Converting your house lights into smart lights can be one of the easiest and most impactful things you can do when making your home smart/ automated. Nothing can influence the mood of your house or customised to personal taste than lighting.
When smart lights first came onto the scene they were largely automated via the switch. Switches had to be replace and controls had to be managed through dedicated systems and were largely the purview of smart home ‘installers’. Fast forward to the age of pervasive wifi and smartphones and smart lights can be implemented by literally anyone with the literal and simple change of a bulb.
As is our way at AutomateOn we are judging the best in terms of ease of use and implementation. Our main criteria for smart lights are;
- can be implemented into existing lighting systems. That is, no rewiring or change of switches is involved and can implemented by simply swapping out bulbs. And for bulbs we’ll judge them if they’re available in both standard screw (E26) and bayonet (BC/B22) style.
- lights are relatively affordable and accessible. While affordability is important it shouldn’t be the main driving factor (especially since smart lights are getting exponentially cheaper) but what’s more important is that you should be able to get additional and replacement bulbs easily.
- no hubs are required. It seems like all smart light makers want you to install their hub (and app) to manage. We tried to weed out the ones that forced you to do this without the ability to control the device from your preferred platform.
- Works across the big 3 voice platforms of Google, Apple and Alexa. What good is a smart light if it can’t be controlled by any of the big voice platforms?
- can be automated via IFTTT or Zapier. Almost as an extension of voice assistant support, integration with IFTTT or Zapier should be considered absolutely required in order to implement any automation with these smart lights
Based on the above criteria our top recommended smart lights (in no particular order) are:
LIFX Smart Home Lights
LIFX are one of the more established brands in the smart light market. They’re very well covered in terms of bulb types; any type you have from screw to bayonet and anything in between, more than likely they have the type for you. They’re also one of the older brands that don’t require a hub. Their colour bulbs have the ability to set to 16 million colours set via their app. The LIFX bulbs can be controlled via Google, Apple, Amazon and even Microsoft’s voice platforms and also works with IFTTT.
Yeelight is a newcomer but have come out strong with a wide range of bulbs in its range. Most of their bulbs work across Google, Homekit and Alexa and are integrated with IFTTT (but not Zapier). Again, this another brand that doesn’t require a hub which is great to see.
Another plus for Yeelight is their industrial design. They often win awards for their design of their bulbs plus they’re one of the few brands that offer a smart LED filament bulb, similar to the old-style bulbs. These offer a warmth that sometimes white LEDs cannot.
It’s hard to talk about smart lights without talking about the giant in the space which is Philips Hue. It many respects Philips breaks a lot of our criteria for recommending them such as requiring a hub and price-point (their bulbs are a lot more expensive than their competitors) but areas they do excel is in ubiquity, accessibility and availability. You could walk into most home technology retailer and easily find Philips Hue products.
It’s fair to say that Philips was one of the first to enter the smart light market and has been a leader ever since. Because of this it has a wide range of products, works across all 3 major voice platforms and is integrated with both IFTTT and Zapier.
As expected Philips Hue has its own smart home app which you can control all various settings such as colour, dimming and grouping.
Our only major gripe with Philips Hue is the requirement. If you’re not the head of the household it might be a roadblock to get your smart lights working in your part of the house.
If you went with any of these smart lighting systems we’re confident you’ll be able to find the products pretty easily and will be able to customize it to meet your needs.