Person controlling their smart light bulbs using a smartphone
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Update, 10/7/21: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best smart light bulbs you can buy.

What to Look For in a Smart Bulb in 2021

Among home gadgets you can control with your phone, smart light bulbs have been around for a while. Fortunately, this means that they’ve not only gotten steadily more advanced but more affordable as well.

There are three primary considerations when shopping for smart bulbs. The first is whether the bulb produces colored or white light—or both. In general, white-only lights will be a bit cheaper than colored lights, but both styles are generally tuneable through a range of light temperatures and brightness levels.

The second consideration has to do with the receptivity built into the bulb. All of the bulbs on our list connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a hub, or some combination of all three. If a bulb connects only via Bluetooth, it’s important to remember that you’ll only be able to control it when you are within a specific range. On the other hand, with Wi-Fi-connected or hub bulbs, you can have access to your lighting no matter where you are through your smartphone.

Finally, you’ll also want to consider platforms. These days, most—but not all—smart bulbs connect to the major voice assistant platforms: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. If you have one of these ecosystems already established in your home, you’ll want to make sure the bulbs work well with it.

You should also be aware that smart bulbs can give you a great degree of control over your room’s ambiance. If you want the ability to turn lamps on and off either when you want or according to a particular schedule, you could consider purchasing a smart plug.

RELATED: The Best Smart Plugs of 2021

Best Smart Bulb Overall: Philips Hue

philips hue box on pink and yellow background

Pros

  • Bright whites and vivid colors that are almost infinitely adjustable
  • Integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Cons

  • Bulbs are among the most expensive
  • Hub is required to take full advantage of ecosystem

One of the first entrants to the smart bulb arena, Philips has consistently led in the space with a wide range of lighting products that are reliable, easy to set up, bright, and vivid. So it’s no surprise that our pick for the top smart light bulb is the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance.

Hue bulbs used to require a special Hue hub, but Philips is now building their bulbs with Bluetooth accessibility, so you can control and link up to 10 bulbs without needing the hub via a smartphone app. The bulbs also integrate with Google and Alexa for voice control, and adding them to a hub lets you link up to 50 lights and get even deeper control of your home’s lighting.

RELATED: How to Add Third Party Smart Bulbs to Your Philips Hue System

Adding the Philips hub lets you group your lights by rooms or zones, which is a handy feature as you get deeper into a smart lighting ecosystem. It also allows you to sync your lights to movies, gaming, or music, and it provides the ability to simulate your presence when you are away by turning lights on and off across your home. While the hub is an additional cost, you can often buy it in a package with bulbs that pretty much zeros out the expense.

Philips Hue bulbs are one of the most expensive on the market, but there is no better option for creating an entire smart lighting system. That said, if you want to dabble with smart lighting—rather than bathing your home in it—our budget pick might suit you better.

Best Smart Bulb Overall

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance

Offering everything from tunable white lights to colored lights that can cycle through 16 million colors, Philips Hue bulbs earn our top spot for quality, product range, and flexibility.

Best Budget Smart Bulb: Wyze Bulb

Wyze lights in lamps against yellow wall
Wyze

Pros

  • Affordable and reliable
  • Easy, intuitive app makes setup simple
  • Can integrate with Wyze's larger smart home ecosystem

Cons

  • Separate bulbs required for white and color
  • Doesn't integrate with Apple HomeKit

While you might be able to save a few more dollars on an even cheaper smart bulb, the Wyze Bulb wins our pick as the best budget bulb because it comes from a reliable brand with a history of making quality, affordable smart products. A single white bulb costs just $12, and a color-changing bulb will run you just under $16.

For that bargain price, you can control the colors, temperatures, and brightness of your lights using a smartphone app, and you can assign different lights into different groups. You can also choose to set your lights on “Vacation Mode,” which will cause them to turn on and off using a variable schedule that mimics someone’s presence in your home when you are away.

