What are the Best Smart Light Strips? LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify

Light strips are awesome, but you know what’s even more incredible? Smart light strips. These are connected to the Internet so you can schedule them, control them remotely, or set special rules to change colors when your favorite sports team scores or it starts raining. In searching for the best smart light strips, you are basically narrowed down to three options: LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify.

LIFX and Philips Hue are the two big players in the smart light market, with each brand having their own pros and cons, depending on what you are looking for. The LIFX Z is a new product shaking up the smart lightstrip market. Osram Lightify also offers an interesting option for a less expensive smart light strip that still offers plenty of value.

Hue Smart Lightstrip in Kitchen

LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify

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I will be ranking LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify according to the specific factors of set up, smart home compatability, brightness and colors, and software. A winner will be designated for each category, and at the end I will select an overall winner between the two light strips.

LIFX Z light strip

LIFX Z

philips-hue-lightstrip

Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus

osram-lightify

Sylvania Lightify by Osram


Set Up

All strips are extendable using extension kits, making them able to fit whatever space you have in mind. Each strip also is installed using a peel and stick installation included on the back of the strips.

LIFX Z



No hub required.

Starter pack includes 2 strips to connect

78″ total for starter pack

Extends up to 33 feet

Unknown if you can cut to size

Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus



Can cut to fit a specific spot (just note that the cut off piece will no longer light up)

78″ long

Extends up to 33 feet

Kit comes in one long strip, making it difficult to install around corners; cannot bend more than 90 degrees

Requires a hub that plugs into your router to operate. For some users this isn’t a big deal if they already plan on committing to the Philips Hue brand (which also offers standard-sized smart bulbs and lamps). But if you just want a few bulbs or one section of light strips, it doesn’t make sense to pay the extra money and get locked into a hub.

Sylvania Lightify by Osram



Can cut to 6 inch increments on pre-marked lines (just note that the piece that is cut off will no longer light up)

Comes in 3 separate strips that you connect. This makes it easier to wrap around corners.

72″ long

Requires a hub (either Wink, SmartThings, or Lightify will work)

Only extends up to 20 feet

Winner: LIFX Z

LIFX Z doesn’t require a hub for set up, which makes it a great pick because it works out of the box without requiring additional expensive hardware. It comes in 2 pieces which makes it easy to customize for your living spaces. It will be interesting to find out more about setting up LIFX Z and if you can cut the strips to size.

LIFX Z light strip


Smart Home Compatibility

Each device in LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify works with IFTTT (If This Then That). This free app is crucial to automating your home with rules (called “recipes”). You can have the lights turn on at the same time every night, or change colors whenever your favorite team scores. To get started, just search for the specific IFTTT channel for each brand.

LIFX Z



Sync with music

Works with Amazon Echo, Nest Thermostat, Samsung SmartThings

No HomeKit compatibility

Cannot sync with movies or video games

Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus



Sync with movies, music, or games

Works with Google Home (and the Google Assistant), Amazon Echo, Nest Thermostat, Samsung SmartThings

Sylvania Lightify by Osram



Works with Wink, Samsung SmartThings, Lightify hubs. Although it requires a hub, it’s nice that you can choose from 3 different hub options.

Compatible with Alexa or Amazon Echo (only if Wink, SmartThings, or Lightify hub is installed)

Connects to other Lightify devices via Lightify wireless gateway that provides standard ZigBee automation

No HomeKit compatibility

Cannot natively sync with music or movies; limited third-party app options may be available.

Winner: Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus

Philips Hue is the strongest brand when it comes to smart lights. Because of this, Philips Hue is compatible with many smart home systems- even the new Google Home. It’s the only one of the three with HomeKit capability, meaning you can control it within the Apple Home app on your iPhone/iPad. If you are looking for the light strips with the highest compatibility out of LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify, Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus is the way to go.

philips-hue-lightstrip


Brightness & Colors

Each light strip is multicolored (including warm and cool whites) and offers enough brightness to light up the entire room. All strips are dimmable.

LIFX Z



Bulbs are known for offering millions of brighter colors in side-by-side comparisons with Philips Hue and other competitors (we’ll see how the strips compare soon and update this post with more information)

1,400 lumens per 2 meters. 700 lumens of brightness are added when LIFX Z is extended; the maximum brightness is 2,800 lumens max per light strip. This is a big plus because LIFX Z has the capability to add brightness as it is extended.

