I'm building my automation from the group up and I'm looking for some bulbs now. I've got the latest hub and I have some Aqara Opple buttons. About the bulbs themselves, I need the following features in order of importance:
I ALWAYS prefer a smart switch over a smart bub UNLESS you also need to change colors. Smart bulbs have a way of getting shut off by smart people flipping a dumb switch.
I am a fan of separating zigbee bulbs on their own mesh. Lots and lots of discussion about this but basically unless your bulbs are zigbee 3.0 (or sengled) they will do a crappy job of repeating other zigbee devices. I use a Hue hub and have all my bulbs on that. The Hue integration with HE is solid and local. And Hue has a lot of options for bulbs, either by Hue or any number of Hue-compatible bulbs.
Agree with @brad5 about considering smart switches/dimmers. In the US Jasco/GE makes some good ones and then you can you can use most any LED bulbs you want.
Having said that Sengled's are great but a little pricey these days... The bulbs do not act as repeaters which is a very good thing if you are turning them off and on at the switch. I prefer to keep my bulbs powered and control them through pico remotes or Smart Switches that have smartbulb capability.
I also have tried some cheap Zigbee 3 color bulbs ("Liokkie" which I assume is like the other rebrands on Aliexpress) but have found them a little finicky and short lived - start flickering and become unresponsive (at full brightness) after a few months of usage.
Hue is a good but expensive alternative and would be useful if you wanted to keep bulbs on a separate hub.. HE has a very nice Hue Bridge integration.
edit: I bought the Liokkie bulbs on Amazon for like $6 USD a piece back in June so not surprised that they did not last.
Hue bulbs have been extremely reliably for me as well. I’ve had one bulb out of around 40 go bad in the past four years. I’m not a fan of the Hue recessed lights, but have quite a few Sylvania rgbw recessed lights that have been working well for several years now.
Sengled has been rock-solid for me. At the house that we are selling, I used 8. Of those, 6 were outside in Arizona. They were all Amazon "refurbished", so discounted.
When we move into our new house in a few weeks, I will absolutely consider Sengled bulbs for any application that does not lend itself to simple switching and dimming. Being a repeat customer is the highest praise that I can give a product.
I am another person that suggests Sengled. I have 4 of them 2 which have been outside for a few years now. None of them have failed and they have worked well the entire time i have had them.
I also agree with the sentiment to first use a smart switch if possible. I have used GE and Zooz and have found both ok. One issue with that though is i know Zooz are Zwave and I am not sure if GE is still making the Zigbee switches.
It should also be noted some smart switches can control smart bulbs. I habe a Zooz Zen74 switch controling a Wiz wifi bulb. It actually works pretty well with a slight delay.
I have 16 of the cheap Home Depot Ecosmart CT Zigbee bulbs and have had no problems with them. A lot of devices actually route thru them back to hub. My mesh had been solid but I also have a few Ikea repeaters. YMMV
EDIT: For additional info, all of the highlighted devices in my Zigbee Route Table are the Ecosmart CT bulbs.