Best Smart Light Strips ComparedBy - 11/15/2017
Undoubtedly, lights are one of the most popular smart home items but buying a “smart light” can be a bit confusing. There are switches, bulbs, plugs, and lots of variations of each type. Perhaps one of the most entertaining options is the LED light strip, a flexible, low profile circuit board outfitted with tiny lights that can be used in a wide variety of applications. For example, there are smart light strips that can “dance” to your music and those that can connect to your alarm system and change color if an intrusion is detected. Smart light strips also offer smartphone control so you can control them from anywhere and even automate them to turn on or off anytime you want.
Unfortunately, choosing a light strip can be daunting. Not all options work with all smart home platforms, and it’s hard to know if the cheaper options are great deals or if you’ll “get what you paid for.” Currently, the four most popular strip options are Philips Hue LightStrips Plus, LIFX Z, Sylvania Lightify Flex, and Xiaomi Yeelight Light Strip. We’ve also compared the LIFX Beam which is, as its name suggests, a beam not a flexible strip.
Philips Hue LightStrips Plus vs. LIFX Z vs. LIFX Beam vs. Xiaomi Yeelight Light Strip vs. Lightify Flex
|Philips Hue LightStrips Plus||LIFX Z||LIFX Beam||Xiaomi Yeelight Light Strip||Sylvania Smart+ Flex (73661)||Sylvania Smart+ Flex HomeKit-enabled (74521)|
|Strip Length||78.7 inches||78.7 inches||11.8 inches/Beam (70.8″ Included)||78.7 inches||24 inches/strip (72″ Included)||24 inches/strip (72″ Included)|
|Color Changing LED||YES, RGB + White Ambiance||YES, RGB + White Ambiance||YES, RGB + White Ambiance||Yes, RGB||YES, RGB + White Ambiance||YES, RGB + White Ambiance|
|Lumens||1600 Lumens||1400 Lumens||Unknown||140 Lumens||360 Lumens||400 Lumens|
|Hub Required?||Required Philips Hue Bridge ($59.99)||Requires Sylvania Lightify Gateway, SmartThings, Wink, or Iris|
|Is it Extendable?||Yes, up to 33 feet||Yes, up to 25.6 feet||Yes, up to 7.9 feet per Power Adapter||Yes, up to 20 feet||Yes, up to 20 feet|
|Extension Light Strip Length||39.4 inches||39.4 inches||11.8 inches||N/A||48 inches (two 24″ strips)||48 inches (two 24″ strips)|
|Extension Light Strip Price||$29.99||$29.99||Unknown||N/A||$30.00||$30.00|
|Can You Cut the Strip?|
|Logitech POP||Via HomeKit|
|Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Philips Hue LightStrip Plus
LightStrip Plus is Philips Hue’s second-generation smart light strip. It builds on the features of the original version while resolving two of its most significant downfalls. For one, the original version’s maximum brightness was only 120 lumens, about as bright as a 15W incandescent bulb. LightStrip Plus can go as bright as 1600 lumens. The second improvement is the addition of white light. The previous version could change colors, but the current version can also change hues from cool to warm white.
Despite its improved features, LightStrip Plus still has one possible downside: it requires a Philips Hue Bridge to work. If you have existing Hue lights at home, then no problem, you can connect up to 50 bulbs and strips to your bridge. However, if you don’t have a bridge yet, getting one will set you back another $60. Unfortunately, Philips doesn’t sell a kit that includes the LightStrip Plus and the bridge so you will need to purchase them separately.
While adding a bridge isn’t as ideal as a hub-less setup, the bridge allows LightStrip Plus to work with a wide range of automation products. For starters, the lights will work with Alexa, Google Home, and Siri for voice control.
If you want to pair the strip with other smart home products, LightStrip Plus works with SmartThings, Wink, HomeKit, and Nest. By pairing Hue with your automation system, you can create rules or scenes.
Philips Hue also works with IFTTT. Using the app, you can create indirect rule-based automations. Finally, you can use Flic, Logitech POP switch, or Logitech Harmony to control LightStrip Plus. Of course, you can also use Philips Hue’s accessories to control your lights.
The LightStrip Plus sells for $84.99 on Amazon. It includes a 78.7 inch long (2 meters) light strip, a power cable, and adhesives. Philips Hue also sells a 39.4 inch (1 meter) long extension strip for $29.99. You can add up to eight extension strips to your LightStrip Plus to create a 33-foot long (10 meters) light strip.
LIFX Z is very similar to LightStrip Plus. You can change the light to different colors, dim or increase the brightness, and even choose from a variety of white light temperatures. What makes it different and slightly better as a light strip is the addition of zones. The LIFX Z starter kit is 78.7 inches (2 meters) long and is divided into 16 zones. Using the LIFX app, you can change the color and brightness of each zone. With Philips Hue LightStrip Plus, your light strip can only be one color from end to end.
Another advantage of LIFX Z over LightStrip Plus is that it doesn’t need a bridge or hub to work. Simply install LIFX Z, plug it in, turn it on, and connect the light to your Wi-Fi using the LIFX smartphone app.
Besides using the app, you can also control LIFX Z using your voice with Alexa and Google Assistant but not Siri. If you’re into HomeKit, LIFX has a HomeKit-enabled light-strip-like product that we will discuss later on.
