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Review: Philips Hue Hub and Lights

Philips Hue Hub and Lights

The easiest solution for smart home lighting!

The Philips Hue Hub and lights are the fastest way to automate your smart home lights. Setup the Philips Hue Hub, install the smart bulb in one of your lamps, and you are ready to go.

Control the Hue lights with your voice using Amazon Echo or automate the lights with SmartThings. 

The Philips Hue lights are the best smart light bulbs for your home. 

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Every Home Needs Smart Lights

https://amzn.to/2xhwFbY​​​Lighting control is the absolute best feature of a smart home.

With the Philips Hue Hub, you can easily add smart light bulbs to your home. And the best part, you don’t need to make any electrical changes to your light switches. If you can change a light bulb, then you can set up the Hue Hub and lights in your smart home.

Smart home lighting checks all the boxes for home automation. Here are the major benefits you will see by installing Philips Hue light bulbs in your smart home:

  1. Incredible Convenience
    • Controlling lights with the Philips Hue app is good.
    • Controlling lights with Amazon Echo and your voice is great.
    • Having your lights automatically turn on when you need them is magical!
  2. Safety - Never walk into a dark home or room again (with SmartThings).
  3. Energy Savings - Save money and use less energy with LED light bulbs and automated shut off when no one is in the room.

This was an unexpected benefit when I started building my Smart Home. Here are the energy costs for my home before and after I installed smart lighting automation and a smart thermostat.

I saved $340.90 in the 12 months after installing these products.

I saved $340.90 in the 12 months after installing these products. That is an average of $28.99 per month. Every single month had a lower energy usage than the previous year when I didn't have a smart home.

Smart Home Energy Savings

Philips Hue Hub

The Philips Hue Hub is the central brain for the Hue lights and accessories. The hub connects to your WiFi router with a standard Ethernet cable that is included with the product. Once connected, the Hub can control up to 50 Hue lights and 12 Hue Accessories.

The Hub can control up to 50 Hue lights and 12 Hue Accessories.

There are two main connections with the Philips Hue Hub:

  1. WiFi - The Hue Hub connects directly to your home WiFi network. This connection allows you to control the hub with the Philips Hue App on your phone or tablet. If you can access the internet through your WiFi connection, then you can also control your lights remotely.
  2. ZigBee - The Philips Hue lights connect to the Hue Hub using ZigBee Light Link. ZigBee is one of the major home automation standards known for reliability and low energy consumption.

Philips Hue App

The Hue app links to the Philips Hue Hub through your home WiFi. The app is used to add new Philips Hue lights or accessories to the hub. Once you add light bulbs to the hub, you can name them and organize them by room.

The Philips Hue app allows you to turn the lights on/off or to set the dim level of the lights. For some lights, the app also allows you to control the color or the color temperature (warm to cool white). In the Philips Hue app, lights can be controlled individually or by room. The Hue App also has a feature to create scenes. Philips Hue scenes are preset lighting colors, color temperatures and dim levels that are used to create the right ambiance for your room.

Philips Hue App Add Room
Philips Hue App Rooms
Philips Hue App Lights

Additionally, the Philips Hue app has several simple smart home features built-in. These features might be interesting to you if you are not going to use a full home automation controller such as SmartThings. Here is a partial list of the Philips Hue smart home features:

  • Home and Away - Create routines that turn your lights on or off based on your phone location.
  • Wake Up - Set an alarm to slowly increase the brightness of your lights in the morning.
  • Go to Sleep - Set a routine to slowly turn all lights off at the end of the night.
  • Timers - Set a timer that ends with a light action (blinking, turn on/off, etc.)

Philips Hue Lights

The Philips Hue lighting system consists of multiple light bulb sizes and styles. However, not all of the Hue lights perform in the same way. The lights are divided into three separate groups depending on what you can control. These three groups are White, White Ambiance and White and Color Ambiance.

White
The White Philips Hue light bulb is an LED light that produces a warm white light (2700K). The White Hue bulb is fully dimmable with the Philips Hue Hub. The standard White Hue lights are a great, cost effective way to add lighting automation in your home.

White Ambiance
The White Ambiance Philips Hue light bulb is an LED light that produces a range of white light from a warm (2200K) to a cool (6500K). The White Ambiance Hue bulb is fully dimmable with the Philips Hue Hub. The White Ambiance lights are a great choice bedrooms, reading areas and workout areas. Create a bright cool white to energize your workouts or create a warm white light to settle down before bed.

Cool vs. Warm White Lighting

Hue Lamps - Cool and Warm

White and Color Ambiance
The White and Color Ambiance bulbs are the most capable smart lights in the Philips Hue ecosystem. Set the lights bulbs to any color (16 million color choices). Set the temperature or softness anywhere from warm white to cool white. Control the dim level or brightness from 1-100% with the Philips Hue Hub. The White and Color Ambiance Hue light bulbs can handle all your lighting needs but they are the also the most expensive. 

I have found that the Philips Hue color light bulbs add a ton of value to my smart home. Here are a few examples of how I use them in my home.