Additionally, Wyze will be releasing a door sensor called “Sense” that will make your lights come on or go off when a door is opened or closed, plus all the bulbs integrate with Alexa and Google for voice control. Because Wyze is moving into the smart home security market, starting with a few of its smart bulbs is a great way to begin to assemble the gear you’d need to make your entire home smarter and safer.

Best Budget Smart Bulb

Wyze Bulb

Wyze bulbs are white bulbs that can be adjusted in brightness and temperature, as well as connect to either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Best Outdoor Smart Bulb: Ring Wired Floodlight

Floodlights on outside of building
Ring

Pros

  • Impressive options for wired and solar-powered outdoor lights
  • Can integrate with Ring's larger home security ecosystem
  • Works great with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant

Cons

  • Requires Ring hub or Amazon Alexa to operate
  • Doesn't work with Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit
  • Wired version could require professional installation

Ring, an Amazon-owned company, might be most famous for its video doorbell, but the company also offers a dizzying array of smart outdoor lighting solutions. Our top pick from the company is its wired outdoor motion-sensing floodlight. It’s sturdy, bright, and relatively affordable.

Although the Wired Floodlight will cost a bit more to install than the solar versions, the latter has issues running out of power and not being as programmable as the wired models. It’s better to pay a little extra for the reliability.

All Ring products require a hub or bridge, which can be purchased with the bulbs as a starter kit that saves you some cash. Being an Amazon company, the lights only integrate with Amazon Alexa, so if you have a different voice assistant ecosystem in the home and voice control of your lighting is essential, you’ll need to choose a different setup.

Best Outdoor Smart Bulb

Ring Wired Floodlight

With a range of solar-powered outdoor lights, Ring leads the way in bringing smart lighting outdoors. Spotlights and pathway lights can be linked via a Ring bridge to set up different routines and alert you to movement.

Best Smart Bulb for Google Assistant: “C” by GE

c by ge box on blue background

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Turns Google Assistant and Nest devices into hub
  • Offers Bluetooth option as well with no hub required

Cons

  • Requires Google Nest or Home device for offsite control
  • Rebranding causing some confusion in product line
  • Not part of a larger smart home ecosystem

“C” bulbs by lighting icon GE are available in three varieties. There are soft white lights that can be dimmed and brightened, tunable white bulbs that let you change the temperature of the lights, and color-changing bulbs that provide millions of color options.

The C by GE bulbs also come in two styles of connectivity. You can choose from standard Smart Bulbs, which connect via Bluetooth and therefore don’t need a hub, or Direct Connect Smart Bulbs, which are Wi-Fi-based and can use Google Assistant or Nest devices as a hub.

You can set your lighting to a schedule with either bulb type, and lighting scenes can be chosen from a roster of preset picks or saved from user-generated mixes. Accessing the bulbs outside the home requires the Google hub, which will allow voice control of either the Bluetooth- or Wi-Fi-enabled bulbs.

Alexa-enabled devices can also be used as a hub, but only for the Wi-Fi version of the bulbs. If you use an Alexa hub, there’s another option that’s better for you.

Tip: “C” by GE bulbs are now being rebranded as “Cync” by GE. At the time of writing, those bulbs are still hard to find, so we have decided to feature the more widely available “C” bulbs as our choice in this category. We’ll update this information as needed.
Best Smart Bulb For Google Assistant

C by GE

Connect GE's smart bulb to a Google Nest or Google Assistant device, and you can set schedules, turn lights on and off, and control your system from anywhere.

Best Smart Bulb For Amazon Alexa: Sengled Smart Bulb

sengled light on pink background

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Impressive range of bulbs with dual functions
  • Forms its own mesh network without a hub

Cons

  • Needs Amazon Echo or Sengled smart hub for full functionality
  • Can be tricky to pair when setting up

Sengled has Bluetooth bulbs that form their own mesh network using an Amazon Echo device as the hub. This network links the bulbs together, causing them to serve as repeaters so that even the bulb that’s farthest away from your Echo can still be controlled via voice. If you don’t have Amazon Alexa or an Echo set up yet, you can purchase a Sengled hub that allows full functionality.

