Join Lynda.com Staff Authors for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the Philips Hue lighting system, part of Home Techonomics.
- Hi, I'm Garrick Chow and welcome to another episode of Home Techonomics. You know in recent years, light bulb technology has come a long way. In a short amount of time we've jumped from the incandescent filament bulbs we've all grown up with and which are admittedly are still the most common light bulbs, to contact florescent lights or CFLs and now to LED bulbs. As you may already know, LED bulbs are much more energy efficient and longer lasting than either incandescent or CFL bulbs. They're still relatively expensive but their upfront cost is eventually offset by their long lifespan.
Most major bulb manufacturers are claiming their LED bulbs will last over 20 years. And in addition to being more efficient and cost effective in the long run, LED bulbs also have the ability to produce many different colors. And probably one of the coolest products at the LED bulb market is the Philips Hue Series and LED strips. These bulbs are multi-color capable and Wi-Fi enabled, meaning that you can control the color, the brightness, and the timing of the lights from your computer or smart phone from anywhere in your house or even remotely when you're out of the house.
The starter kit comes with three bulbs and a wireless bridge, which is the unit that allows you to control the bulbs across your network. And I found it to be incredibly easy and fun to be able to control the lighting in parts of my house from my phone. To set it up, you just plug the bridge into a power outlet and connect it to your home router. Then screw the lights into their lamps or other standard light sockets. I have a set installed in an upstairs hallway in my house. Then download the Philips Hue app to your IOS or Android device. From the app you can choose from or create any number of scenes.
Each scene is based on a photo and the colors that appear in that photo. Just tap a scene to change the color of the lights. When you tap a scene a slider appears which you can use to adjust the brightness of the lights. You can also tap the pencil icon to customize the colors used in that scene. In edit mode, a number representing each light appears. To change the color of a bulb, simply drag it's number over the color you want it to become. The light will change in real time as you drag so you can see exactly what color you're getting.
Additionally, the tools found at the bottom of each scene editor, lets you set alarms and timers, to have the selected scene automatically turn on and off at certain times or days. As you might expect you can also import your own photos from your phone to use for selecting your colors. If you want to be able to control your lights remotely when you're away from home, you'll need to create a free account at the Philips Hue website. Where you'll also be able to download color scenes other users have uploaded. I should probably also mention that the lights work perfectly well as regular white light bulbs too.
In fact, switching them off and on again with the wall or lamp switch makes them default back to a standard white color, which is nice when you just want to quickly get plain light in your room. Probably the biggest drawback to this system right now, as with all LED bulbs, is the price. Regular non-color changing LED bulbs run around $20 these days. The starter kit however will set you back $199 and additional bulbs are currently retailing for $60 a piece. Again, you'll eventually recoup your investment in energy savings, but it's not an insignificant hit to take up front.
So it's not really practical yet to use them for your entire house. But if the idea of being able to adjust the lighting and mood of one or two rooms in your house with a tap on your phone seems like fun to you, you really can't go wrong with the Philips Hue system. For more information, you can visit meethue.com. And that's it for this episode of Home Techonomics. I'm Garrick Chow and I'll see you next time for a look at another way home technology is making our lives easier and a lot more fun.