Possibly more than any other device, the humble smart bulb could be considered as a prime candidate for ‘most essential item’ when it comes to the building a fully responsive smart home or home automation ecosystem.
In fact, whether you’re just starting out, or are already well underway on your smart home journey, the chances are smart bulbs are the first devices that make it into your connected home setup.
The ability to schedule, automate (for example with motion sensors), and pair with other connected devices bring almost endless potential to how you control and use the lighting in your home once you make the jump from regular to smart bulbs and lighting.
Where smart lights really come into their own however is the ability to control your lighting using your voice.
When paired with a smart speaker system, smart lighting is just a voice command away allowing you to keep your hands free and the lights on.
Getting Started with Smart Lighting and Voice Assistant Control
In this guide to voice activated smart lighting options we’ve taken a look at some of the best smart bulbs with a particular focus on how well they get along with the leading smart speaker systems from the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple.
Whether you’re thinking of opting for an Alexa controlled smart home, a Google Assistant ecosystem, or an Apple HomeKit setup, the aim of this guide is to point you in the right direction of the best voice controlled smart bulb for the job.
The essential functionality that all smart bulbs and lighting options carry out is effectively the same whichever brand or solution you end up opting for, with most offering the ability to switch on and off or dim to a required level.
Similarly, many of the best smart lighting solutions on the market today are going to offer compatibility with at least one of ‘the big three’ home assistant voice control systems out of the box.
With this in mind, the main things to look for when choosing the best smart light bulbs or devices for use with these voice controllers is the ease of setup and compatibility with each platform, the level of functionality, cross-compatibility with other devices, and of course, value for money.
Smart Bulb 101 – How Smart Bulbs Work
At the most basic level the best way to conceptualize how smart lighting works is to think of these connected lighting solutions as effectively standard light bulbs which are also able to connect to the internet or a local network (and therefore, can be controlled or automated in some way). The ways in which this connectivity is achieved varies with some utilizing wireless protocols like WiFi, while others favor connection options such as Bluetooth.
With the ability to ‘communicate’ with the network, other devices on it, and the wider world at large, smart lighting options usually (although not always) also require some form of bridge or smart hub to orchestrate their operation and bring everything together.
Hooking up to a hub provides smart bulbs with enhanced wireless connectivity benefits (such as allowing them to operate on common smart home standards like Z-Wave and ZigBee) and this can be advantageous if you’re looking to run a larger connected smart home ecosystem with potentially many devices over a larger area.
Similarly, if your goal is to maximize the automation potential of your smart home devices or you simply want to trigger multiple sequences and events based upon the actions of various devices (lights turning on when a smart smoke alarm activates for example), then a hub is literally designed to help make this happen with minimal fuss.
When it comes to installation and operation, the basics of smart bulbs are no different to their traditional counterparts. The major difference of course is the features available but with the exception of this connected functionality, the majority of smart bulbs are installed in exactly the same way as regular equivalents with the only additional step being a simple tie-up with your home network, usually carried out through a companion app.
Alternative Smart Lighting Options
But what about if you don’t want to replace all of the regular bulbs in your home with smart alternatives but still want to build smart functionality into your home lighting?
The good news here is that thanks to the increasingly wide range of smart switches now available, you can do just that.
In this instance, simply switching out (excuse the pun) your existing light switches with smart replacements, you can usually bring all of the connected functionality of smart bulbs to your home, while keeping your current bulbs exactly where they are.
This means all of the voice control and automation of a smart bulb, just controlled by the light switch itself rather than the tech built into a bulb.
Another option which is particularly relevant to existing free standing devices like lamps or bedside lights are smart plugs which work in much the same way as smart switches, albeit connecting to your legacy devices at the wall socket or power outlet and switching them off when required.
Again, the best smart plug options out there are fully compatible with the leading voice controller smart speaker systems meaning you can control additional lamps around your house with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri if required.
The Best Smart Lighting and Bulbs for Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit
Many of the top smart lighting options on the market today are designed to deliver some form of voice control through one of the major voice assistant platforms.
Some of these however, deliver more than others if you’re looking for the best smart bulb or lighting solution to control with your voice.
Here are some of the best in the business and what you can expect when you pair them up with s smart voice assistant.
Ever since they first took the smart home stage way back in 2012, Philips Hue have gained a reputation as one of the best smart lighting players in the business.
