Smart lights can transform your space and your daily routine in ways regular lights can’t. I’ve used smart lights for years to change the ambiance of my apartment, automate lights based on the time of day and dazzle friends during movie night, all with a few taps on my smartphone or simple voice controls with a smart home hub.
To find the right smart lights for your space, we spoke to smart home experts about what to look for when shopping for smart bulbs. We also share Select staff-favorite smart bulbs to shop.
Our top picks
- Editor’s Pick: Cync A19 Color Smart Bulb
- Runner-up: Kasa A19 Color Smart Bulb (KL125)
- Good value: Wiz A19 Color Smart Bulb
How we picked our favorite smart lights
To recommend the best smart lights, Select staffers tried multiple smart bulbs and kept in mind the following criteria based on our experts’ guidance:
- Top-rated product: We only included products with at least a four-star average rating across major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Target.
- App compatibility: Nearly all smart bulbs can be paired with a proprietary app from the brand. We made sure all our included products’ companion app had at least a four-star average rating from reviewers on the App Store.
- Compatibility: We included lights that are compatible with different smart home ecosystems like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings.
- Hue: Smart lights are typically available in white, tunable white and full-color. White lights cannot be adjusted, but are often the cheapest. Tunable white lights have an adjustable hue, meaning they can be cooler or warmer depending on your preference. Full-color lights can be customized to nearly any color or tone you want, but are typically pricier. We tried full-color models, and included white and tunable white versions when available.
- Bulb Type: All of our recommended lights are A-type bulbs, also called standard household bulbs, which are the most common and compatible type of bulb in the U.S.
Our favorite smart lights
Our top picks come from established smart home brands like Kasa, Cync and Nanoleaf. We tried and recommended full-color bulbs, but have also linked white and tunable white versions when available. With all our recommended lights, you can control settings and schedule them to turn on and off remotely using your smartphone. We include important details we think you should know, like the bulb type and compatibility, at the bottom of each recommendation.
Editor’s Pick: Cync A19 Color Smart Bulb
These smart LED bulbs from Cync are what Select associate commerce editor Nishka Dhawan uses at home. They took her minutes to set up and were easy to pair with her Google Nest Audio smart speaker.
Similar to apps like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, the Cync app lets you set a schedule or routine for one or multiple lights. “During darker winter months, I set a schedule so that my home is already lit up by the time I return from work,” says Dhawan.
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home | Bulb type: A19 | Hue: Full-color
Runner-up: Kasa A19 Color Smart Bulb (KL125)
These smart lights from Kasa are a favorite of Select editorial projects manager Rebecca Rodriguez, who uses them throughout her apartment to set different moods. “My favorite color to use is red, especially when I’m watching an action packed show or movie,” says Rodriguez. “When I have friends over, we’ll change to more festive alternating colors.”
The lights connect easily to her Google Nest Hub and they respond very quickly to voice commands from Google Assistant, says Rodriguez. She particularly loves that she can control them from the comfort of her couch or in bed instead of having to use a light switch. You can schedule this bulb to turn on and off at fixed times through the Kasa app.
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home | Bulb type: A19 | Hue: Full-color
Good value: Wiz A19 Color Smart Bulb
Priced slightly lower than our other picks, these smart bulbs are a great choice if you’re looking for a more affordable option. Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin exclusively controls these smart LED lights in her apartment using the Wiz app or her Amazon Echo smart speakers. She also uses the app to group lights together and create routines in different rooms — she has device groups for her bedroom, living room, bathroom, office and entryway.
Malin also easily sets schedules for her Wiz lights through the app. On weekdays, her bedroom lights turn on a few minutes after her alarm goes off, which helps her get out of bed. During the winter, she customizesd her living room lights to turn on automatically when the sun sets. “Everyone who visits me wants to buy these lights after they see how they work,” says Malin.
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings (via Matter) | Bulb type: A19 | Hue: Full-color
For wide compatibility: Nanoleaf Matter A19 Color Smart Bulb
If you are looking for broad compatibility, consider these Nanoleaf Matter smart LED bulbs. They have the widest compatibility of our recommendations, able to connect to Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung smart homes.
I can adjust the color temperature, brightness and schedule through the Nanoleaf or Apple Home app. I use these smart bulbs in accent lamps in my living room and kitchen, and I schedule them to turn on with a warm tone when the sun sets.
You can set up these smart bulbs through the Nanoleaf app or via Matter, a new smart home protocol that simplifies the setup process, in my experience. To set up using Matter, you need to own a Matter-supported smart home hub like an Echo (4th Gen), HomePod Mini or Nest Hub. If you do, open your preferred smart home app, scan the QR code that’s printed on the side of the plug and the app should handle the rest. This process took me about two minutes using my Apple HomePod Mini.
Works with: Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa (via Matter), Samsung SmartThings (via Matter) | Bulb type: A19 | Hue: Full-color
How to shop for a smart light
In my experience, smart lights function very similarly to each other. There may be hundreds of brands to choose from, but most are going to offer a proprietary app, adjustable colors and hues, scheduling features and voice control.
Below are a few things to keep in mind as you shop for a smart light, according to our experts.
When it comes to smart lights, you get what you pay for. There can be a lot of subtle differences between lights at different price points that you won’t notice until you compare them side-by-side, according to Patrick Miltner, vice president of software product management at Savant, a home automation company. “If you buy the cheapest full-color bulb you can find and compare it to something more expensive, you’ll oftentimes notice the more expensive bulb has significantly more light output, particularly for colors,” he says.
Light and smart home compatibility
Just like when you buy a regular light bulb, pay attention to the kind of socket your light fixture uses and check the product page details or packaging to determine if the smart light is compatible. While most of the Select staff’s lamps and light fixtures use A19 bulbs, you should double check your existing fixtures and product packaging to make sure a new bulb is compatible with your home, says Melissa Mohr, the director of smart home at Amazon. Decorative lighting like chandeliers and sconces, for example, often use less-common B or C-type bulbs instead of A-type.
Meet our experts
At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Patrick Miltner is the vice president of software product management at Savant, a home automation company.
- Melissa Mohr is the director of smart home at Amazon.
Why trust NBC Select?
Harry Rabinowitz is a reporter at NBC Select who has covered consumer technology for years. For this piece, he leveraged his personal experience and the experience of the Select team using smart bulbs in their daily lives. He also spoke with smart home industry experts and conducted thorough research of other top-rated smart bulbs.