From smart cameras to video doorbells, it can be hard to keep track of what's available for home security, what's good, and what should be avoided. LED smart bulbs were one of the first smart products available to consumers, but ever since we started testing them in 2015, the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit(available at Amazon) has stood head and shoulders above the rest.
We've tested 18 smart light bulbs (or over 30 if you count the ones from our initial roundup) and used them side-by-side to compare usability, responsiveness, connectivity, and ease of setup.
These are the smart bulbs we tested, ranked in order:
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit
Eufy Lumos 2.0
C BY GE
Sengled Vintage Edison Bulb
TP-Link Kasa KL110
Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit
Philips Hue White A19
Sengled Element Plus Kit
Sengled Element Classic Kit
Ikea Tradfri LED Bulb E26
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Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit (Gen 3)
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit (Gen 3)
Across the board, Philips Hue LED lights topped all of our tests thanks to an easy setup, a robust suite of features, and an intuitive app. Additional support with smart assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri adds tremendous benefit to an already impressive portfolio. Once you throw in the additional rainbow of possible light colors, these are without a doubt the best smart bulbs you can buy.
The only downside is that unlike some other options, Philips Hue lights do require a hub (the Philips Hue Bridge) in order to work remotely. While they can be controlled over Bluetooth, that will only work when you're physically near the bulb. Additional hardware isn’t usually a strong point, but it’s a small price to pay for the sheer performance and reliability that Hue offers—especially if you opt for the Starter Kit that comes packaged with the hub.
Philips also continues to sell its second-gen starter kit, which was our previous Best Overall pick. The only difference between them is that the third-gen kit comes with "richer color" lightbulbs.
Eufy's app is really confusing. It took us a few minutes to figure out how to even dim the Eufy Lumos 2.0 smart bulb. As for the bulb's features, we didn't feel there was anything particularly noteworthy about its design or capabilities. However, it did have good response times over the WiFi network and data connections, and it integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant without having to install a hub. The cost per bulb was among the most affordable we tested, and there's no need to spend extra money and space on a hub to get the connectivity you want. So, despite the wonky setup process and mild learning curve, this is a good bulb for the money and a great pick for those in need of a basic white smart bulb that won't cost a lot.
Hi, I'm Jill Duffy. I write about consumer technology and software, and I have a particular interest in smart home technology from custom installations to DIY options for renters, and I've written several tutorials and advice columns on the topic.
I'm adding to previous testing by Sarah Kovac, the smart home editor here at Reviewed. She's tested hundreds of products over the last five years on this site and written for outlets such as PCMag and Wirecutter. Sarah has had smart bulbs in her light fixtures for several years, and she's personally acquainted with the benefits and potential pitfalls of installing connected bulbs.
To find out which smart bulb is the very best on the market today, we bought the bestselling, highest rated bulbs and tested them in an actual home, with a regular router, in a typical lamp. We installed the companion apps on both iOS and Android to assess their ease of use and see whether the experience was the same on both platforms, testing response times over the WiFi network and data. We also connected each bulb to compatible smart assistants like Alexa, Google Home, and HomeKit (Siri) to measure each bulb’s functionality and responsiveness to voice commands.
What to Know About Smart Bulbs
After spending a few years testing and writing about smart bulbs, we've learned a few things that can help you decide which smart bulb to buy, and what to expect from your purchase. Switching from regular light bulbs to smart ones may be a bit of a hassle upfront (and a price increase), but once everything is set up, the bulbs are easy to control and there are so many benefits to customizing your home’s lighting. (There's also smart light strips, if you're looking for a different smart lighting option.)
Setting up a smart bulb goes a bit beyond simply screwing the light bulb into a socket and calling it a day. Now, there's the question of whether or not it needs a "hub," works via Bluetooth, or can function on your WiFi network alone. Smart bulbs that work with a hub are most common. Once you've set up a hub, you'll go through an in-app setup process to identify your bulbs, assign them to rooms, and give you full control over their features.
These lights can do much more than turn your lights on or off via your phone or a smart speaker—they can control brightness, adjust color temperature (a cool blue/white light to a warm yellow), and change the light to any color in the rainbow.
