So what set of smart home LED bulbs should you get? We’ve been using a variety of smart home light bulbs over the last few months and we can tell you that there are three winners depending on your home setup. The Philips Hue lineup or the Nanoleaf Aurora are the two products you should be looking at for Apple Home. For Alexa, pay attention to the Life/Lifx+ in addition to the Hue and Aurora. Scroll down to see what other options you have in our Top 5 Smart Home LED lights list.
What are the best Smart Home LED Lights?
*Sept. 2017 Update – Added Lifx/Lifx+ bulbs, removed Sylvania Osram and Ikea Tradfri from list.
At SmartHome Reviews Eh!, we base our reviews and videos on actual usage. So we’ll leave it all the marketing fluff and focus on using the product in our own homes. With smart home gadgets, it’s quite frustrating at times because we’re constantly adding/removing plugs and switching lightbulbs between Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home and ruining all the copper leads in our rooms to test smart home light switches.
For the impatient, here’s the TL:DR list for the top 5 smart home LED lights:
#1 – Lifx+ (Amazon US/CA/UK/DE) or on eBay)
#2 – Philips Hue Color Ambiance (Amazon US/CA/UK/DE or on eBay)
#3 – Nanoleaf Aurora (Amazon US/CA/UK/DE or on eBay)
#4 – Lifx (Amazon US/CA/UK/DE) or on eBay)
#5 – Nanoleaf Smart Ivy (Amazon US/CA/UK/DE or on eBay)
For a full list of the smart home LED lights that we’ve reviewed, check out this comparison tool. If you’ve visited to site before, you may have noticed that the Sylvania Osram and Ikea Tradfri lights have been bumped from the list.
For this list, we’re going to lump all the Philips Hue Ambiance bulbs together rather than letting Phillips take up the entire list. Also, most of the products in the list are going to be actual light bulbs (except for the Nanoleaf Aurora) so we won’t include products like the Philips Hue Bloom and Hue Go. As a side note, if we had to choose between the two, the Hue Go is better.
Top 5 Smart Home LED Lights
The Lifx+ is the current king of smart home LED lights. BUT there is a GIANT caveat: The Lifx+ should be used in specific situations.
The standout features of the Lifx+ are the IR LED’s that are useful for night vision and the added weather resistance. These two features, coupled with the extra $20 dollars per bulb ($80 USD per bulb) means that the Lifx+ should be used sparingly. Either in a bathroom or as an outside light.
Other than the IR LED’s and weather resistance, the Lifx+ bulb is the same as the regular Lifx bulb. If you need to know more about the regular Lifx, scroll down as it is #4 on the list. The standout feature of the regular Lifx bulb is the brightness, lack of basestation and the Lifx app.
We will add that the Lifx+ isn’t compatible with Apple Home or HomeKit at the time of writing so if you’re running Apple Home, the best set of bulbs will be from the Philips Hue lineup. We’re hoping that this will change in the near future. If you need more info, check out our full review of the Lifx/Lifx+ bulbs.
Get an individual, two-pack, four-pack or six-pack of Lifx+ bulbs through Amazon!
#2 Philips Hue
Within this group, we’ve included the White, White Ambiance and Color Ambiance. The biggest difference between these products is the ability to customize the color of the light. If we were to break down Philips standard line of smart bulbs, the White and White Ambiance would score higher than the Nanoleaf Smart Ivy but lower than the Nanoleaf Aurora’s.
So why are the Philips Hue bulbs at the top of this list? Because Philips gives you the most opportunities to access your smart bulbs. Philips provides you with remote access, an Apple watch app and 3rd party app integration. Philips has done a great job ensuring that their bulbs can be used with any platform. This the exact opposite of the iKea Tradfri.
For example, you can use the Sleep Cycle to track your sleep and have the app sync with your Philips Hue bulbs. This integration combines two of our favourite ways to wake up!
Out of all the smart home light bulb system’s we used, the Philips Hue’s have been the most consistent. They stay connected and synced despite being moved from socket to socket. If you’re planning on using Philips Hue bulbs with Apple Home, check out the most useful Siri commands we’ve come across.
See how much the two/four/six-pack of Lifx+ bulbs are on Amazon!
