Best smart bulbs: set lighting schedules, control lights from afar and save money

The best smart bulbs will enhance the mood of your rooms, make it easy to set lighting schedules and save you money...

the best smart bulbs: philips hue
(Image credit: Philips Hue)

The best smart bulbs will instantly transform the look – and feel – of your rooms, creating the ideal mood whether you're entertaining guests, watching a film or helping with homework. Plus, they can be scheduled to give the impression that someone's home, even if they're not and, on top of all of that, they can even take the place of wake up lights and are an easy way to boost your home's security system.

What the heck is a smart bulb (we hear you ask)? Put simply, a smart bulb – or smart lightbulb – is a lightbulb that can connect to your smart phone via Wi-Fi. This allows you to control your lighting just as you would any other smart appliance – from any location, to set schedules and even customise to your lighting system by changing the colour, brightness and intensity of the light. 

So, read our top tips on how to buy the best smart bulbs. Then, keep scrolling for full reviews of our top rated products. When you're done, head over to The Hub for more smart home news, advice and unbiased reviews.

What is the best smart bulb?

The best smart bulbs are Philips Hue, thanks to their simple, stylish design and ease to set up. Adjust lighting depending on your preference – options range from hygge to interrogation room for maximum versatility – as well as setting up lighting schedules, sequences of events and more. 

Find our complete list of the best smart bulbs, below. Then, keep scrolling for full product reviews:

  • The best smart bulbs: Philips Hue
  • The best smart bulbs for Hive users: Hive Active Light Starter Kit
  • The best smart bulbs for multi-coloured lighting: TP-Link LB130
  • The best customisable smart bulb: LIFX Smart Bulbs
  • The best smart light strip: Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus

The best smart bulbs

the best smart bulbs: philips hue

(Image credit: Philips Hue)

1. Philips Hue

The best smart bulbs: set warmth and ambience with our top rated smart bulbs

Specifications
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Smart compatibility?: Yes
Fitting type: Full range of bulbs available
Colour: White and colour options available
Reasons to buy
+Control your smart bulbs from your phone+Customise the ambience of your home+Set schedules
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than regular lightbulbs

The best smart bulbs are the Philips Hue Smart Bulbs, which come complete with a bridge that allows you to connect them to the rest of your smart home set-up. Here's everything you need to know:

Choose from white and coloured options

Philips Hue White Smart Bulbs produces stunning, warm white light which can be easily adjusted to suit the desired ambience – options range from super cosy hygge, through to interrogation room. Want to benefit from coloured lights too? You'll need the Philips Hue Coloured Smart Bulbs, which allow you to completely customise the colour and intensity of your lighting.

Control your lights from your smartphone

Perfect for giving the impression that someone's home, even if they're not; controlling hard-to-reach bulbs; or allowing you to turn the lights off without getting up, there are a rang of benefits to controlling your lighting from your smart phone. And Philips Hue make that super easy.

Long life span

Yes, these bulbs are a little more pricey than your average, but with a lifespan of up to 25,000 years, they're sure to save you money in the long run. 

Set lighting programmes

Whether you want to programme your smart lighting to rouse you, gently, from your sleep in the morning, alert you when you need to take you dinner out of the oven, start dimming your lights as you wind down for bed, this – and more – is available with Philips Hue.

Still not sure? We go into more detail in our in-depth Philips Starter Kit review. We've also written a handy guide on how to use Philips Hue with Alexa, so you won't have to worry about getting set up.

Browse the full range of smart bulbs available from John Lewis & Partners

the best smart bulbs: Hive Active Light Starter Kit

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

2. Hive Active Light Starter Kit

The best smart bulbs for Hive users: expand your Hive smart home system with these impressive smart bulbs

Specifications
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Smart compatibility?: Yes
Fitting type: Full range of bulbs available
Colour: White
Reasons to buy
+ Includes Hive Hub + Allows Hive products to work in tandem 
Reasons to avoid
-Not a cheap option

Next in our list is theHive Active Light Starter Kit. And it isn’t just because of its versatility now, but its potential for smart home expansion later on. Here's everything you need to know:

Dimmable bulbs

Whether you're looking to wind down in the evening, or feel more alert in the morning, it's super easy to control the dimness of your bulbs according to your requirements.

Energy efficiency

As well as boasting an A+ energy rating, these smart bulbs are also designed to encourage users to reduce their energy use. How? Well, by allowing you to control your lights from any location and alerting you should any lights be left on when you're away from home.

