Sunday, March 27, 2016

Finally got some Philips Hue lights

I had previously gotten Ilumi lightbulbs from Kickstarter, which I started to become disappointed with. While the hardware is solid, the software side was heavily lacking. Now that I have switched to Philips Hue lights, I am enjoying these new lightbulbs a lot more! I am going to share the configurations I have set up with them.

Friends with Amazon Echo


This is one of the best benefits. With Amazon Echo support I am able to verbally turn on any lightbulb I want, and it is plenty fast. While the second generation of the Philips Hue hub supports Apple Siri support, I was content with buying the first generation because it is cheaper and I have an Amazon Echo in convenient locations to handle voice control much better than Siri from my iPhone or iPad.



This is always one aspect of the Amazon Echo people miss when they compare it to having Siri or Google Now already on their phone. The mic of the Amazon Echo is MUCH better and can easily pick up your commands without facing it or speaking unordinary loud. Unfortunately, the one restriction is that the Amazon Echo cannot be used to change the color of the lights like Siri can.

My first Amazon Echo is in the kitchen and a second in my bedroom. Without leaving my bed, I command "Alexa, dim the bedroom light to 10%" as I get ready for bed or "Alexa, turn off the bedroom light" when I am ready to sleep.



Good buddies with SmartThings Hub


I have a SmartThings hub which I use in order to automate most of my smart home. And luckily Philips Hue bulbs can also be controlled this way. I have added the bedroom lightbulb as part of my Good Night and Good Morning routines. When the Good Night routine is ran, the bedroom light is turned on and is then dimmed to 50% brightness. The light also comes on with the Good Morning routine to help me get out of bed. Additionally, the hub is set to turn on the livingroom lightbulb at 6pm.

One unique feature I missed from the Ilumi lightbulbs was the ability to mimic the sun. Luckily a Circadian Daylight app exists for SmartThings which can set the color of any lightbulb depending on the time of day. I have this set up for every lightbulb as I prefer having lights mimic natural light sources.


Hanging out with the Logitech Harmony Hub


This is one feature I like that provides a cool factor in theatre like experience. The Harmony Hub works with activities, which are like SmartThings routines, which can be set to perform multiple tasks when activated. I have set this up so that when I press a button on my Harmony remote to watch my HTPC, my WeMo controlled kitchen light turns off and the ambient Hue bulb I have behind my TV turns on at 10% brightness. And the reverse happens when I press the off button, with the Kitchen light coming back on and the Hue bulb turning off after the TV turns off.


This provides a fascinating experience to sit on your couch, press a button, and just have everything setup and prepare for you to enjoy some TV or a movie. 

The IFTTT friend when you need them


And of course no home automation device can be complete without IFTTT support. I actually don't use IFTTT for much because I already have the SmartThings hub that can locally trigger devices faster. There are some cool recipes available for everyone, regardless. 


Very pleased with my move to Philips Hue


I am presently surprised now that I am using the Philips Hue lightbulbs. While they are more expensive than other smart lightbulbs, the ecosystem and integration with other home automation platforms is the most important part. Devices that can communicate with each other makes life easier and more fun. I do not consider a lightbulb that can only be controlled with a smartphone app to be smart, I would call that a solution in search of a problem. While I have not personally used them, other people have been pleased with LIFX lightbulbs as well.

As with other lightbulbs, when you turn them off and on from the wall switch they reset to white and 100% brightness, which comes in handy sometimes. In terms of brightness, although they are only 600 lumen and the newer ones are 800, I think they are plenty bright for my uses as I use them more for ambient lighting. If they are your only source of light, I can see some people wanting a stronger lightbulb that can illuminate an entire room.

I think I will purchase the Hue light strip next to illuminate the back of my TV instead of using a lightbulb. Overall, I am happy with my purchase and the way I have configured everything.

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