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The Philips Hue Smart Lighting System Review

Gadgets & Gizmos

The Philips Hue Smart Lighting System Review

Philips Hue is something of the largest brand in the smart lighting niche, and with over 4 years in the industry, it’s not really a big mystery as to why. Philips first debuted their smart lighting system in 2012, back when almost everyone else was still focused on using RFID switches to change lights, and made colorful lights, smart control, and other features available from a smartphone. Now, of course, smart home appliances are almost the norm, with even utility packages sometimes including smart thermometers and plugs. The Phillips Hue, however, still stands out as one of the premier options in the smart lighting industry, with a range of features, options, and bulb quality that you can’t get anywhere else.

How the Philips Hue Works

Philips Hue includes a series of light bulbs that connect to your existing light switches. These bulbs include RFID, which connects with a WiFi bridge (known as the Hue Bridge). When you set the system up, your phone and the app communicate with the bridge, which sends signals to the lights.
You can:

  • Change colors
  • Dim or brighten lights
  • Use pre-set scenes to turn on specific colors
  • Turn on rooms
  • Use your phone to turn lights on and off when you leave or enter your home
  • Turn lights off and on while you are away, on vacation, or otherwise not at home
  • Create light based alarms to wake you up
  • Create a ‘lights out’ bedtime
  • Set up other routines to automatically control your lights

Use party settings and add-on apps to create anything from Disco to scary Halloween or Christmas light effects.
Essentially, the Hue can do a lot. Philips also connects with almost all major devices (Android and iPhone), works with most major home control and smart home applications (including Alexa), and if you do use iOS, works with Siri and Amazon Echo if you have the square Hue Bridge, or the SmartThings or Wink hub.

How Much Does the Hue Cost?

Philips Hue starts out at about $69 for the starter pack including the Hue Bridge and two light bulbs. You can also get additional bulbs for anywhere from $15-$49.99 each depending on the bulb.
Watch Out! – Low cost Phillips Hue bulbs are usually white-only, meaning that you can’t change the colors. Watch for this when and if you go to purchase.

Review of Philips Hue

Installing Philips Hue takes less than 10 minutes if you’re connecting the router, although installing and setting up the app may take longer if you are not ‘good’ with technology. The installation consists of simply screwing the bulbs into your light socket, plugging the Hue router in, connecting it to your WiFi, and then downloading the app. You can set the app up simply by pressing the button on the center of your Hue Bridge while connecting, and then you’re ready to go. You will have to search for and add lights, which takes a few minutes, not more. From there, you can name your lights, and immediately begin using them from the Hue or using your phone’s Home Automation app.
Quality – Philips Hue costs more than some other options, but the light quality, color depth, and brightness are consistently better than some other bulbs which are priced competitively. The lights are also a visible improvement over unbranded and generic options, with brighter colors and stronger light. (For example, Amazon sells many generic light changing bulbs that use an RFID remote, but Philips Hue is noticeably better quality). The current lights I am testing are also a year and a half old, and are holding up extremely well.
Speed – Most light changes take only a few seconds to take effect. While you do have to open the app if you aren’t using your voice control system on your phone, you can change all of the lights within a few seconds. The Hue is highly responsive, even on a weak WiFi network, and works upstairs and down using just one Hue Bridge. They also work very well even from a distance, and multiple tests with one person outside of the house and another inside still worked quickly.
Value – The Philips Hue is definitely a luxury item that can be convenient and can be cool, but is mostly a party piece that you use to change your lights to different colors at night. While you can change the lights with your app, I frequently found that the habit of using the light switch would kick in instead, which isn’t exactly the best thing for the bulbs. However, with a bit of training to use the app, the ability to turn the lights off downstairs after you get into bed, or the ability to turn on your office lights without getting up from that thing you’re working on is actually quite nice. That aside, the real value does lie in the ability to use it for mood lighting, which would otherwise cost almost the same in additional lights, instead of offering mood lighting without taking up extra space. If you just want to dim and use WiFi to turn off your lights instead of using different colors, you can also get a full setup with 6 lights and a bridge for as little as $130 on Amazon. If you want colors, LED lighting strips, and other details, you should expect to spend around $500-800 depending on how many lights you want.

Overall, the Philips Hue offers a lot for the money it costs, although it would be nicer if the colored lights were about 30% cheaper. That aside, it is the highest quality smart lighting system we’ve tested, and that’s a big deal for any price range.

Consider too our review on the Sylvania Lightify by Osram smart bulb smart home solution. It has many, most in fact of the same features and costs less, but is it worth trying? Check our review out below:

Smart Bulbs By Sylvania Review