FAQ: Best smart light bulbs to use [2015]

So whats everyones opinion on the best light bulbs to use with ST? This will be my first time to use any kind of Zwave or Zigbee lights.

Any info given is greatly appreciated along with pros / cons. Last, are the lights normally brighter than the standard florescent lights?

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I think it depends on your use case… i love LIFX for smart bulbs, and GE reveal for dumb bulbs, but they fit my use cases. LIFX = Music Vis & color notifications, GE Reveal = Quality of light. I’ve always considered lighting to be a very personal thing so w/o knowing your use case we can only tell you what we have chosen and why, but not what could work best for you…


As @sidjohn1 says, it will depend in part on the exact use case.


CNET has a good chart that compares the more popular smart bulbs and gives lighting and color ranges. This can vary quite a bit. However, as of October 2015, the chart is out of date. The Hue Lux which was Hue’s less expensive white color only bulbs are noticeably dimmer than a standard bulb and dimmer than most of the others in the chart. But in October 2015, hue released two new bulbs, the “hue white” and the “hue white and multicolor.” Both new models are noticeably brighter than the previous versions, and the Hue White has dropped in price to $15.


The GE link white color only bulbs are probably the least expensive, typically on sale at target, Home Depot, or sometimes Amazon for about $12 a bulb. The Cree appear to be a somewhat better quality than the GE and usually only cost a few dollars more. Best Buy has the Hue Whites for $15, also a good price.

I’m working on a situation right now where the GE links get bumped off of my echo control when they get connected to SmartThings. I don’t have that problem with any other brand of bulb. (edited to update: it has now been confirmed that there is a firmware flaw with the GE links that causes them to lose connection to the network from time to time. This flaw is the reason why they are not on the official “works with smartthings” list. )

There’s a brand new line from Ecosmart in the same price range as the Cree and GE Link but not many reviews on how well they work yet.

Then in October 2015, Hue dropped the price of their white color only bulb to $15, putting it head-to-head against the others.

If you want color changing bulbs there aren’t a lot of choices, and the Hues are very good quality although they are expensive. Osram Lightify has introduced a new RGBW bulb in Europe so I would expect to see it in the US in 2016. (edited to update: now officially supported for the US)


osram Lightify is an interesting bulb, seems to be well engineered, but costs about double that of the GE link or Cree. It’s color tunable which means you can go cool white to warm white. Many people perceive cool white as brighter than warm white even though it isn’t. So there could be a psychological effect there.

Any of those work quite well with SmartThings.


There are also some Z wave smart bulbs from Aeotech and linear, including an RGBW model. I have a couple of friends who are using these to get zwave signal downstairs into the basement, and they can certainly be a nice device for that.

One thing to note is that zwave antennas are noticeably bigger than zigbee and although the bulb may look like a traditional shape in a catalog picture they often look quite different in a lamp or fixture because of their size. This is because they are A21 instead of A19.


TCP bulbs used to have a cloud to cloud negation, but they discontinued it in June 2016.

LIFX is popular with those who want a very bright bulbs, but it also runs physically hot, so just take that into account.

Striimlight is a very expensive WiFi color changing bulb (about $125 each) with an interesting twist – – it includes a speaker as well. So you can use it to play music. A couple of community members have it. I would think it would be fun in a dorm room, or studio apartment, or a teen’s bedroom as an effect light.

Also be aware that many WiFi routers can have difficulty if you have more than about 30 WiFi devices active. You just need to check the specs for the router. This can be a problem if you are using only Wi-Fi bulbs to like the home, as it’s pretty easy to hit the 30 device limit.


So a lot comes down to your budget and how you’re going to use them. I use one of the lux bulbs in the entryway and another by my bed because even though they’re a bit dimmer, they’ve been the most successful at staying connected, and those are the two areas where I don’t have a back up light.

I used to use GE links in several rooms so that I have voice control using the echo, they were a very inexpensive way to add extra voice controlled lighting in those areas. Those rooms also have conventional lighting with light switches as a backup. I also personally like the aesthetics of the GE link more than the Cree bulbs, although I suspect the Cree Bulb is better engineered. However, the dropping off drove me crazy and I have since replaced the GE links with Hue Whites.

If money wasn’t a consideration for me, I would get all Phillips bulbs. The color changing ones. Really well engineered, give you a lot of choices. I just can’t afford to spend $60 per lightbulb.

With the new $15 price for the “Hue White” bulbs, Plus their brighter light ouput, those will probably be my bulb of choice going forward for now.

