Smart And Cheap Alternatives To Add Lights To Your Philips Hue System - Including Detailed Step-By-Step Instructions
For many years manufactures have tried to bring us intelligent and energy saving lights.
But they all struggled to make it easy and working and attract customers.
After quite some different solution Philips offered over the years, they finally hit it and became insanely successful with the Philips Hue system. And righteous so!
Why? It just works!
Maybe it is no coincidence that you can get them at Apple Stores. Apple has high quality standards on items they carry from 3rd parties. Hundreds of amazon review with an average of 4 stars confirm that as well.
When you begin with one of the starter sets - I get into more details in just a moment - you literally have to perform only three steps:
- Screw bulb in
By now you already have an energy saving LED light with reacts just like any normal bulb to your wall switch.
- Connect bridge to your router
Here is absolutely no configuration necessary.
- Download free iPhone app
The first time you just need to press the only button on the bridge when the app ask you so and you're done.
I have never seen any system that is so easy to install.
Update: With the free update to IOS8 Apple has introduced "HomeKit". This is a platform to unify all kinds of different devices, such as the Philips Hue. Soon we will see a tight integration of 3rd party hardware into our smartphones. Imagine what kind of apps developer will come up with...
What kind of Hue Starter Sets does Philips offer?
Philips started with one Starter Sets which contained - beside the bridge, the power plug and the ethernet cable - three A19 bulbs. By now they have extended the product line with two more starter sets, which differ in the kind of bulbs they include.
You can choose from:
- 1 bridge + 1 power plug + 1 ethernet cable + 3 bulbs A19
- 1 bridge + 1 power plug + 1 ethernet cable + 3 bulbs GU10
- 1 bridge + 1 power plug + 1 ethernet cable + 3 bulbs BR30
They work all in the same way and each sets you back $200.
Official extensions of the Hue system
You might see a hint in this head line, but please bear with me to give you a quick overview how you can add to your Hue system according to Philips:
- Single Pack A19 bulb for $60
- Single Pack GU10 bulb for $60
- Single Pack BR30 bulb for $60
- Friends of Hue Bloom for $80
- Friends of Hue LightStrips for $90
Each of this lights can easily be added to the system and then be controlled with the iPhone app.
So far so good.
What about alternatives?
What Philips doesn’t tell their customers is that it is possible to connect specific lights to the Hue system - not all of them - from their other product lines...
And there are quite a few that are actually compatible to the Hue system.
Funny enough in collaboration with the Hue system they can even do more then the official "Friends of Hue“.
Let me introduce them to you in the next paragraph.
Secret friends of Hue
I like to call them the secret friends of Hue. :-)
The table light called „Bloom“ is actually not new and has two siblings called „Aura“ and „Iris“.
They all are part of the „LivingColors“ family.
These are the different members of the LivingColor family of lights:
- LivingColors Bloom which will come with a remote and in one of the two different colours: black or white
- LivingColors Aura with a Remote as well and the same color choice as the Bloom:
Black or White. This lamp received an average of 4 stars on amazon.
- Last but not least: the LivingColors Iris - again - with Remote. Here you can pick a "clear" version with a white ring or a "smoke" version with a black ring. This lamp is also rated at 4 stars on amazon.
Now, the LivingColors lights may come at a bit higher price, but be aware that they allow you to do something incredible, which I talk about in more detail below.
That is definitely worth the few extra bucks.
Now we come to the interesting part:
These lights always came with a remote and they can perform actually a great amount of different tasks:
- Switch the lamps on and off
Without pointing towards the lamp. These remotes do not work via infrared. More on that later.
- Change the color
This is done with a very intuitive ring selector. Philips claims here the same 16 million color as with the Hue system. More on that later as well.
- Change the brightness
- Change the saturation of the color
- Save favorite settings
e.g. setting #1: bright red, setting #2: light blue
- Rainbow effect
Rotates the light constantly through the whole color range.
So you see these remote are quite clever and versatile.
If you get a Bloom as an official "Friend of Hue“ there is no remote. Everything is done completely by the iPhone app.
But imagine you just want to switch on one or two of your lights:
- you would need to get the phone
- Unlock the phone
- Find and start the app
- Tap the right button to switch on.
With a physical remote control it's much faster.
If that didn’t convince you that the „older“ LivingColor lights are a smarter choice, consider the following.
I mentioned before that the remotes are not infrared, in fact they use the very same radio signals than the Hue bridge!
Therefor it is possible to train the remote of a LivingColor light to control one or more of your A19/GU10/BR30 bulbs! Isn’t that amazing?
From personal experience I can tell you it really is!
Which bulb for which purpose?
You should also know that the LivingColors got their name for a reason.
The Hue bulbs are really good at producing any kind of white light. From an extreme warm light like a candle to as cold as a fluorescent lamp. Reds and Blues are also very deep.
The LivingColors may be not so good at white levels, but they excel at pure colors. Their Green for example is much deeper than the Hue bulbs’.
