The Philips Hue range of smart lighting solutions is pretty awesome.
When you really start to look at the possibilities of things you can do with a Hue setup though, the potential for smart lighting soon becomes clear.
Whether you’re looking to set the mood when listening to your favourite music, enhancing the atmosphere when watching a movie, or just building a fully automated home illumination solution, we’ve taken a look at some of the amazing things you can do with Philips Hue to change your home lighting experience right now.
What is Philips Hue?
The Hue range of smart lighting products and accessories represent some of the best connected lighting solutions on the market today, ranging from smart white and color changing light bulbs through to standalone smart lamps and smart dimmer switches.
|Philips Hue White Smart Bulb Starter Kit||9.8/10|
|White and Color Ambiance Dimmable Bulb||9.0/10|
|Smart Dimmer Switch||9.0/10|
|Smart Motion Sensor||8.4/10|
Offering excellent cross-compatibility with other smart home devices and systems such as Amazon’s Alexa and Works with Nest, installing a home lighting rig of Hue bulbs and devices is a great way to ensure a solid lighting foundation that will allow maximum automation of your smart home environment as your setup grows.
Right off the bat, the Philips Hue range of smart lights offers some of the widest integration and compatibility options of any smart lighting devices on the market, working seamlessly with everything from voice control systems and smart thermostats, through to smart entertainment devices and even smoke detectors.
Known as ‘Friends of Hue’, the devices that offer seamless integration with the Hue family of lighting solutions right out of the box are wide-ranging, including most of the biggest names in the world of smart home automation:
- Amazon Alexa
- Apple HomeKit
- Samsung SmartThings
- Xfinity Home
In addition to this list, Hue devices are also fully compatible with IFTTT (If This, Then That), meaning you can tie an entire catalogue of automation ‘recipes’ to your personal home lighting, allowing your smart lights to be triggered by events ranging from changes in the weather through to notifications of emails or social media likes. Similarly, if you connect other devices up to the web service too, you can have the actions of one device trigger the activation of your connected Hue smart lights.
As a result of Philips making developer app and service integration super-simple for their Hue smart lighting range, there are now some really great things that you can do with your intelligent lighting system once it’s set up.
From white and color changing smart bulbs, through to standalone lighting solutions and lamps, the wide range of available options within the Hue range makes it incredibly simple to assemble a connected system of integrated smart lighting right out of the box.
Finding the best smart lighting solutions for your home ultimately means thinking about a wide range of factors and options, from how you intend to use your lights through to the features you’re looking for, and of course, any budget considerations.
With that being said, there are some smart lighting brands out there that are leading the way when it comes to offering the very best in automated and smart home illumination and Philips with their Hue range of smart lighting devices are one of the main contenders currently at the front of the pack when it comes to innovation and features.
Whether you’ve already set up a Hue rig in your home or are thinking of picking up a few bulbs to get started, there are a lot of ways you can begin integrating this smart lighting solution with the wider smart home experience.
With a foundation of a Hue Bridge and smart bulbs in place, the system can be effortlessly extended by adding devices such as smart lamps (see Hue Go or Hue Bloom for great examples of this), as well as additionally increasing the complement of bulbs in other rooms of your home.
When it comes to assembling a smart lighting system in your home, there’s a good chance that one of the main objectives in doing so is to automate the process of lighting as much as possible, to have remote control over the lighting in every room, or both.
The Hue range excels in these areas too, with the ability to expand the base-level functionality with the addition of add-on ‘modules’ including sensors, switches, and remotes to allow a level of automation and control beyond what the system can achieve straight out of the box.
By adding a component such as the Hue Smart Motion Sensor, you can trigger the lighting in a specific room to activate as soon as the sensor detects that you’ve entered the room.
Similarly, if you’re looking to retain a ‘traditional’ interface for controlling your lights, the Hue Smart Dimmer Switch is a great option and being battery operated, doesn’t require any wiring to install.
Finding the Right Light – The Philips Hue Range
While effectively a smart lighting solution at its core, the Philips Hue range of devices comprises much more than simply connected light bulbs and finding the perfect solution for your requirements will ensure you’re able to fully exploit the opportunities and benefits provided by a fully connected smart lighting system.
The family of Hue devices is built around the idea of interconnected smart home lighting, that’s to say, light bulbs and lamps that can be automated, remotely controlled, or triggered based on events or input from other smart devices.
At the heart of the range is the Philips Hue Smart Bridge, effectively a micro-hub that coordinates and orchestrates all of the Hue devices into a coherent and connected lighting rig.
If you’re thinking about setting up a Hue lighting system in your home, you’ll need a Smart Bridge to get started, but luckily, these come as standard with the starter kits for the range or (if you’re looking to build bespoke from the outset), can be bought as a separate unit from which to build your setup around.
With a Bridge in place, all that’s left to do is add smart lights, and it’s here that the Hue range shines.
The basic building blocks of any smart home lighting solution are smart bulbs and these come in a couple of flavors within the Hue family, allowing the choice of white or color changing lighting depending on your preferences and requirements.
Additional lighting elements can be added to your rig in the form of dedicated hue feature lamps or set pieces which work in much the same way as the bulbs within the range (remote control, scheduling, color changing etc) although they offer the additional benefit of flexibility and portability if you’re looking to move around your home or create an ambient effect in a room.
