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Philips Hue in 2022: Models, prices, features and more!

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© ninoon/Shutterstock

Looking for smart lighting light bulbs, kits, or fixed lights? Philips Hue is one of the best-known brands in the market, with a huge number of lamps, light strips, and even video-synced devices. In this article, we will explain the different product categories and some of the basics to start your Philips Hue installation.

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Philips Hue offers a variety of use cases, from lights automation at home or professional places like hotels, to creating dynamic scenes around the house, or to simply boost immersion in multimedia content.

The Hue brand got so popular that Signify, its manufacturer, ended up buying direct rivals such as WiZ, Eaton’s Cooper Lighting, and Osram’s Fluence, in both consumer and professional markets. Still, the Philips Hue ecosystem is incompatible with those brands and arguably offers a bigger ecosystem.

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new philips hue play gradient lightstrip
Philips Hue can be used to add ambiance effects for video content, just like the Philips TV’s Ambilight (both companies are now unrelated and are both licensees to the Dutch brand) / © Signify

What is Philips Hue and what can I use it for?

In a nutshell, Philips Hue is the first and most popular smart bulb brand in the market. Its name comes from the fact that it originally offered RGB lighting controlled wirelessly via a “Bridge” hub, but now the product line includes Bluetooth support and white-only lamps.

With light bulbs, light strips, fixed lights, lamps, and accessories, the Philips Hue ecosystem can be controlled using an application, smart accessory, and even via smart home assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant.

That level of connectivity allows not only to control and dim compatible lights but also to adjust the ambiance according to the occasion or even automate lighting, for example, to simulate that the house is not empty while your family is traveling.

philips hue and spotify
Hue can even integrate with Spotify for dramatic effects / © Signify

Bluetooth vs Hue Bridge: What is the difference?

Philips Hue lighting originally required the usage of a dedicated Hue Bridge, which worked as a controller hub and talks with smart assistants. Nowadays, however, users can avoid the extra cost and use the light bulbs and strips directly using Bluetooth technology.

Using a Bluetooth connection, the lights are controlled by the smartphone app without requiring the Hue Bridge. The Philips Hue application is available for iPhones on the Apple App Store, and Android phones in the Google Play Store.

Despite the Bluetooth’s convenience, there are some features that are only available when using the Bridge:

  Bluetooth Hue Bridge
Maximum number of lights 10 50
Range 1 room Entire home
Can configure Hue accessories
  • no
  • yes
Can be controlled from afar
  • no
  • yes
Can schedule actions (automation)
  • no
  • yes
Light sync with games/music/videos
  • no
  • yes
philips hue play
Game-synced lighting can only be controlled using the Hue Bridge / © Signify

According to Signify, currently supported Bridges will be compatible with the Matter Smart Home standard, expected to be released in the fall of 2022 after some delays.

What you need to know before buying Philips Hue bulbs

Difference between sockets: E27, E26, E14, E12, GU10

The main thing to know before buying a lamp is knowing which socket do you need. Lightbulb sockets vary according to the region, but the most used lamps in North America and Europe use the Edison screw, represented by the letter “E”, followed by the plugs’ external diameter:

  North America Europe
Small E12 E14
Medium E26 E27

E26 and E27 are usually interchangeable, but the same is not true for the E12 and E14 sockets. Remember however that the lamps are not bivolt/autovolt, so European bulbs use 220V-240V, while American ones use 110V-130V, and they are not compatible with each other.

The third popular option is the pin base fitting GU10 standard, with two protruding pins in the lamp base. Other markets — such as some Commonwealth countries — also use light bulbs with the bayonet fitting, which is similar to the one used in the automotive industry.

shutterstock 1044262522
E27 (left), E14, and GU10 (right) light bulb sockets / © B.Forenius/Shutterstock

Discover which socket to buy with Signify LightFinder (US-only)

Signify offers a mobile app to quickly discover which light bulb socket is required for your installation. The application uses the mobile camera to identify the correct fitting, and of course, will offer you to buy the lightbulb straight from the app. 

Product lines

The Philips Hue lineup is made of a wide range of product lines that expanded beyond in-house lighting. Shoppers can find a variety of options from single light bulbs to multi-device sets to begin or expand installations. We explain below the main Hue consumer product categories.

