The ecosystem of smart home devices that work with Amazon’s Alexa smart voice assistant is vast, and one of the most popular categories of smart home products is smart lighting. With so many options out there, how are you supposed to know which ones work well, or which ones work well with Alexa? My top choice is the Philips Hue White Ambiance Bulb, because it is an industry-leading product, has a massive ecosystem of other Hue products it will work with, and it plays well with Alexa.
Best Overall: Philips Hue White Ambiance Bulb
Chance are that when you think about smart lights, the brand that comes to mind first is Philips Hue. The product line was introduced way back in 2012 and has arguably maintained its status as the dominant brand in the smart lighting space to this day.
Even though Philips Hue makes a lot of different smart lighting devices like bulbs, light strips, and even lamps, I wanted to focus on an easy entry point into this rather expansive ecosystem. The Philips Hue White Ambiance A19 Bulb is one that you can pick up for a reasonable price (or get it in a bundle), and you can put it pretty much anywhere in your home. This particular bulb has over 50,000 shades of white light that you can adjust, and it can be programmed to come on gradually while you awake or go to sleep. That’s quite a bit of flexibility for a plain white bulb!
The one minor downside to Philips Hue products is that they require a hub or bridge device to communicate with a smart assistant like Alexa. This has been the case since the beginning of the product line, and it doesn’t seem like any changes are coming. The benefit of having the Philips Hue Smart Hub is that you can use other smart assistants (like Siri or Google Assistant) to work with the Hue lights. Plus, you can connect up to 80 Hue light devices together to be controlled via the hub and your smart assistant. Not a bad tradeoff, especially since you can often find bundles with Hue lights and the Hue Smart Hub.
- Great bulb from an industry leader
- Extensive ecosystem of Hue products
- You can connect up to 80 Hue lights with the Philips Hue Smart Hub
- As nice as the ecosystem is, it kind of sucks to have to use a hub
- Philips Hue bulbs are more expensive than other options
Philips Hue White Ambiance Bulb
- From $22 at Amazon
These industry-leading bulbs are a great investment to begin your smart home lighting projects.
Best Value: Wyze Bulb
If you’re just getting started with smart lighting and want to dip your toes in the water with an easy-to-use, inexpensive bulb that is pretty much just plug and play, then I recommend you take a look at the Wyze Bulb. Wyze is a smart device company that has made a name for itself by providing quality products at low prices that work well with Alexa and the other smart assistants and protocols out there.
What’s great about the Wyze Bulb is that it is cheap enough at $12 to be an impulse buy, well-made enough that it won’t die on you in three months, and easy enough to use that you won’t throw it against the wall after 20 minutes. All you have to do is screw it into a lamp or light fixture, connect it to your WiFi through the free app, and ask Alexa to discover new devices. Once she finds it, you can add that device to a room group, create routines, or control the brightness or on/off status with your voice.
If you are a creature of habit and want to put the same brand of bulbs throughout your house, you might be out of luck here. So far, Wyze only makes this one type, color, and size of a smart bulb, so if you have other lighting needs, you will have to expand your product search.
- Very affordable
- No hub required
- Solid app and reliable manufacturer
- Can set to different color temperatures and dimness
- Only variants of white light; no colors
- This is the only kind/size of smart bulb that Wyze makes
- From $12 at Amazon
A Wyze choice
These bulbs are a Wyze choice for your smart home and work great with Alexa.
Best for Family Fun: Amazon Echo Glow
When I watched the fall 2019 Amazon product launch event, I’ll admit that I was unusually excited by this weird little Alexa accessory. First of all, Amazon’s main pitch for the product was that it was a funky nightlight (with other special powers) for young children. I’m a 40+ year-old man with teenage kids, so what do I care about a nightlight for little kids?
For starters, I love shiny, pretty things, and those adjectives describe the Echo Glow quite well. You can choose from among several solid color options that have a soft glow, or you can have Alexa alternate between colors. There are even special modes like Rainbow Timer and Campfire Mode that dynamically change the colors. Plus, this device is part of Amazon’s Certified for Humans Program, which means it is struggle-free and stress-free to set up and use.
While this is an excellent product for kids and young families, I also think it’s great for anyone (myself included). I plan to get one of these for my home office so I can set a zen-mode for when I’m working early or late, or a night light mode for when we’re out and want a gentle light to guide our first steps back into the house when we return so that we don’t trip.
It is worth noting that you will need an existing Echo device (or the Alexa app) to be able to set up and use the Glow, as the device does not have any microphones or speakers for you to interact with Alexa directly.
- Multifunctional and multipurpose
- Dance, Campfire, and Rainbow timer modes are super fun
- Certified for Humans for easy setup and use
- No microphone or Alexa built-in
- No speakers built-in
Best for Family Fun
Amazon Echo Glow
- $30 at Amazon
A real glow up
The Echo Glow is a smart lamp that is perfect as a night light, alarm companion, or for sprucing up a living room fort!
Best for the Game Cave: Nanoleaf Light Panels Rhythm Edition
Almost every time I watch a new or up-and-coming tech YouTuber, I invariably see some version of tiled smart lighting in the shot behind them. More times than not, those smart tiles are Nanoleaf lighting systems, and I can’t deny that if I thought I was cool enough, I’d get some for my office too.
