The Least Expensive Way To Start A Smart Lighting System

Smart lighting in your home has many great benefits. Smart lighting allows you to control your lights from anywhere. It allows you to change the colors and brightness of your lights. You can schedule your lights to turn on or off at a certain time in the day. They may even help you save electricity. And installing smart lights in your home may be cheaper than you think! 

The cheapest way to start a smart lighting system is to buy a single smart light bulb. These range from $2.79 to over $150 on Amazon. You can screw a single smart bulb into a light fixture and connect it to an app. But purchasing the absolute cheapest smart bulb may frustrate you in the long run. 

Smart home automation often has the reputation of being unaffordable. This is not without basis. Some systems cost thousands of dollars. But this doesn’t apply to all smart home devices and systems. It is possible to set up a smart lighting system in your home on almost any budget. I explore this possibility further in this blog post. 

The cheapest smart lighting for your home

You can set up smart lighting in your home with a single smart light bulb. This would be the cheapest option to make your lights smart.

You can screw the simplest smart light bulbs into a light fixture in your home. This could be in a ceiling fixture or a lamp. 

You can still use the wall switch controlling the fixture to switch the light on or off. But you can also set up the smart light bulb so that you can control it remotely. This option is what makes your light “smart.” 

Even if you want to install only a single smart light bulb in your home, you need to choose the right one for you. There are a couple of factors you should consider. I discuss these in more detail below. 


1. How is the smart light bulb controlled?

Control with a remote 

You can control some smart light bulbs by using a remote control. 

In most cases, this is a hassle. Constantly losing the remote control is a risk. And if you have a cell phone, you might not want to have another object you have to keep on you to control your lights. 

Smart light bulbs with a remote control can also be useful though. For example, if you want to install a smart light bulb in your child’s room. If your child does not have a cell phone yet, a remote control enables them to control their lights.  

It has also become more common for people not to take their cell phones into their bedrooms. Blue light from devices may affect sleep quality. Many people are thus keeping their bedrooms device-free zones. In this case, a remote-controlled smart light bulb is also practical. 

Check that the smart light bulb you are buying comes with a remote. You do not want to have to buy the remote separately. 

The cheapest smart light bulb with remote control on Amazon is a QIRG smart light bulb for $5.29. 

The Lighting EVER RGB Color Changing Light Bulb is also a good option at $13 if you are looking for a bulb with a remote. 

Control via Wi-Fi 

Other smart light bulbs connect to your cell phone via Wi-Fi. You can download an app that is compatible with the light bulb. You can then use the app to control your phone. 

This will only work if you have an internet connection and you have charged your phone. 

The cheapest Wi-Fi-controlled smart light bulb on Amazon is the YHW Smart WiFi Light Bulb. It costs $5.23. 

Control via Bluetooth 

Some smart light bulbs can also connect to your phone via Bluetooth. This is practical for when your internet connection is down. 

The cheapest smart light bulb that is compatible with Bluetooth on Amazon is the GEMS Smart Light Bulb. It costs $7.99. 

Control via a hub

If you are looking for the cheapest option, do not buy a smart light bulb that requires a hub. A smart home hub is a device that connects multiple smart devices in your home. It acts as the “brain” of your smart home.

Smart hubs take home automation to the next level. But if you only want to install one or two smart light bulbs in your home, you won’t want to invest in a smart hub.  

You can purchase a Popotan smart hub on Amazon for $5. This hub can control up to 128 smart lights throughout your home. 

However, many smart light bulbs will not connect to this hub. If you want to automate more devices in your home in the future, avoid purchasing the cheapest hub.  

2. Which effects does the light bulb offer? 

When buying a light bulb, you might be looking for specific features. Before making a purchase, check the following:

  • Can the smart light bulb change color? 
  • How many colors can the smart light bulb produce?
  • Can the smart light bulb be dimmed?
  • What is the maximum brightness of the smart light bulb?

Even the cheapest smart light bulbs have most of these features. 

For $6.19, you can buy the Richer-R smart light bulb on Amazon. This bulb is dimmable and has a maximum brightness of 700 lumens. 

3. Can you schedule the smart light bulb to turn on or off?

Smart light bulbs that can be scheduled to turn on or off are very practical. They can be set to turn on in the morning to wake you. They can be set to turn off at a specific time in case you forget them on. They can be set to turn on again in the evening when it gets dark outside.

This is convenient. It is also a potential security feature. Your lights will turn on at night even if you are not home. This feature also has energy-saving potential. If you often forget to turn off your lights, the automatic switch-off can save electricity. 

The Philips Wiz smart bulb is has a scheduling function and is available on Amazon for $15. 

When you consider these factors, you’ll see that many cheap smart bulbs suit your needs. But the cheapest options often have other disadvantages. It might be worth it to not buy the cheapest ones available. 

The Philips Hue LED bulb life lasts 23 years. Incandescent light bulbs need to be replaced around once a year, depending on the type. This means that one Hue bulb replaced 23 incandescent light bulbs. This is why smart light bulbs are more convenient and sustainable. 

If you would like to find out how to Add The Hue Widget From Your Phone, you can find it by clicking on this helpful article.

Why you shouldn’t buy the cheapest smart light bulb 

Poor quality and a lack of integration might haunt you and your smart home in the future. Buying the cheapest smart light bulb that you can find might appeal to you now. But only buying a bulb because it is cheap might cost you in the long run.

Here are a few reasons why you may want to avoid the cheapest options:

1. Cheap light bulbs have poor product descriptions 

The cheapest smart light bulbs on Amazon have very vague product descriptions. Very often, you cannot figure out what features the product has. You might buy a bulb only to find out that it has different features than you expected. 

It is also difficult to find more information about these products anywhere else. 

Most of the products also have no or very few customer reviews. This makes it difficult to know if they are any good. 

