The best smart lightbulbs: enhance the ambience of your home with ease

Our pick of the best smart lightbulbs will help you ace ambience in your home, whatever the time of day

the best smart lightbulbs: Philips Hue Go
(Image credit: Philips)

On the hunt for the best smart lightbulbs? You'll probably agree that very little can affect our mood quite so quickly as light, whether that’s a bright sunny morning versus a grey day, or a cosy, flickering candle versus a glimmering strip light. 

With that in mind, it’s easy to pinpoint why the best smart home lightbulbs have enjoyed quite a bit of buzz lately. They excel at creating an atmosphere in the home, and can even take the place of an alarm clock or wake-up lights for those in search of a gentler wake-up call. We’ve brought together eight of the best smart lightbulbs in this buying guide for you to choose from. 

Find out more in our handy guide to the best smart lighting gadgets to light your home. Then, head over to The Hub, our home page for all things smart home tech advice, inspiration and unbiased reviews.

The undoubted smart bulb market leaders are Philips, with their established Hue range popping up in three places on our eight-strong list and the Hue Starter Kit coming in at first place as our best smart lightbulb. Smart home stalwarts Hive, however, come in a very close second with the Hive Active Light Starter Kit

Some inexpensive brands are also coming up trumps with perhaps less fully-featured, but certainly more pocket-friendly options, ideal for those after a more streamlined set-up. Whatever it is you’re looking for, it’s sure to be encapsulated in the list below, so keep reading until you get that lightbulb moment. 

the best smart lightbulbs: philips hue

1. Philips Hue

Best smart lightbulbs: set warmth and ambience with our top rated smart bulbs

Specifications
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Smart compatibility?: Yes
Fitting type: E27 Edison Screw Bulbs
Colour: White and colour options available
Reasons to buy
+Control your smart bulbs from your phone+Customise the ambience of your home+LED lights can save money and energy over time
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than regular lightbulbs

As anyone who’s ever clapped their eyes on a Farrow & Ball sample booklet will know, there’s far from just one type of white, and the Philips Hue Starter Kit shows how that can be used to incredible effect. 

The two white bulbs can be set to any warmth level and any brightness between 'hygge' and 'interrogation room' for maximum versatility, while the hub allows you to connect and customise a further 48 lights. As with all Philips Hue products, the app shines just as brightly, letting you set your lights to do things like turn on when you step through the door after work. 

It is compatible with several voice assistants including Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Nest and many more.

Find out how to use Philips Hue with Alexa, then read our in-depth Philips Starter Kit review to find out if it's the best option for you.

the best smart lightbulbs: Hive Active Light Starter Kit

2. Hive Active Light Starter Kit

Best smart lightbulbs for Hive users: lights, camera, sensors! Control everything in sight with this hub-ready kit

Specifications
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Smart compatibility?: Yes
Fitting type: E27
Colour: White
Reasons to buy
+ Includes Hive Hub + Allows Hive products to work in tandem 
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey

The big seller for this Hive Active Light Starter Kit isn’t just its versatility now, it’s its potential for smart home expansion later on – as well as three dimmable smart light bulbs, this pack contains the Hive Hub, which can control any of Hive’s smart home accessories, including lights, sensors, cameras and thermostats, should you choose to add to your collection.

The beauty of this is that you can teach, for example, your lights and your heating to come on at the same time, with a dimmer mood set for evenings and bright lights plus a boost of warmth to get you out of bed. You can even link it to your Alexa or Google Assistant and it'll work with the sound of your voice.

the best smart lightbulbs: TP-Link LB130

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 
Reasons to avoid
-Disconnects itself from WiFi sometimes

Our first two picks are great for a huge range of everyday lighting options, but when it comes to pulling fancy multi-coloured moves, the TP-Link LB130 may be more your speed. This colour-changing tunable light bulb has a hue for all moods and occasions, and through your iOS or Android device you can create lighting schedule, set scenes, and more besides.

For another way to impress your guests (or simply feel a bit smug home alone) this bulb offers hands-free voice control with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant (click through for our reviews). It doesn't require a hub to link to and links with your WiFi, a bonus because it means no extra boxes to plug in and try and hide around the home, however, some have found trouble keeping it connected to the Wi-Fi for lengthy periods of time. 

the best smart lightbulbs: LIFX A19

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

For dimming without tricky installation, syncing without a smart hub, and the joy of tinkering without the worry, the LIFX A19 is easily the best smart bulb for experimenters. 

Like our first pick, it lets you choose the warmth and intensity of your whites, but it really shines when you get a hold of the Colour Wheel, available on the iOS, Android and Windows 10 compatible app.

Letting you control the ambience of the room from wherever you happen to have your phone to hand, you can choose the brightness and intensity of 16 million colours, and set favourite scenes, themes and schedules. It's also compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana.

the best smart lightbulbs: Philips Hue Go

5. Philips Hue Go

Best portable smart lightbulb: 'If I could, then I would, I’ll go wherever Hue will Go...'

Specifications
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Smart compatibility?: Yes
Fitting type: None
Colour: Multi
Reasons to buy
+ Portable wireless design + Sync up with media 
Reasons to avoid
-Need a Philips Hue Bridge for it to work

Fitting smart bulbs all around the house can be a very expensive exercise, so if you want the benefit of tailored lighting wherever you go, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that there’s another way. 

The Philips Hue Go is a portable colour-changing smart table lamp – try saying that three times fast – that can be controlled through Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant, giving you an on-the-go light show that can dim, change colour, adhere to lighting schedule, and even sync up with your music, games and films for ultra-immersion with the addition of the Hue Bridge. 

Read our in-depth Philips Hue Go review.

the best smart lightbulbs: Philips Hue LightStrip Plus

6. Philips Hue LightStrip Plus

Best smart light strip: Tricky space? Philips Hue have the solution

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

Edisons and bayonets are pretty par for the course, but what if you have a more complex space with more complex needs? 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. 

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. 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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