The best smart bulbs 2020: top smart lighting from Philips Hue, Ikea, LIFX and more

Meet the best smart lights with Alexa and Apple HomeKit support, from Philips Hue, Lifx, Ikea and more

best smart bulbs 2020 and best smart lights

Light up your home with the best smart bulbs of 2020, and you'll get more than you might expect. Going smart gets you better bulbs, full stop: well-built LED lamps which are far finer than the boring non-smart variety. And, naturally, you get that extra layer. The smart one. The capabilities of the best smart bulbs might even surprise you with their depth.

Choose wisely and you'll get a smart bulb you can address with Alexa or the Google Assistant. You'll get control over the subtle ambiance of your rooms, with dimming, colour temperature changing, or lurid RGB options. You'll get something you can set on a schedule, and toggle on and off without reaching for the switch.

We've put this list together to cover all of the best smart bulbs you can buy. That means brands like Hue and LIFX, sure, but also Ikea's Tradfri range, up-and-coming brands like Innr, smart bulbs you might not have thought of - everything that's worth your money in the smart bulb market.

Not everything is compatible with everything else - many bulbs play nice with Hue, but that's not always the case - so if you're just starting out it's going to pay to make the right choice. Read on, and we'll help you decide what's best for you. 

Smart lighting and smart bulb considerations

Smart lights might be relatively simple things, easy to understand and perhaps even easier to set up, but they do have the ability to make a big difference to your life. Our top pick, at this point, is the Philips Hue range; they're not the cheapest on the market (though many Hue-compatible bulbs do come in at a lower cost) but the vast number of different smart bulbs available, from drop-in replacements for your ceiling lights to outdoor lamps, light strips and beyond, makes it the ecosystem of choice.

Best Philips Hue Outdoor lights
Best Philips Hue Starter Kit deals
Best Philips Hue deals of all kinds
Best Philips Hue Lightstrip deals

We might love it, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should go Hue. There's a wide range of kit out there; perhaps the hub-free nature and bombastic bulbs of, say, LIFX, might suit you better. Maybe you're interested in trying the up-and-coming Thread protocol with Nanoleaf's fresh Essentials range. Perhaps you want to save a buck with one of the many budget brands. Let's take a look at how you should decide on the right smart light ecosystem for you.

How to buy the best smart bulb for you

Ikea Tradfri best smart bulbs 2020

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 that you can tinker around with. They'll undoubtedly impress guests, and can prove surprisingly useful too (maybe you could 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, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings, and the larger brands (like Philips 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 such as the Ikea Trådfri system – these bulbs have their own app and remote, but don't fit in with wider ecosystems quite as well.

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 (and cheaper as well).

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.

Black Friday smart bulb deals

There are always great smart lighting offers among the Black Friday deals, and 2020 will be no different. Expect offers from Hue, LIFX and their competitors, including more budget options.

With Hue in particular, there are often deals on some starter kits, which are perfect for people getting into smart lighting. But we've also deals on lightstrips and the Philips Hue Play range before, so there'll also be great expansions for Hue lovers.

The best smart bulbs available in 2020: get the best smart lights for you

Philips Hue bulbs best smart bulbs and best smart lights


1. Philips Hue

Our T3 Awards 2020 Smart Lighting winner – and the best smart bulbs you can get

Reasons to buy
+Broad compatibility+Responsive in operation+Huge range of bulbs and light fittings

When most people think of smart bulbs, Philips Hue is the first brand that springs to mind. For good reason, too: Hue is a very well-established brand, having dominated the smart bulb market for years, and there's a massive range of different Hue bulbs to choose from. Hue uses Zigbee to communicate, giving it mesh networking capabilities which mean it'll reach far further than your router normally would, but this does mean you'll need a hub (either the Hue Bridge, an Amazon Echo, or something else with Zigbee chops) to pass the signals between a Hue network and your regular IP network. That said, recent releases in the line also include a Bluetooth radio, which is less broadly useful but handy for controlling bulbs in a pinch. 

We'd recommend beginning your Hue journey by picking up one of the company's starter kits, which generally include two or three bulbs (either with an Edison screw or a bayonet fitting) and that Hue Bridge. Each bridge supports up to 50 lights, which should cover just about any home lighting setup. You can link Hue bulbs with a whole host of different services and devices, from the Apple Watch to things like IFTTT - and they're compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and even slot nicely into HomeKit too.

The bulbs themselves are generally superb in terms of their colours, with a well-reproduced range of (apparently) 16 million RGB hues or, if you choose a white bulb, temperature options which let you set the bulbs warmer or cooler depending on the time of day and the atmosphere you're trying to create.

