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Which smart lights should you use with Amazon's Alexa?

When you think about making your home "smarter", the first thought is usually towards the thermostat or your front door — things you have to drop everything to interact with. Lights are usually high on the connected home list, because for most people, using lights has been a part of everyday life since birth. Light switches are usually available as soon as you enter a room, and most people look for the cheapest possible way to light their home without needing to constantly replace bulbs.

There's a lot more to lighting your home than flipping a switch, though. Connecting your lights to your home, especially a home ready to use Amazon's Alexa service, makes a huge difference. Here's how you choose the right lights for you and Alexa!

Not all connected lighting setups are created equal

Step one for connecting your lights to Alexa is looking at your current lighting and deciding what needs to change. This is going to be a little different for everyone, but there are a few general options available.

Make your bulbs smarter — if you're currently running whatever was cheapest at the hardware store and have never considered LED lighting at all, all of your bulbs will likely need to be replaced. This leaves you with a lot of options, but will end up being fairly expensive no matter what route you go.

Make your light switches smarter — If you already have nice LED lights in your house, you may not need to replace your bulbs at all. There are smart light switches that will connect to your existing wiring and talk to Alexa in a way that lets you control entire rooms without replacing a single bulb.

Make your outlets smarter — If you have rooms in your house that don't have wired lighting, and you already have lamps and bulbs you like, there are smarter power outlets that will talk to Alexa and allow you to control the lights in that room without replacing bulbs or light switches.

Do you know which upgrade you need to make? Lets take a look at the best hardware for your situation!

The best way to make your bulbs smarter

If you're replacing all of the light bulbs in a particular room, you want lights that will quickly connect to Alexa just the way you want. You also want something that will make it easy to grow beyond a single room without a lot of extra effort. Here are the options available to you!

Philips Hue

Philips has been working on connected lighting longer than just about anyone else, and its Hue brand has a wide selection of lighting options to choose from. This includes standard lightbulbs, downlights, accent lights, and modular LED strips that can be added to just about any environment.

Hue bulbs are available in a standard white light option, as well as a fully configurable color solution, and have more third-party support than any other lighting setup right now.

TP-Link

Connected bulbs are expensive, even when compared to standard LEDs. While it's nice to know these bulbs will basically function forever, it's still a lot of money up front to make your home lighting smarter. The TP-Link LED bulbs make this a little easier to swallow with a noticeably lower per-bulb cost.

There are fewer options available through TP-Link, but if all you want is a way to connect lights through Alexa, these bulbs are a great way to fill your house with smarter lights.

The best way to make your light switches smarter

If you're already really happy with the lighting in your house and just want the lights to respond to your voice through Alexa, it's possible you only need to replace your light switches. Smart switches can replace your existing switches with physical on, off, and dimmer functions but also connect that wiring to your home so you can use apps or voice to control everything.

Lutron Caseta

Lutron Caseta

These switches make it easy to connect entire rooms to Alexa and are considerably less expensive than replacing all of the lights in your house. The replacement switch will work similarly to your existing switch and comes with a remote control so you can adjust the lighting without leaving the couch or shouting at Alexa.

This is the best option for people who have already put some thought into the temperature and brightness of the bulbs in their home and just want a little more control without walking over to the switch.

The best way to make your outlets smarter

Some rooms aren't big enough to justify a complicated dimmer switch and aren't wired with light sockets in the ceiling. You plug in a lamp or two and it is enough to fill the room. While this is a great excuse for lighting a room entirely on floor or ceiling mounted LED strips, a more practical solution is to make your outlets a little smarter so the outlet itself is acting when you speak to Alexa.

GE Lighting Control Receptacle

GE Smart Outlet

The best connected home tech is the kind that disappears entirely while doing the cool thing you want it to do, and GE's receptacles do exactly that. These outlets are installed just like any other outlet, with a final step that allows you to connect to Alexa so you can voice control the outlet on and off.

It's simple, inexpensive, and can be used for a lot more than just lights if you were so inclined.

SmartThings Outlet

If you only have one lamp you want to connect to Alexa and you aren't interested in doing any installations, it doesn't get much easier than the Samsung SmartThings Outlet. You plug it in, tap the button, and sync the outlet to an app on your phone. That app shares the connection with Alexa, which allows you to control the power headed to whatever is connected to that outlet.

This is the best way to quickly connect a lamp to Alexa and is simple enough that anyone can do it in minutes.

Enlighten us

Are you already using smart lights, switches, or outlets? Which do you use? Let us know in the comments below.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

