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Color-changing light bulbs let you control the ambiance and set the mood in any room of your house without any extra wiring or complicated setup. "I believe most tech-savvy individuals will have no problem using or understanding the use of color-changing LED bulbs," says Larry Campbell, a Licensed Master Electrician and Home Improvement Editorial Board Member for The Spruce. "However they work fine as a regular LED bulb if you don't set them up on your Wi-Fi network."
We researched dozens of color-changing light bulbs, considering their color range, brightness, energy efficiency, extra features, and ease of use and setup. Our best overall pick is the Lifx A19 Led Light Bulb since it doesn’t require you to use a hub, lets you choose from millions of different colors, and has a variety of intuitive lighting features and settings.
Here are the best color-changing LED bulbs.
Best Overall: LIFX A19 Led Light Bulb
Doesn’t require a hub
Impressive brightness and color range
Smart home compatibility
This LIFX A19 Led Light Bulb is a Wi-Fi-enabled smart bulb that doesn’t require you to set up a hub or bridge to use it. It's our favorite for its simple, hub-less setup, compatibility with various smart home ecosystems, and easy-to-use lighting features.
You can change the color of this bulb, dim it, or turn it on and off via the compatible app. It’s also compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, so you can control it with voice commands. This bulb has a heftier price tag than other models, but it offers many convenient features in return. You can set light schedules to turn the bulb on and off at certain times in the day or use the Day & Dusk feature. This setting automatically adjusts your light’s brightness, color, and temperature to get gradually brighter in the morning and dimmer and warmer toward evening.
The main downside of this bulb is that it needs Wi-Fi to work, so if you have Wi-Fi connectivity issues, it may not be the best option for you. Otherwise, the bulb offers 1100 lumens of brightness and over 16 million different colors. It has a lifespan of up to 22.8 years and relies on only 11 watts to bring you the equivalent of 75 watts, making it a long-lasting and energy-efficient option too.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Smart Bulb
Easy app controls
Bluetooth or bridge setup options
Plenty of color, preset, and feature options
Hue Bridge needed to use all features
Hue Bridge sold separately
Philips Hue smart bulbs are a well-known and popular option among color-changing light bulbs, thanks to the Hue app’s user-friendly and intuitive design. This bulb offers two setup options, including Bluetooth, which doesn’t require a hub or a Hue Bridge-reliant setup. If you choose the Bluetooth option, install your light bulb and connect your bulb to the app to control 10 lights in a room at once. Just note you need to be in the same room as the bulb to control it. If you want expanded control options, you need to purchase the Hue Bridge separately. While it adds to the cost, it allows you to control up to 50 lights at once across different rooms and manage your lights from anywhere.
Regardless of your setup choice, the light bulb is Alexa- and Google Assistant-compatible, so you can control it via voice commands. If you use the hub, you gain Apple HomeKit and Siri access. The app lets you easily choose from 16 million colors, dim your lights, and set timers, while the bulb packs in an impressive 1600 lumens of brightness. There’s a variety of color presets available in the app’s scene gallery, but you can also select a photo from your camera roll to serve as the scene inspiration, and the lights will change color to match the photo’s mood.
Best Budget: Lighting EVER LE Dimmable Color-Changing LED Light Bulb
Doesn’t require hub or Wi-Fi
Set timers and schedules
Not super bright
Color selection can be inaccurate
This light bulb offers color-changing features and app controls in a hub-free, budget-friendly design. You can adjust the temperature of the light bulb's white light from 2700K to 6500K and dim it to your desired brightness. This bulb isn’t as bright as other models, and when you select a light color from the gradient on the app, the color may not show as accurately as you’d expect. However, if you buy more than one, you can choose from 16 million different colors and six lighting modes and group and control multiple Govee LED bulbs simultaneously. The app also has a handy memory mode, so it will turn on to your last-used light setting and lets you set timers and schedules for bedtime and morning.
Setup is straightforward, with only three steps: Screw the bulb into your desired and compatible fixture, download the compatible app, and connect your bulb to your phone via Bluetooth. Once it's all set up, you can take advantage of its energy-saving design that uses only 9 watts to bring you the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb.
Best Bluetooth: Govee Smart LED Bulb
Various lighting modes
Sync light rhythm to music
Select colors from camera
Lacks Alexa or Google Assistant integration
Limits to group controls
The Govee Smart LED Bulb is a highly customizable Bluetooth-only option that's simple to use and set up. Just download the compatible app and connect your phone and light bulb via Bluetooth to get started. The app lets you choose from 16 million colors and access all customizations, including picking a lighting color from a photo or a scene you focus your camera on. To make setting the ambiance you're looking for even easier, there are eight different scene modes you can choose from, including Sunset and Sunrise modes, which are excellent options for waking up and going to sleep. There’s a group control option, too, so you can adjust multiple light bulbs at once. However, group control doesn't give you access to all functions.
