Jon has done a great job getting our house wired up with Philips Hue lights. I’ve really enjoyed having them and with the right devices, they’re very convenient. I love the bits of color and how much control we have over brightness compared with regular bulbs that don’t have dimmer switches. I wouldn’t have known where to get started, so I wanted to write up the products we’ve bought and our experience with lights and devices.
We use a single bridge that controls all Hue lights in the house. It’s located in a fairly central room and we haven’t had any problem with the bridge failing to reach a light. The only snag is when you initially add a light, it can take some time before the bridge recognizes it.
In our dining room, we went with A19 bulbs. These are used just for giving good light over the table. For color, we use a lightstrip stuck along the inside lip of the table. Jon isn’t sold on the placement but I like it. I think it works well seeing a glow of color on the chair seats and the floor under the table.
In our office with the computers, we have two bloom lights sitting atop speakers. They’re fairly high up the wall and in the corners so the light casts a glow into the corner. We also have a single BR30 bulb in a ceiling fixture for the majority of the light in the room and the option for more color.
In our living room, we have two BR30s in the ceiling for adequate lighting and then two lightstrips around the back edge of our flatscreen. This produces a really cool effect of soft color glowing behind the TV. The TV is angled in a corner and the light fills the whole corner.
In the kitchen, over the sink we have a single GU10 which is sufficient for the sink and countertop area. We have another BR30 to sufficiently light the kitchen as well as provide color.
Our hallway is lit by three A19s which is more than enough light for the small hallway that it is.
Both bedrooms are lit by more A19s. The bathroom has a row of A19 Lux bulbs over the sink that we usually keep in white or pale yellow shades. There’s one GU10 in the ceiling fixture over the shower which is a fun placement. You can make a blue ocean theme just inside the shower using that bulb.
We’ve had good luck with a tap switch in the living room. We set up a general-purpose scene on the big button (the whole face of the switch); this is good for reading and just relaxing. The leftmost button turns on brighter lights. The bottommost button is a scene which turns off lights in the ceiling and surrounding rooms while setting the lightstrips on the back of the TV to dim colors. The rightmost button turns off all living room lights.
We use another tap switch in the bathroom. The big whole-face button is intended for nighttime use when you’re half asleep and just swatting at the switch. It turns on the shower light in a dim red color and turns on just a single light over the sink, also very dim. The leftmost button is a general-purpose scheme with all bathroom lights on and the one over the shower set to a nice aqua-tinted color. The bottommost button turns on all bathroom lights but sets the shower light to a deep blue. The rightmost button turns off all bathroom lights.
We’ve put dimmer switches in the other rooms. They’re more conventional with a labeled on button, off button, and buttons for brightening and dimming the lights.
One problem we were having was instinctively hitting the built-in light switches throughout the house. Philips Hue lights are meant to be left powered on all the time; they’re supposed to regulate their power usage themselves. These plastic covers work really well, clinging via magnets to the metal screws in your switch cover. We placed these over all light switches that control fixtures where we have Philips Hue bulbs.
Using the iOS app, I set up scenes for use in our most frequented areas. Early Morning is a scene with fairly dim lights in soft greens and browns. I use it when I first wake up and am having my morning tea.
When noon comes around, I switch to a scene called Taj that’s based on a photo of the Taj Mahal. It mixes some natural light colors with blues, yellows, and browns. This scene is brighter and we use it throughout the day.
After dark, I switch to my Sunset theme which uses deep yellows, oranges, and reds that are pretty dim. The dimmer switches are useful here to make a room brighter or dimmer while still keeping the colors of the scene.
We’ve found it convenient to have a dimmer switch in the bedroom on our nightstand. The switches come with sticky pads on the back so you can mount them to the wall, which we’ve done in most places, but it’s helpful to have one by the bed so you can shut off all lights in the house conveniently.
Having programmable lights throughout the house is very flexible. We were able to set up a switch by the door that turns on lights in nearby rooms. That would have required rewiring the house to do that with conventional lights. I love changing colors, turning off all lights, and grouping lights via the app. These lights should be more energy efficient and longer lasting than incandescent or even compact fluorescent bulbs, which helps justify their price. I’ve also started using the Node.js library for interacting with our Hue lights. I want to do something cool probably using Steam screenshots or Instagram photos as I post them to change lights around the house.