2. Cheap light bulbs often have poor quality 

The first thing you should ask yourself when you see a smart light bulb that costs less than $4 is: “Why is this so cheap?” 

Chances are that the manufacturers skimped on quality control and used inferior materials. A cheap light bulb is only cheap until you have to replace it over and over again. 

3. Cheap light bulbs may not be integrated into your future smart home 

If you only want a single smart light bulb in one or each room in your home, the cheap option can work. If you aim to have complete home automation in the future, choose the bulbs you buy now carefully. 

For example, the Philips Wiz bulbs are an excellent option if you only want smart lights in your home. At $15 each, they will serve you well. But if you want to get to a point where all your devices work together, these bulbs won’t work. 

The Philips hub is called the Philips Hue Bridge. Philips Wiz smart lights can’t connect to the Hue Bridge. You need Philips Hue smart light bulbs to connect to the hub. These cost $26 each. If you want to integrate your light bulbs with a hub in the future, consider buying compatible bulbs from the beginning. 

If you want to create a fully automated smart home with a hub, think about which hub you want to buy in the future. Then you can make sure that all the smart light bulbs you buy now are compatible with your future hub. 

How to get smart lights for cheaper 

Avoid buying the cheapest smart light bulbs you can get. There are ways how you can buy better quality smart lights for a cheaper price. 

1. Shop around 

If you have chosen a specific smart light bulb that you want to buy, compare prices from different stores. 

2. Wait for sales 

Place the smart light bulbs you want to buy onto your wish list on different online store websites. Check your wish list daily to see if the smart light bulbs have been discounted. 

3. Buy in bulk

Many smart light bulbs can be purchased in bundles. If you buy more than one bulb, the price per bulb is often significantly less. This is worth doing if you want to install smart light bulbs in more than one room in your home. 

4. Buy second-hand 

Check websites like Amazon and eBay for second-hand smart light bulbs. You can find these by checking the “used” or “second-hand” box under the ‘Condition’ option in the refined search options. 

You can also ask if anyone is selling their smart bulbs on local Facebook groups. You can also check Facebook Marketplace. 

5. Install your smart light bulbs yourself 

Most smart light bulbs can easily be screwed into a light fixture. You should be able to do this yourself. This will save you a lot of money when compared to paying an electrician to install the lights for you. 

Having smart lights may even save you money

If you replace an incandescent light bulb in your home with a smart light bulb, you can end up saving money. All smart bulbs are LED light bulbs. LED light bulbs last much longer than incandescent light bulbs. You would have to replace an incandescent light bulb several times during the life of one LED bulb. 

Incandescent light bulbs are also less energy efficient. LED bulbs use significantly less electricity. A smart light bulb can thus reduce your electricity bill. 

If you have a smart light bulb that you can schedule to turn off at a certain time in the day, you can save even more on energy. 

Installing a smart switch in your home 

A smart switch is another device that you can use to set up a smart lighting system in your home on a budget. 

A smart switch replaces a regular switch and is usually installed into the wall. It is connected to the lights in a room. The switch connects to an app that is used to control the lights. You can turn the lights on and off using the app. 

More advanced smart switches can also be instructed to dim the lights.  

If you have many light bulbs in a room, a smart switch may be the cheapest option to make your lights smart. You would only have to install one smart switch to control all the lights. This might be cheaper than buying multiple smart light bulbs. Smart switches are available on Amazon from $10. 

You should consider, though, that smart switches are much more difficult to install. A smart light bulb just needs to be screwed into a light fixture. Most smart switches need to be installed into the wall. This involves some knowledge of switch wiring. 

If you are uncomfortable with doing electric work, you will have to hire an electrician. In this case, your costs quickly increase. 

Using a smart plug to save money

If you only want to convert one lamp into a smart light, you can buy a smart plug instead of a smart switch. You don’t need to wire a smart plug into the wall. This could mean that you save on installation costs. 

Smart plugs are available on Amazon from $6. 

The cheapest smart light system with a hub

If you want to set up a smart lighting system with a hub, buying a kit may be a good option. 

Many brands offer a hub with at least two additional smart light bulbs in the kit. This option is cheaper than if you purchased the hub and bulbs separately. 

Using a hub has some benefits. 

Firstly, most hubs connect to your phone and other devices via Zigbee or Z-Wave instead of Wi-Fi. This means you do not need to connect all your lights to your Wi-Fi. Your lights thus won’t slow down your internet speed. 

Secondly, you can control all the lights in your home at the same time with a hub. You don’t need to control every light bulb individually on your phone.  

If you want to connect other devices besides your lights to a hub, you may need to do some more research. Check the compatibility of all your devices. The more devices you want to connect, the more expensive your system will probably be. 

But if you just want to connect your smart lights to a hub, you can do so quite inexpensively. 

Amazon offers hub and smart bulb kits for around $35. 

For example, you can get a Sengled Smart Light Bulb Starter Kit (which includes the hub and 2 smart bulbs) for $40. If you want to commit to the Sengled brand, this is a great option. Unfortunately, this hub only works with Sengled bulbs. If you already have some smart light bulbs from other brands, you would have to replace them. 

Sengled Smart Light Bulbs, Color Changing Alexa Light Bulb Bluetooth Mesh That Work with Alexa Only, Dimmable LED Bulb A19 E26 Multicolor, High CRI, High Brightness, 9W 800LM, 6 Pack, No Hub Required

Home Streamliner’s Take:

There are some very cheap smart lighting options available. But I would pay a little extra for quality. I also wouldn’t purchase the most expensive system just for a brand name. I would prioritize finding a middle ground between affordable and functional technology.

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This blog aims to share my research and first-hand knowledge in a helpful way. My goal is for you to be able to save time and find happiness in a streamlined home.