*This post is in collaboration with Philips Hue*
Regular readers will know that Dave is a bit of a tech geek so when I decided I wanted to introduce some lighting to our dark and dingy living room, he took the bull by the horns and did his research. I was planning on going pretty basic and just adding some white bulbs into the main lighting for daytime and warmer bulbs in lamps for a cosier feel of an evening but once we started looking into it a bit more, we realised that the Phillips Hue system was going to be the answer for us
Getting started with Philips Hue
Our starting point was a Philips ‘White Ambience Starter kit’ which provided us with three White Ambiance bulbs, a bridge (this is the bit that allows the Philips Hue app to talk to the bulbs) and a wireless dimmer switch. We also added in a Hue Lightstrip to pop around the back of the TV – I wasn’t sure about this at first but liked the idea of another light source in the room and Dave had read about Hue‘s ability to work in sync with video or audio using the Philips Hue Sync app.
The lights are quick and painless to set up – you just screw the bulb in to your usual light fitting and set everything up via the easy to use app. Once you’ve got the basics sorted you can name all the lights in the room so they can be individually altered, add in different rooms and set up routines, such as turning the lights on at a certain time in the morning. There’s also additional features like the ability to set up “entertainment” areas, which we’ll go into more detail on later. What really appealed to Dave when we started to invest in our Philips Hue system was the capacity to integrate with other smart devices, specifically the ability to control our lights with our Google Home. Philips Hue might not be the cheapest smart lights on the market however as Dave points out, the cheaper options really don’t measure up to the overall package you get with Hue. There’s a certain peace of mind in knowing you are dealing with a big brand that have worked out all the kinks and niggles with a product over numerous generations.
We soon found ourselves with a range of favourite “scenes” which suit different times of the day. “Concentrate” is our main daytime scene giving bright white light, and then evenings we tended to go for a warmer glow. The Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit does exactly what I wanted it to – having control over the brightness and temperature of our living room lights has made a huge difference to the feel of the room. Of course, now that we are settled into using Philips Hue in our living room, we are excited to add more Hue products throughout our home this Christmas!
All of the products we’re going to discuss below are fabulous extras for someone who already has Philips Hue set up at home and, in our opinion, would make great Christmas gifts – the sort of things you didn’t know you needed or wanted until you had them but then couldn’t live without!
Philips Hue Extension bulbs – give the gift of light! (the smart kind)
Now that we’ve got to grips with using Philips Hue in our living room, Dave was keen to swap out the White Ambiance bulbs for the coloured ones – this meant that we would still have control over the shade of white light (from cool white, to warm white) but that we’d also have more scope for different lighting colours (a full spectrum of 16 million colours in fact) and moods for the lounge. Whilst this is pretty cool in itself, what Dave was most excited about was expanding the “entertainment” area he had already set up to include all the lights in the living room within the Hue Sync app. The light syncing works with our existing bulbs and Lightstrips, so although Dave and Ben had already tried linking the TV and the Hue Lightstrip when they were watching a film, the addition of new coloured bulbs allowed us to get the full light mirroring effect. To set this up, you can highlight the locations of each light in a virtual room in relation to your TV so the app knows where your lights are and can mirror the colours of the right part of the TV screen, so you get the most immersive effect. It’s pretty clever stuff. A bit gimmicky for me, but really cool nonetheless, and something we know is going to be really enjoyed over the festive period! The option to set up an “entertainment” area means that Philips Hue Bulbs would make a great Christmas present – adding something special to your festive film watching – we tried it out with “The Snowman” and loved the way the Hue bulbs made it feel like the headlamp from the motorbike was flashing all over our living room! I had initially thought it would be distracting, but it’s actually really cool and the kids loved it!
