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Best smart lighting: Philips Hue, Ikea, Osram bulbs and more

Having a smarthome isn’t just about clever appliances or smartphone-controlled heating, you can also get clever lights too and that doesn’t just mean smartphone control, it means all sorts of great features.

You switch lights on or off everyday and they can play an essential part in creating an ambience in a room. Some smart lighting solutions enable you to recreate the colours within a particular image, while other solutions just mean you don’t need to get up off the sofa to turn the lights off.

Here are some of the best smart lighting options to consider.

Our pick of the best smart lighting

Here’s our choice for the best all-round smart lighting on the market at the moment…

Philips Hue

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  • Features: Smartphone control, away-from-home control, scheduling, comfort dimming, ambience creation, wake-up, well-being, paint with light, sync with music, sync with movies, compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT
  • Bulb types available: E14, E27, B22, GU10, LED strips, Hue Beyond, Hue Go, Hue Bloom, Hue Iris, Hue Phoenix
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, Philips Hue bridge, Philips Hue app
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: Around £150 for the starter pack (three bulbs and a bridge), £49.95 per lightbulb thereafter

Philips Hue is probably the most well known when it comes to smart lighting and for good reason with numerous features and various bulbs, lamps and other lights, such as strips, available. The wireless system allows you to use your smartphone to not only switch the LED bulbs on and off, but pick the colour and brightness you want, as well as recreate colours within a specific image, like a sunset you uploaded to Instagram or a painting on your wall.

You can program specific times, for example waking everyone in the house up at 7am every day with bright lights and the Hue system also has a party mode for flashing in time with your music. Philips Hue is compatible with the IFTTT service, as well as Apple’s HomeKit, Google’s Assistant and Amazon Alexa, meaning you can create recipes to take your smart lighting to a different level or control them with your voice.

And the best of the rest…

Philips Hue might not be for everyone, especially as the bulbs aren’t cheap, but there is plenty of other great smart lighting out there. Here are the ones that you should also consider:

Hive Active Light

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  • Features: Smartphone control, away-from-home control, scheduling, comfort dimming, ambience creation, Hive Actions, compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Bulb types available: E27, B22, E14 and GU10 all available in Active Light Dimmable and Active Light Cool to Warm White. Only E27 available in Active Light Colour Changing
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, Hive hub, Hive app
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: Around £99 for the starter pack (two bulbs and a Hive hub), between £19 and £40 per lightbulb thereafter

Hive, perhaps best known for its smart heating system, offers three bulbs in its smart lighting range. The Hive range isn’t as feature rich as the likes of Philips Hue but you’ll still be able to control your lights from your smartphone whether home or away, schedule them and change the colour to create your perfect ambience, assuming you buy the Colour Changing bulb.

There aren’t any strips or lamps available with Hive, like there are with Philips Hue, but Hive does offer both a GU10 and E14 candle bulb, as well as B22 bayonet, on top of the standard E27 bulb. The GU10, E14 and B22 bulbs aren’t currently available in a colour changing option but they do come in white dimmable and cool to warm white options. The Hive Active lights are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant so if you have an Amazon Echo device, or Google Home home device, you can control your lights with your voice too.

Osram Lightify

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  • Features: Smartphone control, away-from-home control, scheduling, comfort dimming, ambience creation, wake-up, scenes, compatible with Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Google Assistant, Works with Nest and Apple HomeKit
  • Bulb types available: E27, B22 and GU10, E14 (dimmable white), LED strips, garden spots
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, Lightify Gateway, Lightify app
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: Between £30 to £80 for bulbs and strips, £30 for Lightify gateway

Osram’s Lightify is one of the closest to Philips Hue in terms of bulb type availability. Its wireless system offers not only standard screw and bayonet bulbs, but GU10s, LED strips and garden spotlights too, all of which can be controlled through the Lightify smartphone app.

