Are smart bulbs worth the money? (2024)

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If you’re thinking about dipping your toe into the world of smart products, a smart light bulb is a great place to start. These gadgets are inexpensive and simple to incorporate into your home, yet they offer a variety of useful features that you can use on a daily basis.

Before you purchase your first smart light bulb, here’s everything you need to know about these internet-connected devices, including the benefits and downsides, how to install them, and more.

What does a smart light bulb do?

Are smart bulbs worth the money? (1)

Smart light bulbs allow you to remotely control a light in your house via Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi. Once the bulb is connected to your smartphone, you can turn it on or off through the app, and most smart bulbs can also be controlled via voice commands through digital assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant. Plus, if the light fixture is hooked up to a switch in your home, you can also control it the old-fashioned way.

However, that’s not all smart bulbs can do. Many bulbs also allow you to change the color of the light, choosing from millions of different shades—even white bulbs generally offer several shades of light to suit your space.

Additionally, smart bulbs often offer features such as “Vacation mode,” where they turn on and off randomly throughout the day to make it look like someone is at home.

Other bulbs, like Kasa smart bulbs, have energy monitoring features or other handy functionality via their associated app.

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What’s the difference between a smart light and a smart bulb?

Smart light bulbs and smart lights are similar products, and they generally offer the same features—remote app control, adjustable light color, and so on. However, a smart light is an entire light fixture, whereas a smart bulb is, well, just the bulb.

Smart bulbs tend to be the more affordable option, and the benefit is that you can use them in your existing light fixtures. However, if you’re in the market for a whole new light, a smart light isn’t a bad choice either.

Just keep in mind that many smart light fixtures don’t have replaceable bulbs, which means you’ll need to purchase a whole new unit when its bulb eventually burns out. This likely won’t happen for many years, though, as LED bulbs can often last for up to 100,000 hours.

How do you install a smart light bulb?

One of the best things about smart light bulbs is that they’re quick and easy to install. The installation process may vary slightly based on the product, but in general, all you have to do is screw the bulb into the light. Once you supply power to the fixture, you’ll be able to connect the bulb to your smartphone, and just like that, your new smart bulb is ready to go.

It’s worth noting that some smart light bulbs—such as the Philips Hue—require a hub to operate. This can add a few additional steps to the setup process, but we’ve found the process is still fairly straightforward. If this seems too complicated, rest assured there are plenty of high-quality smart bulbs that don’t need a hub to operate.

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Can smart light bulbs be used in any fixture?

Smart bulbs can be used in virtually any modern light fixture, assuming they’re the right shape and size for the light. Standard A19 bulbs, which are suitable for all sorts of indoor lamps and lighting fixtures, are the most common size for smart bulbs.

However, if your light requires a specialty bulb, such as an R20 or floodlight bulb, you’ll need to find a smart product in that particular size. The good news is that brands like GE and Philips Hue offer smart bulbs in most common sizes, allowing you to turn almost any light into a smart fixture.

What are the disadvantages of smart bulbs?

As with any smart home product, there are certain downsides to installing smart bulbs in your home. One of the biggest disadvantages is the cost—smart bulbs are significantly more expensive than regular LED bulbs, so it can get pricey if you want to install several in your home.

For comparison, you can buy a 12-pack of regular GE light bulbs for less than $20, while inexpensive smart bulbs, such as the WiZ Bulbs, generally cost around $10 to $15 a piece.

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Another downside to smart light bulbs is that they’re “vampire devices.” They’re not going to drink your blood at night, but they do still draw a small amount of energy when they’re turned off.

This is because they have to stay connected to Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi to be able to respond to commands from your app or smart assistants.

It’s generally a negligible amount of power, though—it’s highly unlikely you’d notice any change in your electricity bill, and if anything, your bill will go down in the long run thanks to the savings that LED bulbs offer over incandescent ones.

Another thing to consider is that, in order to use smart light bulbs, your light or lamp switch must always be in the "on" position. If the switch accidentally gets shut off, your bulb won't be able to power up.

Finally, just like with any internet-connected device, smart light bulbs have potential to be hacked if not properly secured. For this reason, we always recommend buying from a trusted brand with good security practices and keeping your device’s firmware up to date.

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Will smart light bulbs work if the Wi-Fi goes out?

If your Wi-Fi goes out, the smart features of your light bulb won’t work. This means you won’t be able to turn the light on/off via your phone or through a voice assistant.

However, as long as you still have power, you’ll be able to turn the light on and off manually—whether via a wall switch or on the light fixture itself.

What are the best smart light bulbs to buy today?

Are smart bulbs worth the money? (2)

There are many smart bulbs available today, and the best option for your home depends on factors like your budget, desired features, and existing smart home ecosystem. We’ve tested many of the most popular smart bulbs available today, and our top-recommended product is the Philips Hue Color and Ambiance Starter Kit Not only does it come from one of the most trusted lighting brands, but it’s extremely intuitive to operate and offers a robust set of features.

