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Best smart light 2022: Philips Hue, LIFX and others we've tested

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Philips Hue Color Ambiance, Lifx A19 and Nanoleaf Shapes - some of the best smart light on can buy - on a grey background
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The best smart light enables you to create a warm, cozy ambiance with just a few taps on your smartphone. Whether you want to brighten or dim the light, switch it on or off, or in some cases, even change the color it illuminates, the best smart lighting ensures you don’t have to leave the sofa. 

The best smart light can also be a handy tool when it comes to saving energy (and money). Designed to replace your existing incandescent bulbs, most smart lights are LED designs that burn less energy. Even better, while some smart light bulbs use Bluetooth so they can only be controlled when you’re nearby, many smart lighting options feature Wi-Fi so they can be switched on or off no matter where you are. This means if you’re forgetful you can turn the lights off remotely rather than leaving them on when you’re not around.  

As well as using your smartphone, smart lighting can also be controlled by your voice using one of the best smart speakers or smart displays. They will also integrate with other smart home devices to automate your property; for example, they can be set to illuminate at the same time as the smart thermostat raises the temperature a few degrees and appliances connected to smart plugs and switches spring into life, creating the perfect ambiance for a relaxing evening. 

Smart lighting comes in a number of different styles. The most affordable, and easiest to install are smart bulbs that are designed to replace your existing light bulbs. However, there’s also an array of light strips, along with floor and ceiling lamps that are all smart to choose from, too. Alternatively, smart lights also come in the form of light panels that can be attached to your walls to create illuminated art. No matter what type of smart lights you want in your home, you’ll be able to ensure it can be controlled by your smartphone or your voice.  

There’s plenty of choices when it comes to smart lights on the market right now, with familiar names such as Philips and LIFX nestling side by side with more affordable brands including Eufy and TP-Link. This may leave you feeling bemused at which you should choose. 

To help you decide we’ve put an array of designs to the test to ensure you’re switched on to just which is the best smart light for you. 

The best smart light of 2022

Philip Hue white and color ambience bulbs on a white background

The best smart light bulb you can buy

Specifications

Wattage: 10 W
Color: +16 million colors
Color temperature: 2,000-6,500K
Lumen output: 806
Lifetime: 25,000 hours
Height: 109.2mm
Diameter: 62mm

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to set up
+
Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit
+
Wide array of different smart lights

Reasons to avoid

-
Hub needed to access all features
-
Expensive compared to incadescent bulbs

There's a very good reason why Philips Hue is the biggest name in the smart lighting scene: it's without a doubt one of the greatest offerings to the market. The lights produce the most natural tones of any smart lighting we've used, the app is easy to use, and installation is a doddle. 

There's a wide range of different smart lighting too; from color (with 16 million shades) and white bulbs (both solid and ambient that offers a host of different hues) to side and ceiling lamps, outdoor lighting, and even Philips Hue lightstrips (opens in new tab). We were also impressed the smart lights work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit. 

That said, while the newer version of Hue Bulbs have Bluetooth built-in so you don't need a hub to set them up, the Hue Bridge ensures you can access all of the handy features such as geofences and the ability to customize when lights come on; for example at a set time or when something happens ie sunset or sunrise.  

Read the full review: Philips Hue (opens in new tab)

The Lifx A19/A60 smart bulb and box on a white background

(Image credit: Lifx)
The best smart light bulb without a hub

Specifications

Wattage: 11 W
Color: 16 million colors
Color temperature: 2,500-9,000K
Lumen output: 1100
Lifetime: 25,000 hours
Height: 114.8mm
Diameter: 62mm

Reasons to buy

+
No hub required
+
Wide array of colors and styles
+
Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky, unusual looking bulbs
-
Expensive compared to incandescent bulbs

Just like Philips Hue, LIFX offers a plethora of smart light options; from color and white bulbs, that come both in full size and the more compact LIFX Mini design, as well as lightstrips, LIFX Beam (opens in new tab) - the brands own take on smart light wall art and LIFX Clean (opens in new tab) - a smart light that can also kill bacteria. There's also an outdoor bulb that enhances the night vision of best home security cameras (opens in new tab)

Unlike Philips Hue, LIFX bulbs don't need a hub to access all of the features - these smart lights connect directly to your Wi-Fi.  Simple to set up and easy to control, we were I'm[pressed at the vibrant colors offered by the bulbs, too.  However, just like Philips Hue, the bulbs are expensive compared to incandescent bulbs. 

