The best smart bulbs 2019: let there be smart coloured and white lights

Transform your decor the easy way, with smart bulbs from Philips Hue, Lifx, Ikea and more

Lifx bulbs best smart bulbs 2019 and best smart lights

If you're shopping for the best smart bulbs of 2019, we're here to help you out, and to show you how to pick the best smart lights from the also-rans. We've tested an awful lot of them recently, which means we can make some informed recommendations to inform your buying decisions.

And so welcome to the T3 best smart bulb guide for 2019, a comprehensive guide to point you towards the very best smart bulbs on sale today – and to help you work out what you should be looking for in the first place too.

There's no need to put off your best smart bulb search: you've got a raft of excellent products from Philips, Lifx and others to pick from, plus a host of amazing deals and discounts from retailers as the 2019 new year sales continue.

Providing you do your research (by reading this article), kitting out your home with the best smart bulbs available in 2019 has never been easier, or more fun.

Smart lights are small and simple accessories, but they can make a big difference to the feel of a room. You can really feel like you're in the future by turning your lights on and off from the sofa (or from the other side of town) with just your phone or a voice command.

At the time of writing, we think the Philips Hue bulbs and lighting system offer the best smart bulbs for 2019 in terms of features and functionality – Philips got into the smart lighting game before most of its rivals, and it shows.

However, there are still plenty of other lights that are well worth a look in our best smart lights roundup. Before we get to the best smart bulbs on the market today, though, first let's take a look at how you should decide which smart bulb system is right for you.

How to buy the best smart bulb for you

Ikea Tradfri best smart bulbs 2019

Smart bulbs are a great way to dip a toe into the smart home waters: they may not change your life overnight, but they're definitely fun little devices good for tinkering. They'll undoubtedly impress guests, and can prove surprisingly useful too (maybe have the kitchen light up whenever someone walks in).

If you've got some smart home kit already, get smart bulbs which play nice with everything else you own – the main ecosystems to look out for are Apple Homekit, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung SmartThings, and the larger brands (like Hue and Lifx) tend to offer good compatibility across the board.

Those of you who aren't so interested in building out a wider smart home ecosystem can go for cheaper options like the Ikea Trådfri system – these bulbs have their own app and remote, but don't talk to any other gadgets, which might not end up being ideal for a harmonious smart home.

You also need to decide whether you want smart bulbs best for cycling through all the colours of the rainbow, or just tuneable white bulbs, able to emit blue-ish whites or yellow-ish whites depending on your needs. Colour-changing bulbs look fancier, but these sort of white bulbs are arguably more useful.

A bulb's lumen rating (how bright it is) is important to consider, and you also need to make sure you buy a bulb which fits your lamp socket. Most smart bulbs feature an E27 screw fixing, but some manufacturers such as Philips and Osram offer a wide variety of fixings, including bayonet, GU10, and more, so it's always worth checking.

The best smart bulbs available in 2019: get the best smart lights for you

Philips Hue bulbs best smart bulbs and best smart lights

Philips Hue bulbs are, arguably, the best smart lights on the market today.

1. Philips Hue

Setting the smart bulb pace, Philips Hue smart bulbs are very advanced

Reasons to buy
+Newly updated app+Broad compatibility+Responsive in operation
Reasons to avoid
-Needs an extra hub device

The most well-known smart bulb is almost certainly Philips Hue, which has become synonymous with these devices – Philips has been putting out these bulbs for years, and there's now an impressive range of different types of lighting to pick from.

Perhaps the best way to get into the Philips Hue ecosystem is with one of the starter kits, which comes with two or three bulbs (screw or bayonet) and the Hue Bridge. That Bridge can connect up to 50 lights in one home, all ready to be controlled from the mobile app for iOS and Android app.

Hue lights come with a host of great features, including integration with the Apple Watch and our old friend IFTTT. The coloured bulbs are capable of showing 16 million different colours, so you shouldn't run out of options anytime soon. The devices also work with HomeKit, Alexa, SmartThings and a bunch of other platforms and apps.

