Best Smart Lightbulbs

I tried 10 bulbs—from brands that include GE Lighting, LIFX, Philips, TP-Link, and Wyze—and found you don’t have to spend a lot to get a super-smart bulb

multiple glowing colored lightbulbs Photo: Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Thinking about upgrading to smart lightbulbs? You’re not alone. According to the 2022 Statista Global Consumer Survey, 32 percent of U.S. respondents own smart lighting products, such as plugs and bulbs.

It’s easy to see—for this smart home reporter, at least—why smart lightbulbs are becoming so popular: My living room smart lights automatically turn off and on when I leave and return home. My smart porch light turns on precisely at sunset, all year long. And my kitchen, living room, and office lights automatically turn off with a simple “goodnight” to Alexa. If your lights are smart, you can control them from a smartphone or digital assistant (no need to get up and flip a switch), and on certain models—including all the ones I’m reviewing here—you can even change their color to one of millions to suit your mood or event.

Smart lightbulbs are generally offered in three types that vary in price, with most brands making some combination of:

  • Dimmable bulbs, the most affordable of the bunch, can simply change brightness.
  • White tunable bulbs allow you to change the color temperature from a warm white to a cold white, or anywhere in between, as well as dim their overall brightness.
  • Multicolor or color-changing bulbs can be set to one of millions of different colors. They also offer white-tuning and dimming.

I decided to review multicolor bulbs because they offer all the features of their dimming-only and white-tuning-only cousins. We believe the performance of these more limited models will be similar to that of the multicolor bulbs, and a few brands—Sylvania and Wyze—have confirmed that.

Here’s a quick look at the 10 smart lightbulbs I evaluated. The first five represent my top picks based on various criteria, including value, white tuning, and ease of setup, among others.

How I Chose the Smart Lightbulbs

As I mentioned above, I focused on multicolor smart bulbs because they offer all the features of dimmable and white-tunable bulbs. I then focused on the biggest lightbulb brands and manufacturers by marketshare, which include Philips (made by Signify), GE Lighting (maker of Cync), and Sylvania (made by Ledvance). I also wanted to include early smart lighting pioneer LIFX and a few budget-friendly brands: Cree Lighting, Feit Electric, and Sengled. Finally, I added TP-Link and Wyze, which are known for making a variety of smart home products beyond lighting.

More on Smart Lighting

I stuck to the most common type of lightbulb—the A19 bulb with an E26 base, which is commonly used for overhead light fixtures and plug-in lamps. Almost all of the bulbs I chose are 60-watt equivalent bulbs with a brightness of 800 lumens. The only exception is the Wyze Bulb Color, which is only offered as a 75-watt equivalent bulb with a brightness of 1,100 lumens (you can still use it in a 60-watt fixture).

With the exception of TP-Link and Wyze, most of these brands offer smart bulbs in a variety of shapes—such as BR30, PAR38, and A21—and lumen counts. Some brands also offer LED downlights that can be installed in can light fixtures, LED lightstrips to run along cabinets and bookcases, and even smart light switches (this helps avoid the dreaded issue of having your smart lights go dumb if someone accidentally turns them off at the switch). Keep these options in mind if you plan to outfit more than just a few lamps.

How I Evaluated Smart Lightbulbs

As CR’s smart-home reporter, I’m no stranger to working with connected devices. I live with them, too. In my own home, I’ve installed about 70 smart home devices—Lutron smart light switches, Samsung water leak detectors, and an LG smart refrigerator, to name a few. I also own seven Philips Hue White dimming-only bulbs (the $15 bulbs, not the multicolor White and Color Ambiance bulb, $55, included here), which I slowly amassed over the past five years, and a few Feit Electric smart bulbs that I picked up at Costco. My home lacks a lot of hardwired light fixtures, so I’ve used these bulbs primarily in floor or table lamps to brighten up my living room and bedrooms, as well as in my front porch coach light.

To evaluate the smart bulbs for this story, I purchased two five-head floor lamps (which gave me flashbacks to my bachelor pad days) so I could view all 10 smart bulbs side-by-side in my home office. I started by assessing how easy (or difficult) they were to set up in their respective apps. Once they were all set up, I began comparing their multicolor, white-tuning, and dimming performance to see which models offered the richest colors, the widest white color temperature ranges, and the highest and lowest brightness levels. That meant staring at a lot of bright lightbulbs that seared reds, blues, greens, and other vivid colors directly into my retinas. (Joking…mostly.)

If the bulbs supported digital assistants and smart home ecosystems—I focused on the big four: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit/Siri, Google Home/Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings—I considered how easy they were to integrate with each platform and how well each integration worked. I also checked the responsiveness of each bulb’s controls, both through their respective apps and through each integration’s app (the Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings apps).

