If you’re shopping for the cheapest smart bulbs, these are not the droids you were looking for. Star Wars reference aside, today’s article is about Philips Hue, a very flexible and smart lighting system. To give you a little bit of context, Hue is the first product of its kind in the world, as Philips basically pioneered the concept of smart lighting.
The first Philips Hue smart bulb was introduced back in 2012 and compared to today’s “everything smart” and “internet of things”, it was pretty basic, as it only allowed you to control brightness and color by using your tablet or your smartphone. The world changed a bit since 2012, and so did Hue. The latest-gen Philips Hue is now compatible with Amazon Alexa, i.e. if you look for a smart light for Alexa, Philips Hue has your name on it. Besides Alexa, Philips Hue also works with SmartThings, Google Home and Apple HomeKit.
So, what is Philips Hue in a nutshell, you asked? To make it real simple, we can describe the Hue as a shining light in the darkness or a smart home’s best friend, or the go-to product for smart lightning. It’s perfectly true that Philips Hue is a tad costly compared to regular (as in dumb) bulbs, but in the long run, it will help you save money on the power-bill, and also make your life better and more comfortable via smart bulbs and fixtures, which allow you to control everything light-related by remote by using your voice or your smartphone.
Hue is today synonymous with smart lighting, it will provide you with
everything you need in a smart home, the likes of high quality
colored/white/temperature-changing smart bulbs, an amazing ecosystem of apps
for both iOS and Android, and a wide range of add-on lights and IFTTT recipe
support, features that make Hue very flexible and powerful.
Compared to its competitors, Philips Hue doesn’t seem to suffer from any kind of limitations, especially when it comes to control options, thus making for arguably the best smart lighting system on the market today. But let’s not anticipate.
Generally speaking, what makes the Philips Hue to stand out from the crowd is its ability to change colors instantly, offering an impressive choice of 16 million colors that can be selected on the fly, meaning you’ll be able to match your lightning with your room, regardless of how picky you are. Besides colored smart bulbs, the Philips Hue range includes white bulbs that can change nuance, i.e. they offer a number of white temperatures.
The Hue family includes light bulbs, switches, motion sensors and lamps, making for a complete and formidable smart lightning system connected via the internet. And speaking of internet, if you want to benefit from all the perks, you’ll require the physical brain of the Philips Hue system, the Hue bridge respectively (you must purchase it separately), which will connect to your Wi-Fi router using the Ethernet cable, thus creating a ZigBee wireless network. And yes, the Hue smart bulbs will use the respective network to “talk to each other “and do cool things; but more on that in a moment.
Each Philips Hue third-gen smart bulb is built from plastic (mostly), delivers up to 800 lumens and offers between 2,000 – 6,500K color-temp range, with 16 million colors (for the colored version), while consuming 10 watts and boasting 25,000 hours MTBF, which means they’ll last for approximately ten years. Keep in mind that unless specified, Hue lights do not include the aforementioned bridge in the retail package, though they’re still capable of integrating stand-alone with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Home.
Basically, you can connect individual Hue smart bulbs directly to Amazon’s Echo Plus sans the bridge, but you’ll not be able to experience all the bells and whistles available in the “full package”, such as third-party features or lightning scenes, all available in the Hue app. You must know that there are tons of individual products in the Philips Hue family, but we’ll focus on a couple of different product lines.
Philips Hue Starter Kits
If you want the full smart lighting experience at once, Philips offers a number of Hue Starter Kits. Since Hue LEDs last longer and consume less energy compared to regular “dumb” bulbs, while delivering a mix of effects/colors you can control by remote (including your voice), a starter kit will provide you with all the bells and whistles available, i.e. not only the (smart) Hue lights, but also the aforementioned Hue bridge, the “brain” of the system respectively. If you’re starting from scratch with your smart-home, a starter kit would make for the sensible option.
The original top-of-the-range Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance package (also known as the party-starter) includes 3 or 4 Hue bulbs and a Hue bridge. The Hue bulbs are designed to replace regular A19 bulbs (traditional socket) and they’re programmable in over 16 million colors (each bulb contains 3 colored LEDs inside). On top of that, you’ll get anything from warm white to cool daylight white. If 4 smart/colored bulbs are not enough, you can buy additional Hue lights if so desired, and keep in mind that one Hue Bridge can support up to 50 bulbs. The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance package is ideal if you’re looking for a specific lighting scheme, and the bulbs are available in E27/B22 fittings (UK), along with A19, PAR16, and BR30 sizes for E26 fittings; B39 for the E12 fitting; and as a GU10 model.
Next in line we have the Philips Hue White Ambiance Kit. As the name suggests, the White Ambiance kit drops the “color” option, as in the bulbs can be adjusted in different “shades of white”, ranging from blue-white to yellow-white (50,000 shades of white from 2200K to 6500K respectively), and anything in between. Obviously, this kit is cheaper than the Color Ambiance, so if you’re looking to save some money, or you don’t require magic light-shows, the Philips Hue White Ambiance is the way to go for a fully integrated smart-lighting solution. And yes, the Hue Bridge is included in the White Ambiance kit.
Both the Philips
Hue White and Color Ambiance starter-kits are controlled by the aforementioned
Hue bridge, which connects to your router via the Ethernet cable. Once
connected, you must run the free Hue app from your smartphone, detect the
Bridge and then follow a succession of simple instructions. The features
offered by the Hue app include switching the lights on/off automatically, or
when you’re away (to deter burglars and all that, aka Home and Away) and even to
program the Hue lights to react to the “environment”, i.e. the music you’re
listening to, or the movie you’re watching. If you own devices like the Amazon
Echo, the Hue would make for the perfect smart light for Alexa, as it will
allow you to control all the lights in the house by using your voice. By the
way, Philips Hue works just as well with Google Home or Logitech Harmony.
There’s also a Philips Hue Lightstrip, which comes handy in places where you can’t mount a lamp or a fixture. The Hue Light strip comes with an adhesive backing, which allows you to affix it wherever you want, like underneath shelving for example, in order to create cool accent lighting.
If you’re looking for standalone lights, you can choose from Philips Hue Bloom or Hue White Ambiance Wellness. The Bloom is approximately 5 inches in diameter and can change light to millions of colors, making for an accent light of sorts that can be used to set the mood in the living room, or behind fixtures. The Hue White Ambiance Wellness uses a single Hue White bulb inside, that can be changed with a colored one if one so inclined.
There are also light fixtures available, like the Philips Hue Beyond Ceiling Lamp or the Philips Hue White Ambiance Fair, and even smart outdoor flood lights, like the Philips Hue Ludere White Outdoor Security Light, which is ideal for lighting the areas around the house, like your garage or your driveway.
Philips Hue is arguably the best choice for enriching your smart home, as it offers the widest range of smart lights/accessories, along with amazing 3rd party support and a wide range of controllers. The Hue bulbs produce high quality light and they’ll last you for years and years.
-high quality smart-bulbs
-easy to install and set-up
-intuitive and rich app ecosystem
-wide range of add-on lights
-full range 3rd party compatibility (Alexa, Google, Apple, Logitech etc.)
– IFTTT support