Offers 8 color zones per meter. This means that the same continuous light strip can have different colors lighting it up along the way. LIFX Z is the only LED strip to offer this feature.

White temperature: 2,500 to 9,000K (biggest range offered)

Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus



1,600 lumens max

White temperature: 2,500 to 6,500K

No color zoning offered

Sylvania Lightify by Osram



Colors are RGBW (red, green, blue, and white)

1,400 lumens max

White temperature: 2,700 to 6,500K

No color zoning offered

Winner: LIFX Z

LIFX Z offers more lumens because it doesn’t dim as it is extended like the other two options. It also has color zones for making your light strips multi-colored for a unique gradient look. The LIFX bulbs are known for letting off extremely vivid, accurate colors, so the brand is known for delivering bright rainbow of color options. The other two are bright enough to light up a room, but still will not reach the same amount of lumens and white temperature range as LIFX Z.

LIFX Z light strip


Software

All three light strips in LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify offer scheduling, groups, geofencing, and scenes within the app. You can also turn off all lights in one click within each app.

LIFX Z



iOS, Android, and Windows 10 apps

Easiest app to use. Our pick for the best design

Offers in-app effects including color cycle, candle flicker, strobe, music and others.

Integrate with third party apps for lots of effects

Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus



 iOS, Android app

Select colors from images in your camera roll

Integrate with third party apps for lots of effects; offers a huge selection with hundreds of apps

Design is a little more confusing than LIFX. Requires more third-party apps for advanced features instead of just including features within the app.

Sylvania Lightify by Osram



 iOS, Android app

Integrate with some third party apps for additional affects

Software has more technical difficulties and is harder to get working, with larger learning curve

App has a basic design that could use improvements (though it has improved over time)

Winner: LIFX Z

This was a very close call between Hue Lightstrip Plus and LIFX Z. Both offer excellent apps with unique features, but many users agree that LIFX Z is the easiest to use. Personally, I found the LIFX to be extremely intuitive, requiring no instructions whatsoever. The Philips Hue app is still easy to use and the hundreds of third-party apps available is a huge plus, but LIFX has a slight edge here.

LIFX Z light strip


Overall Winner: LIFX Z

LIFX Z is a very new product and it will be interesting to see how it stacks up in the long run. However, its no-hub option, super bright colors, and easy to use app make it the overall winner in our book. Hue’s Lightstrip Plus is an excellent back-up plan, since it offers a solid app, and easy smart home integration. At the end of the day, all three light strips in our comparison of LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify are a solid choice, so if you have already committed to one brand in your home, stick with that choice

Smart light strips can add something special to any room. Whether behind a TV or piece of artwork, under the cupboards, or along your ceiling, light strips make a huge difference in adding a splash of color to an otherwise boring area. Here are a few images to give you some inspiration.

philips-hue-lifestyle osram lightify

LIFX Z light strip

LIFX Z vs Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus vs Osram Lightify

3 Comments

  1. Dan Dascalescu

    Good article but misses some important aspects:

    1. LIFX has announced Google Home integration by June 2017.

    2. The strips by themselves don’t sync with music, TV, or games. That comparison is meaningless. The LIFX and Hue apps attempt to sync with whatever sound they can hear through the microphone. For the LIFX Android app, this fails miserably. The Hue Android app doesn’t even try. There are 3rd party app, but I’ve only found ONE that does the job properly – http://www.HueGasm.com

    3. The zone coloring in the LIFX strips is kind of a gimmick. There is a lot of color bleed, and when switching from one scene to another, my strip only switched the first of the 8 zones, so I returned it. Hopefully this was a lemon.

    1. Smart Home Solver

      Thanks for the comment! We will have to update when the Google Home integration goes live. Thanks for the clarification on the syncing as well.

      That’s too bad about your experience with the color zoning. Depending on where you install LIFX Z, the color zones look pretty impressive, in my opinion. Mine are above my kitchen cabinets, so you can’t really notice color bleeding. I haven’t had any glitches so far. Overall, this is a feature I think lots of people would enjoy, so it’s worth noting that it’s not offered by Hue.

  2. Tom

    Thanks for your review… very helpful as I am trying to decide which system to go with.
    The major problem I understand for LIFX Z is that due to the circuitry complexity required for the color zones, the strips cannot be cut except at the end of the last strip in the string. This makes it impossible to use the strip for example in shelving where jumpers are needed between sections vertically from one shelf to continue the strip on the next. Practically, the strip is only usable where you can afford a starter controller for each contiguous length.

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