I got the new Philips Hue HomeKit lights, and I love them
I've become a bit addicted to HomeKit devices since the first ones hit the market earlier this year. I have Lutron's Caseta light switches (opens in new tab), Elgato's Eve Weather, Room, and Door (opens in new tab), and now: I just picked up a Philips Hue HomeKit bridge and light set (opens in new tab). Yes, the popular multicolored LED lights now have a HomeKit-compatible bridge. Which means… Siri-controlled lights everywhere! Wheeee!
Okay, I didn't quite go that out of control. I picked up Philips's $199 starter HomeKit set with HomeKit-compatible bridge and three bulbs along with an $80 Hue Lightstrip (opens in new tab)—a decent starter kit, I think. If you already have Hue lights and want in on the HomeKit action, you'll just need to pick up a new bridge for $40 from Philips's website starting November 1. (That's 33 percent off the normal bridge price, $60, and you'll only be able to get the discount through the end of the year.)
Why Hue lights are great
I'd been eyeing the Hue lights for quite some time, but it wasn't until Philips launched HomeKit compatibility that I actually decided to jump on the LED smart-bulb bandwagon. Now, I think I might just be hooked. Someone take my credit card away from me.
Hue lights are fun: As their name suggests, you can set them to any color your heart desires, and combine multiple bulbs for a multicolor experience. It's all the fun of running a theater light board—without the theater or the multi-million dollar lights. Add Siri to the mix—and iOS 9's new "scenes" feature—and you can set up submarine lighting by saying "Hunt for Red October" or remind yourself of the beach with "Island Getaway". You can even reset all your lights to neutral whites by creating a scene called "Simulation Complete."
Hue also has the advantage of just screwing right into existing light bulbs, so you don't have to rewire your house for delightful lighting.
How to set up Philips Hue lights with HomeKit
To set up your lights, hook them up in whatever room(s) you'd like, download the free Hue app, and hook up the Hue Bridge to power and an ethernet connection.
Unfortunately, if you're like me and already have a hub in your house for one of your products—yes, you'll need another one. This is the one downside to our current HomeKit world: All the different manufacturers want to save (themselves and users) money by not including the HomeKit security firmware in the devices themselves, but that means ethernet-connected bridges. I have a fairly large router and AirPort, but even so, the Hue bridge took the last of my spare Ethernet ports. I'm just glad Elgato's devices don't require a bridge—otherwise I'd have had no space for the Philips Hue.
Once you've finished setting up the bridge, open the Hue app and tap the button on your bridge to pair the two. You'll then want to scan your HomeKit code when prompted. From there, you just need to log in or create a Hue account, and you're ready to rumble.
The Hue app
Philips Hue has a few different partner apps, but the primary Hue app lets you control individual lights and colors from the Lights menu, create Hue-specific scenes from the Scenes screen, and add timers. Unfortunately, the Hue app currently isn't very HomeKit-friendly—you can't add your lights to rooms, or set zones or triggers, and while Hue's scenes are theoretically supported in Siri, I haven't been able to make any of them work.
As a result, to get the most out of Hue and HomeKit, you'll need a third-party app. Elgato's Eve (opens in new tab) app offers most of these controls, but my favorite HomeKit controller is the $15 Home (opens in new tab) app—you can set lights, color, saturation, zones, rooms, and even situational triggers—if the temperature gets below 50°, for example, set all the lights to blue.
Using Hue with Siri
Once you've added your Hue lights to rooms, zones, and scenes, you can trigger them with a few different commands, including color!
My personal favorite, however, has to be scenes: There's nothing more fun than saying "Simulation complete" after messing with the color of your lights. Or Rene's personal favorite:
If you love Siri and HomeKit, the Hue lights are a must-have—and one bridge controls all the Hue lights you want to add, so if you decide that the couch really needs mood lighting… Siri will be there for you. And your credit card. (Your poor, poor credit card.)
Philips Hue at Amazon (opens in new tab)
Any questions about HomeKit and Hue? Leave them in the comments.
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Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.
Do you know if this hub works with the Amazon Echo also?
That Hue app really does need some attention. You'd think their software would be the best considering they make the hardware.
LOVE the lights, though.
None of this helped. The meethue website was of no help either. It just seems to be buggy for now.
Having measured my Cree Home Depot bulbs and the new Hue 800 lumen bulbs, the Hue uses less wattage (by 2 watts) according to my Kill-A-Watt meeter. That's at the same brightness to my eye. But the Cree bulbs will still cost far less in the long run than the Hues. No contest there.
- Hue also makes white-only bulbs that cost less than $20 U.S. Why is that bulb left out of your comparison? Or were you just unaware that they made one?
- 10,000 hours is a bit low for life expectancy. For Hue's color bulbs it is 15,000 hours, per their website. For their white-only bulbs its even higher: 25,000 hours.
- You are comparing energy consumption of one bulb to the purchase cost of another bulb. You should compare the total cost of ownership of each: purchase cost of bulb A + operating cost of "bulb A" vs purchase cost of Hue bulb + operating cost of Hue bulb. But you should also factor in that if the life expectancy of the cheaper Walmart/K-Mart "bulb A" is only 10,000 hours, vs 15,000 for the Hue color, then the Hue would last 50% longer. Looking at that a different way, "bulb A" would have to be replaced at a rate 50% faster than the Hue (at 30,000 hours: 3 "bulb A" bulbs purchased vs only 2 for the Hue color). So the true purchase cost of "bulb A" with its more frequent replacement timeframe would be: purchase cost of bulb A * 1.50 Against the Hue white-only bulb the factory would be 2.50 (10,000 hours vs 25,000).
- You cannot remotely control or otherwise have time and event-based triggers for these these same bulbs "out of the box". You would still need some kind of intermediary device (which has its own cost) to remotely control these bulbs. You are going to pay more for these features. But these features are why people want to buy these bulbs vs standard bulbs. And there's nothing wrong with that. Same as if one person wants to buy a car with bells and whistles like "lane detection" and "pedestrian avoidance" but another does not. Or one person who wants an iPhone 6s and another who prefers a cheaper feature phone or low-end smartphone. To each his own.
Question, So the only thing that I want to know is how do other people prevent lamps from being turned off? This will obviously disable the functionality. This is the only reason I am considering to go with the Lutron system for lighting control for the house. With a family it will be hard to train them and expect that the lights will not be switched off. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.