Basically, they're brilliant. Hue deserves to be your first choice if you're looking for the best smart bulbs for starting a smart lighting system. Yes, the requirement for a hub is awkward, but you'll get over it. They might not have the wacky effects of LIFX, but that's a style point that can't take away from Hue's substance. 

Because of the huge range of indoor and outdoor lighting types Philips offers, it's hard for us to point you to the exact bulb type you need for your house, so here's where you can find great prices on the Hue ranges:

Browse all Philips Hue lighting at John Lewis
Browse all Philips Hue lighting at Amazon UK
Browse all Philips Hue lighting at Currys
Browse all Philips Hue lighting at Best Buy
Browse all Philips Hue lighting at Amazon US

Lifx bulbs best smart bulbs and best smart lights


2. LIFX

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

Reasons to buy
+A breeze to use+Wide selection+Reliable operation

LIFX bulbs do everything that the very best smart bulbs should – respond in an instant to commands from your voice, a smartphone app, or even a smartwatch. They fit in with smart home systems from Apple, Alexa, SmartThings, Nest and more, and they all have Wi-Fi built in, so there's no need for a hub to use them with full smart home control.

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.

Having a direct Wi-Fi connection integrated into the hardware means there's no extra hub box required. It makes each bulb a little more expensive than a Hue bulb, but it does mean you can get up and running quickly and cheaply for your first smart bulb buy (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 these LIFX bulbs easily earn a place on our list of the best smart lights. If you think you'll only want one or two smart bulbs, they're an excellent option.

Browse all LIFX lighting at Amazon UK
Browse all LIFX lighting at Currys
Browse all LIFX lighting at Best Buy
Browse all LIFX lighting at Amazon US

Best smart bulbs - Nanoleaf Essentials

(Image credit: Nanoleaf)

3. Nanoleaf Essentials

Essentially some great little cheap bulbs and light strips

Reasons to buy
+Good price+Thread compatibility+Excellent app

Here's an odd move, but a welcome one, from perennial shapes-on-your-wall supplier Nanoleaf: a set of bargain-priced smart bulbs and light strips to give you control of more than just those pretty wall decorations. 

Probably the most interesting thing about the Essentials line, beyond its price, is support for Thread, a smart home protocol that's just now starting to emerge. Thread works in much the same way as the Zigbee of bulbs like those of Hue, giving the Essentials bulbs mesh networking capabilities. While you can address them without a hub, they are compatible with the Thread hubs in devices like the Nest Wifi and Apple Homepod mini, which offers a management advantage.

They're elegantly designed. We love the way the RGB bulbs look at least, even if the extendable light strips are pretty standard-looking, and you can rely on Nanoleaf's well-matured app to give you a good range of control options. One to sample, we'd say, and at the price you're not going to miss out on much if they don't meet your needs.

Ikea Trådfri bulbs best smart bulbs and best smart lights


4. Ikea Trådfri

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

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 2020 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 (such as controlling whole groups of lights), but there is now support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, making them simple to integrate into an existing system. Much like Philips Hue, here are other useful smart home accessories in the Trådfri range that supplement the bulbs, such as smart plugs and smart light switches. 

Even more interesting is that there are light panels that can be built into Ikea furniture, again fully controlled via the smart system – this is a really clever and unique touch. See the full range of Trådfri options below.

Browse all Ikea Trådfri lighting at Ikea UK
Browse all Ikea Trådfri lighting at Ikea US
Browse all Ikea Trådfri lighting at Amazon UK
Browse all Ikea Trådfri lighting at Ikea UK

TP-Link bulbs best smart bulbs and best smart lights


5. TP-Link Kasa

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

TP-Link has a more limited range of products compared to Philips Hue, and you can't do quite as much with these bulbs, but we've taken quite a shine to them nevertheless (pun actually intended). They're cheap and you can get them up and running very easily, without having to buy a separate gateway or hub. And the major bulb types are covered, of course, so there'll still be something great here for most people. 

Affordable and reliable is usually the theme with TP-Link kit. The manufacturer has a strong track record in networking and smart home gear, especially in this Kasa range, so you can buy safe in the knowledge that these bulbs are going to last, even if they don't have as many features as some rivals.

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. They don't work with Apple HomeKit though, sadly. 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 2020 list.

