Conventional wisdom dictates that Thomas Edison pretty much beat the first light bulb, but when it came to smart features, he was a bit of a slush. Without Alexa support. Without HomeKit. Not even an application. Lazy.
The age of smart light bulbs has created all sorts of new ways to control the home environment. Regardless of whether it is powered from a distance by pressing an application or if the lights turn on as the car nears the entrance, intelligent lighting opens up all sorts of ingenious tricks and automatic routines.
You want your smart lights to be, well, smart – but they also have to be easy to use. Allow us to enlighten you with our top choices.
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What are the best smart lights of 2020?
the best intelligent lights you can buy right now, come with the Philips Hue friendliness, which continues to double depending on the variety and features. The bulbs start at 15 GBP for a single bulb, but if you are sure that Hue is for you, we recommend the Hue White Starter Kit for 60 GBP.
View the Philips Hue White starter kit for £ 60 on Amazon
If your Hue is a little above your price level, we recommend looking at the Tradea de Ikea range (from 6 GBP), which will offer you some of the same features for a smaller budget. They are the best budget smart bulbs.
See the IKEA Tradfri range from 6 GBP on IKEA
And Lifx (from 20 GBP) does this the best smart bulbs without hub with a comprehensive range and excellent color accuracy. (Although Hue really works Bridge-less via Bluetooth).
View 20 GBP Lifx smart bulbs on Amazon
WIRED Recommends: The most popular name in smart lighting is still supreme
Bulb types: E14, E27, B22, GU10, accessories | Needed hub: No | connections: Zigbee, Bluetooth
Although one of the more expensive options, Philips Hue (from GBP 15) it is consistent in quality and offers tons of variety, both in layout and style. The Hue ecosystem is massive and continues to expand and diversify. Not only in terms of the types of light bulbs, but also the range of accessories and accessories Signify also offers with elegant lighting strips, portable light bowls, smart LED-illuminated bathroom mirrors and more.
Looking to light the garden? There are even outdoor accessories and headlights to play with. Everything can be controlled using the Hue app, but the lights also play with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Alexa, Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT.
The bridge is recommended for a fully charged Hue experience and will support up to 50 bulbs in your home. Hue is based on a standard called Zigbee, a network-like protocol that allows each bulb to "push" the signal further into the house. However, if you have a Zigbee hub like an Amazon Echo Plus Smart Speaker, you can use this instead of the Hue Bridge to save some quid (warning: there are some functionality limitations if you go this route).
Also, you can now control the Hue bulbs directly with your phone using Bluetooth and completely abandon Bridge, though this will limit the level of control you have over smart lights. We recommend this only for smaller homes or if you just want to give Hue a try. You may be blocked soon.
Once you are, the Hue White starter kit costs 60 GBP and subsequent bulbs start at 15 GBP each.
Pro: Trusted connection; bunch of varieties; good features for applications
Versus: The bridge needed for the best experience
Price: From 15 GBP (one bulb), 60 GBP (Starter Kit) | Check price on Amazon | Argos | John Lewis
Best budget smart bulbs, no assembly required
Bulb types: E14, E27, GU10, accessories | Needed hub: Yes | connections: ZigBee
You have not heard? IKEA is now a smart company. Not only does it deviate from the speakers, but also its line of Tradfri smart lights that are very accessible are worth a look.
The range of functions is narrower than Hue's, but you'll get the basics here: remote application control, color control, timers, and a "Rise and Shine" feature that lightly lights up in the morning. Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit are also supported.
The bulbs start at 6 GBP, but you'll want the 25-pound Gateway to extract the most from Tradfri and maintain it perfectly. Even with this cost in mind, IKEA makes it much easier to create your smart lighting on a budget.
Then there are accessories, such as the wireless dimmer and the remote control, if you want a few tactile ways to control the new smart lights. With the main light bulb range, there are fewer bells and whistles, but for some that will be part of the appeal.
IKEA has added some interesting pieces to the range over the past two years, but including smart worktop lighting, cabinet lighting and a few smaller dimensions FLOALT LED light panels – at 65 pounds and 115 pounds, they are a low key alternative to Nanoleaf, without changing the color.
Pro: Low cost of entry; Easy to use; support for all large platforms
Versus: Lack of features; less variety and fewer colors than rivals
Price: From £ 6 (one light bulb), £ 35 (remote control kit) | Check price on Amazon | IKEA
Smart lighting that does not require a hub
Bulb types: E14, E27, B22, GU10, accessories | Needed hub: No | connections: wifi
It's weird to think Lifx started life as a Kickstarter campaign, but the love of crowdfunding has turned into a major success. And while its range is paler compared to Hue, it goes head-to-head in terms of quality and reliability.