#3 Nanoleaf Aurora
This is the only non-light bulb shaped product on this list but the Nanoleaf Aurora by itself can easily light up a room. We like the Aurora for the same reasons that we like the Smart Ivy. Nanoleaf decided to step outside the “frosted, round bulb” design and created something quite unique. Philips has traditional looking lights that are smart whereas Nanoleaf Aurora leaps out at you (and is a smart light). If you need help figuring out where to put an Nanoleaf Aurora, check out our comparison video.
The only downside with the Nanoleaf Aurora is the lack of standalone remote access as well as Apple watch integration. If those two things don’t matter to you and you have the wall space for it, the Aurora is worth getting. Portability is also going to be a problem but we managed to make our Nanoleaf Aurora portable.
We love our Lifx bulbs. Our biggest compliant is that it isn’t compatible with Apple Home but we’re hoping for a software update to the bulbs in the near future.
As we said earlier, the standout features of the Lifx bulbs is the brightness, the lack of basestation and the Lifx app. Lifx bulbs are a little more expensive on a bulb-per-bulb comparison but when compared to Philips Hue, you’ll save on the cost of the basestation. Our Lifx vs Philips Hue comparison has more info.
The 1100 lumen Lifx bulb is on average, 70% brighter than a Philips Hue bulb which makes it great for home offices. The brightness, coupled with a cool-coler setting will definitely help you focus on your work.
The Lifx app is awesome because of the effects that Lifx has included. Lifx effects are basically scenes on steroids. Our favourite effect is the music visualizer which changes the color of the lights based on the type of music and beat. This feature allows us to interact with our home rather than just existing in it. Something that doesn’t happen a lot.
See how much a group Lifx bulbs cost on Amazon!
#5 Nanoleaf Smart Ivy
The Smart Ivy lights are by far the coolest looking lights on this list. In fact, we had to add a design aspect to the smart light scoring system because of these Smart Ivy bulbs. We do have to give props to Nanoleaf for stepping outside the traditional “frosted, round bulb” design. The Smart Ivy bulbs look like something that would be found in Darth Vader’s man cave.
With the kudos out of the way, we’ll be honest with you, the Smart Ivy lights were hard to setup and use. It took multiple tries for our bulbs to sync with the base station and even now, one of the bulbs will reboot itself. The Nanoleaf app is focused on the Aurora so you’ll spend most of your time using another app to control the Smart Ivy bulbs. The Smart Ivy lights are dimmable but unlike every other smart home LED bulb in this list, doesn’t allow you to customize the color of the bulbs.
Products that made the list but where bumped from being a Top 5 Smart Home LED Lights
In general, we would stay away from these smart lights unless you have a serious affinity for Ikea products. We quite dissapointed with them because setting up the light bulbs wasn’t as easy as assembling a Kallax bookshelf. Even taking the pieces out of the packaging was frustrating. All the Tradfri products are covered in a giant piece of melted plastic that required a ton of elbow grease to remove.
In addition to the frustration of removing Tradfir, you also have to manually pair every light bulb. The bulbs do not get discovered automatically. With our first setup, we could (for the life of us) sync the third bulb to the base station. The unpaired bulbs also emit a high-pitched noise which is annoying.
Using the lights was much smoother after setup (if you can get it setup). The Ikea lights are dimmable and you can customize the shade of white you want coming from the bulbs. The Tradfri is also the brightest set of bulbs in this list at 980 lumens whereas every other bulb tops out at 800 lumens.
The only upside is the Tradfri base station can hide the cables which helps with keeping the base station area tidy. The area where our smart light bulb hubs go is starting to look like a big ball of cables and the Tradfri doesn’t contribute to the mess.
The only other downside worth mentioning is that the Tradfri isn’t compatible with other smart home platforms. There is an iOS and Android App but you can’t pair the lights with Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Home. You can only control the lights using Ikea’s own app (this is a deal breaker for us).
See if Ikea sells these lights on Amazon!
The Osram lights are color customizable, dimmable and Sylvania offers remote access outside of your chosen smart home platform. The standout feature for the Osram lights is the lack of a wired base station. In our opinion, it’s the only true wireless smart home led light system in this list. It still requires a base station but it looks like a smart plug.
For us, the biggest downside is the lack of compatibility with other smart home platforms. The Osram lights work well with Amazon Alexa but not with Google Home or Apple Home. This isn’t going to be a big deal for homes running Alexa but if you have multiple platforms, your going to run into access issues. If access is an issue, we’ll also note that there isn’t any wearables integration with the Osram lights.
Find out how much these Osram bulbs are on Amazon!
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