Philips Hue Lights

Philips Hue Lights

Philips Hue Lights were my first step into home automation.  The lights are able to change colors giving you the ability to really set ambience in your room.  Because of this they are a nice addition to your media room.  Syfy even has an app that will listen to the show you’re watching and sync your lights to what is happening on the screen.  Sharknado is one of the movies.  As a shark bites someone and blood squirts out, your lights turn red.  During thunderstorms the lights turn white and flicker  with the lightning

As cool as those features are, I don’t recommend using them as your first step, however they are a nice addition to your system.  They are a large investment though.

THE INVESTMENT
Here’s where it will lose most people.  In order to get into the Philips Hue system you have 2 main options.  If you’re looking for fun colorful lights you can get the Philips Hue starter kit comes with 3 colored lights and the Hue Bridge for $200.  If you’re only looking for standard lights with no fun colors, you can get the Philips Hue Lux Starter kit which comes with 2 lights and the bridge for $80.  The Bridge is the same and you can mix and match colored bulbs with non-colored bulbs.  Additional bulbs cost $20 for standard Lux and $60 for colored Hue bulbs.

Other Light Options

When I first bought into the Philips Hue system the cheaper Hue Lux bulbs were $30 a piece.  They’ve since come down to $20.  Still quite expensive considering you can get standard LED bulbs between $4-$7 at most stores.  However those bulbs lack the control that you get with your Hue Bulbs.  I did some researching and found that GE Link Bulbs and Cree connected bulbs will work with the Philips Bridge.  Both lights are $15 a piece.  I prefer the Cree Connected bulbs.  They are lighter and run much cooler than the GE Link bulbs.  I’ve recently had a tremendous amount of trouble with the GE Link which you can read about here.

My System

I have 5 colored Philips Hue lights in my system and 11 Cree Connected Bulbs in my system.  4 of the colored lights are located in my living room, the other colored light is in my dining room.

I live in my home with 2 dogs.  My older dog, Abby and I are very schedule driven.  She insists on being in her bed at 9:30 every night.  If she’s not in bed she paces back and forth and frankly drives me nuts.  It’s very rare that she stays up later than 9:30.  Here’s my current schedule (it will be changing soon as the new puppy has changed some things.)

5:00pm   – Kitchen lights go on.
6:00pm   – Kitchen lights go off.
Sunset    – Ambient TV living room light goes on.  Set to a warm orange color
9:30pm   – 1 Bedroom light goes on at 1% of brightness so I can put abby to bed
10:00pm – Bedroom light goes off.
11:05pm – 1 Bedroom light goes on at 1%.
11:35pm – All lights go off
Whenever I leave my house all the lights are turned off. Triggered by my cell phone’s GPS location.
If I return home after sunset, a combination of Kitchen, living room and bedroom lights come on.  Triggered by my cell phone’s GPS location.

Now, my setup is a little more complex than most set ups.  I also have an Amazon Echo that can control all of my lights through voice commands.  Unfortunately, as of now, the Echo doesn’t see the Cree Connected bulbs if they’re connected through the Philips Hue Bridge.  To fix this issue, I had to add a Wink Hub to make it work.  So I really have 2 devices to control my lights.  All of my Philips bulbs are connected through the Hue Bridge and then that is attached to the Wink Hub.  My Cree Connected bulbs are connected through the Wink hub only

Issues

I’ve had some challenges with the Philips Hue system.  I have to say, it works really well with Philips products.  I have never had an issue with a Philips bulb interacting with the Hue Bridge.  However, GE Link Bulbs and Cree Connected bulbs have presented some issues.

To connect the GE Link and Cree Connected bulbs to the Bridge you must screw the bulbs in and start with the light switch in the off position.  After you initiate the search for new lights, flip the light switch on, and the bulbs will be discovered.

The issues with the GE Link bulbs get worse here… much worse.  I had 11 GE Link bulbs in my system.  However, they would randomly lose communication with the Hue Bridge, yet the Hue Bridge would still control them despite saying they weren’t connected.  I tried calling Philips they said it was a GE problem, GE said it was a Philips problem.  That’s when I replaced all my GE Link bulbs with Cree Connected (and then bought the Wink Hub) I am now very happy with the way that it functions.  I do wish it were a bit simpler and I didn’t have to use 2 hubs to get it to function.

Conclusion

The Philips Hue Light bulbs are a lot of fun.  The scheduling is a really nice addition to the colors, and having lights turn on as you arrive at home is great.  While I’ve had issues getting them to run consistently I really enjoy them.  There are other options win the Philips Hue system like LED strip lights that you can use as under counter lighting.  If you don’t need colors I would seriously look into getting a Wink hub and some Cree Connected bulbs.  You’ll save yourself some money, have the same functionality (minus the colors) and the Wink Hub will control much more than the lights.  A review on that to come shortly.

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