When it is about choosing the next extension keep in mind what you want to use it for:
- If strong colors are the main purpose, go for a LivingColors.
- If warm or cold light is your primary focus & colors are second, then go for another Hue bulb.
A few more hints before we move on.
- Don’t get the Mini or Micro versions, they are not remote controlled!
- The Aura and the Bloom - both versions „LivingColor“ and „Friends of Hue“ - emit 120 lumen, which is fine if you want to enlighten a corner or a specific object.
The Iris light on the other hand is - with 240 lumen - much brighter and better suited for enlightening a complete wall.
- Pay attention when getting a LivingColor light for your Hue system. You need at least the 2nd generation. The first generation is not compatible with the Hue system. You can easily distinguish them by their form. The 1st gen remote is oval while from the 2nd gen on they are round.
One more thing
There is one more option I didn’t mention yet.
Philips has another family called „Living Whites“. This is where they started.
If you are lucky, then you might find the „Philips Living Whites Starter Set“, which contains a remote and two plugs.
Now these plugs are rather clever as well. With these plugs you can remotely control any lamp - up to 300 watts - that is plugged into them.
The remote doesn’t support color options, its call Whites for a reason, but everything else is possible:
- Switch the lamps - one or several - on and off
- Change the brightness
That means the plugs support dimmable lamps! This is done with a very intuitive ring selector.
- Save favorite settings
And again, the Living Whites Starter Kit is fully compatible with the Hue system.
When you connect the plugs and plug any „old-fashioned“ lamp in it, this lamp shows up in the iPhone App and is fully controllable from there.
Just thinking about the possibilities this opens makes your head spin...
Step-By-Step-Guide: How to connect lights to Philips Hue
How do I connect any member of the LivingColors or Livings Whites family to my Hue system?
Luckily the community of Hue fans is growing at a very fast pace. And with some research you can find instructions on „How to connect LivingColor lights to Hue".
Unfortunately none of them worked for me when I tried them.
After finding my way to connect, I saw that the instructions weren’t wrong, I personally would just describe some steps in more detail.
Here also - with no guarantee of any kind - is my list of steps to link a LivingColor light to the Philips Hue system:
- Reset the round remote control that came with the LivingColor light.
Open the battery compartment of the remote control and press the small button in the little hole with a paper clip for 5 seconds.
- Test that this first step was successful.
Press on/off, change brightness/color on the remote. The light - this remote came with - should not react anymore. If it still reacts go back to step 1.
- Make absolutely sure that there is no Hue app running.
When you start „playing“ with the Hue system you might download the free app to your iPhone and your iPad and your iPod Touch. Your might have found out that there is a wide range of 3rd party app for Hue - both for IOS as well as for Android. You have to kill all of them. Kill, not send in the background. And while you are at it, do not forget all the Hue-controlling apps you have installed on your computer either!
To be crystal clear here, if your forget to kill any app that is connect to your Hue system this will not work!
- Next you have two actions to do within a few seconds:
- Reset the Bridge by turning the bridge around and press the small button in the little hole with a paper clip for 5 seconds.
- Hold remote control close to bridge and press the On button and the Scene1 button on the remote at the same time.
- If you performed the last step correctly, the blue light around the centre button on the bridge will blink a few times and then go off.
If the centre button is still on, return to step 4.
Believe me, it doesn’t help at all to go on, when the centre button is still blue. This is one of the mistakes I did before I succeed.
- Make sure that all lights (Hue’s, LivingColors and plugs) have power and are close by the bridge (within 2 feet).
But make also sure that the lights are not to close to each other. Have them one foot apart.
- Touch link all LivingColor lamps, Hue Bulbs and plugs you want to control later on with this specific remote.
Touch linking is easily done, by pressing and holding the On button on the remote while holding it close to the lamp/plug in question. The lamp will blink three times and an orange light on top of the remote will go on and off after a few seconds. Now the remote and the lamp/plug are connected.
- Try it.
Check whether the remote can control all functions for the lamp/plug. If not return to step 7.
- Double-check the blue light on the centre button of the bridge is still off.
If not repeat step 4.
- Touch link the remote to the Bridge
Press the centre button on the bridge and immediately press and hold the On button on the remote. The blue light on the centre button of the bridge should start blinking and then stay on.
- Now you can start the iPhone app and should see all Hue bulbs, LivingColor lamps and plugs.
You may have to find the bridge again for this very first start after this „Connection session“, but that’s it then.
Now go and get your Philips Hue Starter Set and see for yourself what exciting things you can do with it.
Most likely when you read this article to the end, you are already a happy owner of a Hue Starter Set.
But as as all of us, you are likely looking for ways to extend your system, right?
If I were you, I would forget about the Friends of Hue and add a LivingColors Iris or LivingColors Aura with an included remote control immediately, as these ones offer you more features for a lower price!
Have - a lot of - fun!
Which lights do you get?
© 2014 TheAndy