This 7-watt light bulb is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb, making it an energy-conscious choice for your home. The light bulb lacks Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, but you can set on/off timers and sync the bulb to your music, so it switches colors to the song's rhythm.
Best for Outdoors: Kuniwa Outdoor LED Color-Changing Spotlight Bulb
Special effects and memory mode
Only 16 colors
Can’t set schedules or timers
With the Kuniwa Color-Changing Spotlight Bulb, you can light up your pool, yard, or deck in all the colors of the rainbow. You can use this PAR38 90-watt-equivalent bulb—that screws into any standard E27 socket—to highlight a garden tree or planter or provide light to an outdoor entertainment area. The bulb is also suitable for indoor use, but the IP65 rating means it's waterproof and safe against rain and other outdoor moisture.
Operation is simple with the included remote control that allows you to choose from warm white light, 16 different beautiful colors, or rotate through them all. You can also select from four different “special effect” modes (strobe, flash, fade, and smooth) and use the remote to dim or brighten the light to your choice of four intensities. Unfortunately, there is no option to set schedules or timers, but it does have a memory mode feature, which means it will turn on to your last-used light setting.
Best for Smart Homes: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit
Great color vibrancy and scene gallery
Music and screen syncing feature
Hub needed to access all the features
If you're a smart home enthusiast, this Philips Hue Smart LED Starter Kit comes with four Philips Hue smart light bulbs and a Philips Hue Bridge to make the most of this product's smart compatibility and intuitive features. Much of the customization happens in the user-friendly Hue app that offers over 16 million different color choices, has ambiance presets in the Hue scene gallery, and the option to use a photo from your phone as the scene inspiration. You can sync your lights to match the mood of movies or video games or set them to music to create a rhythmic lighting experience. If you want a simulated sunrise effect, you can also set the bulbs to gradually brighten in the morning.
The main downside of this lighting kit is its high price tag. However, the included Hue Bridge adds value by giving you advanced lighting controls that you can't get with Bluetooth alone—including setting up to 50 Hue lights at once from any location and managing smart home routines and timers. This light set is also compatible with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana, so you can control your bulbs with voice commands in addition to the app.
Best for Playing Music: GE LED + A21 Full Color Dimmable LED Light Bulb
Easy-to-use remote control
Can link up to other bulbs
Good sound quality
Can sync lights to music
Only 10 color options
Not as bright as other models
Not smart home compatible
The GE LED + A21 Full Color Dimmable LED Light Bulb is more than just a color-changing light bulb. It’s also a speaker that lets you create the perfect ambiance through a combination of music and light. You can connect up to 10 of these bulbs so they play music together, making it a great option for party hosts. No app is required either: Connect the bulb to your phone via Bluetooth, click the song of your choice on your preferred music app, and the bulb will play the song. It comes with a user-friendly remote with lower buttons for controlling music and the upper half dedicated to adjusting the light’s brightness, color, and features such as Party Mode, which synchronizes the light show to the beat of the music.
This light bulb’s color and brightness range isn't as expansive as other models, offering 10 different light colors and 760 lumens of brightness. But 760 lumens is a decent amount of brightness, and if you don’t mind not having complete color customization, this light offers a warmer white and a cooler white, as well as a blue, green, orange, pink, purple, red, blue-green, and yellow color preset. It’s also compatible with any lighting fixture that works with typical A19/21 light bulbs, BR30 floodlights, and 6-inch recessed lighting fixtures.
Best Features: Nanoleaf Essentials A19 Smart Thread Bluetooth LED Bulb
Variety of color syncing and scene options
Support Bluetooth and Thread technology
Not as expensive as other models
Lacks Alexa compatibility
Thread feature requires compatible router
Thanks to its many advanced features and reasonable price, the 1100-lumen, high-end Nanoleaf Essentials bulb holds its own against similar color-changing LEDs. This bulb is app-controlled, doesn’t require a hub, and is both Bluetooth and Thread-enabled. While Thread offers greater reliability, speed, and range compared to Bluetooth connectivity, you'll need a compatible border router, such as the Nanoleaf Lines or Apple HomePod mini, to use the Thread option. The bulb is also compatible with Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit if you want to use voice commands to control your light, though it lacks Alexa integration.