What’s more, Singled makes a dizzying array of smart bulbs for any function you may need. This includes bulbs with built-in speakers, those that will work in a blackout thanks to a battery backup, and ones that have built-in timers—just to name a few.

On top of that, Sengled bulbs are highly affordable, as it’s possible to find an impressive range of high-quality smart bulbs for under $10, even when purchasing them individually. Sengled makes it easy to deck out your home in smart bulbs!

Best Smart Bulb for Amazon Alexa

Sengled Smart Bulb

You'd have to have a whole lot of lamps in your life, but it's possible to connect up to 64 of these tunable smart bulbs by using an Amazon hub.

Best Smart Bulb For Apple HomeKit: Sylvania Smart +

Sylvania bulb on yellow background

Pros

  • Exclusively designed for Apple HomeKit
  • Easy integration and control with Siri
  • Relatively affordable for an Apple-related product

Cons

  • Doesn't work with other voice assistants
  • Offsite control requires using Apple device as hub

This smart bulb from Sylvania is one of the few made explicitly for integration with Apple HomeKit. Using Bluetooth, it’s possible to quickly set up and control these bulbs right from your iPhone while you are at home. Then, when you want to expand access to your lighting from outside the home, all you need to do is use your iPad, AppleTV, or HomePod as a hub, and you’ll be good to go.

Full color, soft white, and Edison bulbs (vintage-style bulbs with visible filaments) are available, and all are changeable using the Sylvania Smart Home App. You can do the usual grouping and scheduling of your bulbs, and you can also use bulbs as visual alarms, causing them to flash to remind you when it’s time to do a particular activity without having to use an obtrusive audio alert.

Gadgets and gear in the Apple ecosystem are not usually the most affordable, so we also like the reasonable price of the Sylvania smart bulbs, which come in under $20 for white bulbs. It’s a nice financial relief as you upgrade the rest of your HomeKit smart home.

Best Smart Bulb for Apple HomeKit

Sylvania Smart +

Sylvania's smart bulb integrates well with Apple HomeKit, allowing you to use AppleTV, an iPad, or HomePod to control it.

Best Color Smart Bulb: Lifx Mini

A Lifx smart light bulb being controlled by a smartphone app
Lifx

Pros

  • Extremely vivid and impressive range of colors
  • One bulb provides both tunable white and colored light
  • Works with all major voice assistants

Cons

  • Bulbs can get hot on brightest setting
  • Unusual shape may not be appropriate for all lampshades

Many smart bulbs say they have millions of colors, but Lifx goes one step farther with billions of colors. It’s a pretty hard claim to verify, but the fact is that these bulbs do indeed have a brilliant range of colors that fill your room with sharp, vivid light. Our top pick for this category is the 1100 lumen bulb—which means it can get impressively bright—but you can save yourself some money and still enjoy vivid, colorful light by choosing the company’s 800-lumen bulb instead.

Lifx bulbs deliver all you’d expect from smart bulbs, including the ability to tune, schedule, group, use different presets to set the mood, plus they can be controlled with Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. No hub needed!

Lifx also offers smart bulbs that will beam out invisible infrared light to provide any smart cameras in the room the ability to pick up video clips more clearly. So, stepping into the Lifx ecosystem can be a wise move if you’re filming a lot of video content. Just make sure that the smart light can fit in your lampshade, as the wider bulb may not work in slimmer lamps.

Best Color Smart Bulb

Lifx Mini

With lots of compliments regarding their brightness and vivid color output, Lifx's smart bulbs are an easy recommendation.