There aren’t quite as many features as there are with Philips Hue, but you’ll still get remote access to your lights, scheduling functionality, ambience creation and scene creation. You won’t be able to sync your lights to your music or a film as yet, but the Osram Lightify system is cheaper than Hue, there is a good range of bulbs and it is compatible with most smart home platforms.

Ikea Home Smart



  • Features: Smartphone control, scheduling, dimming, wake-up, white colour adjustment, compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant
  • Bulb types available: E27, E14, GU10, light panels in different sizes, all dimmable white adjustable light only, E27 also available in colour spectrum
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, Trådfri Gateway, Trådfri app
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: Around £65 for the starter pack (two bulbs, gateway, remote control), between £7 and £100 for bulbs and panels thereafter

Are there any pies Ikea doesn’t have a finger in? The Swedish furniture giant offers numerous options when it comes to smart lighting, at Ikea prices, making smart lighting more accessible than it has been in the past and the system is excellent. There are numerous plug-and-play kits available, from standard white dimmable options, to colour adjustable options where users can switch between warm white and bright white.

Unlike Philips Hue and Osram Lightify, Ikea offers only one coloured bulb option at the moment, but there are several bulb fittings available if you’re after a white colour spectrum, including GU10s, along with light panels with wireless control. Ikea’s smart lights are said to last for 25,000 hours and along with smartphone control via the app, there is also a remote control and dimmer control. The Home Smart (previously called Trådfri) lights are also compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant, which you’ll need to pair them up with if you want to control them away from home.

Sengled

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  • Features: Smartphone control, away-from-home control, scheduling, dimming, white colour adjustment, compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings and Google Assistant
  • Bulb types available: E27, B22, dimmable white and coloured options, GU10 in Sengled Boost only
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, Sengled Home app or Sengled Colour Plus app
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: From £15.99 for the Sengled Wi-Fi Classic, £59.99 for the Sengled Colour Plus, £34.99 for the Sengled Boost

Sengled Wi-Fi Classic is one of the only smart lighting options that doesn’t require an additional hub in the UK – at least for many of its products anyway. Instead, the Wi-Fi Classic, Sengled Boost and Sengled Colour Plus bulbs can be taken straight out of their packaging, screwed in and connected directly to your router through the one of the dedicated Sengled apps.

The Wi-Fi Classic option is the cheapest, offering white dimmable light, while the Sengled Colour Plus is a coloured bulb with a built-in speaker and the Senged Boost is a white dimmable light with WLAN boosting capabilities. There is also a Sengled Element range, though this requires a hub. Features including scheduling, dimming and smartphone control from anywhere are available across the Sengled range. The Sengled Wi-Fi Classic bulbs are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing for voice control with a compatible device.

 

 

Belkin WeMo Smart LED lighting

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  • Features: Smartphone control, away-from-home control, scheduling, dimming, compatible with IFTTT and Google Assistant
  • Bulb types available: E27 (white), B22 (white)
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, WeMO Link, WeMO app
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: Around £65 for the starter pack (two bulbs and a WeMO Link), between £30-£40 per lightbulb thereafter

Belkin offers all sorts of WeMo connected devices and included within the range is the WeMo Smart LED bulb and the WeMo Light Switch, both of which allow lighting control from an iPhone or Android device. The WeMo Smart LED Bulb replaces your existing bulbs enabling you to control, schedule and fully dim them from anywhere using the WeMo Link, Wi-Fi and the WeMo app. It’s worth mentioning that like most of IKEA smart lights, the WeMo bulbs only offer variants of white light rather than millions of colour options.

The WeMo bulbs can be controlled independently or in groups and the WeMo Link can handle up to 50 bulbs. The WeMo LED bulbs offer compatibility with IFTTT, meaning you can create various recipes like the Hue system and they are also compatible with Google Assistant for voice control. There is also a WeMo Light Switch that is designed to replace a standard light switch in your home and allow you to turn your normal lights on and off from anywhere using a smartphone.

