A hand with long fingernails holding a smart light bulb

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been a fan of smart bulbs for a few years. Originally, I definitely hesitated — I’ve always been someone who didn’t really see the point of going full “smart home” (because do you really need everything to be WiFi-enabled?) — but once I tried my first smart bulb, I was absolutely hooked. 

Weirdly enough, my first foray into smart lighting sucked. My partner purchased a random brand from Amazon, and the bulbs were finicky, hard to set up, and barely produced any light. However, it was obvious that there was potential there. We loved the ability to change the lights to suit our mood, but we quickly realized that — when it comes to smart lighting — the brand you choose definitely matters. So is LIFX one of those brands? Here’s what you need to know.

What are LIFX smart bulbs?

LIFX (pronounced LIFE-ex) offers a selection of WiFi-enabled smart lighting that rivals larger, well-known brands like Philips Hue. The company offers a whole range of different bulb types: including traditional, color-changing E26 bulbs — the kind that fit in most “traditional” light fixtures — as well as LED lightstrips, candle-style bulbs, and even their newest offering, LIFX Clean. Marketed as “a light so smart we taught it how to clean,” the LIFX Clean bulbs use high-energy visible light (also known as HEV) to clean and disinfect surfaces at the click of a button. 

blue light in a bathroom

The LIFX lineup includes color-changing bulbs, disinfecting bulbs, and more.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

First impressions

Straight away, I need to be honest — I’ve been using LIFX lights for years. My partner and I ditched our first smart bulbs for LIFX’s 1100 Lumen E26 bulbs, and we immediately fell in love. They’re incredibly bright and the colors are fantastic. They’re also easy to set up — just pop them in the fixture, download the LIFX app, and follow the instructions on the screen to pair them

Even better? They’re pretty beginner-friendly too. LIFX bulbs don’t require any sort of hub or bridge to connect them to your WiFi, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing extras in order to make them work in your house. Installation is quick and easy — the most trouble I’ve had was trying to stick one of LIFX’s color-changing LED light strips to the back of my desk — and it’s done and ready to go within minutes. I’ve seen some Amazon reviewers talk about difficulty with installation, but that hasn’t been my experience.

The LIFX app is even better than similar apps that I’ve tried, which is impressive to someone who has a history of getting frustrated by poorly planned companion apps. I’ve used smart lighting from MagicLight and Govee, and LIFX’s app is definitely my favorite. It’s easy to use, there’s a good selection of different lighting themes to choose from, and LIFX recently added the ability to “paint” your LED light strip to display multiple colors however you want, which was a feature I didn’t know I needed. 

The LIFX lights are compatible with Apple’s HomeKit, Hey Google, and Amazon Alexa, though I found myself turning to the LIFX app more than anything else. HomeKit definitely worked, and it was a simple setup — as long as you don’t throw away the packaging like I did, meaning I had to unscrew my LIFX bulbs to get the setup code off the side — but I liked LIFX’s color selector and scheduling tools better. 

What I loved about LIFX Lights

Beyond the general vibes of switching all of my traditional lightbulbs to LIFX’s color-changing smart bulbs, I love the color vibrancy that LIFX bulbs offer. Other smart lights I’ve used are disappointingly dim when you switch to a fun color, but the LIFX bulbs stay bright no matter what color you choose. Plus, they’re easy to install, the app works well, and they’re relatively affordable compared to other high-end smart lighting options on the market. 

What I didn’t love about LIFX Lights

Honestly, not much. There are definitely cheaper smart lighting options available on the market, but the ones I tried didn’t hold up. I was disappointed to learn that the company used to offer additional styles of lighting — like light panels that rivaled Nanoleaf’s Shapes — but they stopped offering those products a few years ago to focus primarily on smart light bulbs. I would love to see more variety in their product lineup in the future — I’ve held off on purchasing the Nanoleaf Shapes simply because I don’t want to use two different smart lighting apps — but that might not be in the cards for me.

I will say that the LIFX Clean Bulbs weren’t entirely worth it to me. The lights are cool, but it was hard to say if they were really doing what they claim to do. LIFX’s website has a third-party report on the efficacy of the LIFX Clean HEV lights and their antibacterial properties, and — according to that research — the lights need to be either very close to the surface they’re disinfecting or left on for long periods of time (eight-plus hours) to be effective, so it’s hard to say if they’re really disinfecting my bathroom.

“It does appear that some studies show that HEV at certain wavelengths does have some disinfecting properties,” explains Dr. Amest Adalja, a senior scholar and assistant professor at the John Hopkins University Center for Health Security. “[However]…I don’t think that routine disinfection of household items with these types of devices provides much value and is not something I generally recommend.”

Bottom Line

Obviously, I’m a fan of LIFX’s smart lighting. I’ve tried the LIFX Color E26, the LIFX Color BR30 (which is more like a large, outdoor floodlight), the LIFX Clean, and the 40-inch Lightstrip…and I’m planning on buying more in the future. Approximately half of the lightbulbs in my house have been converted to LIFX bulbs, and — considering the standard E26 color bulb is around $15 cheaper than the Philips Hue — I’ve been able to make the transition without feeling like I’m spending too much money in the process.

We’ve even used the LIFX app to put all of our lights on a schedule, meaning our home office lights turn on when it’s time for us to go to work, our bedroom lights turn to red when it’s time for us to wind down, and the entire house “shuts off” at 11 p.m. if we’ve forgotten to turn off any lights throughout the day. 

So would I recommend them to anyone looking to tip-toe into smart lighting? Absolutely. They’re beginner-friendly, convenient, and offer incredible smart lighting, which makes them a win in my book.

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