When Philips first launched ‘Hue’, their smart lighting system in 2012 (I think, that seems so long ago now!) I was in love. Granted, I am a lighting technician and often wish I’d pursued lighting design rather than the electrical side of things but that’s a different story…anyway, I was really intrigued by them. At the time it was massively beyond my price range so I could only watch from afar and put it on all my wishlists hoping I’d (a) win the lottery or (b) have a sudden pay increase. B (sort of) happened as I earn a pretty good living now and can actually save money!
Over time I’ve replaced my traditional GU10s with LED GU10s, with mixed results. The first set in my living room, far too dim and the replacements you can see from space! The first set had a warm light which would have been lovely if you could actually see what you were doing and didn’t have to buy a lamp, the second were far too harsh and quite painful to the point where I never switched on the overhead light. This is why I decided to go ahead with the Philips Hue lights.
A GU10 starter set is around £150. I bought mine for £149 from John Lewis (I buy all my tech from there purely for the warranty), it’s cheaper if you have E27 or B22 light fittings and I did think about changing my light fittings but it would have been around the same cost. Annoyingly, you do only get three lamps with the starter kit and individual Hue colour GU10s are sadly £50 each so currently, my light fitting is minus one until I buy a fourth.
The GU10s are a little longer than the standard ones so the don’t fit as snuggly into my light fitting as I would like, I have a different light fitting in my bedroom which I think will be a better fit but for now, I’m happy enough with them in the living room. There are two types of Hue lamps, colour & white. I want to put the white ones in the bedroom and fortunately, there are cheaper ‘friends of Hue’ alternatives to Philips (such as Innr which look a little smaller than the Philips ones) although the white ones are half the price of the colour ones.
Out of the box, it’s an easy setup. Pop in your Hue lamps, switch on the light switch, plug in the ‘bridge’, install the app on your phone and away you go! The app has a lot of options, including ‘routines’ – there are some default options as well as the option to set up your own routines. You can zone your lights as well…which I’m not ready for as I only have three 😉
By making yourself a Hue account you have the option to control your system outside of your WI-FI (so remotely), also it enables you to connect to the wonderful IFTTT and put together some applets. I currently have ‘turn my lights blue if it’s raining’, ‘turn my lights red if I miss a call’ and ‘blink when received an email from a certain address’ (my mum).
Incidentally, multiple apps can be used to control your lights. I have two phones, one is my actual phone and the other is my old one which is in service as a remote for my Fire TV (and a few other things). You can connect you Kindle Fire to the system, but mine is just that bit too old to do so.
One thing which is particularly interesting to me is the connectivity options, such as being able to link your Hue lighting system to your Nest thermostat. I’ve been looking into a smart thermostat, the two options are Hive and Nest, but I recently found out that if you go with Hive, British Gas permanently link it with your address so if you move you can’t take your expensive thermostat with you. I’m not really planning on moving anytime soon but this coupled with the lack of connection options makes me lean towards the Nest. There’s also apps which can do things with your lights, such as one called SyFy Sync which gives you an interactive lighting experience with SyFy shows…although sadly not available in the UK 😦