Finally, I noted whether each bulb’s app offered native automation features, allowing you to do things like automatically turn on the lights at sunset or turn them off when you leave home. All of these bulbs will support those kinds of automations through Alexa, HomeKit, etc., but it’s nice when those features are built into the bulb’s app itself and don’t require extra hardware or another app download—especially if smart lighting is your first foray into home automation.

Lighting Facts: Terms You Need to Know

Before we dive in, here’s a brief primer on some of the lighting jargon you’ll find when shopping for smart lightbulbs.

  • Kelvin: A unit used to measure color temperature in lighting. Most of the bulbs we reviewed range from around 2000K to 6500K.
  • Lumens: A measure of the maximum brightness of a lightbulb. The higher the number, the brighter the bulb. The most common lumen count for lightbulbs is 800 lumens, but you will also see brighter 1100-lumen and 1600-lumen bulbs.
  • White tuning: The ability of a lightbulb to change its color temperature from warm white to cool white. Warm whites will look orangey and/or pinkish, while cool whites will look blue. Some bulbs also feature “follow the sun” or circadian lighting modes, where they gradually transition from warm white to cool white and back to warm white throughout the day, mimicking sunlight.

Editors’ Choice: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: Philips, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: Philips, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per A19 bulb: $55
Hub price: $60
Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Philips Hue, Walmart
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19, A21, BR30, PAR38, Downlight, GU10, Filament (A19, ST19, ST23, G25, G40)
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit/Siri, Google Home/Assistant, Samsung SmartThings

I know it’s expensive, but the Philips Hue bulb was hands-down the easiest to work with and it offered the most impressive performance. Because I own some Philips Hue White bulbs, I already have the Hue hub set up at home, so we only purchased the bulb to evaluate, not the full starter kit. The kit includes the hub and a handful of bulbs (three to four, depending on the kit) to get you started. While the bulbs do work without the hub, thanks to Bluetooth, I personally recommend getting the full starter kit so you can take advantage of all of the integrations and features that the hub provides. You can find starter kits for sale at Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Philips Hue, and Walmart.

In my evaluation, the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance simply did everything well. Setup was a breeze. Because I already own the hub, the app found the bulb in a matter of seconds. For those setting up a bulb for the first time, the hub’s setup process isn’t too difficult. All you have to do is plug it into your WiFi router, follow the app instructions, and press the big, round button on the hub to sync it to the app. In the years I’ve owned it, the hub’s been quite stable, too. I’ve only had to reboot it after a power or an internet outage.

The bulb itself generates bright, vivid colors and displays a good range of color temperatures, including a nice pinkish orange hue at its warmest temperature setting, a setting some bulbs struggled with. When it comes to brightness, the bulb was plenty bright at 100 percent, but what was really impressive was how dim it could get at 1 percent. In a side-by-side visual comparison, it could get to the lowest brightness level of the bunch.

The bulb works superbly with each of the big four ecosystems, with the bulb responding in under a second to their commands. It responds even faster in the Hue app, with commands executing almost instantly. And as an added bonus, the Hue app supports automations for sunrise and sunset, as well as for when you leave and return home.

Overall, the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance checks all the boxes for what a good smart bulb should do. Its only obvious drawback? The price tag. But if you want the very best, Philips Hue can’t be beat.

Best Value: TP-Link Kasa Smart WiFi Lightbulb Multicolor KL125

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: TP Link, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: TP Link, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per bulb: $15
Where to buy: Amazon
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19 in regular LED and filament styles
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home/Assistant, Samsung SmartThings

The TP-Link Kasa Smart KL125 was the clear runner-up in my comparisons, and at less than a third of the cost of a Hue bulb, it’s a solid value. It does a great job generating an array of colors and at 1 percent brightness, it was one of the dimmest bulbs behind the Philips Hue. Its responsiveness was also impressive, with the bulb responding to app commands from the Kasa Smart app, Alexa, Google Home, and SmartThings almost instantly. The bulb offers some useful automation features, including automations based on sunrise/sunset and changes in other TP-Link smart home devices.

The TP-Link bulb isn’t without flaws, though. At 100 percent brightness showing white (not colors, which tend to be dimmer with smart bulbs in general), it looked like the dimmest of the bunch. It was still plenty bright, but in my visual comparison it did fall a tad short. I also ran into a hiccup during the setup process. The bulb creates its own WiFi network so the app can find it, and on the first attempt, the app failed to connect to the bulb’s network. On the second attempt, it worked and the bulb was set up in minutes. Finally, the bulb lacks automations for when you leave and return home, meaning you’ll have to rely on another smart home system (like Amazon Alexa) if you want that functionality.

Still, none of those flaws are big issues. The bulb works surprisingly well considering its budget-friendly price tag and it offers enough features to please most people, especially those who are new to smart lighting.