Philips Hue starter kits

As the name suggests, Hue starter kits include the basic devices to start your smart light setup. All current kits pair a Hue Bridge with a couple of light bulbs. With that, consumers can quickly install and configure their lighting system.

It is worth noting that the current kits available in the US market use lamps with the E26 socket, but the options can vary depending on the region.

Depending on the market, starter kits can also include a switch, dimmer, or other accessories.

Philips Hue Starter Kit
Starter kits include the Hue Bridge and lamps to start your smart lighting setup / © Signify

Philips Hue light bulbs

The basic form of the Hue ecosystem is the lamp, after the launch of Bluetooth connectivity, Philips Hue lights can be controlled exclusively using a smartphone, without requiring the Hue Bridge as we mentioned before.

Lamps come not only in different socket options but also in different styles and shapes. That’s why you will find terms like “BR30”, “A19”, “G25”, and much more, depending on your region. Check the illustration below to identify some of the most common shapes:

Incandescent bulb shapes glow
A handy chart to know some popular bulb shapes available / © Woodega/Commons

Color is another variation in the Philips Hue ecosystem. Hue bulbs are available in three color options: white, white ambiance, and color ambiance, all of them dimmable when using the Hue app or compatible switches. In short, this is how they differ:

  • Philips Hue White: only offers one color and temperature — 2700 Kelvin — also known as “warm white”.
  • Philips Hue White ambiance: can be set to different white temperatures, and are better suited for changing the mood of the room.
  • Philips Hue White and color ambiance: offers not only white but the full spectrum of colors available in the Hue ecosystem.

Philips Hue light strips

For those who are looking for adding a light touch to rooms, furniture, or even outdoors, light strips are a popular option. Strips can be installed using special mounts or using adhesive tape.

Hue Outdoor Lightstrip diffuse light effect s8
Light strips are also available in outdoor versions / © Signify

Light strips have the advantage of not depending on an existing light socket, and offer more flexibility for installation, just requiring a power socket. Outdoor models can be used with cable extensions, which can be daisy-chained for up to 35 meters (114 ft.).

Philips Hue lamps and fixed lights

The Philips Hue line also offers fixed lights, decorative table of floor lamps, light bars, and even outdoor spot lights.

Philips hue wall fixtures
Porch lights can also be customized using the Hue app / © Signify

Table and floor lamps offer even more flexibility when decorating and setting the lighting in rooms, requiring only a nearby power source.

The fixed lights product range, on the other hand, includes options for indoor and outdoor installations, with ceiling, pendant, wall, flood, and spotlight models in a variety of designs.

Accessories for the Philips Hue line

Last but not least, the accessories range includes items like the Hue Bridge, a selection of switches (including dimmer options), smart plugs, motion sensors, outdoor cable extensions, and even the HDMI Sync box.

OG RGB GL HF

The latter device connects to a Hue Bridge and includes 4 HDMI inputs on which you plug your game console, streaming device, optical media player, etc. It is worth noting that the Sync Box cannot receive signals from your TV apps — so if you use Netflix, Prime Video, or other services you will need to use the app on the external device to use the Hue lights feature.

Another limitation for the Hue HDMI Sync Box is that it is limited to HDMI 2.0, so it is not compatible with 4K120 contents — basically next-gen games. The alternative, in that case, is to go straight for a Philips TV with Ambilight, but the TV sets don’t integrate with the Hue ecosystem.

Bonus: Are Philips and Signify the same thing?

No. Signify is a Philips spin-off, formerly its lighting division, when the Dutch company decided to focus on medical technology. Signify is also based in the Netherlands, and licenses the Philips brand for its Hue product line, similar to how Hong Kong’s TPV manufactures and sells Philips TVs in Europe, Latin America, and some Asian countries.

Besides the Hue product line, Signify also sells a range of professional products under many brands, and also the entry-level consumer WiZ line, none of them compatible with the Hue ecosystem, accessories, or apps  — at least until the arrival of the Matter standard.

What did you think about this market overview for the Philips Hue line? Are you looking for smart home devices? Do you want us to cover other brands such as Govee, WiZ, Ikea Trådfri, Anker Eufy, TP-Link Kasa, or others? Leave a note in the comments below!

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