The best smart lights you can buy – Engadget

One of the best places to start when building a smart home ecosystem is smart lights. Not only are they relatively affordable compared to other IoT gadgets, often costing between $10 and $50 a bulb, but they can also completely change the feel of your home. You can go from boring and analogue to colorful and automated within minutes, and there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating funky-colored light scenes, setting schedules and more.

But like the rest of the smart home space over the last few years, there are now more players in smart lighting than ever before. We tested out some of the most popular smart lights on the market and found that most of them are quite good, but there are differences in compatibility, color quality and mobile app usability that are worth considering before deciding which system will be right for your home.

What to look for in smart light bulbs

Connectivity (to hub or not to hub)

One of the biggest appeals of smart lights is being able to control them from your phone. Most of them are able to do so by connecting to it via WiFi or Bluetooth, or via an external hub, which handles the connection for them. Bluetooth connectivity limits the range in which you’ll be able to control the light, so it’s only best for a limited number of bulbs and ones you don’t expect to control when you’re away.

WiFi smart lights are easy to set up and can be cheaper overall since they don’t require a hub to connect them. However, having something like a central Zigbee hub can make your whole system more reliable since its connection is separate from your home’s WiFi network. For that reason, hub-based bulbs tend to be more expandable, so we mainly recommend those if you want to eventually have dozens of smart lights around your home.

White or color?

Most smart bulbs you’ll find today are “white and color” bulbs, meaning they can glow in vibrant blues, pinks, greens and everything in between, as well as shine with different temperatures of white. But there are some white-only bulbs out there, and they are often a bit more affordable than their color counterparts. While we recommend springing for the white-and-color devices, if you’d prefer white only, make sure you’re getting a bulb that can span the temperature spectrum (typically from about 2000 to 5000 Kelvin), offering you various levels of warm and cool white light.

App features

One of the perks of smart lights is the amount of control you have over them thanks to their various app-connected capabilities. Most companion apps let you do things like set lighting schedules, group individual lights into room designations and create your own custom light “scenes” with different colors. But we have seen other features that aren’t as ubiquitous like vacation mode for automatically turning lights on and off to give the illusion that someone is home, and sync with media, which changes the colors of lights depending on the music you’re listening to or the game you’re currently live-streaming.

Smart home compatibility

If you use a virtual assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant regularly, make sure the smart lights you get work with your favorite. All of the bulbs we tested supported both Amazon’s and Google’s virtual assistants, allowing you …….

Source: https://www.engadget.com/best-smart-led-light-bulbs-143022856.html

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