Outside of color and brightness, most smart light bulbs will have additional options for creating scenes or setting schedules. Scenes are pre-existing or custom settings of color and brightness that you can easily select—making it a snap to change your room from a bright white light to a soothing dim blue that's easier on the eyes. Schedules are exactly what it sounds like. You can set them to automatically adjust based on time of day, alarms in the morning, or even changes in your location, such as turning lights off/on as you leave or come home from work. Just be careful not to flip the physical light switch off—this shuts down the bulb's connection to the app and assistants.
Most of the ones we tested are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings—just make sure to double-check so you're not buying an outlier.
Other Smart Bulbs We Tested
C by GE Full Color Smart Bulbs
The C by GE Full Color Smart Bulbs are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to quickly set up a few lights that they can control from an app without necessarily diving headlong into smart home tech. The reason? You can connect to these bright and colorful bulbs out of the box using Bluetooth. It's a quick and simple option for anyone who doesn't want to bother with additional gadgets.
Optionally, you can extend the bulbs' capabilities and grow your smart home by adding the C-Reach Bridge or C by GE Smart Plug. Importantly, you must have one of those accessories to use a smart assistant, such as Apple HomeKit (which requires the C-Reach Bridge) or Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant (both work with the Smart Plug, which is what we used in testing). You also need the bridge or plug to control the lights when you're not in range of them, like when you're away from home. Be sure to factor in the additional cost before jumping on these bulbs.
No matter how you connect, the C by GE Full Color light bulbs are exquisitely bright and the app has great features. Tap anywhere on a color wheel to choose the exact shade and hue you want, or keep the light white and select the warmth or coolness that suits your mood. You can also save your favorite colors so you can choose them quickly next time, adjust the brightness with a slider bar that also shows the percentage, and create automations that turn your lights on, off, or to particular color and brightness settings at the times and days you set. You can even add a fade so that the lights go out slowly, up to a 30-minute period.
We found lots to love about the Sengled A19 smart bulb. It's a color bulb that works smoothly with Alexa, Google Assistant, and the SmartThings platform. The setup process is quick, and the app is intuitive. One common complaint among smart bulb users is that some turn back on at the previous brightness level and some turn on at full power. Sengled's bulb remembers your last setting and turns back on at that level. Depending on your needs, that might be a positive or a negative.
Power consumption monitoring is another noteworthy feature of this bulb. Light bulbs don't tend to use a lot of electricity, but if you're interested in tracking energy usage, the Sengled app graphs your smart lighting's power consumption over time, and you can view that data for each bulb or all of them together.
The Sengled Smart LED Vintage Edison Bulb has both looks and smarts. It's especially well suited for hanging pendants. With the design of an old-school filament lamp, the Vintage Edison fills any room with a warm chrome color. It looks sunny at 100 percent brightness, and you can dim it down from the connected app for a more cozy, candlelit atmosphere. It's compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, and IFTTT. It doesn't work with Apple HomeKit (unless you happen to own an older version of the Sengled Smart Hub that supports it).
The bulb comes with a three-year warranty and has an estimated 22-year life span. This particular bulb from Sengled requires a hub, and it currently works with four of them, including: the Sengled Smart Hub, which you connect directly to a router using an included Ethernet cable; the Echo Plus; the Echo Show 2nd Gen; and SmartThings hub. Be sure to factor in the cost of a hub before making a purchase. We set up for testing with a Sengled hub and found the process quick and straightforward.
It's equally simple to turn the bulb on and off, adjust the brightness, create a schedule for the lights to go on or off automatically, and use other controls in the app. You can turn the lights on and off when you're not home or set them to run on a schedule to make it appear like you're home when you're not, although there isn't a randomized away-from-home option.
Nanoleaf, which made a splash with its decorative Nanoleaf Canvas and Panels, has expanded beyond squares and triangles to now offer new shapes. Fittingly called Nanoleaf Shapes, the new and improved version kicks off with Hexagons. These aren't light bulbs but rather flat light panels that you mount on your wall in whatever design you like. The multicolored light-up hexagons link to one another in the back using small circuit strips, which are sturdier in Shapes than the previous models.
