How to choose the best lighting for your smart home: Philips Hue, LIFX, Nanoleaf and more

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Choosing your preferred smart home system can be confusing enough, but thinking about what gear you may want to adopt later on makes starting out even more difficult. Lighting is one of the cornerstones of any smart home, and due to the wide range of options on the market, can be one of the trickiest areas of your home to outfit. Some systems shine as perfect entry-level buys, while others require you going all-in to reap the benefits. But fear not! We’ve rounded up our top picks for smart lighting down below.

Often times whenever smart home lighting is mentioned here at Toys, we almost always posit the Philips Hue system as the be-all end-all. And while it certainly has its perks, the Hue lighting isn’t always ideal for starters or those on a more budget-oriented mission for outfitting their home with smart tech.

If you’re still undecided on which platform to use, just about all of our recommendations work with the major players in smart home gear. But for more help deciding, you’ll definitely want to check out our guide.

Getting Started: LIFX or Smart Plugs |

For those just getting started with adopting smart home tech, LIFX bulbs are hard to ignore. They don’t require a hub to work and connect right to your home’s Wi-Fi, meaning they’re great for picking up a few and adding more later as you see fit. There are a variety of different models to choose from, based on whether you want color bulbs or just dimmable ones.

Smart plugs are another easy way to test the waters of smart home tech. They’re easy to set up and you won’t have to replace any bulbs while still getting smartphone control, scheduling and more.

Just about everyone makes smart plugs these days, but our top pick would definitely have to be Belkin’s Wemo Smart Plug Mini. Having just recently gained HomeKit support, this is arguably the most reliable and multi-purpose plug on the market. And at around $30, it’s a cost-effective way to bring smart lighting to just about any lamp in your home.

Economic: Light Switches |

Some home lighting systems just don’t play nice with smart accessories. Those with an abundance of overhead lights won’t find swapping out every bulb to be a cost-effective solution, which is where smart dimmer switches come in. They’re great for controlling lighting throughout entire rooms and the best bang you’ll get for your buck.

There are several highly rated options on the market from the likes of TP-Link and Wemo, but our top recommendation falls to Lutron Caseta lighting gear, specifically its $100 starter kitWe previously praised Lutron gear in our top smart home remote selections, and that still holds true.

Set the Mood: Nanoleaf or LIFX Tile |

Smart home gear is also great for livening up your living space with multi-color accent lighting. Many of the writers here at 9to5 have decked out their home offices with the triangular mood lighting, myself included. So its hard to not have these at the top of our recommendations list. The $230 starter kit is more than enough to get started.

If the rest of your home’s lighting is based around LIFX however, they also have their own wall-mounted lighting solution. Selling for $250LIFX’s Tile lights offer more nuanced colors than Nanoleaf’s counterparts.

Going All-In: Philips Hue |

If all of the other options just don’t seem to cut it for you, then odds are going with Philips Hue will be a safe bet. It is by far the most reliable of the lighting options and works with just about every platform on the market. For those looking to go all-in on lighting and can afford the higher price tags, it’s hard to go wrong adding Philips Hue to your smart home. Another big perk with Hue is the vibrant color accuracy.

Springing for the color bulbs brings mood lighting into the mix and the Hue ecosystem also supports motion sensors, remotes and more. Starting out with any of these kits is a safe bet and additional bulbs can easily be purchased down the line starting at $15 a piece.

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