Philips Hue really is the first option you should be considering when it comes to picking the best smart bulbs for you in 2019. Connecting a separate hub device directly to your router can be a pain, but it's certainly worth it, as it enables you to run the best smart bulbs on the market today.

Lifx bulbs best smart bulbs and best smart lights

Lifx produce some of the very best smart bulbs on the market.

2. Lifx

A worthy Hue competitor, Lifx smart bulbs deliver excellent smart lighting

Reasons to buy
+A breeze to use+Wide selection+Reliable operation
Reasons to avoid
-Can get expensive

Lifx bulbs started out life on Kickstarter, but they're now real, genuine products that do everything the best smart bulbs should – respond in an instant to commands from your voice, a smartphone app, or even a smartwatch. They fit in with other systems from Alexa, SmartThings, Nest and more.

Another point in the favour of Lifx bulbs is their design – these are some very nicely designed and built bulbs, with a vaguely futuristic look. What's more, they get the colours and the brightness just right.

Unlike Philips Hue bulbs, Lifx bulbs have a direct Wi-Fi connection integrated into the hardware, so there's no extra hub box required. It's not a huge issue, but it does mean you can get up and running quickly and cheaply (though as you add more Lifx bulbs the prices can start to creep up).

We really like the app too, which makes controlling individual bulbs or groups of lights a lot of fun. You can just turn them on and off manually, get them operating on a schedule, or add them to automated smart home routines involving other kit, so they easily earn a place on our list of the best smart lights.

Ikea Trådfri bulbs best smart bulbs and best smart lights

Ikea Trådfri smart bulbs offer a basic but functional smart light system.

3. Ikea Tradfri

Smart lights with your furniture, and one of the best smart bulb ranges going

Reasons to buy
+Simple to use+A choice of fittings+Very affordable
Reasons to avoid
-More integrations would be nice

If you've taken a wander around Ikea lately, you've probably noticed the Trådfri smart lights that have started popping up – they're a cheap, accessible way to get started in your best smart bulb search, though you don't get as many features as you do with products from the likes of Philips Hue and Lifx.

Both white light and coloured options are available in E14 and E27 sizes, though you only get screw rather than bayonet fittings. Spot lights and panel lights are available too.

We've added the Trådfri range to our best smart bulbs 2019 list because you get useful, straightforward functionality with no gimmicks – and because they're made by Ikea, the price is very appealing too. We're assuming that Ikea will continue to add to the range over time.

You do need a separate gateway or remote device to connect to your router for the advanced features (like light grouping), but there is now support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, making them simple to integrate into an existing system.

Hive Active Lights

Hive Active Lights

4. Hive Active Lights

The best smart bulbs for your Hive smart home system

Reasons to buy
+Different bulb types available+Simple to set up and operate+Works with a range of other kit
Reasons to avoid
-No standalone lighting options

Hive started out with a smart thermostat but has since expanded its range to include just about everything you might need for your smart home. The smart bulbs that Hive puts out are very capable and attractively placed, and well worth a spot on our best smart bulbs of 2019 list.

You can pick from standard bulbs (screw or bayonet), E14 candle bulbs, and GU10 spotlights, and the standard bulbs offer the full colour spectrum as well as different white temperatures. The range isn't quite as big as those offered by Philips and Lifx, but it'll be enough for most people.

As with Philips Hue, you need a hub attached to your router to use these lights (unless you hook them up to a Samsung SmartThings network instead). Within the app, you get colour changing and schedule setting features, and the smart bulbs work with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

TP-Link bulbs best smart bulbs and best smart lights

TP-Link bulbs are the best smart bulbs if you're after a simple smart lighting solution.

