• Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit (Gen 3)

  • Eufy Lumos 2.0

  • How We Tested

  • What to Know About Smart Bulbs

  • Other Smart Bulbs We Tested

  • More Articles You May Enjoy

Our Favorite Smart Bulbs of 2020

  1. Best Overall

    Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit (Gen 3)

    Pros

    • Easy setup

    • Intuitive app

    • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit

    Cons

    • Requires hub for remote use

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Value

    Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb 2.0 - White, Tunable

    Pros

    • Quick response time

    • No hub necessary

    Cons

    • Confusing app

    Skip to the full review below
Philips Hue White + Color
Credit: Reviewed.com / Nick Schmiedicker
Best Overall
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. 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.

Pros

  • Easy setup

  • Intuitive app

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit

Cons

  • Requires hub for remote use

Eufy Lumos 2.0
Credit: Reviewed / Amazon

Eufy's Lumos 2.0 is a great bulb for the money if a more complicated setup process doesn't bother you.

Best Value
Eufy Lumos 2.0
Editor's Note: Oct. 9, 2020

The Eufy Lumos 2.0 has been discontinued. We are currently testing new smart bulbs and we’ll update this guide with a new Best Value pick once we’ve completed testing.

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.

Pros

  • Quick response time

  • No hub necessary

Cons

  • Confusing app

How We Tested

The Tester

Hi, I’m Sarah Kovac. I’m the smart home editor here at Reviewed, and I’ve tested hundreds of products over the last five years on this site and also for outlets such as PCMag and Wirecutter. I use smart home devices constantly in my own home and talk to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri several times a day (mostly to turn off whatever annoying music my kids have decided to play on repeat that day… I’m looking at you, “Baby Shark”). We’ve had smart bulbs in our light fixtures for several years, and I am personally acquainted with the benefits and potential pitfalls of installing connected bulbs.

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The Tests

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.

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

Lifx A19

The Lifx bulbs offer something rather unique in that it has an app for Microsoft phones as well as iOS and Android. It’s compatible with Apple's Home app, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant, so it can assimilate easily into the ecosystem of your choice. The Lifx A19 is a color bulb that has lots of options in the settings for interesting effects: It can respond to sound picked up by your phone’s mic, adjust the light according to the time of day, and perform wake-up and bedtime routines. Lifx integrates with Nest, so when there is activity in one of your Nest Cam’s motion zones, or if a person is detected, you can choose which lights turn on, or you can have random bulbs turn on in unpredictable patterns. If you use your Nest thermostat with your power company’s Rush Hour Rewards program, your lights can blink green and orange to let you know that you are entering a rush hour (the power company will adjust your thermostat during times of high energy use). And if your Nest Protect smart smoke alarm detects a problem, you can set Lifx to blink in response. The Lifx bulbs can do lots of things, but all that functionality comes at a price—it’s the most expensive bulb we tested.

Pros

  • Works with HomeKit, Alexa, Google, Cortana

  • Integrates with Nest

Cons

  • Expensive

Sengled A19

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 was 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 to the same settings you used last time. 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.

Pros

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings

  • Powers on to previous settings

  • Power consumption monitoring

Cons

  • Nothing we could find

Yeelight Smart LED Bulb

The Yeelight app could have been more intuitive. Getting signed up for an account was confusing, and the app would not show the bulb when I tried to sync it to my account. However, once we got past the initial setup, Yeelight was very responsive to app commands and actually not that bad to use. The app allows you to use custom icons for your favorite lighting presets; can save schedules and scenes; and it integrates with Amazon, Google, and IFTTT.

Pros

  • Quick response time

  • Works with Amazon, Google Assistant, IFTTT

Cons

  • Confusing setup

C by GE

GE's C-Sleep and C-Life smart light bulbs did well in our testing. The app is easy to use, and the C-Sleep can even automatically adjust the color temperature as the day wears on to help prep your body for sleep. They're great when you're controlling them by Bluetooth, but we had serious issues connecting with the C-Reach, which is the accompanying hub. Without the hub connection, you can't control the lights when you're away from home, nor can you use voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home to turn them on or off.

If you're not worried about remote control and like the idea of a smart bulb that's incredibly easy to use, C by GE is a clear winner.

Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit

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.

Pros

  • Easy setup

  • Intuitive app

Cons

  • Only white light

Philips Hue White Starter Kit

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.

Pros

  • Easy setup

  • Intuitive app

Cons

  • Hub required

  • Bare minimum of smart features

Sengled Element Plus Kit

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.

Pros

  • Adjustable color temperature

  • Sengled plants a tree per bulb setup

Cons

  • Nothing we could find

Sengled Element Classic Kit

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.

Pros

  • Affordable kit

Cons

  • Not tunable

Ikea Tradfri Dimming Kit

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 responsiveness and handling different brightness settings. They're a solid choice if you're not a fan of the others on our list.

Pros

  • Adjustable color temperature

Cons

  • Awkward remote

LIFX + A19 Night Vision

The LIFX + A19 Night Vision adds something either totally amazing and applicable to you or nothing at all. Nearly identical to the LIFX A19, this model features the addition of infrared light. What does that mean? Well, when the bulb is turned off via the app, it'll emit infrared light that's meant to enhance any night vision used by your security cameras. It worked brilliantly during our tests but it ultimately won't matter much if your home isn't equipped with night vision security cameras.

Pros

  • Infrared night vision to boost camera visibility

  • Works with HomeKit, Alexa, Google, Cortana

Cons

  • Expensive

Meet the testers

Nick Schmiedicker

Nick Schmiedicker

Former Managing Editor

@@nschmiedicker

Coming from Buffalo, NY, Nick studied media production and arts journalism. When he’s not writing about tech Nick can be found playing video games and keeping up on the latest in pop culture.

See all of Nick Schmiedicker's reviews
Sarah Kovac

Sarah Kovac

Editor, Smart Home

@sarahkovac

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.

See all of Sarah Kovac's reviews

Checking our work.

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.

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