The Nanoleaf Light Panels are a modular smart LED lighting solution that allows you to create customized shapes, patterns, and lighting themes for your space. They are easy to connect and install on your wall or another flat surface with the included adhesive tape, and you can control them through an app on your smartphone or via Alexa. Imagine walking into your game room or home office and asking Alexa to “go to DEFCON 2” to bring up a menacing red and orange scene, or perhaps you might want to ask Alexa to go to “movie mode” and set the lights to a more soothing, low glow. The possibilities are just about endless!
Nanoleaf offers several different starter kits, or as they say, smarter kits, but the one I chose to feature includes something called a Rhythm Module (sounds like something I need!). The Rhythm Module can sync to your music in real-time, and create some amazing effects for your next dance party or gaming marathon.
For me, the biggest downside here is the startup costs. $300 is a fair amount of money just to get started on a fun, smart lighting setup, and once you get started with these tiles, it’s hard to stop!
- Unlimited creative possibilities
- Rhythm mode music syncing is amazing
- More than 16 million color options to choose from
- Pricey point of entry
- Some complaints about the strength of the adhesive tape
Best for Game Cave
Nanoleaf Light Panels Rhythm Edition
- $300 at Amazon
Tiled in style
This light panel kit, with its rhythm module, offers the ultimate in multisensory stimulation.
Best for Decorating: Maxonar LED Strip Lights
Just like with smart light bulbs, it is easy to become overwhelmed by options for smart LED strips when searching on Amazon. The ones that I’ve come back to time and again are these from Maxonar. Not only are they highly-rated, but they are affordable, easy to install, and work great with Alexa.
These LED strip lights can be used indoors in an office, on a shelf, or in a kid’s room, or they are weatherproof enough for use outside on the porch or garage. They carry an IP65 rating, so they should be able to withstand an occasional spring shower, but don’t go lining your hot tub with them!
These energy-efficient LED strip lights can adhere to just about any smooth surface with the included adhesive tape, and they can be cut in sections of three LEDs at a time. However, the tape may not stay stuck very well outdoors, so you might have to come up with some other creative solutions if you want to put these lights outside. You can control the lights and set up to 16 million different color combinations via the app or through your voice with Alexa by enabling the Smart Life Alexa Skill.
- Easy installation
- Unlimited possibilities for use
- 16 million different color combinations
- Suitable for indoor or outdoor use with IP65 water resistance
- Adhesive tape may not be optimal for outdoor uses
- App experience could be improved
Best for Decorating
Maxonar LED Strip Lights
- $30 at Amazon
A strip show for all eyes
Stick these strip lights behind your desk or up on a shelf for subtle, stealth mood lighting.
Best for Security: Ring Spotlight Cam
The Ring Spotlight Cam is not only easily integrated within the Alexa ecosystem (particularly since it’s an Amazon-owned company), but it is the only light on this list that is several smart devices in one. Not only do you get Ring’s great security camera features including the ability to carry on conversations with visitors, but you also get a motion sensor, two LED light strips, and a siren that you can turn on on-demand.
All I have to do to see what my Ring Spotlight Cam is seeing is to ask Alexa on my Fire TV or Echo Show 5 “Alexa, show me the driveway” (which is where I have it installed). If one of the neighborhood kids is looking for my son to play with, I can surprise them when they walk up the driveway and ask, “do you wanna play hoops?”. Most importantly, though, if someone is sneaking around the cars late at night, the motion-activated lights will blast them with over 300 lumens so I can see what is going on and sound the siren if things look shady.
Another great thing about this Spotlight Cam? It includes a Lifetime Theft Protection plan, so if some nasty burglar or vandal makes off with your camera, Ring will replace it for free! On the downside, this device is really only intended for outdoor use. Plus, while being able to record and watch video is great, if you want to keep that footage, you’ll have to fork over a monthly (though minimal) fee to Ring/Amazon.
- Amazon company means deep integration with Alexa
- Camera, motion sensor, and lights in one device
- Can monitor via the app, a Fire device, or an Echo Show
- Can set up routines with Alexa
- Lifetime protection plan
- Not intended for indoor use
- Video storage plans cost extra
Best for Security
Ring Spotlight Cam
- $200 at Amazon
Freeze, don’t move!
The Ring Spotlight Cam easily integrates with Alexa to shine a light on visitors (expected or unexpected).
Shine a light on me
There are so many great options when it comes to setting up your smart home lighting with Alexa. Some of the lights are better suited for indoor use, while some will work better outdoors. Some are more general-purpose lighting solutions, while other lights may be best suited for specific rooms or festivities.
For me, when it comes down to balancing expandability of a smart lighting solution with the overall functionality, the best option to get started with is the Philips Hue White Ambiance Bulb. Philips Hue set the standard for what a quality smart light should be. The company has always been interested in making sure that its products work with smart assistants like Alexa. Whatever your situation and whichever space you’re looking at, you’re sure to find a great smart light that will work with Alexa among the choices on this list.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jeramy Johnson is proud to help to Keep Austin Weird and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he’s not writing about Amazon products and services, he’s defending his relationship with his side-chick Alexa to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.