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Which? smart light bulbs test exposes security flaws

We put smart light bulbs from brands including Philips Hue and Hive through our rigorous tests. Which are worth considering and which are best avoided?

We’ve tested eight smart light bulbs from the likes of Philips Hue, Ikea and Hive and discovered some weak security settings.

Smart lighting lets you control light bulbs from your smartphone and tablet, and gives you more options as to how and when you light your home. However, despite its benefits, you need to be sure that your smart lighting system is securely designed to prevent someone snooping on your data.

That’s why we put all eight bulbs through a raft of security tests to discover whether they have the built-in defences to protect you from hacking attacks.

Smart light bulb reviews – discover the smart bulbs that are worth considering, and those you should cross off your shortlist.

Our privacy tests found that some smart bulbs simply don’t go far enough – or very far at all. In fact, the worst in this test earned a dismal one-star rating.

We found that it doesn’t encrypt your data and that you can’t set up a password. Ultimately, this makes it too easy for a hacker to infiltrate it – and gain control of the device.

Keep reading to find out what smart lighting can do, and how we separate the best from the worst. Plus, we run through a few of the most popular smart bulbs we tested.

What’s the point of smart lighting?

You might be wondering why you should bother with smart lighting, especially if you’re more than happy with your established simple system of flicking switches to control your light bulbs.

However, smart lighting does offer some genuinely useful features. For instance, many systems let you turn bulbs on and off when you’re away from home, which you might like if you regularly forget to switch them off before rushing out the front door in the morning.

Most systems also let you set on-and-off schedules – that is, lights will turn themselves on and off according to pre-set timings. This could give you peace of mind if you’re going on holiday but don’t want your house to look unoccupied.

Some let you set ‘if this, then that’ (IFTTT) functions, too. This means your bulbs could automatically turn on as soon as you arrive home, or get brighter when it’s raining.

It will probably come as no surprise that smart light bulbs are more expensive than regular LED or halogen options. It’s well worth checking our reviews to make sure you’re spending that extra bit of cash on the right model. We test all smart light bulbs not only for how easy they are to control via the app, but also whether the bulb itself provides the light it claims to deliver.

To find out more about what’s possible in the world of smart lighting, head to our guide to how to buy the best smart light bulb.

Smart light bulb reviews 2017

Below, we cover some of the smart light bulbs that went through our punishing tests. Models are listed in alphabetical order.

Hive Active Light Cool to Warm White

You can adjust the colour temperature of this bulb from a warm white to a daylight white, plus you can dim it from the comfort of your sofa. However, the bulbs are pretty expensive and you’ll need to spend around £80 on a Hive Hub to control them.

Is this smart bulb worth the price? Read our Hive Active Light Cool to Warm White review to find out.

Ikea Tradfri E27 980 Lumen

While this Ikea smart bulb’s £15 price tag might seem quite a lot, it’s actually not that much compared to other models. You’ll also need to buy a hub, which costs £25 – again, cheaper than many other hubs.

Discover whether this smart bulb offers good value for money, or whether you need to spend a bit more, by heading to our Ikea Tradfri E27 980 Lumen review.

Lifx Generation 3 A19 B22

You don’t need to buy a hub to control these bulbs, but you will need to spend £45 on each bulb. This makes it pricier than any other smart bulb we’ve tested. You can connect to the bulbs even when your smartphone or tablet isn’t connected to your home network, and you can set schedules.

Check out our full Lifx Generation 3 A19 B22 review for our verdict.

Philips Hue smart bulbs

In 2012, Philips’ Hue system was marketed as the first LED bulbs that could be controlled via an app. We tested two of its smart light bulbs to find out whether they stand above the competition. They differ in price and some specs, with the more expensive one letting you adjust colour temperature – but do they differ in actual light quality?

Read our reviews of the Philips Hue White Ambiance and the Philips Hue White to find out.

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