Jun 03, 2023

Major Smart Lighting Brands Ranked Worst To Best

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Adding smart lights is one of the easiest ways to start building a smart home. They're generally easy to set up and incorporate into your daily routines. There are plenty of things you should know about smart bulbs before buying them, but one of the biggest is choosing your brand.

Of course, many people have multiple smart lighting brands in their homes, but it's easier if everything is the same brand. Then, if you want to use that brand's proprietary app, everything you need is in one place for easy control. Plus, once you pick a reliable brand, choosing your smart lighting products becomes immensely easier. Within a single brand, your options are more limited, which cuts down on your decision-making time.

This article ranks major smart lighting brands from worst to best, but that doesn't mean that the first couple of entries on our list are necessarily bad smart lighting brands. Many of the lower-ranking smart lighting brands are still excellent options — just not the best for most people.

Thomas Edison formed the Edison General Electric Company in 1890, about 11 years after he invented the first commercial incandescent lamp made of Carbon Filament. Almost 100 years later, GE introduced the first energy-saving fluorescent bulb in 1974 and the Energy Smart LED bulbs in 2010. In 2015, the company launched C by GE as its first line of smart lighting products, known today as Cync. In GE's smart product range, there are plugs, thermostats, sensors, light strips, and bulbs. You can choose between indoor and outdoor light strips, and a variety of smart bulb shapes, sizes, and colors.

One of the most popular Cync products is the full-color Direct Connect smart bulb, which is the equivalent of a 60W incandescent bulb, but it uses 84% less energy and lasts 15 times longer. This bulb, along with other Cync bulbs, works with Alexa and Google Assistant, doesn't require a hub or bridge to use, and allows you to create custom schedules. You can also play around with settings in the Cync mobile app.

Cync smart bulbs are inexpensive, but you get what you pay for — and that's often a lack of customer support. Reddit users have complained that Cync by GE offers the worst user experience and that contacting Cync support leaves you feeling incredibly frustrated. The biggest complaints Cync by GE users seem to have is connectivity issues through Google Home and the Cync app.

The Ring brand is most well-known for its video doorbell and security camera options. The company started in 2012 with three engineers, one intern, and another team member, and its first product was the Doorbot, which was a Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell. Among its smart lighting options, you'll find path lights, floodlights, spotlights, step lights, solar-powered wall lights, and smart bulbs.

One of Ring's most popular smart bulbs is the A19 Smart LED Bulb, which was first introduced in the new smart home gear Ring launched in 2020. It can shine up to 800 lumens of white light that's equivalent to a 60W incandescent bulb. You can connect the bulb to the Ring Bridge, Echo Show 10, or Echo to enable customizable smart controls within the Ring mobile app, available on both Android devices and iPhones.

Ring falls lower on the list of major smart lighting brands because its smart lights require the Ring Bridge to make them smart. Without the Bridge, they only function as standard motion-sensing lights. Plus, although you can use Ring smart bulbs with Google Assistant, there's much more of a focus on Alexa because Ring was bought by Amazon in February 2018. There are also pretty limited smart lighting options right now. Ring offers no smart LED strips and only one smart bulb that's dimmable, but can't do color or variations of white.

WiZ was founded in 2017, but the software team was formed in Hong Kong two years prior. In short, the company is an IoT platform for smart lighting solutions, services, and software. By 2018, WiZ was doing so well that it was acquired by Signify and has its products in over 60 countries.

In the WiZ product range, you'll find smart bulbs, light strips, luminaires, outdoor lights, home monitoring devices, and various accessories. The A19 Full Color Bulb is by far one of the best products by WiZ, and it only costs $12.99 retail for a single bulb. You can choose between 16 million colors, or filter between warm and cool white light until you find the perfect lighting. With up to 800 lumens of brightness, the A19 bulb provides ample light, no matter which color you choose. You can control the bulb via the mobile app, available on Android and iOS, or with voice commands. The bulb has been upgraded in recent years.

WiZ is a great budget smart lighting brand. The mobile app may occasionally present errors when trying to connect or fail to work when needed, but these issues seem to be getting less common. You also need to find Connected by WiZ products to be able to use them in the WiZ mobile app, or you'd have to have an additional hub app, like Google Home, to control all your devices from different brands.

Cree Lighting is a US-based manufacturer that consists of two companies merged together, including RUUD Lighting, founded in 1982, and Cree, Inc., founded in 1987. The company has always had a focus on lighting products, launching the first mass-market LED exterior and interior commercial fixtures in 2007, the first mass-market LED light bulbs in 2013, and proprietary ConnectedMax smart LED bulbs in 2020.

The company continues to sell a mix of traditional incandescent lighting and smart lighting. You can find a ton of options for traditional indoor and outdoor lighting, like floodlights, path lights, downlights, candelabras, and general-purpose bulbs. All of Cree Lighting's smart options are in its ConnectedMax line, which includes LED strip lighting, full-color smart bulbs, and neat-looking filament smart bulbs.

