Buyer’s guide: the state of smart lights in Q4 2018

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It has been a big year for smart lighting. With new players entering the marketplace and prices falling, it’s about time we took stock. Here’s a look at the best smart lights you can buy in Q4 2018.

  • Do smart lights work with regular sockets? Yes, virtually all of them do. It’s the tech inside the bulb that changes.
  • Do you need to change your switches to use smart lights? Not necessarily. Many brands rely on apps or remote switches.
  • What are the best smart lights in Q4 2018? This roundup contains our top picks; dive into our Glow and Light section for more.

It has been a big year for smart lighting. Thanks to improving technology, smart lights are more versatile, and easier to use than ever before. If you’re looking to upgrade the illumination in your home, check out this guide before making a purchase.

Which smart lights should you buy?

The best option for you will depend on your needs. If you want to upgrade the lighting in one room, a standalone smart bulb should suffice. Most offer dimmer and color controls via smartphone apps.

Buyer’s guide: the state of smart lights in Q4 2018

Choose your bulbs wisely

Some low-end smart lights rely on Bluetooth, meaning you have to be within range to control the light. If that’s a problem, opt for something with Wi-Fi.

Choosing a bulb with Wi-Fi connectivity also means you can set up automations. For instance, many smart lighting setups allow you to create a daily schedule. Those with IFTTT integration can even react to the weather and switch on/off depending on your location. Some bulbs support Alexa and Google Home, meaning you can control them with vocal commands.

The disadvantage of Wi-Fi-connected lighting is that these systems tend to be more expensive. You may need to purchase a base station, as well.

The best smart lights in Q4 2018

With these attributes in mind, let’s take a look at the best smart lights available right now.

LIFX Mini Color Smart Bulb

LIFX Mini Color Smart Bulb - Buyer’s guide: the state of smart lights in Q4 2018

Get an instant upgrade with the LIFX Mini

This Wi-Fi-enabled bulb lets you set the scene through Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Home. Each LIFX Mini bulb connects to your home network, so there is no expensive hub to purchase.

Price: $35.99 USD

TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb

Buyer’s guide: the state of smart lights in Q4 2018

TP-Link’s smart bulb is very affordable (Credit: Trusted Reviews)

This smart bulb from TP-Link is both very affordable and easy to use. You can schedule the companion app and control the bulb via Alexa, Google Assistant, or Cortana.

Price: $20.99 USD

Philips Hue Go Portable Smart Light

Philips Hue Go Portable Smart Light - Buyer’s guide: the state of smart lights in Q4 2018

Philips Hue Go is totally wireless

If you’re looking for a table lamp, check out the Philips Hue Go. This beautiful device is completely wireless and compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant.

Price: $79.99 USD

Sengled Smart LED Multicolor Starter Kit

Sengled Smart LED Multicolor Starter Kit - Buyer’s guide: the state of smart lights in Q4 2018

Sengled offers great value (Credit: CNET)

You may not have heard of Sengled, but this starter kit offers impressive value. You get two tunable LED bulbs, plus a smart hub that links to Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT.

Price: $59.99 USD

Philips Hue Ambiance Starter Kit

Philips Hue Ambiance Starter Kit - Buyer’s guide: the state of smart lights in Q4 2018

Philips Hue Ambiance can handle 50 lights

If you want to upgrade your entire home, the Philips Hue Ambiance kit is a good starting point. It includes two A19 Bulbs, a remote dimmer switch, and a wireless hub that can orchestrate up to 50 bulbs. These lights also sync with Alexa and IFTTT.

Price: $129 USD

Google Smart Light Starter Kit

Google Smart Light Starter Kit - Buyer’s guide: the state of smart lights in Q4 2018

Use your voice with Google

If you’re a committed Google user, this lighting kit may be your best option. You get a Google Home Mini speaker for voice control, and a GE C-Life Smart Bulb to light up your home.

Price: $35 USD

The state of smart lights

Are you ready to embrace smart lighting? If not, why not? Join the debate in the comments!

The Gadget Flow Daily Digest highlights and explores the latest in tech trends to keep you informed. Want it straight to your inbox? Subscribe now.

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Meet Mark Myerson

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic.

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