LIFX

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  • Features: Smartphone control, away-from-home control, scheduling, comfort dimming, music sync, wake-up, infrared night vision, compatible with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Works with Nest, Logitech Harmony and Samsung SmartThings
  • Bulb types available: E27, B22 (both colour), E27+, B22+ (includes night vision), LED strips
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, LIFX app
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS, Android and Windows 10
  • Price: Around £50 for one bulb, around £195 for a four pack

Originating on Kickstarter, LIFX is an LED light bulb that can be controlled using a smartphone app but like Sengled, it doesn’t require an additional hub. From the LIFX app, you can turn your lights on or off, adjust brightness, change the colour, and even create a light show to go with your music.

Like many of the smart light solutions available, LIFX also offers a wake-up feature, allowing you to wake up naturally each morning with automatically increasing light, or drift off with slowly dimming lights. The company also offers LIFX PLUS bulbs which have the additional advantage of a night vision settings, and like Philips Hue and Osram Lightify, there are LED strips available too.

LightwaveRF

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  • Features: Smartphone control, away-from-home control, scheduling, scenes, compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Works with Nest
  • Sockets and switches available: Dimmers, Two-Way Dimmers, Scene Control, Wire-Free Switching, Smart Sockets
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, LightwaveRF Wi-Fi weblink, LightwaveRF app
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: Around £120 for starter kit (one white, one-way master light dimmer switch and one Wi-Fi weblink), between £30 and £130 per switch/socket thereafter

LightwaveRF is not just about lighting, it’s about controlling your entire home whether that be heating, electricity or lighting. It’s a clever system that requires you to swap your sockets and switches for LightwaveRF units that offer push-buttons and LED indicators, rather than changing out your bulbs like others on this list.

Once you have installed the system, you use the switches and plugs as normal but you get the additional functionality of being able to remotely control and monitor your lighting, power and energy usage from an internet-enabled device. The LightwaveRF app will let you to set routines based on your usual daily activities, as well as remotely control things.

Nanoleaf light panels

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  • Features: Smartphone control, scheduling, scenes, compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Hometkit and IFTTT
  • Lighting type: Customisable interconnect lighting panels
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, Nanoleaf App
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: Around £200 for starter kit which includes multiple panels and Rhythm module

Nanoleaf is a fully-customisable smart lighting system featuring wall-mounted triangular lighting panels that snap together with simple connectors to create whatever shape you can imagine. The starter pack is expandable with extra panels that can be bought and combined to create bigger and bolder designs in future too. 

Nanoleaf light panels are app-controlled (iOS and Android) and the system is compatible with most smart home platforms, including Google, Amazon and Apple, allowing for voice control. Like other smart lighting options, Nanoleaf can be programmed to turn on and off at specific hours, and switch light scenes. The Nanoleaf starter pack also includes a Rhythm Module, which transforms the light panels into a dancing light show that reacts to surrounding sound.

Nanoleaf Canvas

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  • Features: Smartphone control lighting control, scheduling, customisable colour scenes, compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Hometkit and IFTTT, touch-sensitive panels with gesture controls
  • Lighting type: Customisable interconnectable lighting panels expandable to upto 500 panels
  • Requirements: Wi-Fi connection, Nanoleaf App
  • Smartphone compatibility: iOS and Android
  • Price: Around £179.99 with nine panels

Nanoleaf Canvas are fully-customisable six-inch squares that can be connected together and installed anywhere in your home, walls or ceilings, using the included 3M stickers. The lights can be expanded with multiple panels, up to a total of 500 squares, meaning you can fill entire walls with colourful lighting if you so wish.

The panels are touch-sensitive and can be controlled in a variety of ways with gestures, voice commands via a personal assistant or from your phone. Nanoleaf Canvas can also be installed in a multitude of patterns and customised to your own personal taste and the lights can react to the sound in the room – syncing to music or just providing a brilliant light show in your living room.



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