Best $10 Bulb: Cree Lighting Connected Max LED Smart Bulb

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: Cree, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: Cree, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per A19 bulb: $10
Where to buy: Amazon, Lowe’s, Walmart
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19, A21, BR30, PAR38, Downlight, Filament (A19, B11, G25, ST19)
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri Shortcuts (not HomeKit), Google Home/Assistant, Samsung SmartThings

If you want to replace a lot of bulbs and get the most bang for your buck, you’ll probably want to go cheap. Luckily, there are a number of multicolor smart bulbs that cost just $10 a pop (and their white-tuning-only and dimming-only siblings cost even less, sometimes just $7 to $8 per bulb). The best $10 bulb among those I reviewed is the Cree Lighting Connected Max LED Smart Bulb.

The Cree bulb is easy to set up and its controls through the Cree app, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home are speedy. It offers solid dimming performance compared with the other bulbs, but its multicolor and white-tuning performance didn’t really stand out, falling in the middle of the pack.

The bulb also works with Apple Siri Shortcuts and Samsung SmartThings, but those integrations could use improvement. (Siri Shortcuts allow you to program voice commands for Siri without using Apple HomeKit, which requires manufacturers to essentially pay Apple a royalty called a “program fee” and consumers to purchase additional Apple hardware.) It’s unclear from the Cree app or packaging that the bulb uses Siri Shortcuts, and when I finally tried the feature I found it tedious to set up, as you need to create a new shortcut for each voice command you want to use (“Turn on the lights,” or “Dim the lights to 50 percent,” for instance).

The SmartThings integration was much easier to set up, but it wasn’t perfect. The bulb would take a second or two to respond to commands and some of the preset colors in the SmartThings app didn’t match up with the colors displayed by the bulb.

Last but not least, the bulb lacks automation features for sunrise/sunset and when you leave/return home. But it does offer such features for time, weather changes, and changes in other Cree smart devices. Overall, the Cree smart bulb is a decent choice if you want the basics for a low price. The TP-Link above only pulls ahead of Cree thanks to its better automation features, color-changing abilities, and SmartThings integration.

Great White Tuning: LIFX Color E26

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: LIFX, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: LIFX, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per A19 bulb: $35
Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy, LIFX
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19, BR30, Candelabra, Downlight
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home/Assistant, Samsung SmartThings

LIFX got its start on Kickstarter roughly a decade ago, making WiFi smart lightbulbs long before they became the norm among manufacturers. But today it’s unclear if LIFX will be around in the long run. According to a LIFX Reddit post, its parent company, Buddy Technologies, recently entered receivership. While LIFX stresses this will secure the company’s future, receivership means the parent company could be sold or enter bankruptcy.

As a result, we would only recommend purchasing these bulbs if you plan to use them with Apple HomeKit, which is a locally controlled smart home system. That means the bulbs will continue to function through HomeKit even if LIFX goes out of business and their servers are turned off. (And honestly, it’s just as well, as I found Amazon Alexa had a clunky setup experience and Google Home took up to three seconds to make a change to the bulb.)

Setting all that aside, the LIFX Color E26 is a solid smart bulb, with particularly impressive white tuning that has a claimed range of 1500K to 9000K. Indeed, at each extreme, the LIFX was the warmest and coldest of all the smart bulbs. It also offers great multicolor and dimming performance, as well as fairly responsive controls via the LIFX, Apple Home, and SmartThings apps.

Easiest to Set Up: Philips Smart WiFi LED Color and Tunable White A19

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: Philips, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: Philips, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per A19 bulb: $13
Where to buy: Home Depot, Walmart
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19, A21, BR30, PAR38, Downlight, R20, Filament (A15, A19, ST19, BA11, G25, G16.5)
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri Shortcuts, Google Home/Assistant, Samsung SmartThings

This bulb from Philips is an all-around good smart bulb, it just didn’t stand out enough to be one of my top picks. It was a breeze to set up and was the only bulb to not require you to make an account for basic app controls. Its controls are speedy, it produces great colors, it dims well, and it works flawlessly with Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings. Its white-tuning performance, though, couldn’t compete with the other bulbs and had warm tones that were a tad pink. The bulb also had a slower response time with Google Home and no true automation features. Despite that, the Philips Smart WiFi line is still worth considering, especially if you need an obscure shape or size of bulb—it has one of the widest ranges of bulb types and sizes on offer.

