Philips Hue is a well-developed, well-connected, and the most-established smart lighting system.
It doesn’t matter if we are an Apple HomeKit fan, a Razer gamer, an IFTTT nerd, a Nest aficionado, a Logitech Harmony connoisseur, or even a Google Home devotee; Philips Hue’s lights work with all of these.
It is also an excellent pick for smart lighting rookies. Philips Hue is a line of smart LED fixtures and light bulbs.
We also have the Hue Bridge, a little device that can be plugged into our home’s router. With the help of the Hue Bridge, each of the smart LED lights and fixtures communicates wirelessly.
That connection to the cloud lets us control Hue’s lights from our phone, with a voice command via Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa, or by automating them to turn off and on at a particular time.
Many of Philips Hue’s fixtures and bulbs can change colors upon request, but some are the bulbs are just basics that put out only plain white light.
The bulbs’ prices range from $15 (for just a piece of the bulb) to $250 (for a 58-inch tall Philips Hue Signe color-changing floor lamp).
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How do we use these lights?
Getting started with Philips Hue is a straightforward procedure; all we need to do is plug in the Hue Bridge and connect it to our router via an Ethernet cable.
Then we will screw in our Hue bulbs or turn on our Hue fixtures. You would have to download the Philips Hue application on our device(either Android or iOS) to walk us through the rest of the setup process.
Once we have paired our lights with the application, we should sort them by room and give each of them a unique name. The application (and if we are using the Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant voice controls) will let us control our entire rooms at once by saying, for example, turn on the bedroom.
We can control individual lights also, which is where naming each of the lights important; the unique name allows us to control the specific one we want.
Turn on Hue White Ambiance Bulb 2 is a bit clunky than say, turn on the desk lamp. The Hue application comes with several preset scenes that, when activated, will automatically change all the lights in our room.
Also, it comes with basic scenes for soft white, regular, and daylight-toned white light. For instance, a Northern Lights-themed scene will go live with shades of blue and green.
In comparison, a Spring Blossom-themed scene will randomly assign shades of red, white, and pink across our lights.
The application also has multi-color scenes that will apply colors randomly from a preselected palette across all of our room’s light.
One cool feature the app has is that we can save and make our scenes too, which lets us return to a custom mix of colors with a voice command or a single tap.
What else can these lights do?
Looking at the basic level, smart lights like the ones from Philips Hue let us control and dim our lights using our phones.
We can also control the lights with a compatible third-party automation service like IFTTT or using automation that we set up in the Hue application.
Basic automation like these lets us do things like scheduling our lights to blink whenever we receive an important email or turn it on automatically at sunset or in the morning, or even more creative use cases.
We can also connect our lights with a motion sensor and then program them to turn on or off whenever someone enters our room automatically.
Other advanced features we can do include automatic Google Assistant wake-up lighting that can slowly fade our bedroom lights up during the thirty minutes before our morning Google Assistant alarm.
A recently added feature called Hue Entertainment lets us set our lights to mimic the color of whatever is playing on our computer screen in real-time. We can connect the computer to our living room TV for a color-coordinated movie night with our partner or our kids.
The Hue Play HDMI Sync Box reads the incoming video signals via the multiple HDMI jacks connected to our TV, which lets our Hue Bridge match our lights’ color to whatever is on our TV screen.
All these bring all kinds of new content under Hue entertainment’s control.
Philips Hue Bulbs
Philips Hue has many more lights and bulbs than we would expect, each of them is designed for different use.
Hue sells both white-light and color-changing bulbs in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Here is what we will find in the Philips Hue line of lights:
- Philips Hue White LED: Philips Hue White LED is a soft white, pretty standard, dimmable LED smart bulb that costs $15 each. The latest versions include radios for Bluetooth and Zigbee, which gives us basic control of the bulbs on our phone without the need for the Hue Bridge. A starter kit with the Hue Bridge, three bulbs, and a smart button costs $99. The earlier versions of the Philips Hue White LED are still obtainable without the button for a little less.
- Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LED: This Philips Hue’s product is available with Bluetooth. Philips Hue’s flagship smart bulb does white light at any color temperature we like, including the full spectrum of colors. The smart bulb costs $50 but goes on sale regularly. A three-bulb starter kit that includes the Hue Bridge and a smart button costs $180.
- Philips Hue White Ambiance LED: This smart bulb is slightly more advanced. It adds to the ability to change the white-light color temperature from a candle-like, yellowy glow to bluish-white daylight tones. After previous price cuts, White Ambiance bulbs, which are available both as BR30 floodlights and as regular, A-shaped bulbs, now cost $45 for two or $25 each. Meanwhile, a starter kit with the Hue Bridge, three bulbs, and a smart button costs $120. Also, the newest versions of the bulbs include Bluetooth.
