Best Smart Lighting 2018 – Buyers Guide

Smart light bulbs and smart lighting systems are controlled by your smartphone, tablet or voice activated speaker so that you can change the power and intensity of the bulb.

Most require a central hub to work. This allows you to add other items to the centre at a later date, from extra bulbs to motion sensors and heating systems.

It all sounds incredibly complicated but really doesn’t need to be. If you are looking at getting your home up and running with smart lighting, have a read through our guide on where to begin:

The Best Smart Lighting – Our Top Picks

Best Smart Lighting Starter Kit: Philips Hue
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Philips Hue White Smart Bulb Starter Kit
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  • Fitting: Bayonet/Screw/Spotlight
  • Requirements: Bridge
  • Energy Rating: A+
Best Smart Table Lamp: Philips Hue Go
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Philips Hue Go
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  • Fitting: Bayonet/Screw
  • Requirements: Central hub
  • Size: H3.1 x W5.9 x D5.9cm
Best Smart Lighting Strip: Philips Hue LED
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Philips Hue LED Lightstrip Light Strips Kit
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  • Requirements: Central bridge
  • Energy Rating: A+
  • 20000 yrs bulb life

Best Smart Lighting Starter Packs

Philips Hue White Smart Bulb Starter Kit

Control your lights from anywhere with the Smart Bulb range from Philips Hue. With an unbeatable selection of extra bulbs available, and the ability to control 50 items at once through the app, it is an unbeatable choice in our eyes.

This starter kit is one of the cheapest (yet most reliable) on the market, and all of the added extras are pretty good value too – although it can get pricey if you want to make every bulb in your home smart, or purchase coloured bulbs. Included in this kit are two white bulbs and the necessary bridge (central hub); the perfect starting place.

The app has a selection of pre-programmed settings available, so you don’t have to worry about constantly adjusting to get it just right. From Concentrate to Energise and Relax modes, you don’t have to worry about the lighting not suiting your mood or task.

And it is compatible with Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant devices too so that you can use voice control. Updates are automatic as it has ZigBee Light Link technology, so once it is fitted, there is no more worry for you.

We like

  • Simple connection
  • Dimming variability without extra products

We disike

  • Price can quickly add up to kit your whole home out

Final Verdict

By far the range with the biggest choice available, and it works with the largest range of other smart products. May be pricey but the best investment in the long run

+ Specifications

  • Fitting: Bayonet/Screw/Spotlight
  • Requirements: Bridge
  • Energy Rating: A+

+ Downloads

Philips Hue Starter Manual

Download

Hive Smart Light Warm White Twin Pack B22 And Hub

Included in this pack are two white bulbs and the central hub/bridge.

Once it is all set up, you can use your phone or tablet to control the brightness and hue of the light through the Hive app. There is a central on/off button and 11 smaller buttons to dim the light by fixed percentages from 5-100%. No extra dimmer switches are required.

Each bulb lasts for up to 25,000 hours, so there is plenty of life in them. The Hive system is compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Home speakers for full voice control. Or, you can set schedules for when you’re not at home to make it look like somebody is.

Hive recommends that you don’t use the manual switches while your light is connected to the app, as this overrides the WiFi connection. Which can get annoying if it takes you a little while to find your phone, load the app, wait for it to find your lights and then select the settings.

We like

  • Dimming through the app
  • Great lifespan

We disike

  • Once it is connected you shouldn’t control the light manually

Final Verdict

A substantial choice of settings and the long life makes it a good, reliable choice - especially if you have other Hive products

+ Specifications

  • Connections Available: Bayonet/Screw
  • Requirements: Hub

+ Downloads

Hive Smart Light User Manual

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TP-LINK LB110 Smart WiFi LED Bulb

What makes this different from other smart lights is that it doesn’t require a central hub, which is perfect if you only have one or two lights you want to control and no extras to buy and maintain.

Just control it from your Android/iOS device, and you’re good to go. TP-Link devices work by connecting to the wifi and using this as a sort of bridge, so if you do add an extra product later, it will automatically connect to your little hub.

