Philips Hue is the most famous smart lighting brand. But when buyers find that Philips Hue is two or three times more expensive than its competitors, they often walk away thinking its products are overpriced. And that’s a shame – Philips Hue is prohibitively expensive, but the pricing makes sense.
First, what is Philips Hue?
The idea of intelligent lighting is not new. It’s been thrown around for decades, even before we invented the internet. But modern smart lightbulbs that use colorful LEDs and wireless communication technology didn’t exist until Philips Hue launched in 2012.
Philips Hue introduced color-changing LED smart bulbs to the world. And this introduction came at a time when LED lamps were still quite new and expensive. As you can imagine, the first Philips Hue bulbs were expensive, well-made and state-of-the-art; anything else would not have sold.
Smart homes have changed a lot in the last decade, but Philips Hue sticks to its tried and tested system – high-quality smart lighting products that communicate via a dedicated Zigbee hub. (Philips Hue has made a few concessions; it now offers Bluetooth controls, for example, for those who don’t buy a hub. But those concessions are small.)
This system has several advantages and works with Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa. Still, it makes Philips Hue products more expensive than the competition.
Premium components, premium prices
Most smart lighting products are poorly made, have limited color or dimming controls, and lack adequate light diffusion. The result is patchy and uneven lighting. And in most cases, it really isn’t a big deal. A cheap little LED strip can add a lot to a room, even if it looks like an over-the-top Christmas light.
But if you deck your entire home with crappy smart bulbs and light strips, you won’t end up with the soft, striking, perfect picture you see in the advert. This look requires high quality lights with the right spread, a wide range of colors and a high CRI (which I’ll explain in a moment).
Philips Hue products meet all criteria. They are made of high quality components and have excellent diffusion that prevents uneven lighting. What’s more, Philips Hue goes well beyond your basic primary color choices, offering 16 million color options across most of its devices.
And impressively, all Philips Hue smart lights have a CRI of 80 or more. CRI or “color rendering index” is complicated, but basically it tells you how “exactly” objects, people or furniture look under lighting. For example, a light bulb with a low CRI could make your green couch appear grey-blue. (Lumens also affect how “accurate” colors look in a room, but Philips Hue bulbs get nice and bright.)
Now, Philips Hue isn’t the only brand selling quality smart lighting products. Competitors like LIFX and TP-Link Kasa sell smart bulbs with fantastic colors. And Philips Hue’s unique range of LED strips and other non-bulb smart lights is regularly updated by Govee and Nanoleaf.
But quality isn’t the only reason to buy Philips Hue. And of course that’s just one reason why Philips Hue products are so expensive.
Philips Hue White A19 60W Equivalent Dimmable LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit (2 A19 60W White Bulbs and 1 Hub Compatible with Amazon Alexa Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant) 2-Pack for California Residents
The cheapest Philips Hue starter kit includes two smart white light bulbs and the required Philips Hue bridge. Once you have the bridge, you can add other Hue products to your home.
Reliable smart lighting for the whole house
Most people add smart lights to their home for a mix of novelty and convenience. You get dimming and color capabilities, of course, but you can also control smart lights remotely or on a schedule. Smart bulbs can even be pre-programmed with “scenes” or react to the activity of other smart home devices.
Unfortunately, smart lightbulbs are often the most unreliable and frustrating part of a smart home. You can randomly disconnect or take over the connection to your router forever accept an order. And if your home is full of smart Wi-Fi lightbulbs, you probably need a new router to handle all the extra traffic and congestion.
Instead of connecting each individual smart bulb to your router, Philips Hue products communicate via a “bridge”. This is a small Zigbee hub that dramatically increases the speed and reliability of smart homes. Accidental disconnections, even after a power outage, are very rare with Philips Hue products. And that’s a blessing if you own a lot of smart lights.
The only problem is that this hub, the Philips Hue Bridge, adds about $40 to Hue’s starter kits. Buying the Philips Hue system is prohibitively expensive — even the cheapest Philips Hue starter kit is $70 and only comes with two White Light bulbs.
Now you can Control a small collection of Philips Hue bulbs via Bluetooth. But I wouldn’t suggest going the Bluetooth route as it comes with major downsides. As far as I can tell there is Bluetooth support for customers who accidentally bought the bulbs without a bridge.
I should clarify that Everyone Zigbee smart bulbs are more reliable than their Wi-Fi counterparts. But only a handful of Philips Hue’s competitors, including Sengled and Innr, continue to sell Zigbee bulbs.
Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance 4-pack Smart Retrofit recessed downlight 5/6″, Bluetooth and Zigbee compatible (Hue hub optional), intelligent ceiling lighting
Transform your boring recessed lights into colorful smart Philips Hue lighting! (Philips Hue Bridge sold separately.)
Unique products complete the Philips Hue brand
If you thought the Philips Hue bulbs were expensive, wait until you see the other smart lighting products. Philips Hue puts eye-catching price tags on its TV backlights, outdoor string lights, LED strips and “sunrise simulation” alarm clocks.
These products are of high quality and offer a lot of unique features. They’re also reliable, so you’ll never have to worry about troubleshooting your smart outdoor path lights. That being said, Philips Hue is the only brand that seems to understand how smart light bulb dimmers should work.
More importantly, Philips Hue is the only brand to offer such a wide range of smart bulbs. When customers buy the Philips Hue ecosystem, they don’t to need Buying things from other brands – a great benefit that keeps a smart home from becoming too complicated.
Of course, blocking customers gives Philips Hue an excuse to sell expensive products. And while I don’t think the company’s smart lightbulbs are overpriced, I’m not a fan of how it costs some of its more… unique Devices. An alarm clock that lights up slowly in the morning shouldn’t cost $170, especially when you can program smart lightbulbs to do the same.
Philips Hue also tends to drop the ball when it gets too ambitious. The company’s TV backlight is a great example – it adjusts color and brightness to match on-screen content, providing an incredibly immersive cinematic experience. But the TV backlight is also annoying, as we found out in our test.
Philips Hue Smart Outdoor Lightstrip 5m (Voice compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit and Google Home, Hue Hub sold separately) White
Transform your porch, patio, garden or balcony into a futuristic landscape with the Philips Hue smart outdoor light strip.
Should you buy Philips Hue lighting?
If a friend asked me which smart lightbulbs to use in their bedroom, Philips Hue wouldn’t be my first suggestion. The company’s products, and their starter kits in particular, are just too expensive for a small smart home setup. No amount of functionality, quality or reliability will change that.
But anyone planning to decorate their entire home with smart lightbulbs should consider Philips Hue. Other brands just can’t match its reliability, and the ever-growing list of Philips Hue products means you can start a new smart lighting project without bringing new brands or apps into the mix.
I should also mention that Philips Hue offers a two-year warranty on all of its products. Buying enough smart lightbulbs to fill your home is a big expense no matter what brand you use, but hey, at least a guarantee can give you some peace of mind.
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Base Lumen (60W) Smart Button Starter Kit, 16M Colors, Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit 60 Watt (OLD VERSION)
Begin your smart lighting adventure with confidence. This set contains three Philips Hue color bulbs, a wireless dimmer and the required Philips Hue Bridge.
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