If you’re looking to kick off the new year with brand new smart lights for your home, then you’ve come to the right place.
Amid lots of new options on the market, we have rounded up five smart lighting systems and bulbs that stand out from the pack in all relevant areas: performance, value, ease of use, and compatibility with smart home systems.
Launched in October 2012, the Philips Hue line was unlike anything that came before it. Its original starter pack, which includes three lights and a Hue bridge, was built to replace regular A19 bulbs. Both white and colour Hue bulbs boast white temperatures between 2200K and 6500K. They can change to more than 16 million colours and effects that are remotely controllable. Additionally, Philips offers a range of lamps and light fittings with built-in Hue bulbs. Customers can choose from 50 different shapes and sizes to suit their home’s interior.
Hue lights are compatible with various platforms including IFTTT, Logitech, Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit. But despite their convenience and endless customisation options, there are downsides to owning Hue lights. For one, the bulbs can be pricey, and unlike other smart lights that communicate directly with your phone, Hue bulbs need a hub and a bridge, both of which come at an extra cost. That said, the latest model in the Hue series called the Philips Hue White A21, 1600 Lumens does not require a hub and is controllable via Bluetooth.
Lifx offers a lot of the superb features of Hue minus the hefty cost. Featuring a maximum brightness at 1,100 lumens, their bulbs also come in 16 million colours with over 1,000 shades of white alone. Unlike most smart lights, Lifx's bulbs connect directly to Wi-Fi, so there is no hub required. Simply screw the bulbs into a light socket and you’re all set.
The latest Lifx Mini is one of the best smart lighting options for smaller fixtures. It’s more compact compared to other brands and integrates seamlessly with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit. The Mini also features various effects including a strobe and candle flicker and can sync up to music. The Mini Day & Dusk allows you to modify colour temperature while the Mini Color gives you the option to choose from 16 million colours.
While they share similarities, Lifx bulbs are often more expensive than Philips Hue. The difference is you don’t have to purchase extra gear or a separate hub to make it work.
If you want to make a creative statement in your home, the Nanoleaf is the perfect choice for you. It’s an interactive modular lighting system that makes use of LED panels which connect together to form customisable patterns. Today, the Nanoleaf comes in three versions: the square canvas, the triangular panel, and the hexagonal shape.
One starter kit includes a base station and nine panels, which can be linked together through supplied clip-in chips and attached to the wall using sticky tabs. Each panel uses 2 Watts and is up to 100 lumens bright. You can purchase additional panels to create larger designs.
Since the default linkers that come with each kit are flat, you need an even surface for your panels. You have to purchase additional Flex Linkers from the Nanoleaf store if you want to mount your designs on angled surfaces or have them bent around corners.
The Nanoleaf offers an easy-to-use space-saving light source. Simply arrange the panels into your desired layout and mount it to the wall. Then use the Nanoleaf app to design your own scenes, produce movement patterns, set up a custom playlist, or have the panels change colours on schedule. Using the app’s Rhythm Edition feature, you can even sync your light panels with your music and create a stunning audiovisual display. Like most smart lights, Nanoleaf products seamlessly integrate with Google Assistant and Alexa voice commands.
The LifeSmart Cololight looks and functions like the Nanoleaf except the panels are attached to a base instead of mounted on a wall. They come in packs of three with a plastic base or packs of six alongside a stone base. Cololight works well with Alexa and Google Home, and comes with various colour presets that change on command.
The panels can be arranged in any shape or pattern. Not having to stick the panels to the walls means there’s more flexibility in terms of changing their layout. You can easily rearrange them to suit your mood or décor.
With the LifeSmart Cololight PRO, users can take advantage of the latest built-in pickup module. It collects and converts music and external sounds into a beat with matching colours and lighting effects.
While Cololight is cheaper than the Nanoleaf, the downside is that the LED panels take up more space on a stand than on a wall. They may not be ideal for small or cramped spaces.
LEDVANCE is one of the leading names in both traditional and smart lighting solutions. Their Smart+ bulbs offer RGB colour control and approximately 16 million colour options, all dimmable from warm to cold white for flexible lighting scenes.