The Best Smart Lights for Every Part of Your Home in 2022
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Many of today’s leading smart light products are more affordable and easier to install than one might think. Web-connectable, app and voice assistant-controlled, useful beyond belief, and aesthetically pleasing in more ways than one, smart lights are one of the best ways to get into the world of smart automation for your residence or commercial space.
Whether you’re looking to outfit your entertainment room with LED light strips that you can show off to your pals, or you’re looking to replace all of the existing light bulbs in your bedroom for easy-adjust controls from your phone, tablet, or your bedside Echo Dot, there’s a smart lighting application to serve every need or want.
At SPY, we only want you to have the best, so we’ve put together this roundup of the best smart lighting devices that, in our opinion, are the absolute best options for a number of different settings and purposes. Read on to see what smart lighting should enter your home today.
How Do Smart Lights Work?
This all depends on the exact smart lighting application you’re going with. Traditionally, smart light bulbs are one of the most common ways to outfit your home with lights that you can toggle on and off, dim, and automate. Generally speaking, you’ll be unscrewing regular light bulbs, screwing the smart ones in, and then connecting to WiFi, Bluetooth, or some other kind of wireless protocol.
With full lighting kits from the likes of Philips Hue and competitive products, there is typically a bridge module that connects to your home’s router. This bridge functions as a control hub for the smart light bulbs, reducing network congestion (because the bulbs connect to the hub and not directly to your WiFi) and allowing for an array of additional controls from whatever companion app your smart lights are controlled by.
Indeed, there are a number of smart light bulbs and other lighting products (we’ve covered several below) that pair directly to your home WiFi, your phone’s Bluetooth connection, or another kind of wireless connection.
Once installed, smart light products can be controlled in a number of ways — from companion apps and voice assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, etc.) to more advanced automation options from the likes of If This Then That (IFTTT). Want your living room lights to pulse golden-yellow whenever the home team scores a goal? That’s what IFTTT programming is for.
Are Smart Lights Expensive?
This all depends on the type of smart lighting product you’re looking at. If you’re looking for a big assortment of controls, customizations, and a menagerie of peripherals (something like a Philips Hue or Lutron Caseta starter pack), you’ll be shelling out a decent amount of dough to get things started. But the good news is that once you make the upfront investment, adding hardware and accessories to a brand-specific ecosystem tends to become less expensive with each new item added.
Lower-cost smart lighting products tend to offer less in terms of controls and add-ons — although this isn’t always the case. Take Sengled smart light bulbs for instance: Yes, you can buy individual bulbs and even starter packs for a fraction of the cost of a Philips Hue starter pack, but you still get an impressive range of automation features from the Sengled companion app, in addition to WiFi and Bluetooth controls.
In other cases, the price can be a decent translation to overall quality. Simply put, if the smart lighting product you’re looking at is dirt cheap and isn’t from a well-known manufacturer, you may be investing in web-connected gear that won’t last very long.
1. Philips Hue Starter Pack
Philips Hue has long been considered one of the leading names in the realm of smart lighting — and for good reason. While you’ll be spending a bit more dough upfront compared to the competition, the benefits are considerable. For starters, you’ll be getting four LED color-changing bulbs and a Hue hub to connect directly to your router, a crucial component for unlocking a myriad of Hue automation capabilities. Once added to your WiFi, the Hue hub pairs up with your Hue companion app (for iOS and Android devices) to enable control for up to 50 different smart bulbs, letting you build daily schedules, routines, and other customizations for your Hue ecosystem. Plus, who doesn’t love a near-infinite array of colors to choose from? The A19 bulbs that come with this smart lighting package deliver up to 16 million different color options to choose from, letting you truly hone in on the luminous mood of your home. Running Alexa or Google Assistant in your home? This Philips Hue starter pack can also be linked with both voice assistants, which makes toggling lights on and off using simple voice commands a breeze.
2. Govee LED RGBWW Lamp
BEST DESK LAMP
Your home office deserves the best, and the desk lamp you use is no exception. Govee, a smart lighting brand known for its vast array of genius devices, just so happens to make our favorite desk lamp that is completely customizable through Alexa, Google Assistant, the Govee companion app, and with touch controls on the lamp itself. With the option to choose from up to 20 different mood scenes, backdrops like Romantic, Leisure, and Candlelight are perfect for melting into a serene atmosphere at the end of a long workday, without you having to dive into the nitty-gritty of selecting exact colors to illuminate your room. But if you’re all about choosing your own hues, rest assured, this Govee lamp allows you to choose from up to 16 million colors. And with temperatures ranging from 1800-3000 Kelvin, you can create lighting as deep and moody as low-lit lantern flares or as bright as the fluorescence one might find in a traditional office setting.
3. NOOK Casa Smart Light Bulbs
We reviewed the new NOOK Casa smart lights back in October 2021, and right now you can buy two of these smart bulbs for just $22.99, 50% off the full retail price. In our review, we noted that these lights were much brighter than the average smart bulb, while still offering the wide color range and smart features you’d expect from better-known brands like Philips Hue and Govee. NOOK Casa’s smart lights easily connect via WiFi to your devices and can be controlled by phone or voice via Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
If you’re looking for a low-cost smart light bulb, this is easily one of our favorites. With more than 16 million color options and the ability to quickly dim and schedule your home lighting, the NOOK Casa is a great addition to any smart home setup. To save even more, purchase a 4-pack, which drops the total price down to just $11 per bulb.
