Wouldn’t it be nice to turn off your bedroom lights while still under the covers? Or dim the living room lights right from the couch? Smart lights are increasingly popular for this very reason, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to get in on the game.
Below, we’ve gathered the best smart light options for every budget. However, while you’re weighing your options, it’s worth taking a look at any gadgets you might already have. Some smart bulbs require a separate, costly hub, but smart speakers like the Echo Plus have hubs built in. Also, while you can use most smart lights on their own, they pair great with a voice-controlled speaker. So, if you want to turn your lights on and off with your voice, factor in the costs of those devices while you’re planning your purchases.
The Dirt Cheap Option: Sengled Element
If you want a light bulb connected to the internet for the absolute lowest price possible, Sengled’s bulbs are hard to beat. These 60W-equivalent soft white bulbs cost $10 a piece when you buy them individually, but you can buy up to 8-bulb packs for a slight discount. The company also offers color bulbs for $30 a piece, though we’d recommend other options on this list if you’re looking for color.
The Sengled Element bulbs require a hub, but even that’s inexpensive. A 2 bulb pack with the included hub costs a mere $30, which is less than some individual bulbs from other companies. However, you can also use the Echo Plus as a hub for the bulbs. Either way, Sengled is a great option if you have a lot of bulbs to replace but don’t want to spend a lot of money.
The Cheap Hubless Option: Eufy Lumos
Scarce few smart lights can go without a hub, and fewer still are cheap. Eufy Lumos manages to hit both of those beats. Standard soft white bulbs cost $12 each, which makes them more expensive than Sengled’s offering.
However, saving money on the hub means you’ll still come out ahead if you’re only buying a few bulbs. That’s especially true if you’re getting color bulbs. Eufy also offers a relatively inexpensive color bulb option. At $35 a piece, they’re just slightly more costly than Sengled’s $30 bulbs, but Sengled’s hub usually adds around $15-20 to the price of its kits. For three to four bulbs, Eufy can come out cheaper. Plus, it’s one less box cluttering up your home. This is especially an appealing option if you buy other Eufy smart home gadgets like robot vacuums, smart plugs, or security cameras and want to control them all from a single app.
The Luxury Option: Philips Hue
If you’re willing to sink some cash into getting the best possible smart lights, it’s hard to beat Philips Hue’s platform. A starter kit with two white bulbs starts at $70, or $150 for a similar kit with full color bulbs. Additional bulbs start at $30 for white and $50 for color. However, Hue bulbs go on sale so often that it’s rarely a good idea to buy them at these prices. For example, at the time of this writing, the color starter kit cost a mere $80.
More importantly, Philips Hue’s options for both hardware and software are second-to-none. You can buy candle-style bulbs, LED strips, table lamps, ceiling lights, outdoor lighting, and much more. The Hue software also sets the bar. While you can do basic things like control lights with your voice or set your lights to a schedule, Hue also offers experimental features that can simulate candlelight or make it look like you’re home when you’re not. The Hue Sync app also lets you match your overhead lights to music or the ambient lighting on your TV to whatever you’re watching (if you’re playing movies on a computer). Philips Hue is among the most costly smart light platforms out there, but it can do a lot that others just can’t do, or at least can’t do as well.
The Expensive, Hubless Option: LIFX
The one major downside to Philips Hue is that it requires a central hub. LIFX bulbs are almost as expensive as Philips Hue (and, in some cases, more expensive), but they don’t require a hub. The LIFX Mini white bulbs cost $27 a piece, while the color Mini bulbs cost $45. The company also offers an even more expensive option that outputs much more light, at $60 for a color bulb. This is a welcome upgrade when other LED bulbs can often be quite dim, but it’s also the most expensive single bulb we looked at. Definitely wait for a sale on this one.
If you only want basic lighting features and hate hubs, LIFX may be for you. While you can control these lights with voice commands or from your phone, advanced features like music or movie sync aren’t quite as robust. There are also fewer bulb options, so there’s no candelabra-style bulbs or standalone lamps. Philips Hue still has a few edges here, but if getting rid of the hub is more important to you than fancy candle bulbs or syncing your lights to music, then LIFX might be for you.
Scouted is internet shopping with a pulse. Follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter for even more recommendations and exclusive content. Please note that if you buy something featured in one of our posts, The Daily Beast may collect a share of sales.