Philips Hue Color Uses in My Home

  • Ambiance - I didn't realize how much of an impact colored lighting could have on the ambiance of a room. I have a scene called "TV Lighting" that sets my Hue lights to blue, which is perfect for watching TV.
  • Warnings - I use my Hue color lights to warn me when something occurs that need attention. For example, my lights turn red if water is detected in the basement or if a door is left open at night. I have at least one White and Color Ambiance light in each major area of my home so I get a visual notification for these events.
  • It's Fun! - From kid birthday parties to the Olympics, we use the Hue lights to set the scene in our home. You can use the Hue lights to add a little more color to all of your events.

Philips Hue Lighting Choices

The Philips Hue product line is constantly growing with more bulb types and choices. The products below are what I recommend you start with since these packages give you the best value. You can review the complete list of products below to fully customize your smart home.

Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter KitI recommend that you start with the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit to begin your Hue system. This kit includes the Philips Hue Hub and 3 or 4 color changing bulbs at a price lower than buying the bulbs by themselves. This kit will allow you to place bulbs throughout your home so you can get visual notifications for events.

Philips Hue White A19 - 4 PackThe Philips Hue White A19 (4 Pack) is a great value. I consider it the fastest and cheapest way to expand smart lighting throughout your home. These bulbs require the Philips Hue Hub, which can be purchase separately or in a starter kit.

Where should I use Philips Hue Lights?

Philips Hue lights are great to use in lamps and other secondary lighting sources. I do not recommend that you replace all of the light bulbs in your house with Philips Hue lights. The primary benefit of Hue lights is the ability to control them with you voice or through automation. The Hue lights will not work without power. If you replace your primary lights with Hue lights, you will find that the light switch will get turned off, which will render the Hue lights useless. I use this setup in some cases, but I recommend that it is only done in a few areas in your home.

Philips Hue light bulbs are perfect for lamps, accent lights and recessed lights. You can have these lights permanently switched to "On" so you can control the Hue lights with your voice or with home automation. Philips Hue lights make it easy to expand your smart home lighting by just adding a lamp to the room.

Philips Hue LED Lightstrips are also a good way to add controllable lighting under your kitchen cabinets. Under cabinet lighting is an ideal area to automate with motion in your smart home. These lights allow you to see and they add ambiance to the room. 

Philips Hue Hub and Amazon Echo

The Philips Hue Hub and lights are perfectly paired with the Amazon Echo. With this setup, you can control all of your lights with you voice. You can control the state (on/off), the color and the brightness (dim level) of your Philips Hue lights with Alexa. You can also activate any Philips Hue Lighting Scenes with your voice.

Alexa. Set the Fireplace Lights to Blue.

Alexa. Set Family Room Lights to 40%.

Alexa. Turn on Relax in the Bedroom.

Hue Light Names and Amazon Echo
The names you assign to the lights in the Philips Hue app will also be used for voice control if you have an Amazon Echo. I recommend that you use a name that sounds natural such as "Family Room Lamp". This will allow you to easily identify it and control it by voice. If you have groups of lights, it is OK to name them by number. For example, 'Fireplace Lights 1" and "Fireplace Lights 2". You can create a light group in your Amazon Echo app to control both lights at the same time with just one name (Fireplace Lights).

Controlling your lights with your voice is one of the magical experiences of owning a smart home. The Amazon Echo devices are very affordable and they are a great compliment to your Philips Hue Hub.

Philips Hue Hub and SmartThings

Pair your Philips Hue Hub with SmartThings and automate your lights. The Philips Hue Hub officially works with SmartThings, which gives me comfort that the integration is solid. After you connect your Hue Hub to SmartThings, you can automatically

I have your lights turn on when motion is detected or when a door is opened. Additionally, you can have your lights change color based on events that happen in your home. For example, make your lights turn red if you have a water leak or if someone left the door open.

Automating your lights with SmartThings is the ultimate way to control your Philips Hue lights. In short, the addition of SmartThings brings out the full potential of your Philips Hue lights. 

Where do Philips Hue Smart Lights Fall Short?

The biggest issue with all smart light bulbs is that they require power to to control remotely or through automation. If the light switch is off, then you can't control the light bulb. For this reason, you can never completely replace all of your home lights with just smart light bulbs. It is better to automate your primary room lighting that is connected to a wall switch with a smart switch. With this approach, you can control your primary lights at the switch, with an app or through home automation.

I also feel like it is necessary to discuss the price of Philips Hue bulbs. The color changing White and Color Ambiance bulbs are very expensive, which makes in impractical to use everywhere. I recommend using the White and Color Ambiance bulbs strategically throughout your house for ambiance and visual notifications. You can use the standard White Hue bulbs to expand your smart lighting at a reasonable price.

Summary

The Philips Hue Hub is the best smart bulb system for your home. The Hue Hub and lights are one of three core products I recommend to start your smart home.

The White bulbs are very affordable and they are the easiest and most cost effective way to expand lighting automation in your home. The White and Color Ambiance bulbs are great to add ambiance to your rooms and for visual notifications of events in your home.

Finally, the Philips Hue system officially integrates with SmartThings and Amazon Echo devices. These products create a very stable foundation for you smart home.

P.S. Please leave a comment below to ask a question, help someone else or share your experiences. Thanks!

About the Author Jason

Husband, father and Smart Home enthusiast. I look forward to discussing Smart Home products and projects with you. I have over 100 connected devices in my home, and I'm excited to share what I have learned to help you build a Smart Home that works!

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