They're compatible with HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant too, meaning no matter the type of smart home you have, they'll fit in. However, the bulbs have an unusual style with a flat top, so they don't look natural, and they're bulky too. 

Read the full review: LIFX (opens in new tab)

The Nanoleaf Shapes triangle light panels illuminate pink, orange and yellow on a white background

(Image credit: Nanoleaf)
The best smart light to match your mood and music

Specifications

Wattage: 42 W
Color: 16.7 million colors
Color temperature: 1200-6500K
Lumen output: between 20-100 LM/Panel
Lifetime: 25,000 hours
Height: 200mm
Width: 230mm

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to set up
+
Illuminated wall art rather than bulbs
+
Can change color and pulse to create fun effects

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to remove once mounted
-
Don't look attractive when not illuminated

The Nanoleaf Shapes take the concept of lighting and turn it base-over-apex. Using a collection of hexagonal and triangular panels, you create a dynamic shape on your wall (or ceiling, or both) that can shift through over 16 million different colors. 

What's more, the panels can glow solid colors or can transition at different speeds through colors to create a unique lighting effect in your home. On top of that, you can set the panels to react to touch or even music playing in your surroundings, putting you in the centre of your own music video.

The original set comes with nine panels, all of which are the same shape, but you have the option to add more and you can mix and match the different shapes. We admit these plastic panels don't look particularly attractive when they're not illuminated, so if you're after a more stylish look at all times; Nanoleaf Elements in a version of the hexagonal panels that have a wood-like veneer on them. They're also difficult to remove once mounted, 

Don't like the sound of hexagons and triangles? Nanoleaf Canvas are square-shaped light panels but they can't be combined with Nanoleaf Shapes, unfortunately. 

Read the full review: Nanoleaf Shapes

Nanoleaf Essentials smart light bulb illuminating blue on a white background

(Image credit: Nanoleaf)
The best affordable smart light bulb

Specifications

Wattage: 9 W
Color: 16.7 million
Color temperature: 2,700-6,500
Lumen output: 1,100
Lifetime: 25,000 hours
Height: 110mm
Width: 61mm

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Thread and Bluetooth connectivity
+
Circadian Lighting feature mimics natural light

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks Alexa integration
-
Unusual design

There's no denying the Nanoleaf Shapes create unique lighting effects, but they are an expensive purchase, and they won't fit existing side lamps. Fear not, Nanoleaf also offers the more affordable Essentials range of smart lighting. Choose between the smart light bulb, with a unique geometric design known as a rhombicosidodecahedron (although this won't be to everyone's taste), or the Nanoleaf Essentials lightstrip (opens in new tab).

Not only can they glow a wide range of colors, they even have a Circadian Lighting feature that changes the color temperature throughout the day to mimic the natural light.  

Nanoleaf Essentials smart lights support Thread, a smart home technology, that is more stable than Wi-Fi and puts an end to laggy connections, as well as Bluetooth. However, they only work with HomeKit and Google Assistant, so it might be worth avoiding if you use Alexa to control your smart home. 

Read our full review: Nanoleaf Essentials A19 E27 smart bulb  (opens in new tab)

The TP-Link Kasa Filament smart bulb KL50 on a white background

(Image credit: TP-Link)
The best smart light bulb for retro style

Specifications

Wattage: 7 W
Color: Untunable
color temperature: 2700
Lumen output: 800
Lifetime: 20,000 hours
Height: 120mm
Width: 60mm

Reasons to buy

+
More affordable than most smart bulbs
+
Alexa and Google Assistant  support
+
Color, white or filament style offered

Reasons to avoid

-
No HomeKit support

TP-Link may be a brand best well-known for networking products such as the best wireless routers (opens in new tab) and the best powerline adapters (opens in new tab), but it also does an affordable range of smart home devices including smart bulbs. 

