When we bought our new home back in August, we knew we had a great house to make smarter. We chose to start with some of our lights because they are affordable, fun and can make the house more safe. After reviewing a few different lighting options, the choice was clear. Phillips Hue (https://www2.meethue.com/en-us) is pretty much everything we could want in a smart light. The lights are bright, the colors are vivid, and it integrates very well with Amazon Alexa. For gamers, they also sync well with newer Razer products to create immersive entertainment areas.
We started with the Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit E26. E26 is just a reference to the base of the light bulb and is the standard size in North America, so these will fit most normal lamps an light sockets. I would highly encourage you to start with a kit, because you will save money as opposed to buying the bulbs and the bridge separately. Wait, a bridge? What is that? A bridge is a device that connects the lights to wifi, as they do not connect on their own. There are two versions of the bridge and three versions of the bulbs available. You are most likely going to want to the 2nd generation bridge, which is the square one. This is the only bridge that works with Alexa. While the older bulbs will work, the newer bulbs are brighter and more colorful.
Setup was pretty easy. I placed the bulbs into the lamps, plugged the bridge into a power outlet and my router and I was on my way. The smart phone app guides you step-by-step through connecting and updating your hardware. Once the app knows about your lights, you can configure your lights into rooms. You can control both individual lights or whole rooms at a time. Scenes are another way of controlling your lights. As the picture on the right shows, you use images to choose the colors for you. For example, if I set my office to use the Tropical Twilight scene, one of my two lights will be orange and the other will be purple. Scenes work best when you have more lights, but are fun to play around with.
Alexa integration is what really makes this upgrade really convenient. Our office lights are not controlled by a switch, so before we would have to walk in and turn on each light. While fumbling around for a switch is fun for some, I like being able to walk in and say “Alexa, turn on my office lights”. To get you lights connected, you need to open your Alexa app on your phone and add the required skills. I plan on doing a future article on Alexa skills and how they work. For now, just think of them as sets of instructions that you can speak to Alexa. Just search for the Philips Hue skill and install it. The app will tell you once it is ready and it will move on to the next step of discovering devices. The Alexa app will bring in all Lights, Rooms and Scenes that you have created in the Hue app and allow you to control each with your voice.
Overall, we are very satisfied with our purchase. The lights are bright and colorful and we get the ability to control our lights in more convenient ways. The one thing I would like to see them improve is their iPhone app. While it has become more stable, I have experienced a few moments where the app did not want to connect to the bridge. A quick reconnect to the wifi network and all was fine again. If you decide to try out these lights we would love to hear from you in the comments below or even contact me through the link at the top of the page!