Swapping out the bulbs in our living room for coloured bulbs freed up the White Ambiance bulbs to go elsewhere in the house. The next place on my Hue list was the hall, which might initially sound like a bit of an odd choice but bear with me! The Hue app allows you to turn on your lights even when you’re not home (I tested this from a gig in Dublin when Dave was at home so I know it works!). From a security point of view, this is invaluable, as although you could create a routine to have the lights turn on and off when you were on holiday, being able to do it manually as well means your lights don’t become predictable if someone happened to be watching your home (paranoid I know but .. . ) Because our living room is at the back of the house, it wouldn’t be immediately obvious if the lights were on, so being able to control the hall lights with the Hue app seems like a sensible choice – both from a security standpoint and just because it would be so much more welcoming to come home too on a dark night!
We’re going to use the last bulb from downstairs to go in the lamp in our bedroom. The same hands-free functionality will be available in bed as we’ve also got a Google Home Mini in the bedroom too. As well as being able to set a wake-up routine in the morning, there will be no more arguing over who’s turn it is to get up and turn the lights off anymore. From now on it’s Philips Hue’s turn!
Philips Hue Motion Sensor – for the late-night wanderer!
Now that we have Hue bulbs on the hall and landing, we thought it made sense to team these with a Philips Hue Motion Sensor at the top of the stairs. This means that if someone gets up in the middle of the night for any reason, the light will come on automatically. Even better than that, we can have different settings for night and day (as we all know there’s nothing worse than a harsh, bright light in the middle of the night). Currently we leave the bathroom light on at night for the kids but, not only is this bad for the environment (and your energy bills), it also means that our room isn’t properly dark at night which frustrates us both to no end.
We’ve also added a motion sensor to the living room so that when Dave gets up at stupid o’clock in the morning, the lights will pop on for him without any need to talk or fiddle with apps. There’s definitely been occasions where I’ve had to come downstairs in the middle of the night not wanted to tell Google to turn the lights on for me – so the motion sensor will be a game changer in that sense. The motion sensor is set up thorough the app just like the lights – it’s quick and painless. The Philips Hue motion sensor is automatically set according to the time of day. In the day you get a bright light and at night a softer, more relaxed light so as not to dazzle you! You can of course alter the times for day and night so they fit your schedule. It is also possible to adjust the amount of light which is required to activate the motion sensor, as there is a daylight sensor in built into it. This means when it’s daytime and there’s plenty of natural light in the room already, your lights won’t turn on just because you have triggered the sensor. Of course, we will still be using the Google Home or the Philips Hue app to cover changing colour, or scenes, but the addition of the motion sensor means the lights are even easier to manage and won’t be left on unnecessarily.
You know how I said some of these products were things you didn’t know you needed until you had them? This is a case in point and I can’t believe what a difference it has made to our set up already, definitely one for popping in the stocking of someone who is already a Philips Hue convert!
Philips Hue Go – for the festive movie marathon!
Finally, we’ve added a Philips Hue Go portable light to the living room. It currently sits in the only corner of the room which had previously been without light source and acts as another part of the “entertainment” set up – full room immersive movie watching anyone? I’ll supply the popcorn!
Although the Hue Go is powered via mains plug, it also benefits from a built-in rechargeable battery offering up to three hours of coloured light, for a world of possibility. Its portable nature means you can take it outside or to a Christmas party without having to worry about where you might be able to plug it in. It makes a great night light for the little ones too – or in Ben’s case a reading light that means he no longer has to get out of his cabin bed to turn the light off. Dave and I have set a routine which means the light goes off automatically when he should be stopping reading!
Although we have obviously linked the Hue Go up to the rest of our Hue set up, the Hue Go also has multiple light settings which work (via a button on the base, to toggle through pre-set scenes) without having a wider Hue ecosystem in your home making it an ideal standalone gift.
You might think that we’re all Hue’d up in our house now but no; next on the list is bulbs in the children’s bedrooms and the kitchen!
Thanks to Philips Hue, I’m able to offer you the chance to win a Philips Hue White & Colour Starter Kit worth £169.99! The kit includes three colour E27 bulbs, a switch and the Hue bridge! If you’d like to enter, just complete the Rafflecopter below, ensuring to do this accurately to avoid disqualification. Good luck!
*Philips Hue have kindly gifted us additional items for our existing Hue ecosystem which we had paid for ourselves, as well as compensating us for our time in writing this*