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Trick out your house this Halloween with smart lights: Our top picks

With top-notch smart lights, you can create cool lighting effects both inside and outside of your home. They're entertaining all year round, but for Halloween, you can use them to create an atmosphere that will terrify your trick-or-treaters and party guests.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on

Adding a smart light to your home has many benefits, especially during the spookiest time of the year: Halloween. 

Smart lights can give your home some spooky vibes if you're looking to level up your Halloween decor. Just imagine cloaking your house in a hellish red hue. Plus, the ability to use your phone to turn the light on and off, dim the light, and change its color to orange or another sinister shade makes smart lights well worth the investment.

If you get super into your smart lighting, you can set up different automations. For instance, you can make your lamps turn on at sunset. Or you can enjoy the convenience of asking Alexa, Google, or Siri to run a scene to create a fun Halloween-themed atmosphere for your annual costume party.

It used to be that if you wanted to buy a smart light bulb at your nearest store, you'd have no option but to fork over $60 for a Philips Hue, and not many want to spend that on a light bulb. In recent years, though, we've seen brands throw their hat in the ring to develop the best smart light, resulting in many more affordable options. 

Must read:

Tech Specs:

  • Usage: Indoor, outdoor
  • Wattage: 10 watts, equivalent to 75W
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth & 2.4GHz WiFi
  • Color range: 16 million colors
  • White temperature: 2700K-6500K, 50,000 shades of natural white light

The Philips Hue began as an Apple HomeKit exclusive back in 2012, available for sale at Apple Stores nationwide as part of a starter kit that contained three bulbs and a hub and retailed for $199. Additional bulbs cost $59. As the very first fully customizable and wireless-controlled line of lights, the Philips Hue was absolutely groundbreaking.

Though many other brands have launched smart lights since 2012, Philips Hue continues to rule the roost as the go-to when people look for a smart light bulb. 

One drawback is, however, that you will need a Philips Hue Hub to enjoy most of the smart perks and automations you'd expect from a smart light. The Hub is compatible with IFTTT, Alexa, HomeKit, SmartThings, and Google Assistant, just to name a few, and available for sale for $54. Just one hub can handle up to 50 Philips Hue light bulbs throughout your home. So if you're looking to gradually swap out your dumb lights for Philips Hue ones, it's not a bad idea to get the hub.

You can still control the Philips Hue light bulbs without the hub, using your smartphone or Echo device, for example, by employing Bluetooth technology, though there are limitations within the Hue app. You can still enjoy up to 16 million different colors as well as dimming capabilities to instantly change the mood in the room with just a tap of your phone. 

Pros

  • Reliability: Philips Hue is the top brand in smart lights
  • High compatibility when using a hub
  • Millions of color customizations and presets available

Cons

  • Need a hub to use most smart capabilities
  • Most expensive

Tech Specifications

  • Usage: Indoor, outdoor
  • Wattage: 9 watts - equivalent to 60W
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth & 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi
  • Color range: Millions of colors
  • White temperature: 2700K-6500K

At just $10 each, this smart light bulb is a good option if you prefer to stick to a tighter budget. And the fact that you can use these with just your smartphone and a 2.4GHz network connection means no hub is required, saving you even more money than some other options. These Cree smart lights offer millions of colors and a white ranging from 2200K to 6500K and can be controlled with Alexa or Google voice assistants.

These bulbs allow for many smart capabilities within the Cree Lighting app, like scenes and routines, and an automation to follow the daylight pattern, shifting from a cooler daylight tone earlier in the day to a warmer white in the evenings, a feature we've enjoyed every day since we set these up. 

We had some issues setting up our Cree smart bulbs, such as connectivity issues and trouble finding the bulbs we got, so setup for us wasn't as easy as with other brands like LIFX or Feit, for example, but it was nothing a little patience couldn't resolve.