5. TP-Link Smart Light Bulb

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and IFTTT smart bulbs for an attractive price

Reasons to buy
+Simple to operate+Don't cost too much+Works with Google/Alexa
Reasons to avoid
-Limited range of bulbs

TP-Link has a limited range of products compared to Philips Hue and Lifx, and you can't do as much with these bulbs, but we've taken quite a shine to them nevertheless (pun intended). They're cheap and you can get them up and running very easily, without having to buy a separate gateway or hub.

Even better, these smart bulbs can work with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, so there's plenty of opportunity for integrating them in with the rest of your smart home. If you just need one or two basic lights to hook up directly to your Wi-Fi router then these are definitely worth considering as the best smart bulbs for you.

TP-Link seems committed to adding new products over time too, and considering it also puts out smart plugs and other bits and pieces, we don't think you're going to find these products abandoned anytime soon. Well worth a spot on our best smart bulbs 2019 list.

Osram Lightify best smart bulbs and best smart lights

Osram Lightify offer the best smart bulbs for something different.

6. Osram Lightify

From the people who do the lights for Eurovision!

Reasons to buy
+Plenty of options+Indoor and outdoor operation+Gateway is wireless
Reasons to avoid
-Initial setup can be tricky

You might not have heard of them, but Osram is one of the leading manufacturers in the lighting industry – and they have been known to do the backdrops for Eurovision, so there you go. If you've ever thought your home could use a bit more Eurovision glitz and glamour, then you know where to come.

From simple white bulbs to multi-colour top-of-the-range lights, there are plenty of choices in the Osram range: this is a more comprehensive solution than the likes of Ikea and TP-Link can offer, and it takes a bit more effort to set up too, so bear that in mind in your search for the best smart bulbs.

You can really go to town if you want to, with LED strips and garden lights included in the range. For all of this to work you're also going to have to buy yourself a gateway device, though thankfully it doesn't need a wired connection to your router like the Philips Hue Bridge does – so that's one point in its favour.

If you're looking to give your whole home a smart lighting revamp then Osram is definitely one of the best smart lighting options out there, but for smaller-scale projects and simpler operation you might be better off looking elsewhere.

Sengled Element Starter Kit best smart bulbs 2019

The Sengled Element Starter Kit gives you an affordable way into the best smart bulbs of 2019

7. Sengled Element

The best smart bulbs for a quick and cheap start

Reasons to buy
+Simple and affordable setup+Works with Alexa and Google Assistant

There are two main reasons to pick something from the Sengled Element range as one of the best smart bulbs for 2019 – their simplicity and their low price. If you want to save some money, give them a link.

Despite the low price you get plenty of functionality here, including lighting schedules, and support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant control. You do need to set up a central hub, but that hub can then control up to 64 bulbs.

Both white and coloured bulbs are available, in both screw and bayonet fittings, so you should be able to find something to suit your needs at home.

Xiaomi Mi LED Smart Bulb

Xiaomi smart bulbs are a great way to get started with smart bulbs on a budget

8. Xiaomi Mi LED Smart Bulb

Affordable smart bulbs that connect direct to your Wi-Fi

Reasons to buy
+Attractive price+No separate hub required
Reasons to avoid
-Only comes in E27 screw fitting-The app could do with some improvement

The Xiaomi Mi LED Smart Bulbs have now launched in Europe and the low price makes them an attractive purchase if you want to add a few to your home and you're not already invested in a smart bulb ecosystem from a brand such as Philips Hue.

To use, simply screw the bulb in, pair it with the Mi Home app and then use the app to connect the bulb to your wireless network – there's no separate hub required. Now you can use the app to remotely turn the light on and off, change its colour and  brightness, or set it on a timer. You can also control the lights via Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (Apple Home Kit support is promised for Q2 2019).

As a basic remote-control light with adjustable colours, the Xiaomi Mi LED Smart Bulb is great for the price. It doesn't offer the range of options that you get from systems such as Philips Hue or Lifx but then it doesn't ask the higher price of those set-ups, either. It also only comes as an E27 fitting, so if you're after a B22 or GU10 bulbs, you'll need to look elsewhere.