The starter kit includes seven panels, but you can upgrade to 13 or 19 panels, or more with expansion packs. Just as with the Nanoleaf Canvas, Shapes also supports touch-enabled interaction. Put your hand on a hexagon and the lights twinkle or ripple through a little light show. While the connected app can be a little confusing to navigate, it allows you to choose different color schemes, such as Northern Lights—which splashes through a wheel of colors—or your own custom scene.
The lights can sync to music, too. In addition to connecting with music and touch, Shapes works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, SmartThings, IFTTT, Razer (for videogames using Razer Chroma accessories), and other systems. Shapes has an improved mounting system compared with the previous models, but regardless, be prepared to put in some time, patience, and focus to get your design on the wall. Additionally, the sticky mounting strips don't work on some surfaces so you may need to buy an additional screw-mounting kit for certain wall types and ceilings.
The Ring A19 Smart LED bulb is an inexpensive, white smart lightbulb that's easy to set up, including the bridge. You'll need the bridge, which uses a simple USB plug and brick in an ordinary outlet, to control the light from the app or connect it to Amazon Alexa. It doesn't work with other voice assistants such as Google Home or Apple HomeKit.
Picking up a couple of Ring A19 bulbs plus a bridge doesn't cost much, and you can set up your new lights in the blink of an eye, but the setup is a little light on features. While dimmable, the Ring A19 system doesn't have warmth or coolness settings (in other words, it's not tunable), much less any options to have the lights fade to darkness slowly. You can create custom schedules for when you want the lights on and off, but there isn't a setting that turns them on at random times to make it look like you're home when you're not. If you're a Ring household, however, the A19 Smart LED is a solid, low-cost addition to rooms where you don't need anything fancy.
Lifx White is an inexpensive, tunable white smart bulb that doesn't require a hub and works with all the three major home assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. Setting up is easy and fast. If you get started with an Apple mobile device, the Lifx app automatically prompts you to connect with HomeKit and Siri, making for an extremely smooth process no matter your level of expertise.
Features in the app range from handy and functional to quirky. For example, you can set an on/off schedule for your lights, create fade timers, and even view all the scheduled actions for the day in a timeline. On the quirker end, there's a strange Flicker setting that makes it seem like there's something wrong with the wiring in your home, plus two other presets called Spooky and Strobe that do the same thing only with increasing intensity. A seizure warning accompanies the last one.
Another preset called Visualizer dims and brightens the bulb based on music or ambient sound using the microphone on your mobile device. With an expected lifespan of roughly 22 years, the Lifx White is a good bulb to choose if you don't care too much about special features and want a long-lasting, tunable white bulb that works with your smart home.
The Wyze Bulb is the best bulb for you if you meet these three requirements: 1) You want to buy a handful of smart light bulbs without spending too much. 2) You're ok with a tunable white bulb that has no other color options. 3) You don't need to connect to Apple HomeKit. This low-cost bulb sells singly or in four-packs for a very attractive price. You can control it from an Apple or Android mobile devices, as well as Google Home and Amazon Alexa using an Alexa Skill.
The setup process is simple, but it helps to know a few tips in advance. For example, the bulbs connect to your WiFi network, so be sure to connect your mobile device to a 2.4 GHz band (rather than 5 GHz) before you start. Additionally, when installing multiple bulbs, you can keep track of them easily if you screw them in one at a time rather than all at once. Otherwise, it's tricky to figure out which bulb you're connecting and name it appropriately because there aren't any visual identifiers.
Once setup is complete, operating the bulbs is straightforward. You can adjust the brightness as well as the coolness and warmth, although there isn't much variation in the latter. A handy vacation mode turns the lights on and off at random intervals when you're away from home to give the impression that someone's there. Another feature not seen in many other smart bulb apps is a sleep timer, which lets you schedule the light to turn off in however many minutes you choose.
