Thomas Edison lit the world with the electric light bulb as we know it, and not much has changed since… what the heck… 1880?!?! That was until the introduction of smart bulbs. What exactly is a smart bulb? Let us enlighten you. Smart bulbs are Internet-connected bulbs that can be programmed to perform any number of tasks, such as acting as your morning wakeup call, turning on when you arrive home, setting the ambience for a romantic dinner and syncing up with other home devices like TVs, thermostats and smoke alarms, all controlled by an app. Check out our picks for smart bulbs that are really lighting things up!
1. LIFX ($100): This Lightbulb 2.0 is wifi-enabled, multi-color, energy efficient and lasts up to 27 years. Want to wake up with a natural increase in light? LIFX can ease you into your day. Want to see your home in a new light? With LIFX you’ll have over 16 million colors at your fingertips — ummm, ultimate dance party, anyone?
2. Emberlight ($49): This just might be one of the brightest bulbs in the box. The Emberlight allows you to turn any light bulb into a smart bulb, and we think it’s genius. What’s even more awesome is that setup is a breeze. After opening the box, all that’s left is to add a bulb and set up the wifi. Emberlight plays nice with most devices and connects seamlessly to your smartphone or your smart watch. If you’re in the market for a versatile smart bulb, Emberlight might make you flip the switch.
3. Stack Alba Starter Kit ($150): It took the smarts from a Tesla engineer and a NASA employee to answer the mind boggling question of “Why are these lights on with full power when sunlight is coming through the window?” The answer? A better bulb. Meet Alba, a responsive smart bulb that really gets to know you. Much like the Nest thermostat, Alba is created to learn your day-to-day routine and adjust itself accordingly. With a built-in algorithm, Alba allows you to rely on the bulb itself and not so much on the app or your smartphone. Alba can change brightness and color based on the time of day, the room and even who’s in the room. It will also dim or shut off the lights when there’s a lot of ambient light or if you’ve left for work.
4. Nanoleaf Bloom ($40): Known as the world’s most energy efficient smart bulb, the Nanoleaf Bloom is a bulb that will last and last and last. Boasting a lifespan of 30,000 hours, the equivalent of over three years, the Nanoleaf bulb uses innovative LED technology to last up to 20 times longer and save up to 88% more energy as an incandescent bulb. Go ahead, reduce your energy bill and save the planet by reducing your carbon footprint.
5. TCP Connected Smart LED Light Bulb Kit ($80): If color schemes and light-induced wake-up calls are too much bulb for you, then we think you’ve found your bulb with TCP’s Connected. Open the box, and you get two bulbs, a wireless gateway and a remote control. To get things started, simply turn off the fixtures where you want to install the LED bulbs, screw in the bulbs, connect the gateway to your wireless router and download the TCP Lighting app… things are about to get brighter. This bulb is no frills and a lot of function.
6. The Barlight: Designed and built by Michael Kleinpaste, The Barlight is a far cry from the light bulb as we know it. This carefully crafted study in human interaction allows you to experiment with color and light in your environment. Encased in an attractive walnut bar with a frosted glass facade, the sleek design of The BarLight allows it to lean against a wall or hang or rest on a solid surface, while altering the color and mood of any room. Via a remote server, The Barlight can be programmed to change colors to reflect the temperature, skim popular social networks and reflect the digital world’s mood and even signal surfing conditions on the Pacific Ocean. Info can also be sent from your device to sync the light to music. Take a photo and it can match the color of a sunset. You can even set the light to softly turn on over a period of time. Did we mention its power comes from a rad red cloth cord?! (via Universal Mind)
7. Lumen Bluetooth Smart Bulb ($70): Not cheap, but affordable, Lumen chose to put the dimmer on plush features to keep this bulb in the budget-friendly range. Straightforward installation makes setup as simple as downloading the Lumen app, screwing in your bulb and turning on your lamp. Lumen has a whole family of smart bulbs that revolutionize how we interact with light. If you have an IKEA-sized budget, put the LuMini to work for you or get creative with the funky and fun Lumen Strip. Go ahead and illuminate your imagination.
8. LG Smart Lamp ($32): LG’s first smart bulb won’t be left behind in the smart bulb race. The light connects through both Bluetooth and wifi, letting it pull sync-based features like turning the lights on or off, dimming them right from your device, slowly awakening with an alarm clock feature, tricking would-be burglars into thinking you’re home, flashing when you get a phone call or flipping into party mode (with Android) and pulsing to the beat of the music. Currently, it’s only available in Korea. Let’s hope it beams itself stateside soon.
9. Philips Hue ($60): If you haven’t heard of Hue, you’re definitely in the dark when it comes to smart bulbs. Hue is all about personalizing light. Set the perfect tone (with over 16 million colors to choose from) for any mood at any moment. Get notified by Hue with built-in alarms and even set your lights to turn on the moment you walk up to your front door. Personalization appears endless, and you can have your lights tell you when you get an important email, notify you of weather changes, emit a gentle reminder that dinner is ready or even use a photo from your tropical vacation as its light color palette. Who says you can’t relive that spectacular sunset right from your living room?
10. Samsung Smart Bulb: Practical and purposeful in comparison to its counterpart, Philips Hue, Samsung’s bulb offers a color range from warm to cool white. No disco parties here. Its lifespan is around 10 years. Via the app you can operate up to 64 bulbs at once. The only caveat? The price is up in the air still.
11. RoboSmart LED Light Bulb ($40): Choosing to operate via Bluetooth rather than wifi means that the RoboSmart LED bulb will always be less costly for development and less likely to break since there are fewer parts. It’s just the bulb and an Android or iOS device — no gateway, router or wifi to hassle with. Use your device to control bulbs, set timers, control dimming or assign the bulb to a specific room.
12. WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set ($100): There are a whole slew of WeMo products that are designed to work together to automate your home and make life simpler. With the WeMo App, you can control Smart LED Bulbs, WeMo Switch, WeMo Motion, WeMo Light Switch or WeMo Insight Switches. This LED lighting starter kit works with Android, Apple and Kindle devices and very soon with IFTTT, which will allow you to set triggers to send you a text or email when the front door opens, to turn the lights on when the sun sets and to make it appear that you’re home even when you’re not. Magic.
13. GE Link ($15): Sharing many of the same attributes as its smart bulb competitors, the Link sets itself apart with a price that can’t be beat. Beyond that price tag, it illuminates colors more accurately and vividly. In order to connect, the Link requires that you have smart-home hub, Wink.
14. Ilumi ($90): Featured on Shark Tank and backed by Indiegogo and Kickstarter, the Ilumi bulb has received a LOT of attention. This energy efficient bulb emits the perfect light for every occasion, with features like alarms, location triggers and effects. This Bluetooth bulb can be controlled with any Apple or Android device. Go ahead screw one in and see your world be Iluminated!
Will you be outfitting your space with a smart bulb? Enlighten us with your top picks in the comments below.