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The downside of Philips Hue bulbs is that they’re more expensive than most and require a hub for operation. If you’re looking for an inexpensive product to test out the technology, we recommend the WiZ Color Smart Bulb, which doesn’t require a hub and comes in several popular bulb sizes. There are also smart bulbs from popular brands like Kasa, Wyze, Cync by GE, and Govee that you may want to consider.

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Are smart bulbs worth the money? (2024)


Are smart bulbs worth the money? ›

Smart bulbs tend to be the more affordable option, and the benefit is that you can use them in your existing light fixtures. However, if you're in the market for a whole new light, a smart light isn't a bad choice either.

Is a smart bulb worth buying? ›

Are Smart Light Bulbs Worth It? Smart light bulbs are inexpensive and easy to incorporate into your home. They also offer a variety of useful features that automate your daily routine, freeing your hands. Convenience and Automation: Manage your smart lights remotely, aligning them with your daily schedule.

What are the disadvantages of smart bulbs? ›

The biggest disadvantage of smart light bulbs is that they're much more expensive than regular lightbulbs. As of this writing, a standard incandescent bulb costs about a dollar, while a non-smart LED light bulb costs around $5. A smart bulb costs around $15 each, and that's not counting additional hub expenses.

Do smart bulbs raise the electric bill? ›

Do Smart Light Bulbs Use a Lot of Electricity? The short answer is, it depends on the type of smart light bulb you're using and how often it is switched on. LED bulbs typically use less as compared to other incandescent bulbs, which make them a much more efficient choice for lighting up your home or office.

What is the point of smart bulbs? ›

Unlike regular light bulbs which require manual operation, smart lights can be controlled remotely or through voice commands. Wireless connectivity handles most of the features of adaptive lighting and is often the answer to how do smart lights work.

Do smart bulbs take a lot of Wi-Fi? ›

Do Smart Switches Slow Down WiFi? Generally speaking, smart lights won't put much extra drawn on your WiFi network because, like smart plugs, smart lights are very simple devices that will typically only need to communicate when their status changes.

Do smart bulbs still use electricity when off? ›

As we mentioned above, smart bulbs are in a class of appliances that use electricity in standby mode: vampire devices. This means that smart bulbs use electricity even when they're off.

How long do smart bulbs last? ›

How Long Do Smart Light Bulbs Last? LED smart light bulbs can last for up to 50,000 hours, while compact CFL bulbs can last for up to 20,000 hours. 6 Both LED and CFL bulbs last far longer than incandescent bulbs, which last a maximum of 2,000 hours.

Do smart bulbs work without Internet? ›

A: Needs wifi to be voice-operated, but if you want to use it as a standard lightbulb controlled manually with a switch, then no wifi required.

Is it cheaper to use smart bulbs? ›

Note: Even though smart LED bulbs cost more than incandescent bulbs initially, they can save you money over the long term, as they use less energy and last longer.

Is it safe to leave smart lights on? ›

Fire Safety: Smart bulbs, especially LED bulbs, generate very little heat compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are designed to dissipate heat efficiently, reducing the risk of fire hazards [2]. Therefore, leaving smart bulbs on all night is unlikely to pose a fire risk.

Do smart bulbs heat up? ›

Smart bulbs can suffer a number of failure modes, some of which could cause the bulb to not light, not respond to commands, and overheat. They do not exactly “burn out” but will eventually fail.

What is the future of smart bulbs? ›

According to Statista, by 2025, it is forecasted that it will grow to 4.7 million dollars globally. In this video, we look into IoT smart lighting solutions and their applications across industries. From smart homes to smart streets, IoT LED lighting is changing the way industries consume electricity.

Can a smart bulb go in any lamp? ›

Since they come in different shapes and sizes, there's a smart bulb for almost any lamp or fixture, indoors and outdoors (so long as your fixture is weather-tight).

Do you need anything special for smart bulbs? ›

No. While you do not need a smart switch for a smart bulb, having one helps with interconnectivity throughout your household. Because even if you are using traditional or non-smart bulbs,the smart switch has the power to make any product smart.

Where should I put smart bulbs? ›

Places to Consider

To begin, consider what areas in your home could use an infusion of light. Start with interiors and then move on to the home's outdoor space. If your walk-in closet or bedroom could benefit from some brightness, you'll choose much different products than a backyard path or outdoor pergola.

Is it better to have a smart bulb or smart plug? ›

If you aim to illuminate your room and don't need more features, then the bulb is a convenient option. On the other hand, a smart plug would be better suited if you want to operate other devices around a big house. Some people opt for both when they want to maximize the functionality of their house.

What is better smart switch or smart bulb? ›

Whether you opt for a smart bulb or a smart switch or both, you will experience the best that smart lighting has to offer. Smart switches give you the ability to make any of your existing light bulbs and fixtures smart, while smart bulbs give you the ability to play with color.

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