Soon you will no longer be able to buy regular incandescent light bulbs because they are too energy inefficient. The great thing about Philips HUE lighting is that it is extremely energy efficient and it can be fully controlled using your wireless network. The control of the lights is so flexible it provides an amazing set of options. So if you are upgrading your lighting, “Smart” lighting is a fantastic choice.
I have already had the opportunity to review a number of different Philips HUE lights – namely their starter kit, Bloom, and Light Strips. The HUE Lux and Iris are two unique additions to this family of Philips lighting options. These bulbs work fundamentally the same as all the other light bulbs in the HUE smart system, but they provide a somewhat different ambience for different applications. Let me explain.
In my initial post on HUE I described how the HUE lighting system works. To summarize, you need two components to make it work – a “Bridge” and a HUE light bulb. By simply connecting the Bridge (picture at bottom of post) to your router and providing power to the bulb you can now control the light using the free Philips IOS or Android app. The Bridge can control up to 50 different bulbs so you don’t need a separate bridge for each bulb.
There are lots of ‘smart’ capabilities for this system. For instance, you can set alarms that turn the lights on gradually in order to wake you up in the morning. You can put your lights on a timer so you turn them on and off over a specific period of time. You can get fancy by using an IFTTT app (“If This Then that”), so the lights can be programmed to change colour or turn on and off based on any number of other events. For instance, you can have a light change to bright red if you get an email from the in-laws, and bright green if you get an email from your spouse.
Another great capability of the system is to pre-set a number of different moods to change the ambience of the room depending on the situation. For instance, if you are watching a movie you could dim the lights to really faint, or if you are having a party have the lights strobe (they can even strobe based on the music), etc. You can control each light individually or as a group if you have several in the same room.
My previous post talks about different ways that you can use these lights to improve your life. You can even control them from anywhere you have Internet access, so if you aren’t home when you expected one evening you can add security to your home by turning the lights on from wherever you are.
The HUE Lux is essentially a smart light bulb in that it isn’t designed to change colours at all. It has a very nice warm LED white light that is extremely practical for most applications. I used one in my living room and family room lamps, and it was ideal. I programmed different scenes for the family room lamps. I had a “watch TV” scene, which through a touch of a button on my phone would dim the lights. I also had a “reading” scene, which would turn the lights up to bright enough to read. I would also set up alarms to automatically turn them off at 11pm, which is about when we go to sleep. So not only are they energy efficient, there is no risk of leaving them on unnecessarily.
It is also nice to be able to control each bulb individually with my phone and iPad app. Being fully dimmable, you can get exactly the amount of light you want in any room by simply sliding your finger on the HUE app. I also set several alarms so that if the house was empty for the evening, various lights would go on and off at different times, which is a great security feature. If I forgot to turn those alarms on, no problem, as I could do that remotely from anywhere that I had WiFi or 3G access to my Smartphone.
The HUE Iris is truly a unique light bulb. It is a very big light (approximately 7” in diameter) that can sit on a table or on the floor. It is bigger than all the other HUE lamps, and is ideally positioned pointing towards a wall. The light faces upwards at an angle so reflecting the light off the wall creates a very pleasant ambience. Because the Iris can display any colour you want it to, you can create whatever mood you want to by playing with the colour spectrum on your tablet or Smartphone, all extremely simple to do.
You can get very creative with the use of this light and have it as a stand-alone lamp or combine it with other HUE bulbs in a room to create an overall ambience or colour palette that suits you. Because it is also fully dimmable you could use it as a nightlight for a hallway or a child’s room at a very low light so waking up in the middle of the night is not so scary or a challenge to find anything.
Upgrading your lighting is one of the simplest ways to start to make your home a “Smart home.” It is a relatively inexpensive way to get some very practical lighting features that also have quite a ‘wow’ factor. Philips has done a great job of creating different bulbs for different locations through your house, but yet they are all controllable using one bridge and all in the same app. In addition, the HUE platform has an open architecture so there are quite a number of very creative non-Philips apps that other developers have invented.
The lights not only have the advantage of variable colours, Smartphone and tablet control, alarms and timers; but being LED they are extremely energy efficient and will last a very long time. They may seem like a bit more of investment than you are used to for a light bulb, but they are so much more than energy-efficient bulbs that they easily pay off in the long run.