As well as color and white bulbs, it's one of a few brands that also offers smart filament-style bulbs too (the model we've reviewed here) that can create a vintage-style look while still maintaining modern smart home capabilities. 

Easy to install and simple to use, the TP-Link Kasa Filament Smart Bulb offers Amazon Alexa and Google integration too, although there's no HomeKit support. 

Read the full review: TP-Link Kasa Filament Smart Bulb (opens in new tab)

Govee Wi-Fi LED Bulb next to a smartphone on a white background

(Image credit: Govee)
The best affordable smart light bulb for Alexa

Specifications

Wattage: 7 W
Color: 16 million
color temperature: 2700 - 6500
Lumen output: 800
Lifetime: 25,000 hours
Height: 120mm
Width: 67mm

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Responsive app
+
Alexa and Google Assistant integration

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited bulb selection
-
Colors lack brightness
-
Fiddly set-up process

These Wi-Fi connected LED bulbs from Govee might not be as smart as the Nanoleaf Essential bulbs above, but they do excel in one area: Alexa Integration. 

They're also slightly cheaper than Nanoleaf's offering, making them ideal for anyone that wants an Alexa-compatible bulb on a budget. On test, the bulb was responsive when being controlled from the app, which we found simple to use. 

However, at this price there are some compromises. There's a limited selection of bulbs available and we found the bulb wasn’t as bright when displaying a color than when set to white or yellow. Despite its brightness rating of 800 lumens being on par with other, more expensive smart bulbs, the Govee seemed a little dim when displaying bold colors.  The bulbs were also fiddly to set up compared to other designs on the market.

Read our full review: Govee Wi-Fi LED Bulb (opens in new tab)

A group of Hive active smart light bulbs on a white background

(UK only) The best smart light for a single ecosystem

Specifications

Wattage: 9.5 W
Color: 16 million colors
Color temperature: 2700K-6500K
Lumen output: 806
Lifetime: 25,000 hours
Height: 130mm
Diameter: 60mm

Reasons to buy

+
Easy-to-use app
+
Works with an ecosystem of other smart home gadgets
+
Also works with Philips Hue bulbs

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs Hive hub
-
Lacks lamps and ceiling light choices

If you want a smart light that fits within one ecosystem, the Hive Active Light is a good fit. If you're already the proud owner of a Hive Thermostat (opens in new tab), Hive Active plug (opens in new tab), motion sensor, or Hive View camera (opens in new tab), you'll know that all Hive devices can all be controlled from a single easy-to-use app, providing you have the Hive Hub, streamlining the smart home control process.

As an added bonus, Philips' Hue bulbs can be integrated into the Hive ecosystem, so if you've got this far down the list but are still thinking about the Hue range, you can go back and buy them now. 

Like the other smart light ranges, Hive has a variety bulbs, with some that change color and some that just do white, however, it lacks the choice of lamps and ceiling lights other ranges offer. The light from them is very pleasant, although the bulbs do 'pulse' slightly if you turn them on using a light switch, so you need to leave the switch in the 'on' position and turn the lights on and off using the app.

Read the full review: Hive Smart Light Bulb (opens in new tab)

The Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb on a white background

(Image credit: Eufy)
(US only) The best smart light bulb for simplicity

Specifications

Wattage: 9 W
Color temperature: Untunable
Lumen output: 800
Lifetime: 20,000 hours
Height: 140mm
Diameter: 65mm

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Alexa and Google Assistant-enabled
+
Simple to use

Reasons to avoid

-
No color bulbs available
-
Lacks HomeKit support

Eufy (owned by Anker) is really making a name for itself as a robovac brand, producing some of the best robot vacuums (opens in new tab) that can rival the likes of iRobot as well as some of the best home security cameras (opens in new tab) that give Arlo and Ring a run for their money. But it's also trying its hand at smart bulbs too.

