In this post, we’ll share our thoughts on Philips Hue lights to help you decide if they’re worth buying in 2021.
If you’re in the market for smart bulbs, you’ve probably come across the high-end Philips Hue light bulbs. These bulbs are considerably more expensive than their competitors while offering seemingly similar features. So, this begs the question: Are Philip Hue lights worth it?
Stick with us as we dive a little deeper into these high-end bulbs. We’ll go over what they are, how they work, why they’re so expensive, and if they’re worth the price.
What Are Philips Hue Light Bulbs?
Let’s start off with the basics am discuss what these bulbs actually are.
Philips Hue is a line of smart light bulbs and devices first released in October 2012. Being nearly 10 years old, the Philips Hue line was the first of its kind on the market. The line has expanded tremendously in the past 10 years, and now there are several generations and models available for purchase.
Philips Hue bulbs offer the ultimate in control. Users can manipulate these smart bulbs from their smartphones, digital assistants, and special light switches.
These bulbs can also be programmed to work with themes or IFTTT (If This Then That) chains. They come in a variety of styles, including dimmable bright white, a customized white ambiance, color-changing, table lamps, floor lamps, outdoor lighting, and more.
The entire lineup typically runs off of the Hue Bridge, which is a hub that plugs into your home’s router, providing communication for up to 50 bulbs and devices. Once connected, the Hue cloud allows you to control connected bulbs with your smart home technology, just like any other device in the home.
Zigbee: The Language of Philips Hue
While it might seem like these bulbs use your WiFi to communicate with each other and the hub, that isn’t the case. The Hue system actually uses Zigbee, which is more like a Bluetooth Walkie-Talkie system than WiFi. This might seem like over-complicating something, but there are actually benefits to this.
Your Bridge has to stay connected to your router with an ethernet cable for the system to be fully functional. Once connected, the Bridge communicates with the bulbs and other Hue devices in the system through Zigbee. Each bulb features a Zigbee chip, which essentially makes them all miniature computers.
They transmit and receive signals via radio waves, communicating and working together for a harmoniously dialed-in home.
So why use Zigbee? For one, it’s fast, transmitting at up to 250kbps. But, it also adds a layer of security, keeping your WiFi’s credentials from being transmitted by your smart bulb system. And, since pairing devices with the Bridge requires physically tapping the Bridge, the chance of someone high-jacking your Hue system is very low.
Setting Up Hue Smart Lights
Even if you’re not incredibly tech-savvy, getting started with your Hue smart lights is incredibly simple.
- Start by screwing the Hue lightbulbs into light fixtures. Ensure that each fixture is turned on.
- Plug the Hue Bridge into a power outlet and tether it to your modem with an ethernet cable. Also, be sure to turn it on. You should see three blue lights on the hub.
- Download the mobile app. It’s available for both iOs and Android users.
- Once you download and open the app, it should recognize the Hue Bridge right away. Simply press the large button on the Bridge.
- The app will automatically detect any powered light bulbs within the home.
- Name each of your bulbs. Some examples are “floor lamp,” “kitchen sink,” and “end table,” but you can name them whatever you’d like.
- To get the most out of your Philips Hue lights, connect them to your digital assistant.
Once your Hue devices are all up and communicating (which won’t take long), you can start programming themes or routines with the Hue app. For example, you can set all of your lights to shut off when you give your assistant the “goodnight” command. Or, you can set your bedroom bulbs to slowly increase in brightness at a specific time, providing a gentle alarm clock.
You can also simply control your Hue lights with your voice. Stating something like “Alexa, lower the brightness in the kitchen to 25 percent,” or “Siri, change the end table lamp to pink,” will activate the dimming or color-changing features you’re looking for.
Types of Philips Hue Lights
There are a few different types of bulbs to choose from, each with its own features and corresponding prices.
These are the most basic of the Hue smart bulbs. They’re similar to standard dimmable bulbs, but you don’t need a dimmer switch to operate them.
Generally speaking, you can pick up a four-pack of white lights for around $50 on Amazon.
White Ambiance Bulbs
These bulbs are similar to the white bulbs as they are dimmable, but they also have blue and yellow LEDs for adjusting the color temperature.
White ambiance bulbs are almost twice as expensive, as a two-pack costs around $45 on Amazon.
If you’re really into smart bulbs, these are probably the Hue lights you’re after. These bulbs offer 16 million colors, as well as dimming and theme programming.
They’re much more expensive than the other bulbs, as a four-bulb starter pack complete with the Bridge costs around $200 on Amazon.
Hue also offers strip lighting with dimming and color-changing LEDs every few inches.
They’re excellent for under cabinet lighting and lighting behind a computer monitor for a techy look. A six-foot length sells for around $70 on Amazon.
There are a number of different lamps and lights available in the Hue lineup. One of the most popular and stylish is the Hue Signe, with its slim profile, 16 million colors, and dimmable features.
It sells for around $160 on Amazon.
The fourth generation models of Hue lights are largely Bluetooth, which means you could potentially operate them without the Hue Bridge. But, you’ll only be able to operate ten via Bluetooth, whereas you can operate up to 50 with the hue Bridge.
It’s often most cost-effective to purchase the four-pack starter kit, but in the event that you purchase your pieces separately, the smart hub bridge kit sells for around $60 on Amazon.
How Long Do Hue Bulbs Last?
Obviously, the Philips Hue lineup is a bit of an investment. With that in mind, it would be nice to know how long your investment should work before needing to be replaced.
In plain English, the answer is “a long time.” The first generation of Hue bulbs was rated to last 15,000 hours, which is roughly 7 to 8 years. The second and third generations have increased lifespans, lasting 25,000 hours, or between 12 and 13 years, before requiring replacing.
Why Are Hue Lights So Expensive?
On the surface, Philips Hue lights aren’t all that unique. There are other dimmable and color-changing bulbs on the market for half the price. So, what makes the Hue lineup so expensive? Here are a few points to consider:
The Hue app and user-friendliness of the Hue Lineup are second to none. The simple setup, easily customizable themes, and straightforward integration with digital assistance are worth paying at least a bit extra for.
The Zigbee chip is a relatively expensive but reliable technology. Each device has a Zigbee chip inside, allowing it to run off of the hub instead of the home’s WiFi. This increases speed, reduces drag on the WiFi, and protects WiFi credentials.
Newer models also feature Bluetooth chips in each device. These Bluetooth chips allow users to operate the bulbs without WiFi or a bridge, though some functionality might not be available, and you won’t be able to control as many devices.
The Hue lineup is a lifestyle brand, and buying into it ensures you’ll be able to find a bulb or device compatible with the system whenever you need one. While that doesn’t explain why the Hue lineup is so expensive, it certainly gives Philips the room they need to justify the increased cost.
The color-changing bulbs use a different design than other less expensive bulbs. Basic color-changing smart bulbs use three LEDs, and the mixing of their intensities creates the desired color. Still, the result can be a bit cheap or flat-looking. Hue color-changing bulbs use two additional LEDs, providing a rich, vibrant color that’s far more desirable than a less expensive option.
Are Philips Hue lights Worth It?
The question still remains: Are these expensive, high-end smart bulbs worth it? It depends. You can get many of the same features from far less expensive bulbs, including dimming, color-changing, and programmable themes.
But, with that said, if you have the means or budget to outfit your entire home with Philips Hue products, you certainly won’t regret the purchase. They’re made with better parts so they last longer. They’re also incredibly easy to set up, simply requiring user to plug them in and download an app. And they provide a bit extra security that other bulbs might not.
So ultimately, yes, Philips Hue Bulbs are worth their premium price tag if you can afford them.