Connect to a wider Hive smart home system

Looking to build a wider Hive smart home system? Whether you're interested in smart thermostats, home security systems or something else, opting for Hive smart bulbs will make it super easy to connect up your entire system in future. We're not saying that this is essential – most brands are interconnectable – but it may make life easier if you're new to the world of smart home tech.

Shop more smart bulbs on Amazon

the best smart bulbs: tp-link lb130

(Image credit: TP-Link)

3. TP-Link LB130

Best smart bulb for multi-coloured lighting: set your lights to every colour under the sun – or get Alexa or Google Assistant to do it for you

Specifications
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Smart compatibility?: Yes
Fitting type: E27
Colour: Multi
Reasons to buy
+ Create lighting schedules and scenes + Voice assistant controls +No hub required
Reasons to avoid
-Disconnects itself from WiFi sometimes

If you like the idea of smart bulbs, but don't want to have to commit to buying a bridge – or something similar – to connect them to your smart home system, the TP-Link LB130 is an option worth considering. Here's everything you need to know:

Colour changing bulb

Choose from a wide range of bulbs hues to suit your mood – or the atmosphere you're looking to create. All controlled directly from your smart phone.

Voice activation

Much like the other smart bulbs in this list, the TP-Link LB130 connects to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, making it super easy to control your entire lighting system using nothing other than the sound of your voice. Genius. 

No hub or bridge required

As we've already mentioned, another perk of the TP-Link LB130 is that it doesn't require a bridge or hub to connect to your smart home system. This not only drives down the cost, but requires fewer wires and bulky boxes around the home.

Circadian mode

Another feature we're seriously impressed with is the TP-Link LB130's circadian mode, which is designed to dynamically adjust light intensity and temperature to successfully mimic natural light patterns. This can be super helpful if you struggle to wake up in the morning, or wind down in the evening.

Browse more smart bulbs available from Argos

the best smart lighting: LIFX

(Image credit: LIFX)

4. LIFX A19

Best smart bulb for customising: the most customisable bulb on the face of the Earth, and its set-up is as simple as can be

Specifications
Compatibility: iOS, Android, Windows
Smart compatibility?: Yes
Fitting type: B22
Colour: Multi
Reasons to buy
+ Really easy installation + Tailor 16 million colours 
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

Next up in our list is the LIFX A19 thanks to its ease of use and customisable functionality. Here's everything you need to know:

Choose from a range of bulb colours

The choice of over 1 trillion colours (yep, really) makes this model the most customisable in our round up. Whatever your mood, you're sure to find a hue that suits. Plus, it's super easy to adjust the warmth and intensity of white light, if you're not so into colours lighting.

No hub or bridge required

Similarly to the bulbs from TP Link, the LIFX doesn't require a bridge or hub to work. Instead, it connects directly to your WiFi for smart home integration.

Set lighting schedules with ease

Use the connected app to control your smart bulbs from any location. That means setting schedules – perfect if you're away from home and want to give the impression that someone's home, even if they're not – as well as turning off the lights if you forget to when leaving the house.

Head over to AO for more of the best smart bulbs

the best smart bulbs: philips hue lightstrip

(Image credit: Currys PC World)

5. Philips Hue LightStrip Plus

The best smart light strip: not technically a smart bulb, but this smart lightstrip solves many design issues

Specifications
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Smart compatibility?: No
Fitting type: Adhesive tape
Colour: Multi
Reasons to buy
+ Solution for shelves and alcoves + Control up to 50 lights 
Reasons to avoid
-Requires a Philips Hue Bridge to work-Not technically a smart bulb

Edisons and bayonets are pretty par for the course, but what if you have a more complex space with more complex needs? The Philips Hue LightStrip could be what you've been looking for. Here's everything you need to know:

Illuminate awkward spaces

Looking to illuminate an awkward space? Don’t worry about expensive built-in lighting – you can get the same effect in alcoves, shelves and other nooks and crannies with the Philips Hue LightStrip, a smart strip light that is second-to-none for creating ambience on cosy evenings in. 

Control your lighting from any location

Create a Hue account, and you can control these lights from anywhere using the buddy app or your browser – in fact, you can control up to 50, so whether you decide to go for lots of these little beauties, or a combination of bulbs and strips, there’s none better for a wide-ranging, fully customised lighting scheme. 

Completely customisable design

You can cut them to fit wherever you please whether it be around your kitchen cabinets or around a cupboard ceiling, and they're compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant.

Find out more in our in-depth Philips Hue Light Strip review.

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