LIFX Z also works with SmartThings, Nest, IFTTT, Logitech POP Switch, Logitech Harmony, and Flic.
The LIFX Z starter kit sells for $78.99 on Amazon. It includes a 78.7 inch (2 meters) long light strip, a power adapter, and adhesive. Like LightStrip Plus, you can extend a single strip up to 33 feet by adding up to eight extension strips. Each extension strip is 39.4 inches (1 meter) long and costs $29.99.
Sylvania Smart+ Flex (73661)
Like Philips Hue, Lightify Flex requires a hub. The manufacturer recommends the Lightify smart lighting hub; however, you can use your existing SmartThings, Wink, or Iris hub or even other hubs that support Zigbee. Of course, Flex may function differently depending on what hub you use it with. If you want complete access to its features, the Lightify hub is your best choice.
Flex supports the same basic features as Hue and LIFX. You can change the light’s color and brightness, and you can choose from a variety of white light temperatures. It also works with Amazon Alexa.
What’s unique about Flex is the shorter length of the included strips. If you want a longer light strip, the three strips included in the Flex starter kit can be connected to form a 6-foot light strip. If you want even more length, 2-foot extensions are available.
The Sylvania Smart+ Flex is available on Amazon for $60.
Sylvania Smart+ Flex HomeKit-Enabled (74521)
When buying Flex, check the product number as there are two versions of this light strip. The first version (product number is 73661), which we reviewed above, isn’t HomeKit-enabled but it works with Alexa, SmartThings, Wink, and several other smart home products. The second version (74521) doesn’t work with anything but HomeKit.
Another difference between the two versions is that the HomeKit-enabled version doesn’t require a hub. You can use it straight out of the box.
Feature-wise, however, the two versions are identical.
Sylvania Smart+ Flex (74521) also sells for $60 on Amazon. However, it’s not clear whether you can use the same expansion kit for the HomeKit model as the expansion kit sold for the non-HomeKit version. There are no expansion kits on Amazon sold specifically for the HomeKit version.
Although not a light strip, LIFX Beam serves a similar purpose. LIFX Beam is a new product that was released after LIFX announced a partnership with Apple HomeKit.
Instead of strips, LIFX Beam is made of short, color-changing bars each 11.8 inches (30 cm) long. That said, Beam is not as flexible as a light strip, and you can only run it in a straight line. LIFX Beam ships with corner pieces that allow you to connect two bars at a 90-degree angle. Each LIFX Beam power adapter can support up to eight Beam bars and two corner pieces.
Feature-wise, LIFX Beam is not that different from LIFX Z. Although it lacks zones, you can still control each bar individually. The bars can change color, brightness, and hue. LIFX Z also connects to the same smart home devices and services that LIFX Z connects to but with the addition of HomeKit.
The LIFX Beam starter kit is $199.99. The kit includes six Beam bars, one corner piece, and a power adapter.
Xiaomi Yeelight Lightstrip
A not-so-popular option yet very inexpensive option is Xiaomi Yeelight Light Strips. Yeelight has the same basic features as Hue and LIFX: color changing, brightness adjustment, and smartphone control.
Yeelight is hub-less so that you can use it out of the box. It connects to your Wi-Fi directly, and setup is done using the Mijia app. Surprisingly, it also works with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, but the integrations end there.
Still, speaking from experience, Xiaomi Yeelight is reliable. Though I haven’t tested the light strip, I’ve tested the Yeelight bulb and a color changing night light. Both work well. Using the app, you can easily change the color of your lights, turn them on or off, or adjust the brightness. I’ve also paired the bulb with Xiaomi motion sensors and door/window sensors to create automated scenes. For example, I have a scene that turns the lights on at full brightness when motion is detected.
Yeelight is the cheapest of the bunch. The 78.7 inch (2 meters) long strip costs $25.00, power adapter and adhesive included. The downside here is that you can’t extend the strip. If you want a longer strip, you’ll have to buy another full-length strip and plug it into a different power adapter.
Who’s The Winner?
Each smart light strip has pros and cons.
Philips Hue is open to many integrations and is often regarded as one of the best smart light providers out there. However, LightStrip Plus is also the most expensive smart light strip because it requires a hub. If you’re looking for functionality and you don’t mind reaching into your pocket, Hue is for you.
LIFX Z offers great features (zones, hub-less, etc.), but if you’re a HomeKit or a Wink Hub user, it’s not for you.
Sylvania Smart+ Flex offers flexibility if you’re installing short light strips. It’s a practical and economical choice. However, each strip can only be extended up to 20 feet.
LIFX Beam is also a strong option. It works with HomeKit, but it’s expensive and has limited expansion.
Yeelight Lightstrip is the cheapest option, but it’s not as open to integrations as other smart light strips.
Other Options Not Recommended
HomeAlarmReport Editor Samuel Cook tested both versions of the Revogi Smart Light Strip. The strips sell for $49.00, work with the Revogi or Delite app, and are dimmable and color changeable.
The lights have several unique features including call/text alerts and scheduling, but what’s unique is that they connect via Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi. The pro to this is that they will work even if your internet is out, the con is that you can only control the lights when you’re within Bluetooth range. That said, of all the Revogi products Samuel tested, the Light Strips were his least favorite. He had multiple issues with performance and promised features.