Best answer: At least 10 smart bulb brands like C by GE, TP-Link, Sengled, and even Philips Hue, work without a hub. But LIFX, although a little pricey, not only makes some of the best smart bulbs sans hub, they also work over Wi-Fi and play nicely with your other smart home gadgets.
Smart bulbs without a hub
There's nothing more annoying than spending $30 or $40 or sometimes even more on your first smart bulb, only to screw it into a light socket and realize that those smart features you paid for don't work without a hub — which is, of course, sold separately. This adds yet another expense to your already pricey lights, and setup can get complicated since the hub needs to be plugged into your router. Thankfully, not all smart bulbs require a hub.
LIFX is one brand that makes some of the best smart light bulbs that are bright, vivid, and operate entirely over Wi-Fi without requiring any additional accessories. You can link these bulbs to other smart home gadgets like a Nest Thermostat, and you can control them with the voice assistant of choice by using your phone or a smart speaker. LIFX bulbs come in various configurations to fit various lighting fixtures and budgets, and you can even get other form factors like light strips and panels.
You can also get independent bulbs from popular lighting brands like TP-Link, Gosund, Lumiman, Wyze, Treatlife, Cree, Govee, Sengled, and C by GE. While each bulb comes with its own set of pros and cons, the important thing is that they can all be controlled through your phone without any hub. The best C by GE bulbs, such as its Direct Connect bulbs, now operate over Wi-Fi as opposed to Bluetooth so you can control your lights away from home and unlock all smart features.
Philips Hue has entered the no hub chat
Philips Hue may be one of the most recognizable brands in the smart lighting space, but its bulbs have famously required a Hue Bridge for even the most basic functions. The benefit of the Bridge is that it quickly connects all of your bulbs, which is convenient when you plan on outfitting your entire home with Hue bulbs, but it makes them much less accessible if you're only after one or two bulbs.
Fortunately, Philips Hue now includes Bluetooth functionality with many of its most sought-after bulbs. With this, you can control up to 10 Hue bulbs without a Hue Bridge, assuming you're within Bluetooth range — though you'll still need a hub to control an entire household of bulbs when you're away from home or for some more advanced features like Hue Sync and IFTTT.
Be sure to check for Bluetooth compatibility before buying a Hue bulb without a Bridge. And keep in mind that even if you go with a Philips Hue Bluetooth-enabled bulb and you eventually decide to add more smart lights to your home (who could blame you?), you can always purchase a Hue bridge down the line, and it'll still work with your existing Bluetooth bulbs.
LIFX Color - Wi-Fi Smart LED Light Bulb
The best smart bulbs that work without a hub
LIFX offers a variety of bulbs that all work over Wi-Fi without a hub and integrate with other services like Google Assistant and Google Nest. They're some of the brightest smart bulbs around and display a wide range of colors.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.