If you’re looking to dip your toes in the smart home pool, there’s perhaps no easier or less-expensive way than with smart light bulbs. Simply install them into the appropriate light sockets, pair them with their mobile app, and you’re ready to go.
As with most electronics, there are a lot of choices out there, and some are much better than others. So to help you separate the good from the bad, we decided to compile a list of some of the best smart bulbs you can can control with you iPhone.
Why use smart bulbs
Imagine being able to turn off the lights in your house with a single tap or voice command. In bed but forgot to turn off the lights in the living room? Tap. Arrive at home and don’t want to enter a dark house? Tap. You can do a single bulb in one room, or several bulbs in multiple rooms. It’s not as expensive as you’d think, and there are a variety of options available for different needs and price points. Some of them can change colors, some flash in beat with the music, and some can be scheduled to turn on or off at certain times.
What to look for in smart light bulbs
The first thing you’re going to want to do is decide on a price range—smart bulbs range in price from about $20 to $200. Next you’ll want to look at connectivity. If you’re going to set up multiple bulbs and want to be able to control them from anywhere, you’ll probably want something with Wi-Fi. Otherwise, Bluetooth should suffice—just know to control the light, you’ll have to be within Bluetooth-range (typically 30-40 feet). Finally, you’ll want to look at features. If you have an Amazon Echo, for instance, you may want to look for bulbs that are compatible with Alexa.
Flux Bluetooth Smart LED Color Light bulb
The Flux is a popular Bluetooth smart light bulb in the ~$40 range. Using the mobile app you can customize each bulb using over 16 million colors, relive your favorite memories by setting the light to colors from your favorite photo, and saving your favorite light settings to recall in an instance. It also has scheduling capabilities and can sync to the beat of your favorite song. There’s no Wi-Fi support, so you’ll have to be within Bluetooth range to control the Flux, but otherwise this bulb can do it all.
TP-Link Smart Dimmable White Light bulb
This TP-Link smart light bulb connects to your Wi-Fi network and supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s a white bulb, so you don’t get to play with the colors, but it’s a soft warm white that can be dimmed to suit your desired atmosphere. Other features include the ability to set schedules, timers and countdowns, and an industry-leading warranty with a lifetime of service. If you don’t need a color bulb, this is a very capable and affordable option.
MagicLight Bluetooth LED Color Light bulb
MagicLight Bulb is a Bluetooth enabled, multicolored, energy efficient smart LED light bulb that you can control with your Smartphone or tablet. Its features include over 16 million colors to choose from, a Night-Light function, sunrise and sunset options, scheduling, timer, and music sync. Each bulb has a lifetime of over 20,000 hours and comparable to a 60W incandescent bulb.
LIFX Wi-Fi Smart LED Multicolor Light bulb
LIFX is a smart light bulb that uses Wi-Fi to bring immersive color to your home. A simple-to-use app allows you to fine tune your lighting experience; control a single light or your entire home and enjoy strong vibrant colors along with delicate whites. In addition to Wi-Fi, the LIFX app also supports Windows 10—something we didn’t see very often. It also works with Amazon Alexa, SmartThings, Google’s Nest thermostat and the popular IFTTT service. This bulb is obviously on the more expensive side, but it also has one of the larger feature sets of the bunch.
Texsens LED Light bulb and Bluetooth Speaker
Here is a multicolored LED smart bulb with a twist: it has a built-in speaker—yes, speaker!—that can play music. Now, you’re probably not going to be wowed by the sound, but hey it should be enough to listen to podcasts or music at a decent volume in small spaces. It’s Bluetooth only, so no Wi-Fi connectivity, but it comes with a remote that can control multiple bulbs around your house. The price should give you an indication of how little the feature set is, but several Amazon reviews praise this bulb for places like kids’ rooms and bathrooms.
Buy for $16 (sale price).
Philips Hue White and Color Starter Kit
The Hue line of smart bulbs from Philips is easily the most known of this bunch. There are a lot of different lights and accessories, but to get started you’ll want the Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit. It comes with 3 LED light bulbs and the required Hue bridge that supports up to 50 lights and connects to your Wi-Fi network. The Hue lights check all of the boxes—16 million colors, syncs with music, schedules, scenes, etc.—and they support both Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s HomeKit. This is what I recommend for folks in the market for the most features and multiple bulbs.
Koogeek Wi-Fi Enabled Smart Socket
Want to turn your already existing bulbs into smart bulbs? Check out the Koogeek Smart Socket. It offers all of the same features—remote control on/off, scheduling and timers, power consumption monitor, etc.— as the above smart bulbs in a socket that accepts E26 bulbs. Plus, it works with Apple’s HomeKit platform so you can control your lights with voice commands using Siri on your various iOS devices.
And be sure to check out these other roundups:
- Accessories that turn your iPhone into a universal remote control
- The best smart scales
- 10 great mice under $20
- The best HomeKit accessories
Know of any other well-reviewed smart bulbs we may have missed? Tell us about them in the comments below!