It may be early days for Eufy's smart bulb offering – there's currently only one bulb to choose from – but it's easy to use and ideal for those looking for a simplistic smart light bulb.  Affordable compared to other smart bulb ranges, they also support Google Assistant and Alexa to, although there's no HomeKit support yet. 

Read our full review: Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb (opens in new tab)

How we test smart lights

To compare the best smart lights we evaluate how simple they are to install and control. We assess how quickly they respond to commands such as dimming or brightening the smart light bulbs, as well as changing the color and creating groups of smart light bulbs that can be controlled at the same time, both when we're at home and when we’re away from our property. 

We also assess each design on any voice control capabilities and it’s home automation features. For each model we wanted to know how much choice in different light fittings were offered, the extra kit such as hubs, dimmer switches and motions that’s also available for the smart lights and that it didn’t require reading a thick instruction manual before use. 

Best smart light FAQs

What to consider when buying a smart light

When it comes to selecting the right smart lights for you, there are a number of considerations you must make before choosing a particular model. 

Start by checking the type of fitting the smart light bulb has and whether it's compatible with your existing lighting or if you’ll need to buy adapters. Also decide whether you want lights that glow one static shade or offer different tones of white, or even a multitude of colors to ensure you create the lighting effects you want in your home. 

Now consider how bright the smart light bulbs are. The brightness of LED bulbs is measured in lumens unlike incandescent bulbs, which are measured in watts. With incandescent bulbs, higher wattage means a brighter light but as LED bulbs are more power efficient that’s no longer the case.  As a guide an 800 lumen LED bulb gives off the same amount of light as a 60w incandescent bulb, while to replace a 40w bulb with light of a similar brightness, look for an LED option that offers 450 lumens. 

Some smart light bulbs connect to the internet via Wi-Fi and can be controlled when you’re at home, and when you’re not around. However, other models use Bluetooth and require extra kit if you want to switch them on and off remotely.

It’s also worth noting that not all smart lights integrate with all voice assistants, so if you already have Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri (through Apple Homekit) in your home consider whether the smart lights you’ve selected are compatible.

Also consider whether they will work with other smart home devices you have installed, such as home security cameras, video doorbells and smart lights.

Are smart lights worth the money?

Smart light bulbs are more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs, which may leave you wondering if they are worth the money. However, we think they very much are worth it. 

As we've already mentioned, the best smart light bulbs are LED, which have a longer lifespan than their incandescent counterparts. On top of that they also use less energy, which is not only good for the environment, but also has less of an impact on your wallet too. When you couple this with a longer lifespan, the investment in smart lights is most definitely worth it. 

How do smart light bulbs work?

Like the best smart home devices, smart lights use wireless technologies to connect to your smartphone and allow you to control the bulb from an app. 

Many smart bulbs use Bluetooth to pair directly to your phone, but these smart lights can’t be controlled when you’re in a different room, or further away, because Bluetooth is a point-to-point connection. 

If you want to control your smart lights when you’re away from home, look for bulbs that either have a hub, such as Philips Hue, or use a cloud service - for example, LIFX - that can relay commands from your smartphone to the cloud and back to the smart light, if you’re not connected to the same Wi-Fi network. 

Our article about how smart lights work offer further in-depth reading. 

Can you put smart bulbs in any lamp?

In most cases its possible to replace your existing bulb with a smart light, however you will need to check that the smart light is available in the same fitting your current bulb uses. Most smart lights come in screw or bayonet fitting, while some brands also offer GU10s and Candle Bulbs.

In some cases, smart light bulbs are bulkier that standard bulbs, for example the LIFX A19/A60 bulb, which may mean in some cases it protrudes from  your existing lamp or shade - a look, which you may not be happy with. So always check the dimensions of the smart light against your existing bulb. 

It's also important to remember, that once you swap out an existing bulb for a smart light and pair it with the relevant app, you'll need to use the app or a voice assistant to turn it on and off. If you use the light's own switch, once its turned off, it can no longer be controlled by the app or compatible voice assistant. 

Carrie-Ann Skinner
Carrie-Ann Skinner

Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.