Best Wi-Fi Smart Bulb: Wiz

Two Wiz smart light bulbs being used in living room lamps
Wiz

Pros

  • No hub needed
  • Permissions feature works well for short-term rental units
  • Well-priced

Cons

  • Company has been aquired by Signify, so bulbs can be a little tricky to find during the transition

Wiz bulbs are designed from the ground up to be stand-alone Wi-Fi powerhouses. Each bulb contains 2MB of flash memory and its own chip. That allows the bulbs to connect to the cloud to save user settings and check for software and firmware releases so that the bulbs are constantly up to date. Beyond that, Wiz leverages Wi-Fi technology to allow users to set different permissions.

For example, you can pre-program different lighting settings and schedules using the Wiz app. Then, you can allow certain members of your family to control the lights while they are at home without allowing them permission to alter settings permanently. You can even grant access to temporary guests that expire after a specific time, making the system ideal for people with short-term rental properties like AirBnBs.

The Wiz bulbs are simply the most tech-packed lights on this list. The bulbs can be controlled with in-home smart speakers, but taking things a step further, Wiz enables voice control via Google Assistant on Android and Siri Shortcuts on Apple phones. Finally, IFTTT (If This Then That) integration enables a wide range of additional functionality.

Best Wi-Fi Smart Bulb

Wiz Smart Bulb

Wiz’s smart lights have a Wi-Fi chip inside that constantly connects to the cloud to store your settings and allows different permission settings.

Best Bluetooth Smart Bulb: Govee Smart Bulb

Person using app outside home with colored lights in the windows
Govee

Pros

  • No hub or router needed
  • Can sync to music
  • Light color can be selected from photos

Cons

  • Can't control once beyond Bluetooth range
  • No voice control available

Govee is one of the major players in the smart bulb scene, and it has a reputation for putting out affordable, reliable, and high-quality smart gadgets. The company’s smart bulbs are no exception.

Thanks to the Govee Home app, these Bluetooth-enabled bulbs can be set up in a flash, and you can link up to six of them into individual groups. They also have built-in microphones that let the colors flash to the beat of your music have sunrise/sunset options that make the bulbs dim and brighten with the pattern of the sun.

One exciting feature of the Govee bulbs is that, using the app, you can pick any color from any photo on your phone and the bulb will beam out matching light. Plus, because these bulbs all work over Bluetooth, there is no hub needed.

Combine these features with a price point under $15, and it becomes clear why we chose these as our best Bluetooth pick. These bulbs also make a stronger runner-up in our Best Budget category as well.

Best Bluetooth Smart Bulb

Govee LED Strip Lights

Govee smart bulbs work over Bluetooth, so you don't have to worry about bridge or router compatibility. From there, you set up routines and do all the other things smart bulbs are known for.

The Best Smart Plugs of 2021

Best Overall Smart Plug
Wyze Plug, 2.4GHz WiFi Smart Plug, Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, No Hub Required, Two-Pack, White
Best Budget Smart Plug
Wyze Smart Plug
Best Outdoor Smart Plug
Wyze Outdoor Smart Plug
Best Amazon Alexa Smart Plug
Amazon Smart Plug, Works with Alexa – A Certified for Humans Device
Best Google Assistant Smart Plug
Kasa Smart Plug HS103P2, Smart Home Wi-Fi Outlet Works with Alexa, Echo, Google Home & IFTTT, No Hub Required, Remote Control,15 Amp,UL Certified, 2-Pack White
Best Apple HomeKit Smart Plug
Wemo Smart Plug (Simple Setup Smart Outlet for Smart Home, Control Lights and Devices Remotely Works w/Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit)(Pack of 1)
Profile Photo for Michael Franco Michael Franco
Michael Franco is a freelance writer for How-To Geek. He has been writing about the serious and silly sides of science, technology, and home improvement for years. His work has appeared in Discover Magazine, CNET, Lifehacker, Islands Magazine, BobVila.com, Mindbounce, and various Discovery Channel properties.
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