So there are a lot of choices, and no one answer. Just depends on exactly what situation you’re working with, including your budget.


And of course all of this assumes you have a reason to begin with for choosing a bulb instead of a switch. Many people prefer switches, because they work in a more intuitive way, especially for visitors.

But again there’s no one right answer. If you’re in a dorm or an apartment where you’re not allowed to change any of the wiring, bulbs will obviously be a better choice. If you want color changing affects you pretty much have to go with smart bulbs. If, like we did at my house, you’re adding additional lighting in order to get voice control, a smart bulb in an inexpensive table lamp may be the least expensive option.

The following topic discusses switches versus bulbs:


@sidjohn1 you’re right it does depend on how I am going to use the lights.
@JDRoberts Thanks for the very detailed and very informative help. It really got me to think about how I will be using the bulbs and where I would be using them.

The first bulb I want to get will be in a lamp that is easy to get to but something we don’t alway remember to turn on or off. I also want something to notify me if a door/window opens/closes, a family member arrives home. I also want to use the light to do notification when the washer or dryer finishes. Its in a room that we can not hear the buzzer when they are done. (that’s an entire different conversation). So in all I am looking for a light that is comparable to the regular lights that you can just by in the stores but still able to control with ST.

I like the Cree Connected bulbs. They look and give off light like real bulbs and work pretty well with ST


If you live near a Home Depot they carry both the Cree connected and the GE links if you want to look at them before you buy them.

As far as notifications go, as long as nobody in the house is colorblind, it’s hard to beat a color Hue bulb. Because then you could have orange mean one thing and blue mean something else. Gives you a lot of choices.

We’ve actually been talking about getting one of the Hue light strips for the notification.

The Hue bloom is also cool if you want just a color changing bulb for notification.

Neither of these is cheap, but I think notifications are one of these cases that justify the color changing bulbs. In that case you’re not using them for room lighting.

This is one of those home automation cases that I think hardly anybody thinks about when they’re first considering home automation, but can turn out to be really useful. :sunglasses:

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I’ve been thinking about using some Hue lights to go Orange and Blue when my Mets win. Could be pretty useful for notifications on things like Financial events (stocks up/down), calendar appointments, whether forecasts (if you see blue, it’s cold, red it’s hot).
It could also turn red when you buy it to indicated that your checking account just took a big hit (expensive).


GO is the best among the Hues family of friends and much brighter. I am keeping the hues and lux’s out of the equation. Living colors and lighstrips are not that bright but reasonably good and has a sex appeal. Blooms I returned as it was really awkward to place anywhere and really dim!

As such Orange is the best color on hues…


I think I’m going to go with the Cree bulb first. See how I like it and if the wife likes it then I’ll save up for the hue bulbs. I like the idea that @JDRoberts suggested about the different lighting for different people. I wish I looked into the light strip more b.c I just got the Armacost strips.

@smart I do like that orange color for lighting. It does set a mood for the room.


I’ve had a couple of Cree Connected bulbs fail already while my GE Link bulbs have been working great for a long time now. My only complaint with the GE’s is the light dispersion could be better.

I think @smart lives on a runway.


I have had the reverse problem a few of my get bulbs burnt out and 1 didn’t work out the box but have had good luck with the cree bulbs. Also I’m not sure if it is a factor or nor but the cree bulbs are noticeably lighter

I live on the edge, buddy! :wink:

Curious as to the failures you’ve had with the Cree’s?

The only four Cree’s I’ve got are all outside and have been for months and months now, through 100+ degree heat and severe rainstorms. They remain the most reliable smart bulbs out of all of them, to the point I’m tempted to put all my GE Link’s up for sale, the problem is I only have four A19 Link’s the rest are BR30’s, if Cree had a Connected BR30 I’d switch out all my Links in a heartbeat.

One of them wouldn’t turn all the way off (it remained on at a very dim setting) and, another one wouldn’t reconnect to SmartThings no matter how many times I tried. I could get it to reset but SmartThings could never detect it. Both bulbs have been inside the entire time.

I guess I have had a few issues with the GE bulbs as well but, they tend to be problems that show up immediately after purchase so I simply exchanged them.

Interesting, I’ll definitely make a mental note of that.

I am a fan of the Cree Connected bulbs. However I’ve been moving to dimmable LED bulbs and GE Zwave light switches. It’s just easier and the WAF is higher.

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Another thing: my GE bulbs are obviously working as repeaters. When I switch some of them off at the wall, other bulbs become non-responsive.

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Yep, or the dreaded power cut…