If you're after the best smart bulbs for 2020, you only need one guide: this one. We've picked out the best smart lights from the crowd to save you having to sort through them all yourself, and considering the number of smart bulbs we've tested, we'd like to consider ourselves experts on the subject.
Besides pointing you towards the best smart bulbs you can buy in 2020, we'll also tell you about some of the specs and features you need to look out for, with the aim of removing some of the confusion and stress around putting together your smart home.
There's no time like the present when it comes to starting your best smart bulb search in earnest. With a plethora of excellent products now on the market from Philips Hue, Lifx and others, plus plenty of great deals and discounts to check out, there's never been a better time to start adding extra intelligence to your lighting.
Do your research (reading this article is a good start), and fitting out your home with the best smart bulbs of 2020 has never been easier to do, or more fun.
Smart lighting and smart bulb considerations
Smart lights are small and relatively simple accessories, but they make a substantial difference to the feel of a room and a home: turning your lights on and off from the sofa (or from the other side of town) with just your phone or a voice command really makes you feel like you're living in the future.
We think the Philips Hue bulbs and lighting system offer the best smart bulbs for 2020 in terms of features and functionality, at the moment anyway – Philips got into the smart lighting game before most of its rivals, and it shows in terms of the range of smart bulbs it offers and the quality of its apps.
That said, our round-up includes plenty of other very impressive smart lights that are worth a look. Before we get to the actual list of best smart bulbs on the market though, first let's take a look at how you should decide which smart bulb system is going to be right for you.
How to buy the best smart bulb for you
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.
The best smart bulbs available in 2020: get the best smart lights for you
1. Philips Hue
Setting the smart bulb pace, Philips Hue smart bulbs are very advanced
Reasons to buy
The most well-known smart bulb is almost certainly Philips Hue, which has become synonymous with these devices – Philips Hue lights have been on sale for years, and there's now an impressive range of different types of lighting to pick from, enough to kit out every home and garden.
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 2020. 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.
A worthy Hue competitor, Lifx smart bulbs deliver excellent smart lighting
Reasons to buy
Lifx bulbs started out life on Kickstarter, but they're now real, genuine products that 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 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 these Lifx bulbs easily earn a place on our list of the best smart lights.
3. Ikea Tradfri
Smart lights with your furniture, and one of the best smart bulb ranges going
Reasons to buy
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 (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.
4. Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb
Start with the basics of smart lighting
Reasons to buy
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.
5. Hive Active Lights
The best smart bulbs for your Hive smart home system
Reasons to buy
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.
Up and coming smart bulb ecosystem
Reasons to buy
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.
7. TP-Link Smart Light Bulb
Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and IFTTT smart bulbs for an attractive price
Reasons to buy
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 actually intended). They're cheap and you can get them up and running very easily, without having to buy a separate gateway or hub.
Affordable and reliable is usually the theme with TP-Link kit. The manufacturer has a strong track record in networking gear, 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. 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.
8. Nanoleaf Light Panels Rhythm Edition
A smart lighting system with a difference
Reasons to buy
After something a little bit different in your search for the best smart bulbs of 2020? Well the Nanoleaf set might be just what you're after, flat panels that tessellate and can change colour and brightness in response to music.
These panels can be affixed 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 expand beyond the nine panels you get with this starter kit to cover a whole room if you want.
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.
9. Osram Lightify
From the people who do the lights for Eurovision!
Reasons to buy
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.
10. Sengled Element
The best smart bulbs for a quick and cheap start
Reasons to buy
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.
11. Xiaomi Mi LED Smart Bulb
Affordable smart bulbs that connect direct to your Wi-Fi
Reasons to buy
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.