Kasa’s bulb offers all the features we'd expect from a smart bulb: WiFi connectivity; app control on Android, iOS, and Microsoft; Alexa and Google Home compatibility; and the ability to control the bulb from anywhere. Less common is the Kasa’s compatibility with Cortana. This bulb’s performance in our testing, however, was subpar. Setup was slightly more involved than our favorite bulbs but worse than that, it wouldn’t stay connected to our internet despite being only about eight feet away from our router. No internet connection means no app or voice control. It only functions as a standard bulb at that point. This is one of your few options if you need a smart bulb that can be controlled by Cortana, but let's get real—that's pretty unlikely.
Each of the Philips Hue bulbs has a near-identical app experience and setting up each one was about as flawless and painless as it could be. The only real difference in each kit lies in the level of control you get over each type of bulb.
The Philips Hue White Ambiance bulb lets you adjust the color temperature of the bulb. That means you can adjust the light through a range of warm yellow and cool blue/white colors. There are also four default “recipes” that alter the light based on whether you’re relaxing, reading, concentrating, or looking to get energized. If you don’t need a bunch of flashy, vivid colors, the White Ambiance is a great runner up that gives you some white color options without paying for the premium package.
While the White and Color Ambiance and the White Ambiance smart bulbs topped our charts, the standard White bulb came in a little lower on our list. While the app and setup were identical to the higher ranking Hue bulbs, the lack of features or control left us a little disappointed.
You’ll still be able to set a schedule, control them remotely, and dim them (the same as the other Philips Hue bulbs), but that's about it. The Hue White bulbs are the definition of a regular bulb that’s gotten only the barest bit of smart features, which is reflected in the starter kit's low price. While that might be all some people are looking for, in a roundup of the top-performing smart bulbs, it just doesn’t compare.
The Sengled bulbs, like most of the others on this list, are exceptional because each one offers a variety of excellent features. The Element Plus kit includes a tunable bulb that will let you adjust the color temperature of the bulb from a warm yellow to a cool white. It's compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and can create scenes and schedules via the app.
Sengled also includes a nice touch by promising to plant one tree per bulb that's set up—with more promotions coming soon. While it shouldn't be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing the smart bulb that's right for you, it'll certainly make you feel good.
In terms of features and setup, the Element Classic Kit is nearly identical to the slightly more expensive Element Plus Kit. The only real difference is that the Element Classic bulb is not tunable and you'll only be able to control brightness. At around $35, this kit is an absolute steal if you're just looking for a reliable smart bulb that isn't bogged down with extraneous features.
The smart bulbs from Ikea are cut from a slightly different mold than the others that appear on this list. In addition to using your phone to control the bulbs, you can also pair them with one of the remotes Ikea offers. There's a small disc remote for dimming that's about the size of a half-dollar, or a larger disc remote that's more akin to a hockey puck. Through the latter, you can control brightness and color temperature, as well as turn them on or off.
While the remotes are definitely a different take on the smart bulb concept, I found them a little awkward to handle. Smart home tech is all about simplifying your life and making it more convenient. A remote that can easily be lost in couch cushions or misplaced around the house is pretty much the opposite of that.
Still, the Ikea bulbs worked like a charm when it came to response time and handling different brightness settings. They're a solid choice if you're not a fan of the others on our list.
The LB120 is nearly identical to the LB100 we mentioned earlier. The only difference is that you're able to change the temperature of the bulb from a warm yellow to a cool blue/white light. It might not seem like much, but having even that amount of customization in your lights can go a long way—especially when paired with the ability to dim the lights for the time of day.
Like the other TP-Link bulbs though, the LB120 was disappointing in how responsive the lights were to commands from the app. While on/off worked like a charm, dimming or changing the temperature noticeably took a few seconds longer than we would have liked to see.
Sarah Kovac is an award-winning author and smart home editor for Reviewed. Previously, she worked with a multitude of outlets such as Wirecutter, TIME, PCMag, Prevention, The Atlantic, Reviews.com, CNN, GOOD, Upworthy, Mom.me, and SheKnows.
Jill Duffy is a writer covering consumer technology and software for both personal and business use. She has been testing and reviewing technology since 2011. Before that, she was a writer and editor covering video game development, e-learning, and other areas of tech and science.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.