If you struggle with sleeping at night, the Circadian mode can help you by slowly dimming the light, allowing you to fall asleep naturally. Also perfect for any little ones who don’t like the dark. Scene mode lets you save the current lighting for instant use in the future, and Away mode will create the impression somebody is in the house by turning the bulbs on and off at certain times.

When paired with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can use voice control, so you don’t have to rummage around for your phone to turn the lights off before bed.

It is also energy efficient – up to 80% less used compared to ordinary 60W bulbs. All this without losing any power or quality.

We like

  • No hub needed
  • Up to 22.8-year lifespan

We disike

  • None!

Final Verdict

No hub means less cost, and the ability to make your lighting smart without the need for extra unnecessary bits and feeling like you should be adding other items

+ Specifications

  • Connections Available: Bayonet/Screw/Spotlight
  • Requirements: None

+ Downloads

TP-LINK LB110 Smart WiFi LED Bulb User Manual

Download

Belkin WeMo Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit

Using the WeMo Link as a central hub, you can turn the lights on and off from anywhere as well as setting timers. Perfect if you’re going away on holiday or want them all to be on for when you arrive home.

Control them individually, or all together as a group if you want to dim them all ready for cinema night.

The bulbs can be controlled with a really extensive range of devices, from iPhones and Android phones to Kindle Fires. They are really bright but only use 9.5W of power, so even if they are on for three hours every day, they could last for 23 years.

We like

  • Long lifespan
  • Manage up to 50 WeMo bulbs from one hub

We disike

  • Configuration is a pain Support for Alexa and Siri is limited

Final Verdict

Good at it's basic main role, but there are others on the market which are easier to manage and have more specifications

+ Specifications

  • Connections Available: Bayonet/Screw
  • Requirements: Central hub

+ Downloads

Belkin WeMo Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit User Manual

Download

Best Smart Lighting Table Lamps

Philips Hue Go

The most versatile lamp in your home. It isn’t just a table lamp, but also is entirely portable. The battery can last for up to three hours, and you can choose the right lighting to suit your environment.

When plugged into the mains power, you can choose from 16 million colours to get the most precise background possible. Don’t panic if you take it out but leave your smart device at home; it can be activated by pressing the intelligent control on the top of the light.

It can act as one of the 50 items you add to your Philips Hub for full control possibilities.

We like

  • Portability Wide colour choice
  • Compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and more

We disike

  • Only lasts for three hours when unplugged

Final Verdict

A really novelty item which will please people who love their gadgets. The price is great too, and the portability is a nice touch

+ Specifications

  • Fitting: Bayonet/Screw
  • Requirements: Central hub
  • Size: H3.1 x W5.9 x D5.9cm

Philips Hue White Ambiance Wellness Table Lamp

A light which also acts as a health and sleep aid lamp.

The natural white light helps you to wake up, energise, concentrate, read and relax when you need it the most. It is well known that light influences our alertness, concentration, mood and behaviour, and through the app, you can pick the lighting which will boost all of these.

It comes with a white light, but there is access so you can change it to a colour bulb instead if desired. It also comes with a dimmer switch too for the price, so you’re good to go straight away.

We like

  • Timeless design
  • The health aspect is innovative

We disike

  • Expensive for a lamp but easily worth the investment

Final Verdict

Brilliant if you want to go all out as opposed to just jazzing up your existing lighting options

+ Specifications

  • Connections Available: Bayonet/Screw
  • Requirements: Central hub

+ Downloads

Philips Hue White Ambiance Wellness Table Lamp User Manual

Download

Best Smart Lighting Strips

Philips Hue LED Lightstrip Light Strips Kit

Two metres of flexible lighting which can be cut down to size. Flex it, Shape it, Cut it or attach it to any solid surface. You can also add metre-long extension strips for a length up to 10m.

Choose from 16 million colours, or get the lighting to sync with your current TV, music or movie through the app. Place under kitchen cupboards, behind your entertainment hub or light up those hard to reach dark corners.