The smart bulb people would most likely invest in would be Cree Lighting's full-color A19 bulb. It's a 60-watt equivalent bulb with 800 lumens of brightness. It works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri Shortcuts, and you don't need a hub to set it up — only Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You can control individual bulbs, create groups of multiple bulbs, and set up scenes, routines, and schedules to make your life easier.

Meross was founded in 2016 by a group of experts from multiple leading companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, MediaTek, and TP-Link. The company aims to make homes smarter in the easiest, most cost-effective way possible, and its current product catalog reflects that mission.

Through Meross, you can find smart plugs, smart lighting, smart switches, smart surge protectors, smart garage door openers, smart radiator thermostats, and more. Diving more into Meross' smart lighting specifically, the company offers smart LED bulbs in both color and all-white versions, smart light strips, and smart table lamps. All Meross products are compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings.

One of the company's most popular products is the Smart Multicolor LED bulb. You can control it via voice commands through any of the platforms mentioned above, or use the mobile app on Android or iOS devices. You don't need a hub; it simply works with 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi bands. It has equivalent brightness to a 60W incandescent bulb, and you can swap between warm and cool whites, as well as multiple colors. Then, you can set schedules and timers to help automate the lights and incorporate them into your daily routines. Meross has a wide selection of products, but the company isn't as well-known as other brands. That said, Meross customers seem to be generally happy with the product, and the company offers many unique smart lighting options, like its table lamps.

Nanoleaf was formed by three University of Toronto graduates in 2012, with the goal of becoming a pioneer in the smart lighting industry. With how popular Nanoleaf products are today, it's safe to say they succeeded! Today, Nanoleaf has five offices across the world in Toronto, Shenzhen, Paris, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. There are over 150 employees, 13 unique products and counting sold in over 100 countries, and over one million Nanoleaf app users on Android and iOS devices.

Among Nanoleaf's smart lighting options, you'll see smart bulbs, but they don't look like traditional smart bulbs. Instead, they're geometric, with little hexagons scattered all over the bulb surface. Then, you'll also find smart light strips and uniquely titled product categories, including Lines, Shapes, Elements, Canvas, and Skylight, though Skylight products aren't released just yet.

The product titles are indicative of what they are, with Nanoleaf Lines consisting of multiple lined lights, Shapes including square, triangle, or mini triangle smart lights, and Elements looking like an element of nature: wood. Nanoleaf Canvas lights look like a piece of artwork on the wall, with smoothed edges like an actual painted canvas. The Skylight product isn't released yet, but it'll be an advanced smart ceiling light fixture that resembles modular squares. The company takes the convenience of traditional smart lighting and puts an aesthetically pleasing twist on it so that you don't have a "boring" smart home.

Similar to Nanoleaf, Govee is known for its uniquely-shaped smart lighting products, as well as a plethora of other smart products. The company was founded in 2017 and has quickly become a leading name in the smart home tech industry. Govee currently has over 12 million registered app users across Android and iOS devices.

Govee offers smart appliances, like sensors, circulator fans, purifiers, humidifiers, and space heaters, but the company is most well-known for its smart lighting. You can find string lights, ground lights, floodlights, spotlights, and strip lights for the outdoors. Then, for indoor use, Govee has light bars for your TV or computer monitor, backlighting, lamps, night lights, strip lights, wall lights, neon rope lights, and of course, smart bulbs.

Though all of Govee's products are pretty popular, the company does an excellent job with smart backlighting for TVs and monitors. The DreamView T1 TV backlight, for example, creates an immersive light show around your TV that mimics what's on your screen. Govee's Envisual camera can recognize and capture the colors on your TV screen, and then apply them to the backlights automatically. The backlights can be controlled via the mobile app or through voice commands, and there are 12 unique Scene modes to try out. If Govee's products fit your style, they're reliable and overall a great choice.

Sengled is a global leader in smart lighting that's currently headquartered in Alpharetta, GA. The company released its first smart speaker bulb in 2012 and Sengled's smart lighting products can connect through Bluetooth Mesh, Wi-Fi, or Zigbee, and can be controlled with voice commands through Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit. There's quite a variety of smart bulbs through Sengled, including soft white bulbs, multicolor bulbs, tunable white bulbs, daylight bulbs, and extra bright options for daylight and soft white bulbs. Then, Sengled offers light strips with just LED lights, with audio sync, or with video sync technology.

You can also buy accessories that enhance the smart lighting experience, including a smart hub, smart light switches, motion sensors, and smart plugs. Or, you can opt for one of Sengled's starter kits, which includes a Zigbee smart hub and lights. Any of these starter kits will deck your home out with smart lighting.

