A main feature of the connected home is lighting, and there are quite a few options to consider when deciding on a system to use. Philips Hue has emerged as the premium brand, so lighting from other manufacturers has taken a back seat in the early days of the smart bulb revolution.

Philips Hue has evolved to take advantage of new technologies like smart speakers and other devices popping up all around. Earlier systems relied on a hub for properly establishing a network of bulbs. More recently, Hue has been flirting with hub-less options like Bluetooth.

A proper Philips Hue alternative is best judged in comparison to Hue’s flagship White and Color Ambiance LED bulb. This bulb offers a full range of colors and fades between lighting scenes and routines to capture the mood of the moment.

We have looked at the competitors and here we will compare bulbs from Sengled, GE, Lifx, and Sylvania. Each has features that both overlap or separate them from the Hue White and Color Ambiance bulb. Read on to see our takeaways for each.

philips hue
Photo Credit: The Verge

Philips Hue Alternatives

Sengled Smart Plus

Philips Hue might be the most well-rounded smart-lighting ecosystem, but there is no denying the platform’s steep price. Hue’s flagship White and Color Ambiance bulbs cost $50 a pop. A full home setup with the Hue Bridge and several smart switches could easily cost a few hundred dollars altogether. For consumers looking for a lower barrier to entry into the smart lighting world, we suggest Sengled as the most affordable Hue alternative. Sengled’s color-changing LED bulbs cost only $25 each.

These bulbs, though cheaper, actually have another advantage over the Hue system. A larger system requires no hub with Wi-Fi acting as the central nervous system of the bulbs, app, and smart-home hubs like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Philips is playing catch-up in this area, but as they refresh their bulb lineup they are moving away from a required hub, though this is handled with Bluetooth rather than a home Wi-Fi network. Older versions of the Sengled bulb rely on Zigbee hub connectivity. These retail for only $20.

Photo Credit: TechHive

The relationship between Amazon and Sengled ensures the bulbs play nice with Alexa devices, which also serve as Zigbee hubs. Sengled also supports Google Assistant. Apple’s HomeKit and Siri are left out.

These bulbs present a pretty basic version of a smart lighting system. Sengled’s color bulb doesn’t quite match Hue when it comes to programming scenes and routines, but the price is right. A selection of Sengled smart bulbs start at $20 over at Amazon.

Sengled Smart Plus Features

  • Multicolor bulbs starting at $25
  • Wi-Fi Connected
  • Support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Buy Sengled Smart Multi-Color LED at Amazon -$21.24

Lifx Smart Lighting

Lifx strikes a balance between expense and features that make it what we consider the best all-around alternative to the Hue lineup. In certain areas, Lifx’s ecosystem serves a strong challenge to Philips. Lifx’s standard color bulbs are priced at $35 each. These aren’t the cheapest bulbs, but they aren’t in the same price tier as Hue, either

The lineup of Lifx connected lights is quite varied. Lifx offers choices of light strips, wall tiles, and more. Philips might be the only competitor with a more diverse selection of lighting than Lifx. Specialty bulbs are also available, such as the Plus series. These bulbs emit infrared light to covertly provide more illumination for night-vision security cameras. The standard color-change bulb has a high brightness level compared to similar bulbs.

Wi-Fi acts as the bridge between bulbs, so no hubs here. All major home assistants are supported, whether it’s Google, Apple, or Amazon. A solid app experience opens up programming and automation for really taking advantage of a smart lighting system.

Lifx Mini
Photo Credit: 9to5 Google

Lifx Smart Lighting Features

  • Multicolor bulbs starting at $35
  • Wi-Fi connected
  • Support for Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit

Buy Lifx Mini-Color LED at Amazon – $35.62

C by GE

If there is another player in the smart lighting game with some real weight to throw around, it is GE. GE has a growing lineup of Bluetooth-connected smart bulbs we consider a really good Philips Hue alternative. One unique feature of these bulbs is that they are officially “Made for Google,” meaning they are designed to interface perfectly with Google Home devices.

To us, one sticking point is the Bluetooth-connected network. We have found Wi-Fi to be a much better solution, but Bluetooth nonetheless untethers bulbs from a required hub. Thankfully, a Google Home device can serve as a hub to enhance connectivity, but those without and not interested in setting up a Google Home system are left high and dry.

C by GE
Photo Credit: MacRumors

All that said, GE’s bulbs offer another low-priced Philips Hue alternative. Two-color bulbs can be had for $38, which breaks down to $19 each compared to Hue’s one bulb for $50. White-only bulbs sell as a two-pack for $25 at Amazon.

C by GE Features

  • Multicolor bulbs starting at $38 for two-pack
  • Bluetooth connected
  • Support for Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit

Buy C by GE at Amazon – $37.22

Sylvania Smart Plus

Sylvania is another recognizable name in the lighting marketplace, and, not to be left behind, has also launched a line of white and color smart bulbs. Their lineup features light strips, Edison bulbs, and other styles of lighting. Their color Smart Plus bulbs can be found online for only $25/2-pack — budget-friendly compared to Hue.

The Smart Plus family of bulbs can be connected with Amazon Alexa or ZigBee Hub. The bulbs can be controlled via Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi.

Photo Credit: Sylvania / TechHive

Sylvania Smart Plus Features

  • Multicolor bulbs starting at $25
  • Bluetooth connected
  • Hub required

Buy Sylvania Smart Plus Full Color LED at Amazon – $24.99


To wrap things up, options for smart lighting are plentiful, and there is something for everyone out there. Budget-minded folks should look into Lifx or Sengled, Google Home users will find C by GE useful, and those who have other ZigBee compatible hubs have Sylvania’s lighting solutions. We figure these all will continue to duke it out as Philips Hue alternatives, though none are quite on the level of Hue, despite the high cost of entry.

Buying Smart Light Bulbs

Editors’ Recommendations

Did you enjoy our Philips Hue Alternative Buying Guide review? If so, read some of our other reviews to learn how to turn your home into a smart home. 

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