Now that Philips Hue lights have finally added a portable product (the Hue Go), there’s hardly anything you can’t do with them. From the basic original Hue LED smart bulbs, to the light strip, and lamp-like things, the Hue Beyond, the company has covered most of the lighting device categories, and invented a few as well (we hope that small sconce and chandelier bulbs come soon).
So what can you do with Hue lights? Is the ability to change a light’s color with an app really that practical? Maybe it’s not 100% practical, but there are many creative ways you can use Philips Hue lighting. We’ve rounded up a few lighting ideas here. Feel free to share your own as well.
Let’s start with the practical ideas first. Because Hue lights can change colors, they can be used to signal alerts when integrated with a compatible smart home automation system, or even something as simple as the If This Then That app (IFTTT). While taking a tour of the Zonoff offices (the platform developer for the Staples Connect smart home systems) I saw Philips Hue lights used to alert a homeowner when the garage door was opened. The user integrated a Philips Hue standard color-changing bulb with the Connect System and a Linear Z-Wave smart garage door controller. When the garage door opened, a command was sent to the Connect system to tell the Philips Hue bulb (in the living room) to flash red. That way the homeowner would know when someone was coming or going (a great way to keep track of teenagers).
Without a smart home system, there are still ways to use Philips Hue lights as an automatic alert system. With the IFTTT app you can set up several alerts. One activity I like (the app calls them recipes) automatically blinks the lights when it starts to rain outside (you also have to link the Weather Channel to make this work). This way you know to close any open windows and cover the patio chairs. There are hundreds of other Hue recipes for IFTTT, so browse around and find ones that look fun to you.
Because you can dim Philips Hue lights in addition to changing their colors, they are good for low-level night lights in hallways or children’s rooms. Using the Hue app (or one of the other Hue-compatible apps here), you can set or schedule a light to turn to a specific color and dimness for nighttime. You can even use an app to schedule the light to slowly turn brighter and change color in the morning to make rising a little less stressful.
Hue Lightstrips are great for framing or highlighting things like cabinets, shelves or furniture. The lightstrips are LEDs imbedded in a plastic tape that can be attached to things for dramatic effect. They look best when the lightstrips themselves are concealed while the light they create leaks out from under or over things. We’ve seen them used around the bottom of coffee tables, sofas, underneath shelves, wedged into soffits and mounted on top of kitchen counters. One use we see a lot is mounting them behind a wall-hung flat screen TV. You can then use the app to create a soft glow of whatever color you want behind the TV. Home theater screen company Screen Innovations, offers a similar system for some of its Black Diamond home theater projection screens. You can get the same effect on you television for a lot less money. You can also use lightstrips to highlight a step (such as a step between rooms) to help prevent tripping.
Wall Color Wash
The main benefit of Philips Hue lights is the ability to make them emit almost any color you want. You can completely change the emotional tone of a room by changing the color. Unfortunatly, Hue lights aren’t all that bright, especially when you have them in a color mode, rather than white. At their brightest white, an original Hue bulb is the equivalent of about a 60 watt incandescent bulb, which is OK for a small lamp when you want white light, but once you tune to ruby red, lime green or turquoise, the brightness goes way down. For this reason, the color-wash effect works best on white or other light-colored walls.
Both the Hue Bloom and Hue LivingColor Iris are good accent lamps for creating a wall color wash. They’re angled to shine on a wall, and you can move them around if you want to change the effect from day to day. If you don’t want to spend extra for those two lamps, you can use an original Hue blub in any lamp that allows you to point the light in the right direction. Hue bulbs aren’t ideal for lamps with shades, because the shades will reduce the light output and degrade the intensity of the color.
Also check out our Philips hue review here.
Check out the photos below for more Philips Hue lighting design ideas.
Selecting Smart Lighting For Every Room
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