In 2020, Sengled introduced the Smart LED Edison Filament Bulb, which combines a very old-school design with modern smart lighting technology. It's a clear bulb with a visible filament at a 2100K color temperature. Or, you could try out a more modern-looking option with Sengled's Multicolor A19 bulb, which can change between soft white, bright daylight, or 16 million different colors. Some Sengled bulbs may require a hub to take advantage of all the available smart features, but it's nice to have the hub when your entire home is equipped with smart lights.

Wyze was founded in Seattle by three former Amazon employees, with the mission to make great technology accessible to everyone. The company's first product, the Wyze Cam, launched at only $19.99, which was an insanely low price at the time compared to other in-home security cameras. Wyze sold 1 million units in a single year and has since become one of the best budget-friendly smart home companies.

In addition to indoor security cameras, Wyze offers outdoor cameras, video doorbells, watches, smart scales, smart thermostats, vacuums, motion sensors, keypads, and plenty of smart lighting options. The Wyze smart bulb comes in a simple white option as well as a full-color option, and then there's a regular and a pro version of Wyze's light strip. The setup process is simple and fast, the Wyze app worked flawlessly, and the overall quality of the bulb was so worth it for the cheap price. Wyze is an incredibly affordable smart lighting brand that doesn't skimp on product quality. The company may not offer anything fancy, like a table lamp or an oddly shaped wall light, but they do have smart bulbs in color and white variations and strip lights for ambient lighting options.

TP-Link was founded in 1996 and has provided countless networking devices and accessories that help people live more efficient everyday lives. In terms of modern smart lighting, TP-Link has two well-known brands: Kasa Smart and Tapo. Kasa is the first smart brand from TP-Link and it's well-established, with multicolor bulbs, dimmable white bulbs, and light strips. You can practically build an entire smart home ecosystem just from Kasa products. Then, Tapo is the newest smart brand from TP-Link, and it currently features both multicolor and white smart bulbs and light strips.

The biggest difference between Kasa Smart and Tapo is that Kasa devices connect solely over Wi-Fi, whereas Tapo devices can connect over Wi-Fi or over a different frequency that helps users free up Wi-Fi space. TP-Link didn't engineer Kasa Smart and Tapo devices to communicate with each other, but the company says that it doesn't plan to discontinue either line of products.

A 4-pack of Tapo multicolor smart bulbs is only $29.99, making these pretty accessible products. They work with Google Assistant and Alexa, and allow you to create schedules with them, control dimness, and customize the color — all without requiring a hub. Meanwhile, a 2-pack of Kasa Smart bulbs retails for $24.99 and functions pretty similarly to the Tapo bulbs.

Founded in 2012, LIFX makes smart lights for every occasion, including practical lighting for work, fun lights for personal use, and even lights that could eliminate bacteria. LIFX has employees spread all over the world, from the United States to Australia to Ireland and more. LIFX offers quite a few smart lighting products, including downlights, beam kits, light strips, smart switches with two or four buttons, and smart bulbs of various shapes, sizes, and colors. LIFX added support for Apple HomeKit to its smart bulbs in 2017, making the bulbs available for users on almost all smart home platforms. Then, in 2020, LIFX introduced a new mobile app — available on both Android and iOS — and some cool Edison-style filament smart bulbs.

One of LIFX's best-selling products is the Color E26 bulb, which offers billions of colors to choose from, as well as a wide range of whites, from warm to cool. The Color E26 bulb is also the brightest offering from LIFX, with 1100 lumens of brightness. It's long-lasting, easy to set up, and doesn't require a bridge or a hub to work, just plain old Wi-Fi. You can set schedules, instruct your lights to follow the day's natural light, and control everything from the app or through voice commands. Though LIFX's range of products is limited to smart bulbs, light strips, and light switches, the products are of top-notch quality.

Philips has been around since 1891, and the company has created a wide range of products, with the Philips Hue line covering everything related to smart lighting. The Philips brand is currently licensed to Signify, a world leader in lighting that also acquired WiZ smart lighting products. In the Philips Hue line, you can find lamps, luminaires, bulbs, and light strips for both professional and personal use.

There are also Philips Hue starter kits, which come with a Hue bridge and either two or four bulbs, depending on your needs. The pack of two or four bulbs can be either color ambiance bulbs or tunable white bulbs. You can also find bundled products to help you save money, as Philips Hue smart lighting products can get a bit expensive. In the most recent 2022 range, Philips Hue added dramatic light guide bulbs and light strips for PC gamers. The light strips are flexible and affixed to the back of your monitor. They can show different zones of color along the strip and sync the ambient glow of the strip to whatever's on your screen at any given moment.

Philips Hue is by far the best major smart lighting brand you can invest in today. It's more expensive than other options but for good reason. Philips Hue smart lights are friendly with other platforms, and most users never have any issues with connectivity, customer service, or functionality.