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Holiday Gift Guide 2023: Best Smart Lights

Smart Lights are a really cool way to spice up your home and make that apartment your own. Since there’s not a whole lot you can do with an apartment, when it comes to the smart home. But lights are a great way to change things up. They aren’t cheap, but definitely unique. There’s plenty of smart lights around right now that you can pick up for anyone on your holiday shopping list, and we’ve rounded them all up here.

Best Smart Light: Philips Hue A19 bulbs

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Philips Hue are the easiest smart lights to use, with the most robust ecosystem

The Philips Hue A19 bulbs are our pick for the best overall smart light. This is because of how easy it is to set up and use. Philips Hue allows you to use Bluetooth, or you can use the Hue Bridge – which is our preferred way of using Philips Hue. With the Hue Bridge, it makes it so much easier to control your lights, and you never need to worry about changing the WiFi credentials, since it is plugged directly into your router.

Philips Hue is not only easy to use, but it also offers a ton of different bulbs. I have quite a few of their bulbs in my home. These include 60W, 75W and 100W bulbs, which many competing brands only offer 60W. Additionally, Philips Hue offer offers bulbs that are white, tuneable white or white and color ambiance. If you really want to add some accent lighting to your home, that’s how you do it. It’s really cool that Philips Hue offers so many different options for bulbs in your home, that you can use in existing light sockets. In fact, in my home, about 70% of the lights are Philips Hue lights, because they are so easy to use.

Of course, we can’t forget to mention that Philips Hue also work with so many other things, like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri/Homekit. On my iPhone, I can quickly pull down the quick settings and turn on or off my smart lights. I can also do this on my Android phones like the OnePlus Open, just as quickly. Which makes it a much easier method of controlling smart lights. Philips Hue also works really well with a number of home automation services like Home Assistant and IFTTT.

Philips Hue A19 Bulbs – Amazon

Honorable Mention: Govee Smart A19 bulbs

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The Govee Smart A19 Bulbs are here as an honorable mention because they aren’t quite as feature-rich as Philips Hue, and are also cheaper. These are 75W bulbs, which are colored (RGBWW). Meaning that you can choose from millions, if not billions, of colors for these bulbs to use. Govee does still work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, as you’d expect.

Govee Smart A19 Bulbs – Amazon

Best TV Accent Lighting: Nanoleaf 4D

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Experience TV shows and movies in 4D like never before

When we think of “smart lights” we often immediately think of the lights that are on the back of a TV, to give a really immersive experience with whatever you are watching on the TV. And Nanoleaf’s 4D does just this. It has a Gradient Lightstrip Kit that you can attach to the back of the TV, and a camera that sits at the top of the TV. This camera is a color camera, basically only looking for the colors on the TV, to put on the lights behind the TV, giving you that immersive effect. Those of you worried about the camera watching you, don’t worry, Nanoleaf does give you a camera privacy color, and it’s also aimed at the TV screen, so it won’t see you.

Setup of the Nanoleaf 4D is super simple. It uses 3M adhesive to attach to the back of the TV, which then plugs into a control box, along with the camera and power. And then you’re all set. The rest of the set up is done in the Nanoleaf app. The company does a really good job of making this super easy for you to set up, and control. Nanoleaf lets you set up the lights in four different settings 1D, 2D, 3D and 4D. And the color variety gets amped up at each setting. In our time using the Nanoleaf 4D, we found that the 3D and 4D settings use a vibrant variety of colors from the TV screen. While 1D and 2D were a bit more one-note and chose a main color to reflect. Basically, the higher you go, the immersive you’ll get.

Nanoleaf does sell this kit in two sizes, one that is able to fit TVs and monitors up to 65-inches which is $99. And another that fits up to 85-inches and that one is $119. All things considered, that is a very good price for what you’re getting here. And once you experience Nanoleaf 4D, you won’t want to go back.

Nanoleaf 4D – Amazon

Honorable Mention: Philips Hue Play Gradient

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The Philips Hue Play Gradient is arguably the best TV accent lighting you can buy, but it is not cheap. While others use a camera above the TV to get the colors right for an immersive viewing experience, Philips Hue uses an HDMI sync box, which is a few hundred dollars extra. But this HDMI Sync Box means that you are not using a camera in your living room, so for some, it’s worth the extra cost.

The HDMI sync box basically takes the input from your TV, so it knows what is on your TV, and the Play Gradient is able to display the corresponding colors in real time. I absolutely love this LED strip of lighting from Philips Hue, but know it’s not for everyone because of the price. However, this does work with other Philips Hue lights, like the Play which can really make the whole room immersive. Philips Hue Play Gradient comes in three sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch and 75-inch. And it starts at $249.

Philips Hue Play Gradient – Amazon

Best Outdoor Lights: Govee Outdoor String Lights

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Spice up your outdoor space with Govee’s brilliant String Lights

It’s time to liven up your patio, and Govee has the right lights for just that occasion. This is the Govee Outdoor String Lights. These are about $70, and feature RGBIC light bulbs which are water proof. These are great to put along your fence, or on a table on your patio, especially if you want to use it during the winter where the sun goes down a lot earlier.

Like the other Govee lights, this also works in the Govee app. Which makes it super easy to change the color, use different modes and even sync the lights to music. So you can really make those nighttime parties a lot more fun. Govee offers 47 different scene modes that you can choose from here. Really making it your own. Of course, these do work with Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can say “Alexa, turn on the patio lights” very quickly.