The lights themselves are expensive, but unlike Hue they don't need a hub; each light bulb connects directly to Wi-Fi, which makes it cheaper to get started – just buy a light bulb and pair it with Wi-Fi with your phone.
Overall reliability is not as good as Hue and his Zigbee magic. On the plus side, however, the accuracy of the Lifx colors is slightly better than that of Hue – claims that a trillion colors (yes, indeed) to cast Hue's 16 million spectra. All bulbs work with Google Assistant, Alexa and IFTTT, but not with Apple HomeKit.
The range is not as vast as the Hue in terms of accessories, but there is a decent range of bulbs to choose from. We recommend that you test the water with the Lifx Mini bulbs that pack a decent power of 800 lumens – weaker than the "full-fat" Lifx bulbs, but should satisfy the most.
If you are fascinated by the Lifx charm, there are lights and even infrared light bulbs (they enhance the night vision of security cameras) to be explored. The new renewed app is also a pleasure to use.
Pro: Excellent color accuracy; without hub; good range of fittings
Versus: Fewer accessories than Hue; not HomeKit
Price: From 20 GBP (one Mini bulb), 40 GBP (one E27 bulb) | Check price on Amazon | Lifx | Currys
The light of the hive
Hive meets the basics with warm, welcoming lighting
Bulb types: E14, E27, B22, GU10, accessories | Needed hub: Yes | connections: ZigBee
Hive has built its name on home heating, but the smart lighting range complements it nicely. The range is not huge: the base bulbs are fitted with screw and bayonet fittings and there are E14 candle bulbs and GU10 reflectors.
But Hive wins us around pure quality. Dimmable and Cool to Warm White bulbs (the latter with adjustable temperature) go head-to-head with Hue, while color bulbs have 16 million tones to choose from.
Don't expect the impressive Hue buffet, but they are enough here to do the job. Get remote control, programming, color control and compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant.
You will also need to purchase the 80 GBP Hive Hub, which connects to your router and keeps everything functional. It's a considerable cost, but if you already have Hive products in your home, you'll already have the Hub. There is a way to use the Hive lights with the Samsung SmartThings hub, although it's pretty awesome.
In fact, because Hive runs on Zigbee, you can combine the Philips Hue and Hive Active bulbs together. As long as you have a Hue Bridge, you can associate it with the Hive and all the Hue lights appear in the Hive control application.
Pro: Nail the basics; it plays beautifully with other hive products
Versus: Lack of variety; Hub needed
Price: From GBP 15 (one beak) | Check price on Amazon | Hive Home | John Lewis
When smart lighting is crazy and alternative – and it works
Bulb types: Custom lighting panels, accessories | Needed hub: Not connections: wifi
Nanoleaf is on this list, because it does not create "traditional" smart bulbs. Rather, its things are lightweight panels that apply to your wall and create interesting patterns.
At this point you can pick up the panels in square and triangle options, but the hexagonal panels are set to be delivered this spring. You will want to buy one of the 70 pound packages to get started; from there you can build by buying expansion kits.
Getting the panels on the wall using sticky pads can be a bit fiddly, especially if you're a perfectionist. It is best to be sure of the look you want before you start peeling and gluing things.
But once they've grown, there are 16 million colors and mounds of patterns to play with. Starter kits also come with a "rhythm mode" that will make your lights dance in response to sounds. They all work with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit. This is the equivalent of smart lighting the jeans tight to the skin.
Pro: Something different; multiple forms; cool party piece
Versus: Expensive; limited form options
Price: From 90 pounds (starter package) | Check price on Amazon | Nanoleaf
The Sengled element
A smart budget bulb that meets the basics
Bulb types: E27, B22, GU10 | Needed hub: No | connections: Zigbee, Wi-Fi
Sengled has been slow at Hue's hegemony with cheaper light bulbs, which still deliver good enough quality. Most bulbs work on Zigbee and therefore need a hub, either Sengled, a Zigbee compatible Amazon Echo or a Samsung SmartThings hub. Just be aware that bulbs do not repeat Zigbee like Hue, so they will not extend the signal so far.
Sengled also offers a Wi-Fi bulb that connects directly to the router and therefore does not need a hub – which is only available to choose in white now.
The rest of the range is pretty good – white and color lamps in screw and bayonet styles – and works with both Alexa and Google Assistant. We also like the application, which makes Sengled bulb configuration and control a breeze. It does not have a wide range of third-party functions or integrations as some of the more expensive options here, but it gets the basics.
But the best thing of all is the price, the bulbs starting at 10 GBP. After you've exhausted the basic lighting range, Sengled has a few more unusual offers, such as Solo Pro bulbs that double as wireless speakers. Yes indeed.
Pro: Easy-to-use application; accessible; vocal control
Versus: Some features and integrations are missing
Price: From 10 GBP (one light bulb), 50 GBP (starter kit) | Check price on Amazon | Wickes