Smart lights, what's best?

Hi everyone

I’m thinking buying one of those smarts lights or whatever they’re called. What are the best on the market, is it Philips Hue? What do I need to get it installed? I guess I need more than just a lightbulb, right?

I would love to have it in my lamp here and it could on the light automatically in the evening etc. etc. I’m assuming there are many great workflows out there for this stuff.

Thanks :blush: IMG_1606

I like the Philips Hue colour bulbs - they can simulate sunrise and sunset as well as do fun colours, and being able to do cool colours is fun. You will need a bridge, but I am a fan of bridges as that’s just one connection to your network instead of every device connecting by itself.

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I am using the Philips Hue system and it works great. Start off with the starter kits, add the app to your iPhone. Add other smart bulbs as you need. Color bulbs are a lot more expensive, but provide color choices instead of just white. Automation via the Home app can setup automatic light operations. Make sure your lamp will accept a standard bulb base. I have a couple lamps that use different style bulbs, so I have added Smart Outlets.

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Would also recommend hue, they have a great selection of lamps, bulbs and strips. You will need a bridge, which is included in some starter sets. The bridge will need an ethernet port on your router. They have an open API which is accessible for many services like HomeKit, Alexa, Smartthings, Logitech Pop and Harmony and many many more. There are also some great 3rd party apps to control your setup. Hue also offers additional devices like switches, remote controls and motion sensors. I use them everywhere and own 18 bulbs/lamps if I remember correctly, all of them with color support, which looks awesome in the evenings.

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If you want the functionality of Hue, for less of a financial outlay and a far more secure implementation, check out Ikea’s Tradfri system.

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I got a Hue starter kit with bridge, dimmer switch & 3 bulbs. When I was looking round at reviews, the other popular one seemed to be LIFX. The LIFX ones don’t need a bridge so a small system / single bulb implementation is cheaper as you don’t need to layout for the Bridge as you do with Hue. However, if you’re eventually going to build out a larger system then HUE ends up cheaper due to lower bulb cost.
I’ve been very pleased with the HUE system, the only thing that’s annoying is that it’s connection with Siri is a bit flakey. Most of the time it works but occasionally you’ll ask Siri to turn the light on, get a “the bulbs aren’t responding”, open the hue app, it works fine, request Siri turns the light off & get a No Response from bulb message again. From what I’ve read, Hue’s integration with Alexa seems just as wobbly.
I believe that if you’re going with hue system you want to ensure you get the 3rd generation bulbs, the boxes of which have a ‘richer colours’ sticker.
Not sure if any other systems support it but with HUE you can connect it to their online service so you can remotely control the bulbs when you’re away from home.
Despite the wobbles with Siri I’ve been happy with it and intend to get more bulbs now. :slight_smile:

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Another vote for Hue. I was hesitant to spend that much “just for light bulbs”, but I do enjoy them.

I have some of each type of standard bulb:

  • White, for where you just need light
  • White ambiance, which is better for reading, as they can simulate the warmth of incandescent bulbs, or be cool
  • White and color ambiance, which have a full range of colors. I’m about to install one in the front porch light so it can be orange for Halloween.

I just installed a strip light in our kitchen under the counter, and it looks really nice. I have a motion sensor, and automations that turn on dim blue light at night, and white during the day.

Fun stuff. I consider it a hobby, I suppose.

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I’m on LIFX with 7 bulbs down and very happy. They are sold through the Apple Store where I live and that was my entry point.

They have options including a colored one and a version that enhances night vision if you have security cams operating in the dark. Occasionally you need to soft reset the bulbs but other than that have not had any issues.

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Another vote for the Phillips Hue system. I’ve four of the colour bulbs and one of the white bulbs, although I will admit I don’t play around with the colours very often.

They integrate well with HomeKit and seem to be the best supported system with third party apps. The sleep monitoring app I use (Sleep Cycle) integrates with them to simulate a sun-rise before the alarm goes off so as to help wake you up gently.

I’ve setup an alert on Camel Camel Camel to email me when the prices of the bulbs drop on Amazon and add an extra one when the prices are low.

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I also went with Hue, the colour is natural and they work well. The initial price is more than alternatives but worth it.

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I love the Hue systems but not so much the Hue software after evaluating a lot of Hue apps settled on iConnectHue works great with Sunset to sleep and Sunrise to awake routines

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Hue here as well. Watch out as they are addictive. We are now at 52 :flushed:

I’m wondering if there’s a “magic” number of bulbs that is recommendable for Hue as opposed to Lifx, for instance?

I’m aware that the more IP addresses assigned on home wifi, the slower internal data transfers, but is it possible to say “No more than X bulbs without a bridge is advisable”?

'Cause I’m looking at replacing between 10-20 all over the house - some regular bulbs, some spots in the ceiling, some floor lamps.

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I don’t think there’s a magic number, it would depend on the number and kind of devices already on your network, what kind of network you have and probably many other factors as well. Personally with 10 or more I would definitely go with a bridge. We have 10 bulbs and 1 lamp and a light strip from Philips plus a massive number of other devices on our network but have no issues connecting with the bulbs.

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So with Hue you need the bridge for a few reasons. One, to relay instructions to the bulbs over the Zigbee mesh network that the bulbs create. To HomeKit, you can think of your bulbs as a single device with many functions. It also means that only the hub needs network access, and that there’s only one device added to your network. Wire in the hub (I don’t know if the Hue hub has wi-fi or just Ethernet) and you preserve the performance of your wireless devices.

The zigbee hubs, like the hue hub, will usually support around a hundred bulbs or other devices before you run in to any issues.

With any devices connected directly to your wi-fi you hit the limits of the router (generally around 50 connected devices) and you add to the contention on the network, which will impact your speed. Also each device is a potential vulnerability.

Zigbee networks shouldn’t interfere with your wi-fi, generally, but potentially could interfere with other Zigbee installations if you live in apartments or suchlike. Also because Zigbee is a mesh network, each device extends its effective range, meaning that devices can be more power efficient and also helping to prevent dead-spots.

I use around 18 Hue bulbs without any problems. A Hue bridge can manage up to 50 bulbs as far as I know. As Wolfie wrote only one IP address is consumed by the Hue system, because the components are using the Zigbee protocol to communicate with each other. The Hue system does not use WiFi at all, because the bridge is connected via ethernet to your router.

Sounds like I’m off to a retailer to get a Phillips Hue bundle :sweat_smile:

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The other piece of advice I have is make sure your wi-fi password is a strong one, because any IoT device is a potential target. Where your computers and phones and stuff have their own defences, firewalls, etc, IoT devices are less well defended, so make the most of your network security.

I also like Lifx since they don’t need a hub and work with homekit out of the box, especially if you are only talking about getting one or two bulbs. For a bigger installation base you should probably look at the lutron solution david and katie usually talk about.

Apologies for the basic question, but if all I want is for three bulbs to be warmer at night than in the day (Night Mode, essentially), and for them to continue being flipped on and off by a traditional light switch, what makes the most sense? I’m only interested in HomeKit compatibility. I don’t mind if I have to program the color switch times manually. I have HomePod but it’s in the other corner of the house so I’m unsure about range. There is a WiFi hub that’s closer and has one open Ethernet port.