Pros

  • Affordability
  • No hub required
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled

Cons

  • Setup can be complicated
  • Reports of compatibility issues with SmartThings

Tech Specifications:

  • Usage: Indoor
  • Wattage: 18 watts
  • Connectivity: 2.4 GHz WiFi
  • Color range: 16 million colors
  • White temperature: No true white setting

Adding a smart capability to a color LED light strip is like adding sprinkles to your ice cream: It just makes everything better. With these Kasa smart LED light strips, you can set up to 50 color zones at once with 16 million colors to choose from to perfectly customize your lighting according to your mood—or to make your walls light up in colors to match those sprinkles on your ice cream cone. 

This smart LED light strip is a no-hub-required option put out by TP-Link. Yes, the brand on your router. It's easily controlled through an app on your smartphone, through which you can set up different automations depending on the time of day, for example, and have your light strip slowly wake up in the morning or dim or change colors automatically at night, set scenes to turn your living room into a home theater for watching movies, or set the mood for birthday parties and holiday celebrations.

An IP44 certification means this light strip is dust- and moisture-resistant, making it a perfect option for under-cabinet lighting in your kitchen or over-cabinet lighting in your bathroom. Though boasting a durable, resistant coating, the strips are cuttable and come with 3M adhesive backing.

With many devices available for sale, you can easily combine your Kasa Smart switches, bulbs, and cameras with these light strips and control the whole setup right on your mobile app and create the perfect smart home ecosystem. The light strips also are compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and SmartThings.

Pros

  • Multiple color zones
  • Moisture-resistant
  • Cut-to-length

Cons

  • Cannot reattach once cut
  • Cut length is unusable
  • No true white color

Tech Specifications:

  • Usage: Indoor
  • Wattage: 9 watts, equivalent to 60W
  • Connectivity: 2.4 GHz WiFi
  • Color range: 550 million colors
  • White temperature: 1500K-9000K

This bulb is a standout among smart lights in both affordability and compatibility. At 800 lumens, it's a great option for anything from living areas to a bedside lamp, and you can dim it from your phone to enjoy just the right amount of light needed as you cozy up with a book before bed. 

The LIFX Color can be controlled with its app, which is easy to set up and navigate, meaning you don't need to purchase a separate hub to be able control this bulb wirelessly. However, it also can be painlessly added to other home automation systems, like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. 

These smart lights feature a whopping 550 billion color steps, which is a really wide array of colors among smart bulbs, plus a wide 1500K to 9000K white range.

I've had good experience with these bulbs thus far. I've used them to set up automations with HomeKit to turn on when I get home, for example. But some users complain of possible connectivity issues and inconsistencies, and I will say these are the only ones I've found that sometimes emit a very faint buzzing sound, but all that means is that I don't use them on my bedside lamp. 

Pros

  • Widest color and white range on list
  • About half the price of Philips Hue
  • Readily compatible with HomeKit

Cons

  • Possible connectivity inconsistencies

Tech Specifications:

  • Usage: Indoor
  • Wattage: 12.3 watts, equivalent to 75W
  • Connectivity: 2.4 GHz WiFi
  • Color range: Over a million colors
  • White temperature: 2700K-6500K

Feit Electric offers some great quality smart bulbs at an affordable price point. This example is a recessed light kit that can seamlessly replace your existing recessed lights. And I do mean seamless. Since no bulb is required for this built-in LED smart light, you can replace most existing 5- to 6-inch size recessed lighting fixture and enjoy the 25,000 hours, or approximately 22 years, of illumination this light offers.

Equivalent to a 75 watt bulb, this light ranges from 2700K through 6500K in color temperature and over a million colors to help set the mood you want. Though it is pretty bright in daylight or soft white colors, some users say the brightness goes down when using it in color. In my own experience with this brand, I can say the colors are duller than the white light, but they're still bright enough to light a room and fit our needs.

You can control up to 30 Feit Electric smart lights with just the app, no need for a hub. The light is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. From your mobile device you can turn these lights off/on, dim them, or change the color. You can group all your Feit lights in one place and take advantage of scheduling to customize your smart home.