34 Comments
  • wemo has some nice switches and are compatible with ring doorbell/cam
  • I use Lifx bulbs. They work great with Alexa and ifttt.
  • I'm definitely more a fan of the lutron route. I looked at going the hue route, and while the colors have their cool points, i like being able to control from the existing wall switches sometimes, which is something the Hue cannot do (you have to leave those switches set to 'on' all the time for Hue to work. Philips has their own add-on switches, but those just add *in addition to* instead of replacing
  • What about LIFX?
    Cheaper and brighter than Hue and no controller needed.
  • LIFX bulbs are not cheaper. Three A19 LIFX bulbs cost you more than a Hue starter kit.
  • The LifX bulbs are definitely cheaper. Right now a single A19 bulb is 44 bucks. A 4 pack is $179. A Phillips Hue Gen3 starter pack is $199. 1 more bulb for 20 bucks less is quite cheaper if I may say so myself.
  • Thats the old model for Lifx. New ones are $60 for one or $200 for 4. Hue bulbs are $50.
  • Ah, you're right, my mistake. The Gen2 LifX are still brighter and have deeper colors than the Gen3 Hue's.
  • I have both a Wemo light switch and wall socket, I also have a Lifx Bulb. They work great with my Google Home :)
  • I use both LifX and Hue's with mine and vastly prefer the Lifx over the Hues. Not only are the Lifx brighter and more vivid, but commands through the Echo are almost instantaneous compared to the Hue's that take a few seconds. This is also true with control over Smartthings.
  • I'm curious which generation of Hue and LIFX bulbs you are using. My results are not the same as yours, and I'd like to track down why.
  • I have both first and third generation Hue bulbs as well as the Color 1000 and Original Lifx bulbs. The third generation bulbs definitely have deeper colors compared to the first generation but still don't compare to the Lifx bulbs.
  • I've been using Cree Connected LEDs and a Wink Hub with my Echo and Dots. Next will be switches and plugs for the TVs and kitchen lighting.
  • Have WeMo and wouldn't think of using anything else.
  • TP-Link not only has great bulbs, but they have great smart outlets. Look towards the Mini, so you don't lose a wall outlet.
  • Second that... they all work perfectly with just one app (Kasa) and no hub required.
  • Agreed. And they also have a great smart light switch that allows you to control from the app or Alexa - as well as having a simply physical wall switch.
  • Agreed. TP Link have been phenomenal for me.
  • osram bulbs are on the cheap at lowes.
  • My experience with Osram/Sylvania bulbs has not been good. I have the RGB and tunable whites and they are very inconsistent (plus one of the RGB has already died after 2 months). I've used them with both the Osram hub as well as SmartThings hub and I'll take the more expensive Hue any day.
  • I went the route of replacing my light switches with the Leviton and/or GE Z-Wave switches. Most of my lights are overhead (usually one switch controls multiple bulbs/fixtures) and for me, this was much more affordable solution. Buying individual smart bulbs to control a single fixture seemed way too expensive when for about the same price I could just buy a Z-Wave switch. For example, my basement lights are recessed and there's about 6 of them. We'll say the bulbs are appx $20 a pop, multiply that by 6 and it's $120 to replace the bulbs. I can buy a switch for $40-50 and it'll control all the bulbs, regardless of it being CFL, Incandescent, or LED. Also if you buy a bunch of the switches at a time there are places that'll give you a volume/bulk discount. The only spot where I have a problem are my stairway lights which are 3 way and a combination of standard bulbs and chandelier style. On both stairwells, one end doesn't have a neutral wire. Eventually I'll most likely buy a battery operated switch and just rewire it so the primary switch acts like a standard switch instead of 3-way.
  • This is the only way to go, unless you have a bunch of rooms with only one light bulb
  • Wth is with this selection? Some of the best products out on the market aren't even here, and none of the pit falls of the ones that are where are even listed... Such as needing external hubs for almost every one of those products and hoping they all work with said hub...
  • What is the big deal about a little 4 inch hub? I have a few for the various smart lights and it is fine. There are downsides to some of the options in the article, but I wouldn't consider having a tiny hub to be one of them.
  • The start up of buying it. And one more step in the mix. And also why are they making it necessary. Thats why i do not touch the hue and go with other options.
  • I have tried a bunch in my house. The Lutron app is pretty great. The Wemo app is janky as hell most of the time. I would avoid Wemo if you have a choice ... Lutron light switches are really reliable, and the app is very consistent. The Echo controls the Lutron lights very well. I recently got Philips Hue lightstrips and The Philips Bloom bulbs. They are pretty cool and can be controlled fine via the Echo as well..
  • I've been working with these products for a few years and Philips Hue is the last thing I'd recommend because they have an unnecessarily expensive Philips Hue Bridge, and they block their bulbs from pairing correctly with other Zigbee compatible Hubs. Hue also doesn't always play nicely with 3rd party API's. At the top of the list should have been Osram Lightify Color bulbs and strips. They are around the same price as Philips Hue, but will pair with any Zigbee controller like the Wink Hub 2 which can also pair Z-wave, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde Smoke Alarms, and specific Bluetooth products.
  • $175 for three Hue light bulbs? You must be kidding me. Hey, I've got an idea for you. Get off your duff and out of your chair to turn the light on or off. Not only will it save you a lot of money, it'll make you healthier. Or less unhealthy, at least.
  • Color bulbs. People buy hue because of the colors, not because you can control it with echo or Ghome.
  • FYI the link for the hue bulbs goes to the Gen2 starter pack. You definitely want gen3.
  • LIFX has been working well for me.
  • Wemo are the worst pieces of crap. They don't support Android at all. Whenever there is a new android version, their app crashes or does not work. Got tired of emailing them for support which means they will not have a new version until at least a month after the new OS release. Plus the hardware just has a lot of wifi issues and is not reliable. Each devices means it takes up another ip address on your router. I took out my wemo and replaced them with Insteon. I use the new insteon hub. It means the system talks to the other devices using it's own wireless system and also via the electrical wiring with a bridge. So there is less of an issue of a device not being able to talk with the hub. Insteon has a variety of devices from switches, thermostats, leak sensors, window/door sensors, etc. The good part is they also have remotes which can be mounted like switches. So you can have a remote with multiple buttons that are pre-programmed to control certain devices or sets of devices. Got a good deal on costco.com for dimmable light switches about $35 each in a 4.pack. Works well with Amazon echo.
  • Are Yeelights not supported? They cost a fraction of these expensive devices yet do the same...
  • Why not the Yeelights? They cost about $15 each instead of $50-100. Yet they do the same...