Best smart light bulbs for 2019 (plus switches, light strips, accessories and more)
I've spent six years testing out smart lights for a living. Here's the stuff I'd buy.
Best color-changing smart bulb
Like I said, I think Lifx lights belong right at the top of your list if you're looking to add a smart pop of color to your home's lighting scheme. The brand sells a variety of bulbs and smart lights that all put out bright, great-looking colors, all of which can connect with Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant with absolutely no need for a hub.At $35 each, the Lifx Mini is your least expensive way in. Despite the Mini branding, it's actually brighter than Philips Hue's color-changing bulb, and the colors are as vivid as they come, outshining every other competitor that we've tested to date. The full-featured app is a bright spot, too, with easy control of your lights via convenient color dial and lots of nice extras like animated effects and an autoscheduling Day & Dusk mode, as well. .
Best smart light switch
If you've got a hardwired light that you'd like to be able to automate, you can swap the bulb out for a smart bulb -- or you can just smarten things up at the switch. That's an especially cost-effective approach if that switch controls several bulbs at once.Among all of the smart switches that we've tested at , our favorite has long been the Lutron Caseta. Lutron is a lighting aisle mainstay, and its smart switches use a proprietary signal called Clear Connect. That means that they require the Lutron Bridge in order to connect with your router, but the good news is that Clear Connect is about as swift and reliable as wireless protocols come.Aside from the strong performance, Lutron's Caseta switches come in a variety of colors and designs, and apart from the dimmable version seen here, you can also get , that can serve as a second switch for three-way setups, and also . If you really want to go big, you can add to your setup, too. Whatever you choose, all of it is compatible with just about everything, too: Alexa, Google, Siri, Nest, IFTTT -- you name it.A single Lutron Caseta switch with the mandatory Lutron Bridge and a Pico remote that you can mount in the wall or take with you around the house is available on Amazon right now for $78. That's a great price for a solid foundation that you can build on whenever Lutron stuff goes on sale. .
Best smart lighting accessory
Smart bulbs are great, but do you know what's not so great? The fact that turning things off at the switch cuts their power, and cuts your power to control them via voice, app or automation. That's an all-too-common smart home headache, especially if you're living with kids or houseguests.Thankfully, Lutron came up with a clever solution this year. It's called the Aurora, and it's designed to pair wirelessly with Philips Hue lights. You literally snap it in place over top of whatever dumb light switch is wired to your Hue lights. That locks the switch into the on position and lets you turn things on and off at the wall without actually cutting power to the bulbs -- that way, your automations and voice controls will keep on working even when the lights are switched off. .
Best outdoor smart lights
You don't have a ton of outdoor smart lighting options, but some interesting ones are starting to emerge. The latest (and the one that I'd buy into if it were my home we were talking about) is the platform, which includes a variety of hard-wired and battery-powered outdoor lights with built-in motion sensors. Along with triggering the lights to come on, those motion sensors can also trigger your Ring cameras to start recording.Some of Ring's lights are admittedly a bit ugly, but I'm a fan of the battery-powered Ring Pathlights, pictured above. You can stake them anywhere you like, which makes it easy to add motion sensors in places on your property where you couldn't before. For instance, I can just imagine adding one along the path to an outdoor, above-ground pool -- if your child ever wandered in that direction, you'd receive a notification on your smartphone.A starter kit with two Ring Pathlights and the mandatory Ring Bridge costs $80 -- from there, you can expand your setup with additional Pathlights for $30 each, or with any other Ring products you might have your eye on. .