Finally, there are the additional components within the Hue range which include accessories and complementary devices such as dimmer switches and motion sensors to further enhance the effect of your connected smart lighting setup.
With all of this in place, you’ll ultimately have access to an incredibly flexible system of intelligent and automated smart lighting, effectively right out of the box.
Once you begin to pair this with any of the other third-party smart devices around your home such as a Nest Learning Thermostat or Amazon Echo, you’ll be in control of a truly transformative smart lighting that will change the way you illuminate your home.
Things to do with Philips Hue Smart Lighting
With a Philips Hue system of smart lighting in place as part of a wider smart home, you can begin to play with the lighting in your home like never before.
Here are five of our favorite things to do with Philips Hue.
Sync your lights to your sounds
Users of both iOS and Android have the ability to sync up their Hue lighting setup to their music playlist.
When combined with a color changing Hue lightbulb (or several), your lighting will respond to the track you’re playing.
Using the microphone on your smartphone or device to listen to any music currently playing, the app reacts and adapts to the sound using either pre-set color schemes or your own custom range.
With the ability to also adjust the sensitivity of the app, you can achieve an effect that suits your own personal taste every time.
If you’re just getting started with smart lighting in your home, the White and Color Ambiance kit is an excellent place to get started.
Including three color changing bulbs and the Hue Bridge (for communicating between all devices and your controller), the White and Color Ambiance kit is an excellent way to get your smart lighting system underway with minimal setup.
With the bulbs screwed in and the Bridge connected, you simply need to follow the on-screen instructions on your connected smartphone or tablet and you’ll be ready to go with an interconnected lighting system that can be synced with other smart devices, automated or controlled using your voice through a paired controller like Alexa or Google Home powered devices.
Integrate Hue with IFTTT
IFTTT (If This, Then That), is a web-based service that allows you to create ‘triggers’ for smart devices around the home based on the occurrence of events on another device. What this means in practice, is that when one device does one thing, a separate device can be triggered to activate in response.
There are a whole host of ways you can tie up smart light systems such as Hue to the other devices in your smart home ecosystem using IFTTT, for example getting your lights to blink if your Amazon Alexa countdown timer reaches zero, or having the lights turn red if your Nest Thermostat rises above a certain temperature.
Using IFTTT with Hue allows you to do a lot of amazing things with the other smart devices in your home, for example, flashing the lights when an email arrives or you receive a Facebook notification and even or integrating your lights with your Nest Protect smoke alarm, turning the lights red if carbon monoxide is detected.
Weather warning lighting
While mentioned above, we felt that this particular application of IFTTT integration deserved a section of its own.
In an article by CNET, they found a useful way to use IFTTT functionality alongside Hue was to monitor the National Weather Service’s warning feed for specific regions and to change the color of your home lighting to let you know if something is up.
This is a particularly good option if you live in an area prone to severe or unpredictable weather and this application of your Hue smart lighting could prove an invaluable way of leveraging your connected home environment to warn you of any hazardous changes outside when a storm is closing in.
Philips Hue Go
There are a number of other smart lighting options within the Hue range as well as some amazing feature lighting devices such as the Hue-Go which integrate fully with your existing Hue setup.
Offering the ability to have portable, color changing smart lighting wherever you want it, the Hue Go is effectively a smart lamp that can move around the home with you, adding a splash of color wherever you need it.
Controllable and automatable in the same way as all of the other lighting solutions in the Hue range, the Go is the perfect partner for adding atmosphere in the corner of a room or as a centerpiece lighting feature.
Sync Hue with your TV
Without a doubt, this is definitely one of our favorite things to do with Philips Hue lighting in the living room.
If you’re looking for a way to create a fully immersive, home entertainment viewing experience, then matching the ambient lighting in the room to your favorite show or movie is a pretty epic way of doing it.
The Hue Camera app for iOS allows your device to detect the colors detected by the camera and adapt the color of your Hue lights accordingly as the scene changes.
Fully automate your lighting
The great thing about the Hue lighting range is that Philips’ own app lets you automate your lights without the need for a dedicated smart hub through the use of the Philips Hue Bridge.
Within the ‘Routines’ section of the app, a setting called ‘Home & Away’ allows you to enable a feature called ‘Location aware’ for the system.
With this setting activated, your Hue lighting setup will turn off and on whenever you leave the home – another thing you now don’t need to worry about remembering when you head out of the house!
If your main goal is building a smarter home, then having the ability to pre-program your home illumination routines is undoubtedly one of the most useful things to do with Philips hue when the system is set up.
Voice controlled lighting with Alexa (BONUS)
It would be difficult to end a post on the coolest things to do with Philips Hue without mentioning arguably one of the most amazing (and most useful) features of modern smart lighting systems – the ability to control the lights throughout your home using your voice.
By connecting your Philips Hue lights with a voice control system such as Amazon’s Alexa, you can turn the lights on or off, up or down just by using your voice and saying what you want to happen.
For example by telling Alexa to “Turn on the kitchen lights” or “Dim bedroom lights to 50%”, you can take control of your home lighting like never before, without ever lifting a finger. Similarly you can tell one of your Alexa enabled devices such as the Echo, Dot or Echo Show to set the mood by changing any Hue lighting to a color of your choice, simply by speaking the command.