Building a Smart Home With Philips Hue – A Beginners Guide

Lights, More Lights, Action!

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Philips Hue has been a household name for a number of years now. Featuring more lighting options than its competition, we’ve been eager to try out the range of Philips Hue lighting solutions when thinking about lighting every kind of smart home. From studio apartments to multi-bedroom mansions, Philips Hue has a lighting solution for you.

Before getting carried away with ambient lighting and light strips, let’s go over the basics. To start, you’ll need a solid internet connection, for setup, out-of-home control, software updates, and a few other bits and pieces. Secondly, you’ll need a Hue Bridge. This is a hub that plugs directly into your router to control up to 50 Philips Hue products, which should do a good job of lighting up half of Elon Musk’s house if we’re being honest. 

A good way to get started whilst getting a Hue Bridge whilst you are at it is by purchasing a Philips Hue Starter Kit. We went for the Starter Kit B22, which includes two or three ‘Warm-To-Cool White and Color’ B22 (bayonet fitting) WiFi 806, 1100, or 1600 lumens bulbs, a dimmer switch (which is wall mountable), and the Hue Bridge.

Before you do anything, make sure to download the Philips Hue App on Android and iOS. From there, you can add or remove lights and other Philips Hue devices. But right now, we need to get the Hue Bridge set up.

The Hue Bridge needs to stay up-to-date with the latest firmware to ensure your smart home network stays secure and all Philips Hue products are supported. Use the included power plug and ethernet cable to connect Hue Bridge to a wall socket and WiFi router respectively and follow the on-screen instructions. Please note, this may take a few hours in some cases, but the App allows you to carry on using your handset as usual. Just make sure the Philips Hue app stays open in the app drawer during this process.

Once the Hue Bridge is connected and live, it’s time to switch out those lifeless standard light bulbs and start incorporating Philips Hue into your smart home. Simply plug the lights into your existing light fitting (check your fitting type before purchasing) and head to the app to sync them up to your Hue Bridge. They may also require an update but will be controllable via the app, dimmer switch, and by voice commands when syncing up to Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled smart home hubs.

So what about other kinds of lighting solutions? Maybe there’s an area of your smart home you’d light to light up whilst streaming? Or better yet, giving your smart home a modern lighting flare without a big standing floor lamp taking up precious floor space? This is where the Philips Hue Go Portable Light comes in handy.

This portable led light outputs 520 lumens to create some great mood lighting. Haven’t got a plug socket nearby? No problem! It can output solid light for 2.5 hours, or up to 18 when using its candle-light mode thanks to a built-in rechargeable battery. It can be operated via Bluetooth thanks to the Philips Hue App and voice when hooked up to Google or Alexa. The back buttons can be pressed to toggle through solid solar and set patterns for ambient lighting also. It’s a great-looking piece of kit, featuring a bowl shell with a white plastic design coated in transparent high-gloss plastic. Whether you decide to keep this hidden or on a side table, the Phillips Hue Portable Light will look great in any smart home.

So we’ve got some smart light bulbs and portable lights dotted around our smart home, which are all hooked up to our Hue Bridge with customizable ambient settings. The living room has a relaxed and cosey light setup just in time for Autumn, but what about the TV? Have you ever thought about what it would be like to have your TV back-lit? What if you could sync ambient lighting up to the color gradients on-screen also? 

Philips Hue has done just that with the advent of their HDMI Sync Box, linking your home entertainment devices up to any of the Hue color-capable lights. This results in synchronized lighting effects that match the color hues currently on your TV. Movies, TV Shows, and gaming have never been more immersive. You can also sync all of your front room Philips Hue lighting to become an interactive ambient experience on command via the app or via Google and Alexa voice commands.

The Philips Hue HDMI Syncbox allows up to four HDMI connections. For us, we plugged in Google TV, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, and PlayStation 5, which is a dream for entertainment center cable management. The HDMI out goes into the back of your TV as shown below, but a separate app is needed for this handy piece of equipment. Download the Hue Sync mobile app to control the Philips Hue HDMI Sync Box. From here, you can manage your HDMI inputs and other important options when it comes to syncing lighting with your various HDMI inputs.

Once the Hue Sync App has updated and set up your Sync Box, you can set up the last piece of our Philips Hue smart home additions, the Philips Hue Play Gradient Lightstrip. It comes with all the fittings you’ll need to attach this flexible light strip to the back of your TV. The power supply can be used, but the Philips Hue HDMI Sync Box power adapter also has a socket for the light strip to plug into if you’re short on plug space. The little brick that the light strip plugs into allows wireless connectivity to your Sync Box and Hue Bridge, in case you were wondering how this all connects together.

The light strip clips included are incredibly sturdy and stick on the back of any high-definition TV as pictured below. If your TV isn’t on a pivoting wall mount as shown, it’s a good idea to completely disconnect your TV from any brackets and cables to get a good idea of where these mounts will be positioned. The light strip is designed to output light at a 90-degree angle around the sides and top of your TV. It’s a good idea to position them close enough to the edge that they’re secure, whilst also making sure the light strip itself is concealed behind the TV frame for the best ambient effects.

Once attached to the TV and connected to the power supply, open the Hue Sync app and standards app to get the gradient light strip synced to your HDMI box and added to your Hue Bridge array of lighting options. It’s worth noting that this light strip outputs a massive 1100 lumens, so don’t worry about having other sources of light around your home entertainment system. The Phillips Hue Gradient Light Strip will take care of it. 

Building a smart home with Philips Hue in mind is all about picking the right lighting solution for your home. Everyone is different, and Philips Hue understands that, which is why they currently have around 418 different products on their online store. Both garden and indoor home lighting options are considered when it comes to Philips Hue LED lighting solutions. Pairing the plethora of products with their ambient, multifunctional options via the Hue Bridge and Sync Box, the possibilities are endless when it comes to your smart home.