I have these on my patio and absolutely love them. The only thing that would make them better is if they could be used with a solar panel, since I don’t have an outdoor outlet on my patio, unfortunately. I use these a lot during Christmas and Halloween, to really get into the holiday spirit. And they also don’t use a whole lot of energy.

Govee sells these in two sizes 48-feet and 96-feet. Starting at just $69.99. Compared to the competition, this is a really good price for what you’re getting here. And definitely worth picking up.

Govee Outdoor String Lights – Amazon

Honorable mention: WiZ RGB WiFi LED Color Changing String Lights

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WiZ has a pretty cool set of string lights that you can pick up this holiday season too. These are the WiZ RGB WiFi LED Color Changing String Lights, which come in a 48-foot pack and is priced at $119.

While these string lights are water proof, they can still be used inside or outside. A cool use that I’ve come up with these myself is to put the in my basement, putting them up near the top of the walls, giving me more light in my basement office. These work with the WiZ app, so I can very easily change the color to my liking. There’s over 16 million colors available with these lights, in addition to using warm or cool white as the color.

WiZ RGB String Lights – Amazon

Best Smart Lamp: Govee RGBIC Floor Lamp

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Add some color to any room with Govee’s inexpensive RGBIC Floor Lamp

Smart Lamps can be really cool, and this Govee RGBIC Floor Lamp is one of those cool ones. It’s a tall stick, basically that emits light on one side. Which you can use to bounce light off of the walls. Govee’s lamp here has three different sections, which can use different lights, and really add some nice accent lighting into your room. Or you can stick with warm or cool white to make it work like a regular lamp.

I have this exact lamp in my bedroom, and it works amazingly. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, and of course works with Google Assistant. So I can add it to a routine, that turns off the lights before I go to bed. Another added benefit is the Music Sync feature, which lets it sync with the music and gives you a really cool party vibe.

Surprisingly, for the size of this lamp, it does get pretty bright. We’re looking at 1,000 lumens, which is going to be plenty bright for any room. And replace the existing lamps that you might have. This does also work with other Govee products, like their TV Accent Lighting, so you can sync them together and make your living room a whole lot more immersive when watching movies on Netflix. Honestly, if you’re looking for a lamp, and don’t have any other smart lights in your home, grab this one. It’s easy to set up and easy to use, and doesn’t require any manual labor, making it especially good for those in apartments like myself.

Govee does sell it in both black and silver, for $99. That’s a pretty decent price for a smart floor lamp, we’ve seen many more that are a lot more expensive with fewer features.

Govee RGBIC Floor Lamp – Amazon

Honorable Mention: Philips Hue Iris

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The Philips Hue Iris is a rather interesting table lamp from Philips Hue. And honestly, it’s one of my favorites. This lamp costs $109, and makes it super simple to bounce light off of walls. It also has a clear backend, making for a unique look in your home. This is a colored lamp, so you’ve got over 16 million colors that you can choose from.

Like with a lot of other Philips Hue bulbs, this does work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, in fact I use this on my desk, mostly to take photos for different articles. And it’s so great to be able to tell Google to turn on photography lights, and set a nice mood for photos. Giving them a nice purple, blue, green or another color accent.

Philips Hue Iris – Amazon

Best BR30 Floodlight: Philips Hue White Floodlight LED

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A well-rounded smart light suitable for your backyard

Floodlights are one of the least thought about lights in your home. Often times it’s not actually in your home. But it’s still an important light. So why would you want to make it a smart light? Well, think about this for a minute. You are in bed, and realize the backyard light is on. Now instead of going downstairs to turn it off, you can just pick up your phone and turn it off. Or better yet, tell Google Assistant or Alexa to turn it off. That makes it so much easier right?

Now with floodlights, you don’t necessarily need 16 million different colors (though Philips Hue does offer a White and Color Ambiance option), instead, you probably want it to be a white light. And that’s what Philips Hue has here with their BR30 bulb. It is a $40 bulb, but since it is an LED, you won’t need to replace it for quite some time.

This is another bulb that I do have in my home, and absolutely love it. It weirdly is used in the foyer of my townhome. So I decided to add a Philips Hue BR30 Floodlight in there and now I can control it with my phone or voice. It has made it a joy to use because, that example I gave earlier, has actually happened to me quite a few times. Weirdly, that is the light I forget to turn off the most often. Probably because I don’t use it as much. But either way, I’m glad I did spend the money on that bulb. And since I already have a ton of other Philips Hue bulbs in my home, it just fits in quite nicely. With Philips Hue giving me a toggle to turn off all the lights at the same time. As a smart person once said “it just works”, and that’s what you really want from a smart light.

Philips Hue BR30 Light Bulb – Best Buy

Honorable Mention: Senglad BR30 Smart Bulb

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Obviously, not everyone wants to spend $40 on a smart bulb, but Sengled is here with a two-pack of BR30 bulbs for just $22. With a BR30 bulb, it’s not so much about the features, as long as it has the basics. You don’t need to be able to dim it in most cases, you also don’t need 16 million colors available. And Sengled does just that. You still get support for Samsung SmartThings, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, as well as Apple’s Siri/Homekit here.

These are LED lights, so they use very little energy, and also will last you over 20 years. Which is about all you can ask for a pair of floodlights at this price.

Sengled BR30 Smart Bulb – Amazon

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