Top 5 Smart Lights for Home Automation Systems


Top 5 Smart Lights for Home Automation Systems

Smart lights started out as a trend in early 2012, when Philips launched their Hue system and the original A19 color changing bulb, but today they are much less a gimmick and more a practical home solution.

Smart lights are the next step in radio controlled lights (or putting your lights on a timer), because they allow you to access your lighting from anywhere, turn on lights automatically, and turn your lights off from anywhere. This in turn allows you to save energy (turn the lights off from anywhere), deter burglary (turn lights on when you’re not home), and in some cases, even reduce the cost of your insurance.

However, while smart lights can be a great addition to your home, there are over 20 options on the market. Many of them are expensive, and while standard smart lights can be found for as little as $15, color changing versions often cost as $40 or more per bulb. Outfitting your house with new lights is an investment, and it’s important that you choose an option that suits your technology, your budget, and your home.

We’ve reviewed the top 5 smart lights on the market and outlined their pros and cons to make choosing the right lights easier for you.

Philips Hue

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Philips Hue was the first real smart light to hit the worldwide market, and it remains a strong contender today. While, on paper, Hue offers the exact same features as almost every other light option out there, in function, it’s much more versatile and flexible than nearly any other option. Plus, with lights that react within one second of giving a command, it’s also one of the best systems out there.

The system requires that you purchase a Hue bridge, which connects your lights to your WiFi, which you can easily access and control directly from your smartphone or tablet. Programming capabilities allow you to turn your lights on when you get near your home, allow you to set a bedtime and wakeup time, allow you to use lights as part of your alarm system, and even allow you to create party and flashing lights. You can also choose from a variety of different types of lights including white, color changing, downlights, different types of bulbs, chain lights, battery lights, and more.

App Support: Windows, iOS, Android

Third Party Apps: Yes, including some premium apps

Compatible Systems: Anything that uses the Zigbee standard, including other smart lights. This includes Harmony, SmartThings, Alexa (Echo, Dot, and Tap), Google Homes, and HomeKit

Cost: From $149 for a starter kit (bridge + 3 lights with color changing bulbs). $60 for the basic white starter kit.

Our Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Our Recommendation: Philips Hue is a great all-around smart lighting kit that offers versatility, affordability, and high quality. However, while they are great if you want color changing and extra features, they’re on the pricey side if you’re looking for basic white lights that you can turn on and off with your phone. However, with the widest range of integration, more applications than any other smart light system, and more bulb options, Philips Hue is definitely the go-to for both options and quality. Read our full Philips Hue Review here.

Belkin WeMo Smart LED

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The Belkin WeMo is one of the largest smart home automation systems out there (although TP Link is a close competitor) with dozens of smart devices including cameras, light switches, and more. Belkin WeMo offers a unique option in that you can either install smart light bulbs or smart switches to get nearly the same control over your lights.

What’s the catch? With no color support, they are literally just expensive lights you can turn on and off with your phone, or integrate into your total smart system. While this is a plus for some, at $49-$25 per bulb, they are a little pricey.

Belkin’s WeMo offers a 2 second response time, automatic programming, and dimmable lights. One WeMo Link can control up to 50 bulbs.

App Support: iOS, Android

Third Party Apps: Yes

Compatible Systems: Google Home, Alexa, Nest, Osram Lightify, and IFFT (If this then that programming)

Cost: $25-$69

Our Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Our Reccomendation: WeMo Link is great if you have an existing WeMo System, just want the basics, or prefer to use the brand. Otherwise, you’re better off choosing another solution that offers more light functions and more integrations.

LIFX Color 1000

The LIFX Color 1000 offers some of the brighter smart bulbs on the market, with a range of bulb options and types including A19 and BR30 bulbs. LIFX stands out with a 2 year warranty on their bulbs, but with prices starting out at $60 per bulb, is not the cheapest option out there.

The bulbs feature a quality design, look smart installed, and consume just 11 watts. That will save you $6-7 a year over your standard 65 watt bulb, which is what you’ll typically have to buy to get 990 lumens. That’s not bad, when you consider that top comparitve options like the Phillips Hue are only 700 lumens. They also feature truer colors, with better blues and greens than Phillips Hue, which is important if you want to recreate specific colors.

However, LIFX Color 1000 is primarily designed with Amazon Alexa in mind, so if you don’t have a Dot or Tap, you won’t get the same voice control throughout your home. However, you don’t need a hub, which can save you money if you’re just installing one or two lights.

App Support: Android, iOS, Windows 10

Third Party Apps: Yes

Compatible Systems: Nest, Alexa, SmartThings, IFTT,

Cost: $59.99-79.99 per bulb

Our Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Our Recommendation: With prices starting at $59.99 per bulb, the LIFX Color 1000 is not cheap. However, it does offer some of the best lighting, with a max of 990 lumens. So, if you know that you love smart lights, don’t particularly care if it works with Apple Home/Siri, and want quality lights that will last a long time, the LIFX Color 1000 is a great choice. Otherwise, it’s still a bit pricey for a market that already has great options for much less money.

TP Link Smart LED

The TP Link Smart LED is a mid-range smart lightbulb, available in white and multi-color. With no hub needed, these lights can save you space and installation hassle over buying a hubbed option, and with a relatively low price point (just $10 more than an average bulb for a smart LED), they’re extremely easy to get started with.

The 800 lumen bulb features a 2 year warranty, and the color version supports 20 million colors. Like LIFX Color 1000, these smart lights integrate with Amazon Alexa, but also come with their own control app (Kasa).

App Support: Android, iOS

Third Party Apps: Yes

Compatible Systems: Alexa

Cost: $19.99-$49.99

Our Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Our Recommendation: While they aren’t as fancy as some of the other options, the TP Link Smart LED makes a great option if you’re looking to try out smart lights, but don’t want to commit to a full set. For example, with no hub required, you could purchase just one for $19.99, and get used to it before committing to a full set.

Osram Sylvania Lightify

Osram Sylvania Lightify is the newest smart light on this list, but also one of the options that stands out best against the competitors. With an attractive price point and their own app, these smart lights have a lot to offer for budget conscious buyers. And, with dozens of features comparable to the Phillips Hue, as well as various light types including standard A19 and BR30 bulbs plus light strips, down lights, and other creative options, Osram’s Sylvania Lightify is definitely something to consider.

App Support: Android, iOS

Third Party Apps: Yes

Compatible Systems: Alexa, (All Zigbee), Phillips Hue, Samsung Smarthings, Google Home Apple Homekit, Harmony, etc.

Cost: $24.99 to $66.99

Our Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Our Recommendation: Osram’s Sylvania Lightify is almost identical to the Philips Hue, but can cost $10-$20 less per bulb or light strip depending on what you’re looking at. However, there is a trade-off, in that Osram’s app is nowhere near as feature rich or developed as Phillips. That aside, it’s a strong contender, especially if you don’t mind using third party apps, or primarily want to use it with your existing system. You can read our full Osram Lighting Review here.

Smart lights are quickly becoming a trend, and it’s not really a wonder why. While they can initially seem like a gimick, most will save you money, allow you more control over your lighting, and allow you to use lights for a security measure. Plus, if you choose color options, you have instant mood lighting and party effects, which can be cool.

Do you have any of these lights? Let us know what you think.

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