Best Smart LED Light Bulbs Ranked for 2021

With our upgrade we activated Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19. Photo: Michael Hession

Select upgrade

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit

Hue lamps can be combined with a wide range of other Hue lighting devices, all of which communicate wirelessly with each other to avoid range problems. Hue also supports most smart home platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant.

Philips Hue is the grandfather of all smart lightbulbs, yet a solid system, especially if you want a home with smart lights of all shapes and sizes, or if your lighting system extends to areas in and around your home where WiFi is available and spotty.

There are basically two ways to incorporate standard Hue lights (in the A19 style) into your setup. Philips Hue works with Bluetooth, which allows you to turn lights on and off, dim lights, change colors and select preset scenes using the Philips Hue Bluetooth app. While this is an easy way to bring Hue into your home, it’s also limited by Bluetooth’s short wireless range and doesn’t include any automations, even basic ones like scheduling. The same lights also support Zigbee Wireless with the Philips Hue Bridge, a small puck that plugs into your home WiFi router. In conjunction with this hub, use the Philips Hue app, which has more interesting features including schedules, special effects, the ability to pair with hundreds of third-party apps, as well as support for Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, among others IFTTT and Samsung SmartThings. If you want to get started and head straight to the hub, we recommend the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 starter kit. Occasionally you can find an older version of these lamps or kits on the Internet. They’re not compatible with Bluetooth, but both the older and newer lights look the same, have the same brightness, and work with the Hue hub.

Another argument in favor of getting a Hue hub is that it enables a robust ZigBee wireless mesh network that allows all of your lights to share their connection with one another, and thus eliminates many of the bugs Wi-Fi can have. The more Hue lamps and lights you have, the stronger the network becomes – even in the most remote corners of your home. (If you already have an Amazon Echo, a ZigBee hub is integrated.)

In addition to the A19 color-changeable lamps, you can add simple white lamps, tunable white lamps, light strips, wall lights, outdoor lights, and a variety of other lamps and lighting styles. All lights work with Hue motion sensors and remote controls and can be integrated into many other smart home systems. In short, it is the most versatile home improvement smart lighting system.

During the test, we found that the Philips Hue lamp was noticeably darker than our other picks, but it was good for reading at night and finding our way around the house. It should be noted that when used with HomeKit, the Hue lamp was slightly darker at full brightness than when using the Hue app, Alexa and Google Assistant (see A word on smart home integration for more information).

The Philips Hue gateway is connected to a router. The Philips Hue gateway is connected to your router via a cable and wirelessly connected to the light bulbs via ZigBee. Photo: Michael Hession

In the Hue app, the lightbulbs are grouped by room. You can control individual lightbulbs by clicking on each of these areas. Grouping them by room makes it easy to turn off an entire area at once. It also contains more than 30 preset scenes that reflect different moods and attitudes in the world, e.g. B. Tropical Twilight, Palm Beach and Soho. (You can also create your own.) Routines or automated actions include a wake-up scene where the lights come on slowly in the morning, and Home and Away modes, where the lights turn on and off automatically when you walk in or when you leave the house. You can import routines from other apps or create your own custom ones, and the Hue app can pull color palettes from any selected photo.

The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Smart Bulb next to a smartphone with the color selection function of the Smart Bulb app. Philips Hue can create millions of different colors to change the look of any room. Photo: Michael Hession

In addition to the smart home support in the Friends of Hue section of the app, Philips has a desktop Hue sync app that can be used to synchronize Hue lights with a computer screen. You can also connect them to your home theater system via the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box. For example, if you’re watching Blue Planet II on your desktop monitor, the app will change the lighting to roughly match the ocean blue and green of the show. A long and growing list of third-party apps work with Hue lights and add to the functionality of the system. Most of these apps are free, and some of them – like our favorite OnSwitch – support grouping of rooms and come with preset color scenes (in-app purchases in some cases).

The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 smart light bulb is attached to a lamp post when the lights are on. Hue works with more smart home platforms, accessories, and third-party apps than any other smart lamp we’ve tested. Photo: Michael Hession

In addition to a variety of smart home platforms, Hue also works with various additional accessories such as the Philips Hue Smart Motion Sensor. It also works with the Lutron Aurora, a battery operated dimmer that installs over your existing switch and can control Hue smart lights and bulbs. This eliminates the worry of someone physically turning off the switch and disconnecting the lightbulbs. It was easy to install and even easier to use, but only works with toggle switches and, at $ 40 per person, is too expensive for anyone looking to equip more than one or two switches.

Comments are closed.