Hue lights have played a huge role in the smart home trend of 2016. However, you shouldn’t buy a wifi light bulb in 2017. Here’s why not, including a better option.
Hue lights were one of the very first smart home accessories on the market. Billed as “the world’s smartest LED light bulb, they look exactly like regular light bulbs, but have a wifi chip embedded. This gives them the ability to be controlled by your phone, Alexa (or any smart home hub), or the Internet
Hue lights sound pretty awesome. Why shouldn’t I buy them?
Hue lights actually are awesome! Not only are they one of the easiest ways to add smart lighting to your home, they are loved by almost everyone who owns them.
In addition to being able to be controlled by wifi, Hue lights also include multi-colored LEDs. This gives them the ability to change to any of 16 million colors.
However, they’re not the best option for overhead lights or lamps.
You shouldn’t buy Hue lights (or any wifi bulb), if your lights are controlled by a switch.
Reason 1: Is the Light On or Off? Neither? Both?
Imagine walking into a dark room. What’s the first thing you do?
You look for the light switch!
Reaching for the light switch is so common, and so ingrained in us, that there are actually placement standards! Electricians are required to install light switches at specific places on the wall.
Everyone expects light switches to be there, and taking them away causes anxiety.
What’s this have to do with Hue lights and smart light bulbs?
Standard light fixtures are controlled by a switch. And when the switch is off, there is no electricity going to the outlet.
This is true whether it’s a light fixture in the ceiling controlled by a switch on the wall, or a lamp controlled by a button on the lamp.
And when your smart light bulb is plugged into that fixture or lamp that has been switched off, it’s no longer usable. At all.
Without electricity flowing to the light fixture, your wifi light bulb is completely useless. This is even worse if it’s a light bulb with a built in speaker!
For your Hue light to be useful, the switch always needs to be in the “on” position.
Well, I’ll just keep the switch “on” all the time!
Good idea in theory, but that leads us to our second reason why you shouldn’t buy a Hue light:
Reason 2: Hue Lights Are Confusing to Visitors and Kids
It’s the weekend, and friends or family come by to visit. You’re showing everyone how you can make your office lights orange, and everyone’s very impressed.*
As you’re leaving the room, Uncle Larry flips the light switch off as he’s been trained to do his entire life. He doesn’t realize it, but he’s just made your evening a little bit more annoying.
As we know now, your wifi light can’t work without electricity. Nobody thinks about your fancy lights when they flipped the switch off – they were just doing what comes naturally.
So, now you can’t turn on those lights from your phone. And that defeats the entire purpose of putting them in!
Reason 3: Hue Lights Are More Annoying for Your Spouse
Let’s be honest: the “necessity” of controlling your Hue lights from your Echo Dot is absolutely a first-world problem.
Your spouse knows this, and my wife definitely knows this.
We just talked about lights being “on” when they’re “off”, or “off” when they’re actually “on”.
You and me, we’re smart people. But that’s even confusing to us – and we’re the ones who set it up!
Now, imagine your spouse. They may not have been involved in the installation because they have way more interesting things to do.
Maybe you’ve persuaded them to (reluctantly) install the app, helped them set it up, and they’ve even turned a light on and off a couple of times.
But the first time your new light setup is harder to use than a regular light switch is the last time that switch gets used.
And what fun is it when it never gets used?
Smart home devices should make it easier to use your home, not harder. But wifi light bulbs add extra steps to turning on the lights, which defeats the purpose.
I want to like smart light bulbs. But when you take everything into consideration, they’re just not a functional addition to your home.
If your internet goes out: no lights.
If someone flips a switch the wrong way: no lights.
If your phone runs out of battery: no lights!
What Should You Do Instead?
Instead of buying a Hue lights, you should buy a smart light switch.
A smart light switch does exactly same thing a wifi light bulb does: it allows you to control your lights from your phone or another location.
However, a smart light switch does it without all the headache.
- A smart light switch can be used without a phone or internet. They can also be used with a phone or internet, but can also control lights like a normal switch.
- A smart switch still lets you control or automate your lights using your phone, your computer or Alexa. Smart light switches connect to the wifi in your house, meaning that you can control them from anywhere.
- A smart switch lets you use any light bulb. You can plug in an expensive, fancy LED light, or just a standard incandescent.
- Most importantly: anyone can use it as a normal switch! There’s still a switch on the wall that anyone can turn on or off.
And best yet, a smart light switch costs about the same as a wifi light bulb.
What Smart Light Switch Should I Buy?
I suggest the Lutron Caseta light switch.
- The Lutron Caseta switch looks premium on the wall. Some wifi light switches (like the tk tk) look ridiculous.
- Caseta offers a dimmer switch so you can control various
- The Caseta light switch can be used as a three-way switch.
- The Caseta can use a wireless switch that isn’t your phone. This lets you control the lights quickly when you don’t have your phone handy.
- Caseta offers a Caseta Bridge so that you can control it from your phone, the Internet or Alexa.
Hue Lights Just Aren’t Worth It
If you’re looking to add wifi lights to your home, buy the Lutron Caseta Switch and Hub Kit instead of wifi light bulbs. They look great, are easier to use, and can still be controlled by your phone.
Or, you can view our list of all smart lights and light bulbs.
Product Buying Guide:
- Hue light bulb
- Lutron Caseta switch
- Lutron Caseta dimmer
- Lutron Caseta wireless bridge
- Lutron Caseta starter kit (one dimmer, one remote, and a bridge)
- Echo Dot
* This is your experience too, right? Right??