I’ve been living with Philips Hue wireless lighting for a few months now and it’s been an interesting experience.
There are pros and cons, but it’s undeniably the path to the future as it offers everything current home lighting lacks: bulbs that last for years, incredibly versatile light management and complete control whether you’re at home or not.
There are many wireless lighting systems available, but I decided to try the Philips Hue. It the most well known and consistently receives the best reviews.
How Does Philips Hue Work ?
Hue connects to your wireless network and can be controlled by a smart device like an iPhone, iPad or Amazon Echo.
To make it work you need: a Philips Hue bridge, Hue wireless bulbs and a smart device.
Once you’re setup, the fun starts….
What Kind Of Fun Would That Be?
Here’s a short list of things you can do with Philips Hue. Some features are available with any Hue bulb and some require specific Hue products:
- Touch control using an iPad or iPhone running iOS 9 or 10.
- Voice control using an iPhone, iPad , Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.
- Remote control of home lighting when you are not at your home.
- Ability to control a single bulb or groups of bulbs.
- White Ambiance Bulbs can show a range of over 50,000 shades of white including daylight.
- Color Ambiance Bulbs can show a range of over 16 million colors.
- Automate your lights completely to make it seem like you’re home when you’re not.
- Instruct the App to turn lights on and off based on local sunset and sunrise times.
- Use geofencing, so your lights turn on as you approach the house and turn off when you leave.
- Instruct the App to flash lights at a specific time to remind you of something.
- Smooth control over dimming of each bulb to the exact level you want.
- Create beautiful scenes using color and brightness combinations in different areas of your home.
- Use preset Hue levels for light that helps you concentrate, read, relax or wake up.
- Allow bulbs to sync to music and get a party started.
- Allow bulbs to sync with movies for a more immersive experience.
How Easy Is It To Set Up?
Three simple steps:
- Connect the Philips Hue bridge to your router using the ethernet cable that’s included.
- Screw the Hue bulbs in and turn the lights on.
- Download the Hue app from Philips and follow the onscreen instructions.
A Quick Look At The Three Components
Philips Hue Bridge – The bridge connects to your router and acts as a “communication link” between your remote control and your Hue bulbs. No bridge, no wireless lighting. Some Hue kits include a bridge or you can purchase one separately. A Philips bridge can manage up to 50 Hue bulbs.
Philips Hue Wireless Bulbs – Philips offer a growing range of Hue bulbs. The best way to know what you’re buying is to take a look at their qualities:
- White and Color Ambiance – 800 lumens. Display all shades of white and up to 16 million colors.
- White Ambiance – 800 lumens. Display over 50,000 shades of white from tungsten (warm orange) to sunlight (cold blue).
- White LED – 800 lumens. Warm soft white color. Color temperature cannot be changed.
- White and Color Hue BR30 Color – 81 – 630 lumens. Designed for recessed lighting applications. Displays all shades of white and up to 16 million colors.
- White and Color Hue GU10 – 145 – 300 lumens. More directional than the BR30. Think track lighting and spotlights. Can display all shades of white and up to 16 million colors.
- Lightstrip Plus – Approx 240 lumens per foot. Combined output is amazing 1600 lumens. Great for under cabinet and special display lighting. 6 foot long and can be extended to 33 foot long. Can display all shades of white and up to 16 million colors.
Many lighting combinations are available in kit form or sold individually. See below
Philips Hue App
A quick search in the App store and you’ll find the Philips Hue app.
The app guides you through setting up the Bridge and Hue Lights.
You can use the app to completely control the color and brightness of each bulb, group bulbs by fixture or room, create scenes using the ones Philips provides or create your own and schedule lighting to fit your needs.
Once you’re up and running, you can try using Apple’s HomeKit app or the Amazon Echo.
What Other Philips Hue Products Can I Buy?
Hue Switches – In many cases it’s still easier to flip a light switch, so Philips offer 2 manual switches:
- Hue Dimmer Switch – Screw into a wall or affix with 3M adhesive. Switch has magnetic back and can be removed from the wall base. Can be used to turn on/off or dim a single light or light group. Requires batteries.
- Hue Tap – Screw into a wall or affix with 3M adhesive. Switch can be removed from base with a simple turn. Three buttons allow the user turn on/off three single lights or three groups of lights. A fourth button turns off all lights. The Tap uses no batteries. It works from the kinetic force used to push the buttons.
- Hue Ambiance Lamps –
- Hue Go – This a small 4.75″ translucent bowl that puts out 300 lumens of light and can show up to 16 million colors. It can be plugged out and taken anywhere with up to 3 hours of battery power. Everyone that sees these remarks that they are “beautiful”. I own three of them. $79.99
- Hue Iris – Creates indirect ambient lighting and can show up to 16 million colors. 200 lumens. Sits at a tilted angle. Larger than the Go with a transparent base. $79.99
- Hue Bloom – Small tilted lamp designed to create ambient lighting on a wall. Although it can show up to 16 million colors it puts out only 120 lumens. I found this far inferior to the Hue Go that puts out almost 3 times the ambient light of the Bloom. Still, in the right circumstances the Bloom has its uses. $59.99
- Hue Lamps –
- Hue Beyond – It’s beautiful, can generate up to 16 million colors, and has all the advanced features of top-of-the-line Hue bulbs. The Beyond comes in 3 forms – Ceiling lamp $649.99. Pendant $649.99. Table lamp $399.95.
All I can say is…. For that kind of money you could pay a street urchin to follow you around the house with an oil lamp.
- Hue Phoenix – Phoenix has all the features of the Hue Beyond and comes in 6 forms – Ceiling or Pendant lamp $449.95. Table lamp $249.99. Wall and Ceiling light $199.99. Recessed downlight – $49.99. It looks like it should be at LACMA…
What Hue Kits Are Available?
Philips sell a number of bundled Hue products in kit form. There are too many to list here.
When you start it’s best to buy a kit with a bridge and then add other bulbs as you need them.
I like the system. It performs as as advertised and can produce some beautiful color setups in a room.
My only complaint is the cost. A basic kit with a bridge and three white and color ambiance bulbs will set you back $180. If Philips are trying to introduce wireless lighting to a wide public audience, this is not the price point to do it at.
Many companies, including those run by Steve Jobs, made this mistake in the past. Philips would be smart to pay attention to this. A lower price and a big marketing push tied to Apple’s HomeKit and Philips could dominate the market.
That’s it… Have fine wireless weekend 🙂
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