The Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Bulb Starter Kit (3rd Generation) is the best smart lights for your home. They allow for a wide range of options and work seamlessly with Apple's Siri and Amazon's Echo.

Ritchie Ritchie Rene Ritchie has been covering Apple and the personal technology industry for almost a decade. Editorial director for Mobile Nations, analyst for iMore, video and podcast host, you can follow him on Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter @reneritchie.

Best overall

Hue White and Color Ambiance Bulb Starter Kit (3rd Generation)

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The Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit comes with everyone you need to get the basic Hue experience: A hub that plugs into your router and controls all the bulbs, and three white and color ambiance bulbs to get you started.

The 3rd generation part is key. That means the hub uses the secure Wi-Fi connections Apple demands for HomeKit, and that means you can use the new Home app to configure and manage Hue as part of your overall setup, and Siri to control it. It also means you don't have to worry about hackers breaking into your network through your lights. And that's super important.

It also means the latest, greatest bulbs that give off better greens, cyans, and blues. The bulbs can emit white light, both simulated incandescent and sunlight, but are also full color so you can turn your room purple, make it look like dawn, or go full-on disco. You can also use Hue with Amazon's Echo and Alexa, if that's how you roll.

Bottom line: If you want to get started with smart lights in your home — or office! — you want to get started with Hue.

One more thing: You can get get extra Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs to expand into additional rooms. (I might have more than a dozen!)

Why the Hue White and Color Ambiance Bulb Starter Kit is the best

Everything you need to get securely, delightfully started.

It's hard to describe just how fun and convenient smart lights are until you get started. But once you set them up and configure them, you never want to go back.

The Wirecutter agrees that Hue are the best smart lights currently on the market, and that the starter pack is a great point of entry:

Adding a set of smart light bulbs is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to get started building a smart home system. We researched all the standard A19-style smart bulbs (the kind that fit traditional lamps and fixtures), then tested ten models and the systems they work with. In the end, the first popular smart bulb is still the one that outshines (sorry about that) all the others. The Philips Hue setup is simple (we recommend the A19 Starter Kit that packages three bulbs and a Hue hub), and the bulbs' wide interoperability with other apps and smart-home systems make Hue the most flexible and feature-rich smart bulb on the market.

The hub plugs into your router over ethernet cable and connects to all the bulbs. Because of Apple's insistence on security, the 2nd generation version — which added compatibility with HomeKit —and later are encrypted end-to-end. That's incredibly important, especially when you see horror stories of "Internet of Things" devices being hijacked by hackers for use in denial-of-service attacks and other malicious activities. Accept no substitutes.

The 3rd generation hub includes the brand new Hue bulbs, which are capable of better cyans, greens, and blues. You get three of them in the starter kit, which is great for a living room, kitchen, or bedroom. I have them in all of those — the corner and both sides of the living room; on the stove, counter, and sink in the kitchen; and on both bedside tables and up front in the bedroom.

The Hue app from the App Store or Apple's Home app make it easy to get started, and get everything set up. From there you can tap through the various defaults, turn thing son and off, and adjust intensity. The real magic comes, though, with voice control.

You can use Siri on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV, or Alexa on Amazon Echo to control everything with just a few words. I use Siri.

"Turn the studio lights on," gets me instantly ready for any podcast or video recording. And if I ever go to bed and notice a light was left on, "Turn the lights off," lets me fix it without getting up again. "Turn the lights purple," — or any color I want — lets me watch Star Wars under a Tatooine sunset, or Game of Thrones in the red. I can even say "50%" or "10%" to get them to dim.

You can also set up automations so that your lights come on when they detect your iPhone getting close, and it's after sunset. Or, when you say "movie time", they go super dim while your blinds go down. The possibilities are expanding all the time.

And Hue can expand right along with it, including with the wall mounted Hue Dimmer Switch, the portable Hue Tap, and the upcoming Hue sensor.

Best on a budget

Philips Hue LED Starter Kit

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If you really want to get into smart lights but you don't have a lot to spend, you can get the Hue hub and two white bulbs and save some money up front. You will lose the ability to do all the fun color stuff up front, but you'll get the same secure, expandable base to start with, and the ability to add additional bulbs — including Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs — as interest and cash allow.

Bottom-line: If you want smart lights but you don't want to pay a lot for them — at least for now — then you want the Philips Hue LED Starter Kit.

One more thing: You can add Hue White bulbs to expand or Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs to go rainbow at any time.

Best for BYOL

Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting

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Sometimes you want the convenience of smart lighting, but you can't afford new bulbs, or have ceiling lights or fans that can't take Hue bulbs. For those lighting options, an alternative is Lutron's Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting kit: It supplies either plug-in options for table lights or wall dimmers to help connect your existing lighting options with HomeKit.

Like the Hue lights, Lutron's kits require a bridge — which works with both Apple's HomeKit system and Amazon's Echo — as well as plug-in dimmers (or one wall dimmer) and wireless controls. You won't get all the fancy color effects you get with Hue, but you do get lighting control from your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.

Bottom Line: If you want to keep your existing lights but add HomeKit and Echo support, you want Lutron's Caseta Wireless kits.

One more thing: Lutron's Caseta system also offers remote-control window shades, which are just about the coolest thing ever. Besides lights.

Best for highlights

Hue Bloom

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Hue's Bloom is a stand-alone color light. It's not a bulb you screw into a socket but a full light you plug into an outlet. That means you can put it anywhere, including and especially shelves or counters that have things you want to accent. They also work with Echo and Alexa. You do need a Hue Hub for it to work, but if you already have one, you can add the blooms right in.

I have three of them on the shelf behind my podcast studio, adding depth and texture to my background. Because they're Hue, I can turn them on and change their color or intensity with the Hue app, Home app, or Siri.

Bottom-line: If you want an all-in one light to fill out your room or add accents to anything you treasure, you want the Hue Bloom.

One more thing: If you want a portable version, you can get the Hue Go and take it with you anywhere, any time.

Conclusion

You can get other HomeKit-compatible lights if you really want to, including Lutron, Nanoleaf, and Insteon, but Phillips Hue are the simplest, funnest way to get started.

Best overall

Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Bulb Starter Kit (3rd Generation)

See at Amazon

The Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Bulb Starter Kit comes with everyone you need to get the basic Hue experience: A hub that plugs into your router and controls all the bulbs, and three white and color ambiance bulbs to get you started.

The 3rd generation part is key. That means the hub uses the secure Wi-Fi connections Apple demands for HomeKit, and that means you can use the new Home app to configure and manage Hue as part of your overall setup, and Siri to control it. It also means you don't have to worry about hackers breaking into your network through your lights. And that's super important.

It also means the latest, greatest bulbs that give off better greens, cyans, and blues. The bulbs can emit white light, both simulated incandescent and sunlight, but are also full color so you can turn your room purple, make it look like dawn, or go full-on disco. You can also use Hue with Amazon's Echo and Alexa, if that's how you roll.

Bottom line: If you want to get started with smart lights in your home — or office! — you want to get started with Hue.

One more thing: You can get get extra Hue White and Color Ambiance bulbs to expand into additional rooms. (I might have more than a dozen!)