Smart lighting can be difficult to understand, set up and use –- that’s why LIFX aims to have you up and running with its range of smart lights in minutes with relatively little hassle.
You don’t need to set up a hub to connect all of your devices together. Instead the smart bulbs themselves connect directly to your Wi-Fi as well as to your phone where you can control them with ease.
The aim here is to offer you a versatile smart lighting experience without the complications, but does LIFX achieve that? TechRadar's James Peckham has been trying a few products in the LIFX smart lighting range for a while now to find out for us.
Read our guide to the best smart lighting gadgets to light your homes if you're looking to build a larger smart home lighting system. Our technology hub has lots more handy home tech reviews, too.
LIFX smart lighting features
LIFX originally started as one type of lightbulb you could buy, but the range has ballooned to cover almost every type of conceivable lighting. If you’ve got a lamp or socket, it’s likely LIFX will have a lightbulb that will be compatible with it.
As well as individual lights, the company also has products like the LIFX Tile which is designed to be a centrepiece in your home.
You can see the full range of products on the official LIFX website to be sure, and the biggest benefit is the fact you can have as many bulbs or as few as you want to have in your home. If you just want one smart light that’s fine, but the company says it can handle up to 34 more if you’re after a full smart home experience.
Unlike competitors such as Philips Hue or Hive, the LIFX range doesn’t need a hub to connect all of your devices together. Instead each bulb connects directly to the Wi-Fi in your home, which makes for a seamless setup process.
Once you’ve completed that, you’ll then be able to control the bulbs through the app on your smartphone, your smart speaker or just the normal switch you’ve been using to turn that light on in the past.
The app is particularly easy to use on both Android and iOS. One particular highlight of the app is a spinning wheel that allows you to choose the colour or tone of your lights. It’s easy to pull the cursor around the wheel to pick the exact shade of whatever colour you’re looking to turn the lights.
LIFX and voice control
LIFX also works with smart speakers as well. That means you can control it using Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant. Each device can be linked to an area of your home so you can create rooms making it easier to turn all the lights on in one place at the same time.
For example, if you’ve set up ‘Living Room’ as an area with four LIFX lights you can ask for each of those individual bulbs to come on or you can just ask the speaker to 'turn on all the Living Room' lights and they’ll all turn on. You can then control the colour or the brightness of those lights with extra instructions fed to your smart speaker’s relevant assistant.
We controlled our lights with Amazon Alexa and found this to work smoothly and quickly, but as with any smart lighting system it will take a few seconds to work. Be warned that it may feel a touch frustrating if you’re used to hitting a switch on the wall and turning the lights on instantly.
Other smart features
The LIFX app has a variety of options for themes you can use to give your home a different atmosphere. The pre-set themes on the app include options such as mellow, relaxing, warming, exciting, hygge and more that allow you to change the lighting easily and quickly without having to fiddle with the exact tone, brightness or colour of the lights.
Want to relax after a long day at work? Choose the relaxing theme and it should avoid harsh lighting giving you an easy-going atmosphere in your home.
‘Effects’ is a separate part of the app, and this is for more specific routines you want your lights to run through. There are currently eight options in this part of the app; you can set the light to flicker like a candle or you can choose random that allows you to just get a selection of rotating effects.
Some even bolder options in that list include the ability to turn your bulbs into strobe lights (perhaps only something you’ll want to use at a house party) or you can even get your lights to follow the rhythm of the music you’re playing. It uses your smartphone’s microphone to set the right pace and will change the light depending on what it hears.
In our testing, we didn’t find the feature to work smoothly but it’s a fun extra that you may want to show off to friends or family.
The final smart feature LIFX offers is the ability to set your lights up on a timer. This proves a little complicated in the app, but that’s down to the amount of options you have in setting your lights up on a schedule.
If you do want to do this, it’ll allow you to have your lights ready for when you get home from work on a cold winter’s evening or you may even want them to come on and off during a trip away to give you peace of mind it looks like someone is in while you’re away.
Is the LIFX worth the money?
LIFX is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive smart lighting system on the market, but it is easy to set up and get running in your home. As long as you have a smart phone that’s compatible with the app and a Wi-Fi connection you’ll be able to get smart lighting setup with LIFX bulbs.
There’s a vast array of options for your smart lighting so you can fill your whole home with bulbs, and the integration with all major smart home AI is also useful. The app works really well in our experience.
The way you can change the lighting’s warmth or the colours of your bulbs makes this a great way to give your home unique lighting.
Our favourite part though is the fact you don’t have to have a separate hub to get up and running with the LIFX smart bulb range. If you’re looking for an easy way to install smart lighting in your home, LIFX may be the best choice.