With a 20,000 hour lifespan, you don’t have to worry about replacing it anytime soon. Which is good, as they are pricey for what they are. But if you want all of your lighting to be Philips Hue, it is a price worth paying.

Combine with the Philips motion sensor to detect any movement after dark, or so they turn on when you nip to the kitchen for a drink without dazzling you.

We like

  • Can cut to size for an exact fit
  • Really long lifespan

We disike

  • Expensive for what they are
  • Once cut, they can't be refixed

Final Verdict

Strip lighting is versatile and adaptable anyway, but Philips have made a product which you can really make your own - with everything from colour choices to size and flexibility

+ Specifications

  • Requirements: Central bridge
  • Energy Rating: A+
  • 20000 yrs bulb life

+ Downloads

Philips Hue LED Lightstrip Light Strips Kit User Manual

Download

Lifx Z LED Light Strip Starter Kit

Using the lifx app, you can set schedules and access your bulbs anywhere and anytime via the cloud.

The adhesive strips have been designed to give you full lighting control while blending into your environment. The good news is that there are no extra requirements needed and you’re good to go once it is set up. You just have to peel the backing off.

As it only uses 17W, you can keep it on for three hours every day, and it will still last 22.8 years. There are different colour relationships available, from subtle gradients to bold contrasts.

You can connect extra strips to create a length up to 10 metres, and as it works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and the Google Assistant you can control it from your home.

We like

  • No hubs or bridges needed
  • Long life

We disike

  • 2m strips - less adaptable to size than the Philips ones

Final Verdict

One of the best options for anyone who just wants the strip lighting and to get going immediately rather than investing in a hub/other add-ons

+ Specifications

  • Size: W 0.3 x D 200 cm

Help and Resources

Smart Lighting Buying Guide

Price

The starter kit prices are the cost for about two bulbs and any required central hub. In most cases, a single bulb will not work on its own. So while the prices may seem expensive, you are getting a lot for the money and everything you need to get going.

Also, remember that most of these bulbs have a lifespan of 20+ years, which is a lot more cost efficient than getting a new bulb each year.

Type

Most smart lighting is available as single bulbs so that you can turn your existing lamps into intelligent lamps with no effort.

There are also complete lights available, from table lights to ceiling lamps, as well as strip lighting.

Control

As a starter, most lighting is controlled via the suitable app on your smartphone or tablet.

If you’re creating an entire smart home system, you may be able to add extras on at a later date which can also control your lighting. Smart Speakers which are voice controlled, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home, can also be compatible with your smart home hubs, and there are often things such as motion sensors available which will trigger lighting.

The Philips Hue range lets you control up to 50 lights from one device.

Compatibility

There is the whole Alexa vs Google Assistant vs Siri debate, which comes up a lot in questions about your smart home. Some accessories are compatible with all systems, but some may only work with one.

Fit

As with all single light bulbs, they come with different fixtures. Most have a range to choose from but just note your lamp fitting first, whether it is a bayonet or a simple screw fit. Some screw bulbs are also available with bayonet adapters.

There is also a lot of smart bulbs available for spotlights.

Colour

This is also not as straightforward as it may seem. A lot of ordinary smart bulbs you see will be plain white, but you will be able to adjust the hue, warmth and brightness.

There are also bulbs available which allow you to pick colours out for ‘atmospheric’ lighting. The Philips Hue and Hive ranges have products with 16 million colours to choose from, which is probably just a few more than you can name.

This means that you can have a 10-minute nap in soft lighting with the same bulbs as you’d use to get the party started, without the need for extra lamps.

FAQ’s

Which smart lighting is best for me?

If you already have specific smart home products, such as heating by Hive or a smart speaker, looking into a lighting set which works with everything you have is a must.

Think about your future setup too. Want to add extra bits and bobs like heating, cameras and video doorbells? See if they would work together.

Who makes the best smart lighting?

Hive, TP-Link, Philips and Belkin, who we have featured, are all front-runners regarding controllability, adaptability and the wide range of compatible devices.

They may be the most expensive options, but it is worth getting something that is value for money as well as reliable and will last years.