Cync Direct Connect Full Color A19 Smart Bulb

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: Cync, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: Cync, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per A19 bulb: $13
Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy, Lowe’s, Target, Walmart
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19, BR30, PAR38
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home/Assistant

GE Lighting’s Cync Direct Connect Full Color A19 Smart Bulb doesn’t have a lot going for it. Its app controls are quite speedy and it displayed nice, rich colors, but that’s about it. Its white tuning and dimming performance were in the middle of the pack, and its Alexa and Google integrations were buggy, getting disconnected from each system if I cut off power to the bulb. The bulb also lacked any real automation features, just letting you program the bulb to do things at specific times of day.

Feit Electric RGBW A19 Smart Bulb

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: Feit, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: Feit, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per A19 bulb: $10
Where to buy: Ace Hardware, Amazon, Costco, Lowe’s, Menard’s, Walmart
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19, A21, BR30, PAR38, Downlight, Filament (ST19, ST21, G30)
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri Shortcuts, Google Home/Assistant

The Feit Electric RGBW A19 offers great automation, speedy controls, and an easy, straightforward setup process, but it doesn’t do a great job of being a lightbulb. All of its colors look dim and muted, even at 100 percent brightness, and its white tuning doesn’t offer good range. On its warmest color temperature setting, the Feit had the coldest white of all the bulbs. If this is your budget, you’ll be better served by the Cree, TP-Link, or Wyze bulbs.

Sengled Smart WiFi LED Multicolor A19 Bulb

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: Sengled, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: Sengled, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per A19 bulb: $18
Where to buy: One-pack at Amazon; two-pack at Amazon, Best Buy; four-pack at Amazon
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19, BR30, B11, Filament (ST19)
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home/Assistant, Samsung SmartThings

For the money, the Sengled ​​Smart WiFi LED Multicolor A19 Bulb just can’t compete with our more affordable budget picks from TP-Link and Cree. Its setup process was confusing compared with the others, it doesn’t get as bright as some of the other bulbs, and its white-tuning produced pinkish hues on the warm end and pink/blue hues on the cold end. The bulb was quite responsive and worked well with Alexa, Google Home, and SmartThings, though.

Sylvania Smart WiFi Bulb A19

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: Sylvania, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: Sylvania, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per A19 bulb: $15
Where to buy: Amazon, Ledvance
Bulb types and sizes offered (in multicolor and white): A19, BR30
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home/Assistant

The Sylvania Smart WiFi Bulb A19 is another lightbulb that isn’t bad, but it doesn’t particularly stand out, either. It was easy to set up and its app controls were speedy, but its performance in my multicolor, white tuning, and dimming evaluations was just so-so. And while it worked fine with Alexa and Google, its controls in those apps were always a bit sluggish, taking a couple of seconds for the bulb to react. If you want a $15 smart bulb, the TP-Link is a better bet.

Wyze Bulb Color

screenshot of color lighting app, white lightbulb

Photos: Wyze, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports Photos: Wyze, Daniel Wroclawski/Consumer Reports

Price per bulb: $11.50
Where to buy: Two-packs at Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart, Wyze; four-packs at Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart, Wyze
Bulb types and sizes offered: White Tunable A19
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home/Assistant

Unlike its competitors, Wyze doesn’t offer an 800-lumen multicolor smart bulb. Instead, the company offers the Wyze Bulb Color with a brighter 1100 lumens for about the same price as many competing 800-lumen bulbs. If you want a brighter bulb from the other guys, you’ll have to spend a few bucks more.

In my side-by-side visual comparison, the Wyze Bulb Color was noticeably brighter than the others when displaying colors, but not so much when displaying whites. Still, it did a great job with displaying vivid colors, white tuning, and dimming. And it offered plenty of options for automating your lights, including using sunrise/sunset, your home’s location, and other Wyze smart home devices.

The downsides to this bulb are its frustrating setup process (the bulb’s pairing mode ended before I could start pairing in the app) and hit-or-miss responsiveness: Controls in the Wyze app were sometimes instant and other times took up to two seconds. For the Alexa app, it took one to three seconds, while the Google Home app took about two seconds.

This product evaluation is part of Consumer Reports’ Outside the Labs reviews program, which is separate from our laboratory testing and ratings. Our Outside the Labs reviews are performed at home and in other native settings by individuals, including our journalists, with specialized subject matter experience or familiarity and are designed to offer another important perspective for consumers as they shop. While the products or services mentioned in this article might not currently be in CR’s ratings, they could eventually be tested in our laboratories and rated according to an objective, scientific protocol.

Like all CR evaluations of products and services, our Outside the Labs reviews are independent and free from advertising. If you’d like to learn more about the criteria for our lab testing, please go to CR’s Research & Testing page.

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Home Content Creator Daniel Wroclawski

Daniel Wroclawski

I'm obsessed with smart home tech and channel my obsession into new stories for Consumer Reports. When I'm not writing about products, I spend time either outside hiking and skiing or up in the air in small airplanes. For my latest obsessions, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@danwroc).