If you don't need the whole kit for your recessed light, you can purchase just the bulb from Feit

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Bright white light
  • App-based hub

Cons

  • Color light not as bright as competitors
  • Can only add up to 30 bulbs in app

What is the best smart light?

The best smart light continues to be the Philips Hue White and Color ambiance bulb, due to its reliability, ease of use, and consistent quality. Though you do need to purchase the hub separately to unlock all of the smart capabilities other brands offer without a hub, the durability, brightness, features and compatibility of the Philips Hue may outweigh that downside. 

Once you purchase the hub, though, it's all uphill: You'll have access to all the Philips Hue smart capabilities, like adding voice control with Alexa, Siri, or Google, controlling your lights from home or away, adding automations with timers or when you leave or come home. You'll also be able to add more Hue accessories to your repertoire, like dimmers and motion sensors.

Ultimately, it's up to you to determine which is the best option for your needs. 

Smart LightPriceWattsWhite Temp
Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance$54.9910W = 75W2700K-6500K
Cree Lighting Connected Max$9.999W = 60W2700K-6500K
Kasa Smart LED Light Strip$34.9918WNo true white setting
LIFX Color$27.999W = 60W1500K-9000K
Feit Electric Recessed Kit$12.9912W = 75W2700K-6500K

Which is the right smart light for you?

Gone are the days where the only smart light you could buy at the nearest store was a $60 Philips Hue. It's time to enjoy the vast variety of smart lights and find the best one to suit your needs.

To take the full advantage of the options out there, it's important to consider your needs first and foremost and then envision what you want your smart home environment to look like. As far as needs are concerned, consider if you want to be able to easily control your lights with WiFi or if Bluetooth is enough, consider cost, take into account how much you use the light you want to replace and what you want out of it.

When you envision what smart home features you want, take into account whether you're okay adding an extra hub, as with the Philips Hue lighting system, or if you'd like to use an Echo for Alexa to do your bidding. If you're an Apple fan and want to use HomeKit, take into consideration that there are fewer readily compatible devices out there for it.

Choose this smart light…

If you want...

Kasa Smart LED Light Strip

To add programmable light strips to set the mood.

Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance

To enjoy a consistent and durable complete smart lighting system.

LIFX Color

A bright color light with a wide range for both colors and white temperature.

Feit Electric Recessed Kit

To replace your current recessed lights for smart ones.

Cree Lighting Connected Max

An inexpensive option to upgrade your current standard light bulbs.

How did we choose these smart lights?

To determine which are the best smart lights available right now, we combined knowledge of all things smart home with personal experience. As a smart home enthusiast, I enjoy sharing my knowledge of different smart bulbs and explaining how I've been able to compare them to determine which is worth buying or not.

Some of the factors I considered to narrow down the best smart lights on the market were ease of use, durability, versatility, personal experience, setup and installation, connectivity, price, and color range.

Are smart lights more eco-friendly?

The lights described here are LED bulbs, which can last up to 25,000 hours, or over 22 years. This reduces waste in the long run, not to mention the fact that LEDs are much more energy-saving than the alternatives. 

Is it best to buy a smart light with a hub or no hub?

Though there're different flavors for everyone, no-hub-required is a key feature for many home automation enthusiasts. When making a home smarter, many of us want to be able to customize it to our needs, and this is only possible with higher compatibility between brands and not having six different hubs taking up space on the mantel.

What makes a light smart?

Essentially, the ability to control your light through your mobile device either via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is what makes a light smart in this day and age.

A smart light lets you set up different automations to have a designated lamp turn on when you come home and off at bedtime. Color automations are a big plus to having smart lights. You can have your lights automatically change colors depending on the time of day, which can help kids acclimate to bedtime or morning routines.

With compatibility to different home assistants, you also could have voice control over your lights. This means Alexa can be in charge of turning off your lights every night so you don't have to get out of bed to do it.

Are there alternative smart lights worth considering?

While the smart lights described in this article are great, there are also a lot of honorable mentions for sale. Here's some to consider:

Editorial standards

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