Recently, I installed a set of wireless Philips hue lights in my entry way and, after a couple weeks of use, I’m happy to share my experiences with you. To start, I purchased these with my own money in part because our entryway needed a little extra something to make it more interesting. Perhaps I have a fascination with things that blink and glow.


Either way, they have become every bit a part of our home (and our holiday decor) as anything else. Installation was quick and easy, and they don’t require any special knowledge in electricity or wiring to use. In fact, all you have to do is screw them in to a standard light socket and connect the Bridge (wireless controller) to your home’s router by way of ethernet. You will need either an iOS or Android device on your wireless network to control them using the app, but setup is practically automatic once the app is on your device.

So how doe the hue lighting system actually perform in the home? Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts after using them for a couple weeks.

What I Like

The first thing that drew my attention to Philips hue lights was just how cool and unique they really are. Lights that work with standard sockets and provide a full range of colors that you can control with your smartphone sound too good to be true. With a single Bridge controlling up to 50 of them individually, it really sounds crazy. Truth be told, they work. You can really control the lights from your smartphone or tablet and customize them in many different ways.

You can use a picture to set a theme for the lights to adhere to or set each light independently. You can have them look like standard bulbs most of the time if you want and set them to give a little more ambiance to a room during special occasions are even set times during the day. Yes, you can put these things on a timer which is a great home security feature that makes it look as though someone is at home. You can even log in to the Philips hue website (or through the app) and change the lights while you’re out of town.

With integrated support for up to 50 bulbs, you can expand from one or three initial hue lights to enough to fill your entire home. All you have to do is plug them in and turn them on and the Bridge will pick them up and add them to your inventory.

What I Didn’t Like

The iOS version of the Philips hue app is a bit buggy. It crashed on me twice while I was using it and though it works most of the time, this shouldn’t be an issue with a product that costs as much as it does. If you read the reviews on iTunes, you’ll see that other users have been experiencing issues with the services.

These aren’t cheap lights at all. What you get is a bulb that lets you control its color remotely. A starter pack (three bulbs and a Bridge) will run you well over $200. A single additional bulb can set you back another $120, each. This is an extremely high price for what you actually receive. Its value comes down to just how much you want colorful wireless lighting in your home.

The bulbs also don’t really have a full range of color. Greens aren’t exactly green and some of the more non-primary colors come through a little less true. Reds, blues, and yellows look fine.

If you turn the light switch off (as opposed to turning the bulbs off using the app), then the Bridge/bulb loses your settings and has to be reset. If you’re going to use these in your home, you should keep some tape over the light switch until you break the habit of using it to control your lighting.

Philips hue lights are a neat addition to the home, albeit very expensive. Philips has a lot of work to do on both pricing and the software to make it a more appealing purchase for consumers. For now, it seems like an ideal choice for public places that use lighting to match themes or houses owned by geeks who really appreciate colorful lights.

Curious to try it yourself? You can secure your own Philips hue lighting setup here.

Photo: Matt Leitholt