If you are unfamiliar with the term, Internet of Things (IoT), smart light bulbs might be a strange or new concept to you. While not exactly cutting edge anymore, smart light bulbs are still loads of fun and look great. On the face of it, are internet connected light bulbs that can be programmed and can interact with your other smart devices. Unlike traditional light bulbs, their “smart” counterparts typically shine a wide range of colors instead of just one. Since they are LEDs they are more often than not more energy efficient and brighter. But the best part about smart lights is that, as a smart device, they are actually useful. You can hook them up to your security system, your GPS or even your social media networks. With their wide range of colors, they can create great mood lighting. Not sure what they look like? Check out the video below:
Automating Your Smart Light Bulb
Depending on the type of smart light bulb that you buy, you’ll be able to use its respective mobile app on your phone. With it, you’ll be able to change the brightness, color and program it to turn on and off when certain actions happen. Regardless of the type of light bulb that you buy, you’ll probably want to use IFTTT to manage it. IFTTT (If-This-Then-That) is a web app that allows you to connect different web services together to help you automate your daily routines and tasks. For instance, you could set it up to that if you have a new post on Instagram, then repost it on Twitter. Now imagine this sort of service, but with the 100s of web apps there are out there. In essence, this means you can do some interesting automated tasks with your new light. Think about it. For instance, you could connect your Twitter account with your smart light bulb so that the color changes to Blue for a couple seconds when you receive a new notification. You could also use your phone’s GPS to turn on the lights or turn them off when you enter or leave your home. Or, if you want to be creative, you can set up your Philips Hue Light to change color based on your last Instagram photo. With IFTTT and a smart light, you can get really creative. There are even browsers, such as Vivaldi, that will sync the dominant color of a website to the color of your smart bulb.
How Smart Light Bulbs Work
On the face of it, smart lights are simply LED lightbulbs. However, since smart lights are either connected to your phone and the internet, they need a way of communicating with these other devices. There are two main ways in which this is achieved. The first way is to have the wireless radios embedded within the lightbulb. These are the cheapest and easiest ones to set up. However, these have the disadvantage of being less easy to use in tandem. If you are just starting out with smart lights or would only like to have one, these kinds of light bulbs would be a good start. The other way smart lights connect to the internet is through a hub. Smart bulbs like the Philips Hue don’t connect to the internet directly. They do, however, use a central hub, which works to orchestrate the various lightbulbs so you only have to interface with one device instead of the five or ten lightbulbs you could possibly have in your house.
The Best Smart Light Bulbs Reviewed
Below is our list of best smart lights that we reviewed. Each of them can be purchased from Amazon, however, we’d like to note that not all of them are light bulbs. Some of them are switches and others are plugs that can allow normal lights become smart lights.
The Philips Hue is the gold standard for smart light bulbs. With the Hue, Philips really set the bar high with a quality offering that looks good and performs great. Since the Hue is one of the more popular smart light models out there, you can get the greatest amount of flexibility with you. There are plenty of applets on IFTTT to automate the lights and the iPhone and Android apps are polished and work great. Not to mention, the presets and colors that come off this thing are stunning. But I can only describe it so much, you really have to see it in person. The only downside to the Hue is that it requires a bridge to work. That means, the light bulbs don’t work by themselves out of the box. This kit, however, comes with a bride that you can hook up to your home wifi and get up and running real quick. This is a safe buy if you are looking into smart lights for the first time.
The TP-Link Smart Light Switch is interesting in that it isn’t a smart light bulb. However, the switch itself connects to your wifi and mobile phone. The best part about it is that no hub is required to use it. So this device is great if you can’t switch out certain light bulbs or the wifi in your home doesn’t penetrate certain areas. The one big downside of this smart light system, however is that you obviously cannot change the color of the light coming out of the bulb.
This light is really, really cool. The Philips wake up light mimics the color of the sun coming into your room to wake you up gently without a sound. If you haven’t tried this before, we highly recommend it if you have trouble waking up in the morning. This light is especially good for those who don’t have great lighting in the room or for those where it is still very dark in the mornings during winter. If either of those describe you, using this light will as an alarm will let you wake up much more gently and you’ll feel more rested too.
The LightStory Bluetooth lightbulb is the only bluetooth lightbulb that this guide will be reviewing, and, as such, it is well worth giving it a look if you aren’t sold on wifi options. The bulb comes with a decent applications for your smartphone that lets you set different colors for the light. Another surprising feature of this bulb is that it also contains a speaker in it that can play music. This light is one of the cheapest smart lights you can buy, and since it doesn’t require a hub, it is a great starter light. It is also important to note that, since it isn’t a very popular device, it doesn’t have the amount of support that the Hue has and your automation capabilities might be slightly limited in comparison.
This is another relatively inexpensive light, however it is definitely a high quality one. Made by the same company that makes the TP-Link routers, this smart light needs no hub and connects directly to your wifi to use. It also comes with a great app that lets you remotely program the light. Unlike the other lights, however, this light only displays a single light yellow color. It looks great, however, don’t expect it to change colors!
Like the smart light switch, this smart plug isn’t a light, but it let’s you control lights by controlling the power to them. The WeMo plug works without a hub and lets you communicate with your Amazon Alexa device to control the light via voice. While it doesn’t let you change the mood or color of the light, the plug is versatile, solid and robust. Great for your old lamps that can’t be made “smart”.
We’ll finish off our reviews again with the Philips Hue. The first model we reviewed in this article is actually last year’s model. It is cheaper and so it is more accessible to those just starting out with smart lamps. This year’s Hue smart light offering is the cutting edge in smart light bulb tech. With it, you can create complex lighting with different colors and hook it up to a plethora of different services to make your lighting experience exactly how you want it. This set comes with a hub and three lights. Definitely get it if you know you’ll love being able to use a smart light bulb set.
So that conclude our review of the best smart light bulbs you can buy. Without a doubt, there are more you can find on the web, but these were the ones that we found to be the best value for the best quality. Still not sure about smart lights? Check this video out:
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