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How smart bulbs completely changed my relationship with lighting

My favorite smart light bulb is inexpensive, accessible and easily customizable via smartphone — to change its color or dim and brighten its shine.
From “warm white” to “fireplace,” the Philips Wiz Smart Wi-Fi LED Color Bulb can make it feel like it’s daylight when it’s nighttime and autumn when it’s spring.
From “warm white” to “fireplace,” the Philips Wiz Smart Wi-Fi LED Color Bulb can make it feel like it’s daylight when it’s nighttime and autumn when it’s spring.Target

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The significance of light in my apartment has grown steadily over the years. Where once I relied on my phone’s flashlight to lead me to sleep in the evening, for example, I now rely on my phone to tell my smart bulbs to dim and eventually turn off. The Philips Wiz Bulbs I bought make this possible. They connect to my smartphone via Wi-Fi and they’re individually customizable via the Wiz smartphone app. The app makes it easy to change each light bulb’s colors — or turn them off completely — straight from my phone. The Wiz Bulbs don’t cost very much either, making them a good first step into the world of smart lighting.

Philips Wiz Smart Wi-Fi LED Color Bulb

The Philips Wiz Smart Bulbs let you light up your room in a bunch of different colors — millions, according to Philips. Not only are there a variety of different whites —from “Daylight” to “Night light” — but Philips offers a handful of preset color stories: “Candlelight,” for instance, which filters through different shades of yellow, or “Ocean,” which filters through different shades of blue.

Buying a separate hub to control your smart lights can require a lot of setup and legwork. What I love about the Philips Wiz Bulbs is that they don’t require a hub to use — you can simply operate your Wiz bulbs with your smartphone in order to turn your lights on and off or simply increase and decrease their brightness. If you’re someone who loves your home assistant, you can pair your Wiz light with smart home systems, too, like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri Shortcuts, and control your lights with your voice.

Finally, they’re relatively inexpensive: Per bulb, you’re looking at about $12, significantly lower than the same cost for other smart lights with similar features, which can run anywhere from $14 to $30.

Other smart bulbs to consider

Here are a couple other smart light bulbs that might work for your home instead, including a smart bulb hub system and a smart bulb that’s very similar to the Wiz but costs more money.

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Bulb

If you’re looking for more control via Hue hub and you don’t mind spending more, you may want to consider the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance smart bulb. Because the Philips Hue bulb uses wireless Zigbee technology to operate, it won’t clutter your Wi-Fi network, the brand says. When you add a hub to your Hue bulb, you can control it remotely via app as well as integrate it with other Hue accessories. But Philips Hue bulbs are expensive, costing nearly three times as much as the Philips Wiz Smart Wi-Fi LED Color Bulb. Adding a hub for further customization will cost even more. The Philips Hue bulb has a 4.7-star rating from more than 33,000 reviews on Amazon.

Wyze Color Bulb

You’ll find another set of options from one of our favorite budget tech brands, Wyze. If the Philips Wiz is out of stock or otherwise unavailable — or you need a brighter light overall — the Wyze Color Bulb is a couple dollars more expensive than the Philips Wiz bulbs I own but otherwise similar. It’s still very affordable, and you can configure its color and brightness through a smartphone app. After running through tests, Wirecutter found the Wyze bulb emitted 1,100 lumens compared to the Wiz’s 800 lumens. Select editor Gideon Grudo is also a fan of Wyze bulbs and told me he bought a handful to try out and now has 10 of them throughout his home. “My Pixel lets me create a widget with quick access to each bulb, and the colors are gorgeous,” he said, adding he creates some club-like combinations in his basement for workouts. The Wyze Color Bulb has a 4.5-star rating from more than 1,200 customer reviews on Amazon.

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