4. Nanoleaf Shapes
BEST FOR DECORATING YOUR HOME
A statement piece is always a must-have for the home. Whether an arresting piece of art or an attention-demanding photo, these are the treasures we want our guests to be directed to right away. Who says that smart lighting can’t perform the same feat of grabbing the attention of friends and family? Enter Nanoleaf Shapes, a lineup of wall-hung smart light shapes that are designed to plaster the walls of your home. Installation is as simple as picking a spot and securing with the included mounting tape (no drilling required). Once fixed to the wall, you’ll be able to download the Nanoleaf app (for iOS and Android devices) to build custom lighting schedules, create scenes, and build music playlists for your Shapes to interact with.
Speaking of tunes: Nanoleaf’s built-in Rhythm sync allows your Shapes to pulse to your favorite music in real-time — a real sight to behold. If you’re more of a gamer or movie fanatic, Match mode is an awesome Nanoleaf feature that mirrors the colors of your TV screen to your Shapes, imbuing your smart lights with the flavors of your favorite flicks and first-person-shooters. With over 16 million colors to choose from, brightness adjustments from 1200-6500 Kelvin, and a handful of control options (Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, and panel-based haptics), the Nanoleaf Shapes are sure to add flair and panache to the parts of your home that need it most.
5. Eufy Security Floodlight Cam
Bringing the best of both worlds — home security and smart lighting, specifically — the Eufy Security Floodlight Cam is the perfect under-awning adornment for your domicile. On the surveillance end of things, the Eufy cam records and displays real-time footage in full 1080p, a critical resolution for picking up on normally hard-to-see details like human faces and license plates. Then there’s built-in motion detection that kicks into action whether the sun is out or it’s the dead of the night. Regarding the latter: Twin-mounted LED floodlights deliver up to 2,500 Kelvin of dominating glow whenever the camera picks up on someone milling around the Eufy’s field-of-view. It’s a great lifesaver for you if you’re arriving home with armfuls of groceries and need some light to guide you to the front door, but also a luminous warning to wannabe-intruders looking to invade.
Through the Eufy companion app (for iOS and Android gear), you’ll be able to adjust camera and lighting settings, view recorded footage, and more. Alexa and Google Assistant controls are onboard too, allowing you to call up live views of your Eufy cam from a smart display. Keep in mind that you’ll need to hard-wire your Floodlight Cam for power (no option for battery power), so if your home isn’t pre-wired, you’ll probably want to reach out to an electrician to get the Floodlight Cam mounted and connected.
6. LIFX Lightstrip
Similar to lighting panels like the Nanoleaf Shapes, smart light strips are a perfect way to add personality, warmth, and color to whatever environment is in need of automated zest. This LIFX Lightstrip is sold in 40- and 80-inch configurations, in addition to 40-inch extensions for adding onto existing strips. Controllable through the LIFX app, Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, and Vera, color and lighting customization is the name of the game with the LIFX Lightstrip. Using the company’s PolyChrome Technology, you’ll be able to paint and animate up to eight distinct lighting zones that, once completed, will run automatically, acting as an interactive companion for your favorite movies, TV shows, and video games.
Speaking of gaming: The dedicated button-mashers of our readership will appreciate the built-in compatibility with Razer Chroma. Once linked to your Chroma hardware, the LIFX Lightstrip will react to in-game events with exclusive lighting and color effects. Best of all, with no bridge or hub required, the Lightstrip connects directly to your home network (2.4GHz only) in just a few simple steps. Scheduling, scenes, and brightness and color adjustments are just a tap (or voice command) away.
7. Philips SmartSleep
BEST LIGHT/ALARM COMBO
A good night’s sleep is all about honoring your body’s circadian rhythms, a set of internal processes closely linked to the rise and fall of the sun. While we’re not completely tethered to the burning ball in the sky, we can all attest to just how disorienting it feels when you fall asleep too close to sunrise, waking up in the late afternoon in vampiric fashion. Our bodies need a solid block of sleeping hours to feel their best, which is where smart lighting devices like the Philips SmartSleep come in. Designed to simulate sunrise and sunset settings, the SmartSleep brings in the new day with a subtle combination of lighting effects and five naturalistic wake-up sounds. Moving from soft-red hues to bold orange luminance over a period of 30 minutes, the gradual increase in lighting will get you up and out of bed in an all-organic way — as if the sun were your alarm clock. And that’s not all: The Philips SmartSleep also features 10 built-in bedside lamp presets for a good book before hitting the hay, an FM radio, along with traditional alarm clock functions.
8. Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit
Looking to completely outfit your home with smart lights but don’t want the hassle of piece-mealing dozens of bulbs? It sounds like the Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit could be a great fit for you and yours. Designed for quick and easy installation, the first piece of the puzzle is the included Caseta Smart Bridge. Once the hub is connected to your router and you’ve downloaded the free Lutron app, you’ll be able to automate and manage your home-lighting from your phone (even when the WiFi is down), build custom lighting schedules, and pair your Caseta gear to smart devices in your house — including dimmers, smart blinds, and more.
Designed to replace an existing light switch (no neutral wire required), the Caseta switch can toggle lights on and off, and dim and brighten existing fixtures from 150 to 600 watts. Additional components include a Pico remote and mounting bracket. While you’ll need to buy multiple dimmer switches to expand automation to all the parts of your home that you want to control, the Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit is a great kickstart to a fully-retrofitted home of interactive smart lights. Oh, and did we mention that the Caseta suite is also compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Sonos, Ring, and Serena Shades?