re in, Sengled’s Smart Color Changing Light Bulbs are the right pick.
Buy:Sengled Smart Bulb (4-Pack)at$29.99
3. Nook Smart Light
Most Energy Efficient
Lowering your electricity bill, as we mentioned earlier, is one of the most compelling reasons to upgrade your light bulbs to smart bulbs, and Nook took that mission to heart.
The company says its light bulbs are up to 80% more energy efficient than a standard set without taking a hit on brightness. Nook didn’t have to cut any other features to achieve this impressive stat, either. You can control these bulbs using either Alexa or the Google Assistant, and they don’t require a hub to set up or operate. These smart light bulbs can be set to one of 16 million colors
Nook says its bulbs can last up to 20,000 hours before burning out, so you shouldn’t have to swap them out for several years. If you’re tired of replacing your light bulbs, and want a set that can actually help pay for themselves over time, a two-pack of Nook’s Smart Lights is our choice.
4. Ring PAR38 Smart LED Bulb
Ring is known for its smart security equipment, but it’s recently rolled out a line of smart light bulbs, and we’re recommending the PAR38 Starter Kit if you need a lot of light.
Each bulb in the kit produces 1200 lumins of light, which is equivalent to a 120W light bulb, which is to say they get super bright. I’ve tested these bulbs for myself, and was able to replace two traditional bulbs with one of these. In the end, and the room I installed them in was a lot brighter than it was before. Ring says you can use these lights indoors and outdoors, but I’ve only tested them indoors.
You can set up and manage these light bulbs using the Ring app (iOS and Android), which makes it easy to control their brightness, or put them on a schedule. You can’t control their color temperature, though, and you’ll need a Ring Hub, which is included in the starter kit we’re recommending. Luckily, the hub is small, and it can be connected to your router over Wi-Fi instead of requiring a cable. The hub should still be close to your router for the strongest connection, though.
If you need incredibly bright smart light bulbs, or want a pair for outdoor use, we recommend Ring’s PAR38 Starter Kit.
Buy:Ring PAR38 Smart LED Bulb (2-Pack)at$69.99
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