Aside from smart connectivity, this bulb offers many lighting features in the app. Choose from default scenes/color presets, create your own from over 16 million color options, or set up a dynamic scene with changing colors. The Screen Mirror feature syncs the light to a screen to mirror the color scheme of your movie or video game or Razer Chroma gaming devices, such as keyboards or mice. The light bulb even has a Circadian Lighting feature, automatically changing the lighting temperature and brightness to encourage productivity or rest, depending on the time of day.
Our top choice is the Lifx A19 Led Light Bulb since it offers an impressive 1100 lumens of brightness, a range of 16 million colors, and easy app control without requiring a hub. If you’re looking for a colorful bulb to add pizzazz to your backyard or patio, the Kuniwa Color-Changing Spotlight Bulb has 16 color options and multiple effects, and it’s waterproof.
What to Look for in a Color-Changing LED Light Bulb
Indoor or Outdoor Use
Most color-changing bulbs are used indoors, often in the living room or bedroom to set a mood. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them outdoors to add a bit of fun or drama to a patio gathering, spotlight a tree or other object of interest in the garden, or even add some magic to your swimming pool.
When choosing a color-changing bulb for outdoor use, it’s crucial to check that it's weatherproof and meant for this purpose. Typically, these bulbs will be labeled as indoor/outdoor or specify that the bulb is weather-resistant, humidity-resistant, or safe for outdoor use in a protected area. Some are waterproof and can even be used in a swimming pool as long as the light fixture is sealed. Remember that weather- or humidity-resistant bulbs can’t tolerate a drenching downpour, so keep these bulbs in a fixture with some protection from severe weather conditions.
As a general rule, there are two categories of color-changing LED bulbs: Those that are smart and app-compatible and those that are remote-controlled. Many less-expensive color-changing LED bulbs rely on remote control instead of an app to change the light color and effects or turn the light on and off. You’ll generally need to be in the same room as the bulb to control these bulbs with a remote.
Smart color-changing LEDs have an app you can download to your phone, allowing you to control the light remotely by connecting to the bulb with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Once connected, you can turn the light on or off, dim or brighten the light, change the colors, or choose a particular effect. More advanced smart bulbs also work with a smart home hub to set up automation and routines. Many color-changing smart bulbs, with or without a hub, are also compatible with voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant.
Range of Colors and Effects
Most remote-controlled LED color-changing bulbs have a handful of color options ranging between 10 and 16 choices. Smart and app-controlled color-changing bulbs, on the other hand, usually offer millions of colors for near-endless gradients of color to choose from.
Many color-changing bulbs also have effect options, such as wave, strobe, blink, flash, alternating, and many others. Some light bulbs may even be able to sync to the music you play and change the pattern of light to the rhythm of the song you're listening to. Others may be able to sync to your screen and match the light colors to a movie you're watching. Typically, smart bulbs tend to be more feature-packed with color effects and customization than non-smart options.
How long do color changing LED bulbs last?
According to Campbell, color-changing LED bulbs have comparable lifespans to those of normal LED bulbs. On average, this figure ranges between 40,000 to 50,000 hours "if they are a quality name brand such as Sylvania or Phillips.” Of course, the number of years it takes before you need to replace a lightbulb will depend on your lighting habits, namely how frequently and long you use a given light bulb.
Which color lighting is the best for mimicking natural light?
According to Campbell, if you're looking to mimic natural light, a light with a Kelvin (K) rating of around 4200K mimics sunlight, and a light with a rating of roughly 3500K-4500K mimics daylight. Overall, daylight best mimics natural light. For reference, the color temperature scale ranges from 1000K to 10000K.
What's the difference between bright white and daylight?
Campbell says that companies name light colors differently, but bright white would typically have a color temperature of 5000K or higher. In comparison, daylight can have a temperature of anywhere between 3500K and 4500K. That means you should double-check the light color’s Kelvin rating if you want true daylight or bright white since there’s a possibility a light color could be named a certain way but not have the appropriate Kelvin rating.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Sarah Toscano is a staff writer at The Spruce, specializing in tech and smart homes. She has been researching products as an e-commerce writer for over a year, with a focus on creating content related to tech, gadgets, and entertainment. She scoured through customer reviews and online discussion forums, watched multiple review videos, and analyzed each product's specs and features to help make the picks for this article.
Sarah also consulted Larry Campbell, a Licensed Master Electrician and Home Improvement Editorial Board Member for The Spruce, to help her better understand the nature and technicalities of color-changing LED light bulbs and their color settings.