Browse all TP-Link Kasa lighting at Amazon UK
Browse all TP-Link Kasa lighting at Currys
Browse all TP-Link Kasa lighting at Best Buy
Browse all TP-Link Kasa lighting at Amazon US

Best smart bulb Nanoleaf

6. Nanoleaf Light Panels

A smart lighting system with a difference

Reasons to buy
+Will definitely impress the guests+All kinds of permutations possible

After something a little bit different in your search for the best smart bulbs of 2020? Nanoleaf's approach might be just what you're after: flat panels that tessellate to create walls of coloured light that you can graduate across your designs, and that can even pulse along with music.

The panels can be adhered easily to walls or the ceiling, and besides the music trick they can be set to run on a schedule, controlled manually from your phone, or even used as alarms to wake you up in the morning.

Everything works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit as well, so it's easy enough to combine the Nanoleaf range with whatever else you've got happening in your smart home. You can easily expand beyond the nine panels you get with the starter kit to cover a whole room if you want – and while we've pictured the triangular starter pack above, there are also square panels with their own starter kit, and hexagonal panels are just arriving too.

These smart lights aren't for everyone – just looking at the product picture should be enough to tell you if these are the best smart bulbs for you – but there's no doubt that they definitely stand out from the crowd and let you create some amazing ambiance.

Browse all Nanoleaf smart light panels at Amazon UK
Browse all Nanoleaf smart light panels at Apple Store UK
Browse all Nanoleaf smart light panels at Amazon UK
Browse all Nanoleaf smart light panels at Best Buy

Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb best smart bulbs 2020

7. Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb

Start with the basics of smart lighting

Reasons to buy
+Straightforward setup and use+Works with Amazon Alexa+Auto-schedule feature

Eufy is better known for its cleaning gadgets and is just getting started in the smart lighting market – so there's just one white bulb to pick from here – but the Lumos Smart Bulb is definitely worth a mention in our list.

It's simple to operate, the app is nice and polished, and you can control your Eufy Lumos bulbs with an Amazon Alexa command too. If you want, you can have your lights come on via a schedule, or switch on and off randomly to try and trick burglars into thinking someone's at home.

Eufy doesn't offer any coloured bulbs yet, but kit your house out with these and you've still got plenty of functionality to play around with – dimming, brightening, scheduling and so on.

These lights work without any kind of hub plugged into your router too, connecting directly like the Lifx bulbs, so you can easily add one or two to your home without spending too much. If you decide you want to switch to something else, you're not so much out of pocket as you might be with other systems.

Hive Active Lights best smart bulbs 2020


8. 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

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 2020 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.

If you already have Hive kit in your home then it makes sense to go for the bulbs as well, as everything is going to work seamlessly together.

Innr smart lights

(Image credit: Innr)

9. Innr

Up and coming smart bulb ecosystem

Reasons to buy
+Can work with several bridges+Plenty of bulbs to pick from+Very simple app and operation

Innr is a newer name in the smart lighting market but it's already attracting a lot of attention, with an impressively large range of bulbs to pick from that are simple to set up and use.

This is a smart lighting system that you need a bridge for, but you don't necessarily have to use the Innr Bridge if you don't want to – the bridges for Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings use the same kind of technology, so you can use them instead if that's more convenient.

You can pick from spot lights, standard bulbs, filament bulbs, candle bulbs, LED lights and more, both coloured and light (though there are no bayonet fitting options, just E14, E27 and GU 10 types).

While Innr might not topple Philips Hue or Lifx any time soon, and the app is a bit rough around the edges, we're impressed with the size of the range here, and the affordability of the prices. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Osram Lightify best smart bulbs and best smart lights


10. Osram Lightify

From the people who do the lights for Eurovision!

Reasons to buy
+Plenty of options+Indoor and outdoor operation+Gateway is wireless

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 2020


11. 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+Software apps do the job

There are two main reasons to pick something from the Sengled Element range as one of the best smart bulbs for 2020 – their simplicity and their low price. If you want to save some money, give them a look as you browse through the various options.

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. The app is nicely polished and a breeze to use, which helps.

Other smart bulbs might come with a bigger brand name attached, and more features to play around with, but that shouldn't necessarily put you off.

Xiaomi Mi LED Smart Bulb best smart bulbs best smart light


12. Xiaomi Mi LED Smart Bulb

Affordable smart bulbs that connect direct to your Wi-Fi

Reasons to buy
+Attractive price+No separate hub required

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, Amazon Alexa and Apple Home Kit.

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.

Xiaomi now makes a whole host of different gadgets and electronics, and the bulbs are the same as the other kit that it makes: well built, maybe a bit rough around the edges in terms of style and app support, and very reliable and affordable.