There are a couple of routes open to you if you’re looking to build a voice controlled smart lighting system around Philips Hue lights with options varying between color and white versions of everything from bulbs to stand alone lamps and light strips.
In terms of voice control functionality, Philips Hue bulbs and lamps are designed for compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit, and Google Assistant meaning you’re going to be well placed whichever platform takes top spot in your home.
If you’re settled on a Hue smart bulb setup but don’t know where to start, a good choice are the starter kits offered by the brand.
Available in either white light or color changing varieties, the Hue smart light bulb starter kits each come with four bulbs and the Hue Bridge, an essential device if you’re thinking of expanding your Hue bulbs or lamps further down the line (effectively acting as a hub for any Hue devices added to your setup).
With the ability to automate, remotely control via the companion Hue app, or activate using your voice and a connected smart speaker system, the plug and play design of the Philips Hue smart bulb starter kits make setup a breeze and allow for voice activated smart lighting in next to no time.Learn More About Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kits Here
The bulbs from smart lighting brand LIFX have held their position as one of the top connected light solutions against the likes of Philips Hue and for a while now and for good reason.
Offering a WiFi based smart lighting solution that delivers up to 16 million colors, the bulbs from LIFX are a good choice if you’re looking for lighting that doesn’t require a hub to get started.
Smart bulbs in the LIFX range are available in an ever-expanding range of white and color-changing options and have a reputation in the smart lighting market for delivering some of the best quality connected light for the money.
Beyond bulbs alone however, the LIFX family of smart lighting solutions also includes feature lighting options such as the Tile and Beam – easy to install, standalone lighting modules that can be strategically placed to complement your illumination setup.
Unlike the earlier, flat-topped iterations of the original LIFX bulbs, the LIFX Mini represents the brand’s move into the more ‘traditional’ shape of smart bulbs while still maintaining the trademark WiFi connectivity that’s found in the rest of the range.
In terms of voice control, the LIFX Mini is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit meaning that full, voice-activated lighting is a simple command away.
The LIFX Mini provides adjustable and dimmable light with the ability to choose between 16 million colors if you’re feeling adventurous and a complete range of warm to cool white lighting if you’re feeling practical.
As well as being easy to install and set up (just screw in, install the app, and connect to your home WiFi), the LIFX Mini delivers an output of 800 lumens – roughly the equivalent of a 60w incandescent bulb – while only using 9w of energy.
The best smart lighting solutions for use with voice control systems need to be simple to use, versatile, compatible, and reliably effective. If you want all of this and want WiFi connectivity without the need for a standalone hub to make it happen, then a smart bulb such as the Mini from LIFX is one of the best ways to get there.Learn More About the LIFX Mini Color Smart LED Light Bulb Here
The field is beginning to widen when it comes to cost effective smart lighting options and this of course, is welcome news if you’re looking to swap all of your traditional bulbs out for contemporary connected replacements.
With that being said, separating out the best from the rest in the lower price brackets can be a challenge.
This is where the Eufy range of smart lighting devices come into play, with the latest version (known as Eufy 2.0) offering a smaller, smarter (they now feature improved WiFi) solution at an excellent price point.
While the latest slimline flavor of the Eufy bulbs currently only come in plain white light variety, the V1 bulbs are still a solid (if slightly larger) option if you want to bring some color into your smart home lighting ecosystem.
The ace up the sleeve of the Eufy Lumos is its winning combination of smart lighting features and a bargain price tag, both of which make it a solid choice if you’re looking to install multiple bulbs around your home without breaking the bank.
As with bulbs from higher-priced alternatives such as LIFX, the Eufy Lumos utilizes on-board WiFi, doing away with the need for a dedicated hub to get a smart lighting system up and running.
However, unlike some of the smart bulbs commanding a higher price tag, there are a couple of important drawbacks that need to be considered with the Eufy bulbs.
Firstly, while Eufy lights are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, you’re going to want to look for another option if Apple’s HomeKit is your voice control system of choice.
Similarly, as mentioned already, Eufy’s latest smart bulbs currently only deliver white light (although these are still ‘tunable’ from soft white up to daylight).
With all of that being said, it’s still a tough proposition to find a no-hub smart bulb offering that comes in at this kind of price and with that in mind, if the points above aren’t deal breakers, then you could do a lot worse than these budget smart lights.Learn More About the Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb 2.0 Here