- Philips Hue BR30 Floodlight LED: This is Philips Hue bulbs in a floodlight form, and it is better suited for overhead lighting that shines down in one direction. These new Hue White floodlights cost $20 each, while the White Ambiance versions cost 25 USD apiece, with two packs available for $45. Colour and White versions that add to the RGB spectrum cost $50 each. All are now available with Bluetooth in addition to Zigbee.
- Philips Hue GU10 Spotlight LED: The Philips Hue spotlight bulb is designed to replace specialty halogen bulbs with dual-pronged bases. The bulb is a bit niche and priced the same as the floodlights: $50 for a single White and Color Ambiance bulb, $50 for a White Ambiance 2-pack, $30 for a single White Ambiance bulb.
- Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Smart Bulb Candle: The bulb is just Philips Hue’s color-changing candelabra LED. The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Smart Bulb Candle costs $50, which is too expensive given that we will almost certainly need to buy at least a couple of them to light up our room.
- Philips Hue Vintage-Style LEDs: This is available in a variety of designs and shapes. Starting at $25 a bulb, Philips Hue’s newest lights are classic-looking clear-glass bulbs with decorative, twisty filaments inside. Those filaments are formed of thin strips of LEDs, so we are getting an old-school design with new-school efficiency.
- Philips Hue White Outdoor PAR38 Floodlight LED: This is available in a two-pack for $50, and it is a weather-rated Philips Hue floodlight that we can use outdoors. The bulb doesn’t change colors or color temperatures, but it is rugged enough to stand up to the rain.
Philips Hue Fixtures
Philips Hue has many fixtures, too (and even more of them are available if we are shopping in Europe).
Among the most notable:
- Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus: The second-generation version of the brand’s color-changing, stick-up light strips. The fixture can go behind our televisions, beneath cabinets and countertops, or anywhere else that we would like via the included adhesive backing. A 40-inch extension costs$25, while a single 80-inch strip costs $80. We can also get the Hue Bridge for free when we buy two light strips.
- Philips Hue Go: The Philips Hue Go looks like a cereal bowl of color-changing light. Also, it has a built-in rechargeable battery to unplug it and take it wherever we like. They cost 80 USD each and are a good pick for kids because it has a physical button for quick, easy color changes.
- Philips Hue Beyond: This is a fancy, lamp-style fixture that has built-in color-changing LEDs. It is available as a $350 hanging pendant-style lamp, a $300 ceiling lamp, or a $200 table lamp.
- Philips Hue Wellner: The Philips Hue Wellner is a white plastic blob of a table lamp that puts out white light at any color temperature we like. This product costs $100.
- Philips Hue White Outdoor Fixtures: These are dedicated porch lights that we can mount outside our home. Each comes with its own Hue White bulb, but it would have been better to have their built-in motion sensors. The classic, lantern-style Inara fixture costs $50, and a more modern-looking Lucca fixture costs $60. Also, an over-the-garage-style Ludere fixture comes with two of Hue’s outdoor PAR38 LEDs, and it costs $130.
- Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip: The Outdoor Lightstrip is a rubbery, weatherproof version of the Hue’s color-changing light strip. It is not easy to mount as the indoor strips, and also, it is a bit costlier. It cost $90 each.
- Philips Hue Lily Outdoor Spotlights: We stake the outdoor spotlights into the ground to light up our home’s exterior or our garden. Unlike the mountable fixtures that we have mentioned above, these are fully color-changeable. A single light extension kit costs $80, while a base kit with its power supply and three lights costs $280.
- Philips Hue Calla Outdoor path lights: Just like the Lily spotlights, we stake these color-changing lights into the ground, but these fixtures are omnidirectional path lights that look a bit like little lighthouses. A single light starter kit costs $130.
- Philips Hue Play: This is a white or black plastic bar of color-changing light that we can mount to the back of our TV or stand up behind our computer. This fixture is a pretty good pick for Hue Entertainment, which synchronizes our Hue lights’ color with what is playing on our screen. Note: We need a special plug that comes in the starter kit. Each plug can support up to three lights, helping keep our power strip from getting jam-packed. A starter kit with two lights and the plug costs $130, while a starter kit with one light and the plug costs $70. Getting extra lights without the plug costs60 USD each.
- Philips Hue Signe: The Philips Hue Signe is a vertical stick that casts color-changing light in a single direction. We are supposed to aim it at our wall as an accent light, but it casts a narrow pool of color, and it does not have a physical off-on button. It is much too expensive to recommend at $250 for a 58-inch floor lamp and $160 for a 25-inch table lamp version.
Aside from light bulbs and fixtures, Philip Hue also sells accessories for its system. These include:
- Philips Hue Smart Dimmer Switch
- Philips Hue Motion Sensor
- Philips Hue Tap
- Lutron Aurora
- Click Smart Switch
- Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor