One of the easiest ways to dive into smart technology is with smart light bulbs. Below is a quick overview of what you need to know to get started.
Light bulbs have grown exponentially smarter in recent years. You can now replace your standard incandescent bulb with a variety of connected solutions you can control with just a few taps on your smartphone or tablet. But with so many options flooding the integrated tech market, which one is right for you? Below is a quick summary of smart bulbs, along with some points to consider while shopping, to help you decide.
Smart bulbs use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and a variety of technologies to work, so they are more expensive than traditional bulbs. That’s important to keep in mind, especially if you want to upgrade your entire house. But smart bulbs also use less energy and last a lot longer—meaning you can save money in the long run.
No hub required. Lots of color and ambiance options. Voice control via digital Assistant.
Little support for third-party integration. Slightly below average lifespan.
Simple and relatively affordable way to add color-changing lighting to your home.
Relatively affordable. Easy setup. Bright light. Lots of features
Requires a hub. White only.
The Philips Hue White is the best way to bring smart lighting to your home on a reasonable budget.
No hub required. Simple setup. Excellent app. Very bright.
Lacks Wi-Fi. No scheduling options. Does not integrate with other systems. iOS only. Runs hot.
Thanks to an intuitive app and no need for a hub, connected lighting throughout your household.
Relatively inexpensive. Simple setup. Design diffuses light.
Requires a hub. Doesn’t work well with dimmer switches.
An affordable bulb that’s simple to set up and control, and casts a very pleasant white light.
Some bulbs are just white, while others have the ability to take on any color of the rainbow. Color is a fun way to add atmosphere to your property, but often results in a pricier bulb.
60-watt incandescent models sounds self-explanatory, but some bulbs are brighter than others. To see just how bright a light is, you need to look at the lumens it puts out: the more lumens, the brighter the light. But even then, the light can disperse in a narrow beam or distribute brightness in a wide swath, so make sure to read the reviews to find out how each bulb works.
Another factor to keep in mind is color temperature. Higher temperatures, like 8,500K, look like harsh office lighting, which is fine for staying awake or working. Lower temperatures, like 2,500K, translate to a cozy, warm glow that’s perfect for relaxing.
Since you’ll mostly be controlling these lights from your phone, pad, or computer, you want to make sure that it’s easy to do. If you have multiple bulbs, for instance, you’ll want a companion app that lets you easily arrange them in groups, and adjust the brightness and/or color of an entire group at one time. Do you have an digital assistant device? Look for a bulb that works with a digital activated assistant so you can control it with your voice. Of course, any bulb plugged into a socket can always be turned on or off by just flipping the switch.