I just moved into a new house, and my housemate and I have differing ideas of how bright the kitchen should be. At first, this meant we were constantly climbing onto the counter to unscrew/screw in the kitchen bulbs to dim or brighten the kitchen as needed. Not the most logical solution, I know.
Right around the same time, I started doing research about smart home technologies, and realized pretty quickly that smart lightbulbs would likely be a good solution for us – both to bring our home into the current century and make it “smarter,” but also to head off any potential roommate strife (or one of us falling off the kitchen counter!).
The lighting solution that appealed to me was Philips HUE collection. They offer a white starter kit that seemed like a good fit. I reached out to the company and I was sent a HUE starter set to review. The starter set I was sent included 4 smart bulbs and a bridge, which plugs into your wi-fi router and is needed to connect the bulbs. They also have a cool set of colored lights if you want to make your lighting more colorful.
Making My Home Smarter with Smart Bulbs
I was a little daunted when the box arrived. I assumed that anything related to the IoT or smart home was going to be complicated and frustrating — but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I finally decided it was time to install them when I found myself ready to hop onto the counter and (yet again) screw in the light bulb.
Imagine my surprise when, within about 10 minutes, the whole process was complete and I was literally dancing around my kitchen in excitement.
The installation couldn’t have been easier. The first step is to connect the bridge to your wi-fi router, which just required connecting the LAN cable. Once plugged in, you have to download the HUE app. There were some updates needed, which took a few minutes, and then it was just a press of a button to connect my iPhone to my bridge and I was able to start playing with the lights. To connect my housemate’s iPhone, he just had to download the app, press the bridge button again, and he was ready to go.
Two of the bulbs went into the kitchen, one into our living room lamp, and one into my bedside lamp. I didn’t see any markings on the bulbs nor could I find in the instructions which bulb to pair with the others, so after the initial install I had to reset the bulbs (moving the bedroom bulb into the kitchen and vice versa) to get both kitchen bulbs on the same setup. Once that was complete, the lights were working and ready to go.
The lights are controlled by the regular on/off switch on the wall (or a lamp pull cord, like in our living room), but once they are turned on, they can also be controlled by the app on the phone. Once on, the lights can be dimmed manually using the slide bar, or you can choose “scenes” and make the lights into bright, dimmed, or super dimmed (nightlight).
You can also set up your own scenes by programming timings to turn the lights on/off at certain times of the day, and you can set programs so the app knows when you’re coming home and the lights will come on automatically. I’m not ready for that level of commitment yet, but it’s a cool idea. The HUE bulbs are controllable by Siri, Alexa, and other smart home companions, so if that appeals to you, it’s easy to do voice commands to turn off/on lights around the home.
What I love about these bulbs:
- Firstly, the bulbs are LEDs, which means they have a super long lifespan and don’t use very much electricity at all, making our old home way more energy efficient.
- The bulbs are dimmable, even without a dimmer switch.
- The process was so EASY: I really did think installing anything “smart” into my home was going to be complicated, but this couldn’t have been easier. Plug in, download the app, screw in the bulbs, and that’s it!
- I love the idea of turning on lights before I get home: my neighborhood is quite dark, so knowing I can turn my lights on before I get home at night adds a nice level of security.
- We liked the bulbs so much that we’re going to order two more to use outside and in the bathroom.
In the week that we’ve had them, I’ve had a few thoughts that some buyers might want to consider. One, I think this would be easier with an in-home tablet as a central “control” – just so that I don’t have to carry my phone with me around the house. Our house is pretty small, but in a bigger house, having a tablet station might be helpful.
As far as glitches, there were none. I did find that sometimes it took the bulbs a few minutes to sync up once I got home – I couldn’t do the dimming immediately when I turned on the lights. Finally, it must be noted that the lights need to stay on in order to turn them on with the app. This makes logical sense, but it has taken some time to get accustomed to.
Overall, I really enjoy the functionality of the bulbs, and really like that the process was so easy. I like that I was able to swap out less-efficient bulbs for these highly functional bulbs that create beautiful ambiance in all the rooms in my house. I also enjoy not having to climb onto the counters any longer to screw in the bulbs when the kitchen is too dim for me!
Philips provided HUE product for review, but all opinions are my own.