Lighting is about so much more than convenience. The type of lighting you have speaks to your sense of style. In the same way that a chandelier tells a different story than a fluorescent overhead light, certain kinds of smart lights separate themselves from the competition.
In our article about the best smart lights on a budget, we focused on utility and cost. This guide will be entirely the opposite and instead focus wholly on the best smart lights with style with no regard for cost.
If you’re decking out a game room, man cave, or home theater and you want the absolute coolest lights, this guide is for you. Two companies dominate this list: LIF and Nanoleaf.
Best For Home Theater: Nanoleaf Rhythm (Amazon)
Nanoleaf was one of the first companies to set itself apart with high-end, high-performance smart lighting with the Nanoleaf Aurora. The triangle-shaped tiles could be arranged in any shape and pattern as long as one side was touching another, and users took advantage of this to create intricate patterns on the wall – everything from Space Invaders to DNA helices.
The Nanoleaf Rhythm expands on that same modularity by offering more than 16 million color combinations. The Rhythm syncs to music in real-time and changes colors across individual tiles in time with the beat.
With added features like the new Screen Mirror feature, the Nanoleaf Rhythm can reflect the ambient colors on your television or computer monitor for the ultimate home theater or gaming experience.
The downside is the cost: a 15-piece starter kit (called the “Smarter Kit”) will run you $299.99 on Amazon.
Best For General Lighting: Philips Hue Color (Amazon)
While the Philips Hue White is a great budget option, the same can’t be said for the color version. A single Philips Hue Color A19 bulb runs about $47.49 on Amazon, while the Starter Kit with 3 bulbs and the necessary Philips Hue Hub will cost $159.00.
Decking out your entire home will cost a pretty penny, but Philips Hue Color bulbs are well worth it – they’re some of the best smart lights on the market. Users have access to more than 16 million color variations, voice control, and plenty of pre-built scenes to choose from.
The Philips Hue “Lab” constantly invents new applications for the bulbs that can be downloaded from the app, such as the ability to make the lights flicker like candles. You can also expand the functionality of Philips Hue bulbs by pairing them with other smart home devices or Hue-brand products like the Hue Dimmer Switch or Hue Motion Sensor.
Best For Accent Lighting: LIFX Beam (Amazon)
The LIFX Beam is unique in that it isn’t intended to provide whole-room lighting in any way, but rather to be an accent for a space. Each panel is 1.4 inches wide and 11.8 inches long, but can be connected end-to-end to cover longer distances, such as around a door frame.
LIFX sets its smart lights apart due to its patented Polychrome Technology. Each panel has dozens of individual LEDs that can broadcast any available color, allowing users to create a rainbow of light across the setup.
LIFX smart lights are also unique in that they do not require a central hub. Each panel connects to WiFi on its own, which makes installation as simple as connecting the Beams together and hooking the system to your network.
The LIFX Beam can be voice-controlled through all the major smart assistants, and the starter kit will run you $149.99 for a six-piece setup with one corner connector.
Best Tile-Style Smart Lighting: LIFX Tile (LIFX)
The LIFX Tile is a lot like it sounds: a nearly 8 inch x 8 inch tile that boasts the same Polychrome Technology as the LIFX Beam. You can connect these tiles together in any arrangement you want (or do as many people have done and emulate Tetris on your walls).
One of the main selling points of LIFX is its app; a majority of users prefer it over the competition due to the intuitive interface and easy-to-understand controls. Like other LIFX smart lights, the Tile does not require a central hub. Each panel has a built-in WiFi adaptor that allows it to your connect to your home network without an intermediary.
A single LIFX Tile will cost you $79.99, while a three-pack offers a better bang for your buck at $149.99. These lights are great for creating accents on your walls or just to serve as a conversation piece, but creating an expansive display will cost you.
Best Smart Light For Gaming: Nanoleaf Canvas (Nanoleaf)
The Nanoleaf Canvas is a lot like the LIFX Tile in appearance, although smaller. Each Canvas tile comes in at about 6 inches square, rather than 8. But where the LIFX Tile serves as an art piece, the Nanoleaf Canvas packs a lot of functionality.
The Canvas tiles can sync with music much like the Nanoleaf Rhythm, but you can also use the Canvas tiles as touch controls for other smart home devices. Want to turn your coffee pot on from the bedroom? Set up a Canvas tile to control your smart coffee pot and give it a tap when you wake up. You can also use the Canvas tiles to play light-based touch games.
With the Nanoleaf Mirror mentioned earlier, you can set the Canvas up to reflect specific parts of your screen. You can have them flash red when your HP gets low, or flicker a different color when a specific power-up appears.
Like other Nanoleaf products, the Canvas smart lights work with most major smart assistants. A four-piece “Smarter” kit will cost $119.99, while the more expansive 9 piece Canvas kit costs $229.99.